May 4th, 2014

Pembaharuan wajar tapi bukan militan

LAPORAN muka depan akhbar Utusan Malaysia Selasa lalu amat mengejutkan apabila Kementerian Dalam Negeri mengesahkan kemunculan semula gerakan militan, dengan penangkapan 10 orang yang berusia 22 hingga 55 tahun.

Kumpulan militan yang dikenali sebagai Jihad Salafi itu dilaporkan mempunyai bentuk dan kaedah operasi hampir serupa dengan al-Qaeda dan Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

Kemunculan semula gerakan militan sebenarnya bukanlah perkara baharu dalam senario sosiopolitik masyarakat Malaysia bahkan pada suatu ketika, kumpulan seumpamanya bersedia melaksanakan jihad menjatuhkan kerajaan sebagaimana dilakukan oleh kumpulan al-Maunah.

Peristiwa itu mengingatkan kepada umum bahawa kerajaan perlu berusaha keras untuk tidak membolehkan setiap orang yang disahkan terbabit dalam kegiatan ini terlepas daripada tindakan undang-undang.

Terpengaruh dengan dakyah mati syahid dengan berjihad di negara bergolak,
menyebabkan penglibatan rakyat negara ini dalam kumpulan militan. - Gambar hiasan/AFP

Jaminan Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi sehari selepas penangkapan itu memberikan sedikit kelegaan kepada masyarakat. Ini membuktikan komitmen dan kesungguhan kerajaan untuk menjamin rakyat Malaysia tidak tergugat dengan pelbagai bentuk gerakan radikal, kumpulan pelampau agama.

Paling menggerunkan apabila wadah perjuangan sesebuah pertubuhan yang pada mulanya bersifat gerakan kemanusiaan berubah menjadi radikal apabila merasakan pertubuhan mereka berpengaruh dan mendapat sokongan pihak-pihak tertentu. Pergerakan seperti ini sekali gus memperdaya masyarakat Islam dengan mengutip dana yang kemudiannya digunakan membiayai pengkaderan, latihan separa ketenteraan dan tektik peperangan gerila.

Agaknya, meskipun kerajaan sudah menggubal undang-undang Akta Kesalahan Keselamatan (Langkah-Langkah Khas) 2012 (SOSMA) yang membenarkan orang awam ditahan tanpa waran tangkap, akan tetapi sedikitpun tidak menggerunkan pergerakan ini dan mengalihkan pangkalan mereka ke negara lain.

Kumpulan ini sebaliknya menjadi lebih berani melakukan tindakan ganas, kerana persekitaran politik dalam negara semakin berubah dalam pengangkatan makna "hero" atas nama perjuangan agama dan kepentingan tertentu.

Persoalannya, mengapa puak-puak pelampau dan militan ini begitu teguh tanpa rasa takut berdepan dengan tindakan undang-undang pihak berkuasa? Kenapa mereka sanggup menderita dan begitu kental mempertahankan keyakinan mereka berjuang atas nama 'agama' sekali gus tegar memerangi pihak-pihak yang dianggap sebagai taghut dan sekular?

Akhir-akhir ini di negara kita yang majoriti penduduknya Islam menjadi saksi kemunculan puak-puak yang mengisytiharkan diri mereka dengan pelbagai gelaran seperti aliran sunnah tulen (seolah-olah yang lain palsu).

Secara ideologi, kumpulan-kumpulan itu berkiblat kepada aliran yang suka dengan slogan atau sebutan seperti pemurnian dan pembaharuan agama yang seringkali berusaha merombak tradisi kerana ia berjaya melahirkan masyarakat dengan kepatuhan tanpa rasional, masyarakat yang tidak boleh menerima pembaharuan. Masyarakat sedemikian hidup dalam zon selesa, tetapi kurang prihatin dengan sekumpulan masyarakat kecil yang dianggap tertindas, terkeluar daripada arus pembangunan.

Dari segi sejarah, gerakan seumpama ini dikesan wujud sejak awal abad ke-20 di nusantara. Corak perjuangan mereka menyebabkan sering berkrisis dengan yang memegang kuasa, dan mereka menjadi kumpulan anti-establishment, ataupun pertentangan antara kaum tua dan kaum muda.

Kaum muda yang terdedah dengan pendidikan bersifat ilmiah barat, terhasil daripada wadah kebebasan sekular, akhirnya mencabar kaum tua yang dilihat terlalu tradisonal, yang tidak mungkin boleh membawa Islam ke tahap pencapaian tamadun baharu.

Bagaimanapun, gerakan modenisasi dan pembaharuan peringkat awal ini berjalan secara damai dan harmoni. Malah, tidak keterlaluan jika dikatakan ia turut memperkaya khazanah keilmuan dan pemikiran Islam, yang menghasilkan nilai intelektualisme tinggi.

Ada ketikanya, gagasan pemikiran mereka tetap dikaji sebagai jalan pemecahan masalah masyarakat yang masih relevan hingga sekarang. Misalnya, pemikiran Za’ba tentang kemiskinan orang Melayu, Syed Sheikh al-Hadi, Syeikh Tahir Jalaludin dengan pembukaan minda. Mereka telah meninggalkan legasi, dari bidang persuratan hinggalah pembentuk psikik orang Melayu-Islam.

Fenomena ini berbeza dengan gerakan pembaharuan dan ‘pemurnian’ akidah dewasa ini. Ramai dalam kalangan ‘pembaharu’ dan pendokong 'sunnah tulen' itu terjebak dengan semangat yang berlebih sehinggakan skrip pembida’ahan dan tidak mengikut sunnah kembali berulang. Malah, terdapat kumpulan tertentu menjadikan justifikasi sebagai faktor bertindak ganas dan melampau.

Puak pelampau ini, tidak hanya memerangi bukan Islam yang dianggap zalim dan menindas, malah mereka turut membentuk fatwa dengan menuduh, umat Islam arus perdana terjerumus dengan amalan "bid'ah" , taghut dan menyimpang dari ajaran sunnah Nabi.

Golongan ini menganjurkan tindakan jihad, termasuk berjihad kepada orang Islam kerana darah mereka adalah halal, sedangkan dengan bukan Islam, mereka memberikan alasan, perlu didekati menerusi dakwah.

Inilah tragedi yang bakal memecah belahkan umat Islam, ada ketikanya, ia merupakan kejayaan musuh Islam menggerakkan minda umat Islam supaya berbalah sesama sendiri. Ia seumpama perang saudara, misalnya antara Syiah dan Sunni, konflik sektarian di Syria serta penyingkiran pemimpin atas dasar tidak demokratik.

Umat Islam harus sedar bahawa tiupan angin pembaharuan sesetengah golongan ini sudah tentu akan mengancam cara beragama kaum Muslimin di negara kita yang lebih selesa memilih mengikuti Syafiyah. Dan ini menambah lagi satu masalah besar sedangkan hakikatnya kita sedang berhadapan dengan masalah-masalah yang lebih besar dan utama seperti soal perpaduan, pengukuhan politik Melayu-Islam dan kemunduran ekonomi umat Islam.

Bayangkan seandainya kita hidup di negara-negara yang dilanda konflik sektarian (pertikaian mazhab) dan konflik komunal seperti di Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq dan Syria kebelakangan ini. Sudah tentu kita tidak dapat menjalankan semua aktiviti kehidupan kita dengan tenang dan selesa.

Keadaan dan persekitaran yang harmoni dan damai ini tidak lain dan tidak bukan adalah buah kebijaksanaan ulama-ulama kita dalam menentukan corak dan mazhab agama yang sesuai dengan masyarakat tempatan. Merekalah yang menjadi pengawal yang sentiasa memastikan sebarang konflik keagamaan tidak muncul menerusi institusi pondok.

Sebagai pusat pendidikan dan pengajian agama , ijtimak guru pondok yang berlangsung baru-baru ini, turut menegaskan usaha memperkukuh, meneruskan sistem pendidikan pondok di samping menjaga tradisi keilmuan Islam, termasuk pembudayaan "kitab kuning" dan memugarkan pemikiran para pelajar menerusi roh agama, mengakarkan persaudaraan dan kesederhanaan.

Kita tidak harus terpedaya dengan perangkap musuh-musuh Islam yang ingin melihat umat Islam terus berpecah belah kerana masalah furuiyah (masalah ranting) mengabaikan persoalan kulliyah (masalah pokok). Sejarah Islam telah mencatatkan bahawa salah satu punca kemunduran peradaban Islam kerana kelekaan berpolemik tentang masalah furuiyah ini.

Ikhtilaf adalah satu anugerah dan rahmat tetapi kini ia berubah menjadi bencana yang besar, sebagaimana terjadi pada kaum ahli Kitab. Kehancuran sesuatu umat dan bangsa kerana hilangnya etika ikhtilaf.

Berbeza pendapat dalam masalah agama bukanlah ruang atau ladang luas yang diperkenankan untuk semua orang. Perbezaan hendaklah diberikan kepada orang yang mempunyai kebolehan dalam ilmu agama. Perbezaan pendapat antara ahli-ahli mujtahid tidak harus terbawa-bawa kepada orang awam atau dimanfaatkan oleh mereka yang ada kepentingan politik. Jika ia berlaku, maka yang akan muncul ialah perpecahan dan permusuhan.

MOHD. SHAUKI ABD. MAJID ialah Pengurus Besar Analisa dan Pengurusan Isu Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Yadim) Utusan Rencana 20140502

Akar gejala militan dalam Islam

Baru-baru ini kita digemparkan dengan penangkapan sejumlah individu yang dikaitkan dengan sebuah gerakan militan baru di negara ini. Pada masa yang sama timbul berita tentang beberapa rakyat Malaysia yang telah bermusafir ke Syria untuk menyertai perjuangan bersenjata menentang kerajaan Bashar Al-Assad. Dalam keadaan Malaysia giat mempromosi pendekatan wasatiyyah dalam menghayati Islam, wajar kita mengkaji kenapakah masih ada rakyat Malaysia yang terpengaruh dengan pendekatan militan.

Kemunculan gerakan militan bermotifkan agama ini adalah suatu fenomena yang membimbangkan kerana kelompok ini boleh sampai ke tahap berani mati serta sanggup membunuh. Pertumpahan darah yang berlaku secara batil lazimnya akan mengundang tindak balas yang berdarah juga hingga boleh membawa kepada suasana kacau-bilau yang parah dalam sesebuah negara.

Jika kegiatan militan ini meluas ke negara lain, ia akan menimbulkan permusuhan antara negara. Tidak kurang parahnya, kegiatan militan atas nama Islam ini akan turut mencemarkan imej Islam yang boleh menjejaskan syiar Islam dan dakwahnya.



Perang saudara di Syria menarik minat segelintir rakyat Malaysia untuk berjuang bersama
kumpulan pemberontak atas nama jihad. - Gambar hiasan

Oleh itu memang wajarlah tindakan berkesan diambil untuk mencegah kegiatan ini. Tindakan pencegahan juga perlu ditumpukan terhadap sebab-sebab di sebalik kemunculan aliran militan ini dalam kalangan umat Islam. Jika akar umbi dan sebab-sebab kemunculan kelompok ini difahami maka kita akan mampu menanganinya secara lebih awal dan berkesan.

Aliran militan dalam Islam ini sebenarnya adalah satu jelmaan daripada sikap melampau atau ekstrem dalam beragama. Sikap melampau ini berpunca daripada semangat beragama yang tinggi dalam diri seseorang tetapi tidak disertai oleh kefahaman agama yang mencukupi.

Akibatnya perilaku dan tindak-tanduk dipandu oleh semangat dan emosi dan bukannya neraca dan acuan agama yang sebenar. Sedangkan Islam ialah agama yang berasaskan ilmu dan datang dengan satu syariat yang lengkap meliputi seluruh aspek kehidupan. Dalam apa keadaan sekalipun, seorang Muslim yang baik harus bertindak menurut panduan agama dan bukannya perasaan atau semangat melulu.

Kecenderungan untuk melampau dalam beragama bukanlah perkara baru dalam sejarah Islam. Para sahabat yang dididik langsung oleh Rasulullah SAW pun ada ketikanya terbawa-bawa oleh semangat sehingga terpaksa diperbetulkan semula sikap mereka oleh Rasulullah SAW.

Bercanggah

Misalnya dalam satu hadis, Rasulullah SAW telah menjadi begitu murka dengan Usamah bin Zaid RA atas perbuatannya yang tetap membunuh seorang tentera musuh walaupun tentera tersebut telah mengucap dua kalimah syahadah. Usamah menganggap tentera tersebut hanya berpura-pura untuk menyelamatkan nyawanya.

Sikap ini bercanggah dengan ajaran Rasulullah SAW yang melarang seseorang yang telah mengucap daripada dibunuh. Rasulullah SAW juga diriwayatkan pernah murka dengan keterlanjuran panglima Baginda SAW, Khalid Al-Walid yang turut berlaku dalam situasi perang.

Dalam hadis-hadis tersebut, jelas oleh kerana terbawa-bawa dengan semangat dan perasaan maka sahabat-sahabat tersebut telah mengambil sikap yang bercanggah dengan ajaran Nabi SAW. Niat dan tujuan mereka murni tetapi selagi terpesong daripada suluhan sunnah atau syariat ia tetap tertolak dan membawa kesan yang tidak baik sebenarnya. Niat yang ikhlas dan semangat yang tinggi sahaja tidak memadai dalam Islam. Tindakan dan perbuatan zahir juga harus selari dengan syariat barulah ia akan dihitung sebagai amalan yang sahih dan soleh dalam neraca agama.

Jikalau para Sahabat Nabi RA yang hidup bersama dan mendapat bimbingan Baginda SAW sendiri boleh tersalah kerana terlalu bersemangat maka sudah pasti kita yang hidup di zaman ini mungkin lebih terdedah kepada kesilapan yang sama atau lebih parah lagi.

Kemunculan aliran dan kumpulan militan dalam kalangan umat Islam hari ini berpunca daripada asas yang sama iaitu dorongan semangat atau emosi yang tinggi tetapi tidak terpandu oleh kefahaman agama yang benar. Tidak dinafikan bahawa hari ini banyak situasi yang menyaksikan umat Islam menjadi mangsa kezaliman dan penindasan yang membakar semangat dan perasaan umat Islam.

Memang semangat jihad umat Islam mudah menyala mengenangkan hal ini. Tetapi jihad bersenjata dalam Islam ada fiqh dan garis panduannya yang tersendiri. Pengabaian atau kekeliruan dalam memahami fiqh jihad bersenjata dalam Islam adalah akar kepada tumbuhnya gejala militan dalam masyarakat Islam.

Darah dan nyawa manusia sangat suci dan terlarang dalam Islam. Oleh itu Islam telah menggariskan panduan yang ketat dalam hal tersebut. Darah hanya boleh ditumpahkan dalam situasi tertentu yang dikawal ketat oleh syarat-syarat syarak. Misalnya dalam pelaksanaan hukum jenayah Islam seperti Qisas dan Hudud.

Perjuangan bersenjata dalam Islam pula hanya boleh digerakkan apabila sudah cukup syarat-syaratnya. Antara syarat utamanya adalah hanya boleh dilancarkan sesudah mendapat arahan daripada pemimpin rasmi dalam sesebuah pemerintahan Islam. Mana-mana pemimpin selain daripada pimpinan rasmi dalam sesebuah negara Islam tidak berhak dan berkuasa untuk mengisytiharkan jihad bersenjata. Arahan jihad yang sah dalam realiti hari ini tidaklah mudah terhasil melainkan dalam situasi negara umat Islam diserang oleh negara bukan Islam.

Adapun dalam suasana pertembungan sesama Islam seperti yang berlaku di beberapa negara Asia Barat, adalah tidak sesuai hukum jihad perang digunakan dengan bebas dan longgar. Hanya dalam keadaan semua syarat-syarat hukum syarak dalam bab jihad itu terpenuhi barulah seseorang yang terkorban boleh dikatakan telah gugur sebagai syahid.

Dalam peperangan jihad yang sah sekalipun, Islam tetap membataskan tingkah laku dalam peperangan termasuk melarang pembunuhan mereka daripada pihak musuh yang tidak menyertai perang. Pendek kata, banyak ruang untuk timbul salah faham dalam bab ini sehinggakan para ulama sendiri boleh terkhilaf dalam menentukan hukum dalam realiti dunia hari ini yang penuh fitnah.

Seorang ulama muda kelahiran Malaysia yang bertugas di Universiti Oxford, Datuk Dr. Muhammad Afifi Al-Akiti, telah terpanggil menulis sebuah fatwa yang sangat bernilai menjelaskan beberapa persoalan sekitar isu ini bertajuk "Defending the Transgressed by Censuring the Reckless against the Killing of Civilians." Walaupun tidak dinyatakan secara jelas, tetapi sebahagian kandungan fatwa ini jelas berbeza dengan pandangan beberapa tokoh ulama dunia Arab yang menjadi ikon kebangkitan di Asia Barat.

Adalah disyorkan agar fatwa beliau yang mudah dicapai di Internet ini diteliti demi mencapai kefahaman yang lebih murni dalam hukum-hakam jihad bersenjata dalam Islam. Semoga kefahaman umat Islam dalam bab ini dapat dimurnikan agar tidak terlibat dalam kegiatan militan yang tidak menepati ajaran Islam.

DR. YUSRI MOHAMAD ialah Timbalan Yang Dipertua Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Yadim). Utusan Rencana 20140504

Obama yang jarang diketahui

RAMAI daripada kita sudah pasti mengetahui bahawa Barack Obama yang melawat Malaysia selama tiga hari bermula Sabtu lalu adalah Presiden Amerika Syarikat (AS) berkulit hitam yang pertama.

Kita juga tahu beliau boleh menyebut beberapa patah perkataan dalam bahasa Melayu berikutan latar belakangnya yang pernah menetap dan bersekolah di Indonesia selama empat tahun.

Bagaimanapun, banyak lagi sisi lain individu yang menjadi Presiden AS ke-44 yang jarang diketahui kita.

* PENAMPILAN FIZIKAL

Beliau termasuk di kalangan segelintir Presiden AS yang kidal. Presiden berusia 52 tahun juga sentiasa tampil dengan rambut pendek yang dikenali sebagai gaya Obama.

Gaya yang membawa ‘imej muda dan gembira’ adalah hasil cetusan idea tukang gunting dari Chicago, Zariff yang telah menggunting rambut beliau sejak lebih 10 tahun lalu dengan kadar sama iaitu AS$21 (RM69).

* KEGEMARAN

Obama suka membaca buku antaranya buku cerita Harry Potter dan ketika zaman kanak-kanak, buku yang disukainya bertajuk Where the Wild Things Are.

Beliau juga mempunyai hobi mengumpul komik Spider-Man dan Conan the Barbarian serta memelihara seekor anjing bernama, Bo.

Rancangan televisyen yang disukainya adalah Homeland dan The Wire manakala artis diminati ialah Rolling Stones, Jay Z dan Stevie Wonder.

Hawaii adalah kawasan percutian yang sering dikunjunginya. Obama juga pernah menceritakan, ketika menetap di Indonesia beliau suka bermain layang-layang, berlari di sawah padi dan menangkap pepatung.

* SUKAN BOLA KERANJANG

Bola keranjang adalah sukan yang paling disukainya dan sepanjang kempen pilihan raya presiden beliau banyak melibatkan diri dalam permainan itu sama ada dengan rakyat biasa, pelajar mahupun anggota tentera.

Kehebatannya bermain bola keranjang ketika di sekolah tinggi menyebabkannya digelar ‘O'Bomber’ oleh rakan-rakan.

* GAJET

Jam tangan yang dipakai Obama sekarang adalah daripada jenama Jorg Gray 6500 yang berwarna hitam dengan tali kulit kerbau serta mempunyai logo Perkhidmatan Rahsia AS.

Sebelum menjadi Presiden, beliau juga sering dilihat memakai jam tangan jenis TAG-Heuer 1500.

Telefon bimbit yang diguna oleh Obama adalah BlackBerry Curve 8300 dan Curve 8900. Komputer riba pula adalah jenis MacBook Pro dan Dell Latitude E6420 serta turut memiliki iPad 3.

Untuk berkomunikasi dari pejabatnya termasuk dengan pemimpin dunia lain beliau menggunakan telefon talian tetap Cisco Unified IP Phone 7965G dan jika komunikasi sulit, beliau menggunakan telefon talian tetap, Telecore IST-2.

* MENJADI JUTAWAN HASIL JUALAN BUKU

Sebelum menjadi Presiden AS, Obama sudah dikategorikan sebagai seorang jutawan hasil royalti dua bukunya.

Buku memoirnya bertajuk Dreams from My Father membolehkannya menerima royalti AS$5 juta (RM16.4 juta) dan Audacity of Hope mengenai kisahnya bertanding untuk menjadi Presiden AS mendapat royalti sebanyak AS$1 juta (RM3.2 juta).

Buku-buku tersebut yang turut dikeluarkan dalam versi audio telah membolehkannya memenangi Anugerah Grammy untuk album suara terbaik sebanyak dua kali pada 2006 dan 2008.

* KERETA DAN KAPAL TERBANG

Obama kini menggunakan kenderaan rasmi digelar The Beast yang kalis peluru. Kereta yang direka bentuk dan dikeluarkan oleh General Motors pada 2009 itu juga kalis serangan gas dan biokimia serta boleh bergerak walaupun tayar pancit.

Sebelum menjadi Presiden, beliau mempunyai beberapa kereta termasuk Ford Escape Hybrid dan Chrysler 300C.

Kapal terbang Air Force One yang digunanya pula adalah daripada jenis Boeing 747-200B. Pesawat tiga tingkat itu dilengkapi dengan puluhan telefon, radio dua hala, kemudahan komunikasi satelit, Internet dan 24 saluran televisyen.

Ia juga mempunyai dinding yang mampu menahan gelombang elektro­magnetik yang dihasilkan letupan bom nuklear.

* RUMAH

Selain menetap di kediaman rasmi di White House di Washington, Obama juga mempunyai vila mewah setinggi dua tingkat bernilai AS$2 juta (RM6.5 juta) di Kenwood, Chicago, Illinois.

Rumah yang dibelinya pada 2005 mempunyai enam bilik tidur dan enam tandas. Antara jiran Obama ialah legenda tinju dunia, Muhammad Ali.



NIZAM YATIM nizam.yatim@utusan.com.my Utusan/Rencana/20140503

Ulangan pengiktirafan 48 tahun lalu

2009 merupakan tahun Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak dilantik sebagai Perdana Menteri Malaysia dan Barack Obama dipilih sebagai Presiden Amerika Syarikat (AS) yang ke-44 dan sekali gus memegang jawatan tertinggi dalam kerajaan AS.

Sebaik sahaja memegang tampuk pe­merintahan, kedua-dua pemimpin ini menyimpan satu aspirasi untuk membawa pe­rubahan dan transformasi dalam pentadbiran mereka.

Dan apabila kedua-dua pemimpin ini bertemu baru-baru ini, Najib dan Obama mempunyai aspirasi yang sama iaitu untuk terus memperkukuhkan kerjasama antara dua negara ini dalam pelbagai bidang.

Namun perkara seperti ni bukanlah sesuatu yang baru dan merupakan satu kebiasaan apabila pelbagai kerjasama dapat dihasilkan apabila dua pemimpin bertemu.

Apa yang lebih ketara ialah perjumpaan dua pemimpin ini dilihat sebagai usaha untuk mengukuhkan hubungan antara dua buah negara ini yang telah lama terjalin. Ataupun mungkin dalam bahasa yang lebih diplomatik, ialah membina semula hubungan baru setelah agak lama ‘dingin" .

Mungkin ini disebabkan semasa pentadbiran Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad dahulu, negara kita tidak gentar untuk memberikan pandangan dan kritikan terhadap dasar-dasar Amerika Syarikat khasnya tentang dasar luar negara itu yang menganggap diri mereka sebagai ‘Polis Dunia’.

Apa yang dilakukan oleh Dr. Mahathir tidak salah yang mana Malaysia telah membuktikan diri sebagai sebuah negara yang tidak akan mengikut telunjuk kuasa-kuasa besar.

Kini pendekatan berbeza dilakukan oleh Najib. Mengukuhkan hubungan tidak ber­makna bersetuju dengan apa jua polisi yang dilaksanakan oleh Washington. Lagipun, pemimpin akan bertukar ganti dan di ba­wah kepimpinan Obama, Malaysia dilihat tidak perlu lantang mengkritik Washington se­bagai­mana era pentadbiran Dr. Mahathir da­hulu.

Memang mudah untuk melihat pelbagai isu negatif yang boleh dikaitkan dengan kedatangan Obama ke Malaysia. Apatah lagi apabila ia dikaitkan dengan Perjanjian Perkongsian Trans-Pasifik (TPPA).

Dalam hal ini, pendapat tentang kebaikan dan keburukan TPPA adalah berbelah-bahagi. Bahkan di media-media sosial, sudah terdapat pelbagai perbahasan yang menganggap TPPA ini mempunyai risiko yang tinggi jika dilaksanakan. Ini disebabkan terdapat beberapa klausa yang jika dikaji dengan teliti akan merugikan pertumbuhan ekonomi tempatan.

Namun begitu, terdapat juga penganalisis ekonomi tempatan yang melihat TPPA dari sudut positif khasnya dari segi dasar perdagangan terbuka yang mana peluang seperti ini perlu direbut oleh negara kita yang sedang membangun dan bakal menjadi sebuah negara maju tidak lama lagi.

Mereka menganggap jika Malaysia mahu memainkan peranan yang lebih penting dalam arus globalisasi ekonomi dunia dan tidak mahu ketinggalan hingga boleh dilupakan maka, kita harus menerima hakikat bahawa TPPA adalah kunci kepada jari­ngan ekonomi antarabangsa.

Dengan adanya TPPA akan memperluaskan lagi akses pasaran Malaysia dan me­­rang­kumi rakan dagang yang penting seper­ti AS, Kanada dan juga Mexico.

Najib pernah memberi jaminan bahawa Malaysia tidak akan mengikut segala kehendak dan syarat yang terkandung dalam TPPA dan hanya akan menandatangani perjanjian itu mengikut terma dan syarat yang ditetapkan oleh negara kita sendiri.

Obama juga faham akan situasi ini dan pernah menegaskan bahawa “Tidak pernah ada perjanjian perdagangan yang dipersetujui bulat-bulat oleh semua, pasti ada yang membantah".

Obama juga menegaskan lagi yang istilah ‘buli’ tidak ada dalam kamusnya apabila melaksanakan TPPA itu nanti. Dan pastinya juga Najib telah menyuarakan segala isu ini dan Washington tentunya akan mengambil pandangan daripada Kuala Lumpur akan perkara ini.

Perlu diingatkan juga bahawa Malaysia belum menandatangani apa-apa perjanjian yang berkaitan dengan TPPA.

Apapun, Kita perlu diberi jaminan yang TPPA akan memberi manfaat kepada perkembangan ekonomi Malaysia.

Apakah lagi kesan positif yang kita boleh lihat daripada hasil lawatan Obama ke Malaysia?

Selain daripada pengiktirafan kepada kepimpinan Najib yang begitu komited melaksanakan transformasi, Malaysia juga dilihat sebagai sebuah negara yang mampu memainkan peranan yang lebih meluas dan penting dalam isu-isu antarabangsa khasnya di rantau ini.

Perkara ini sebenarnya sudah lama dise­dari oleh Presiden Lyndon B. Johnson ketika melawat Malaysia pada 1966 dahulu yang mana beliau pernah menganggap Malaysia sebagai nadi geopolitik di Asia Tenggara.

Itu adalah 48 tahun yang lampau dan itu sebabnya kini Malaysia dilihat sebagai negara yang matang dan mampu menghadapi pelbagai isu di rantau ini.

Dan sebagai sebuah negara Islam yang moden dan progresif, Malaysia begitu mudah diterima oleh negara-negara lain sebagai negara yang penting di rantau ini khas­nya dari segi ekonomi, politik dan keamanan sejagat.

Kedudukan yang stabil di bawah kepim­pinan Najib meletakkan Malaysia sebagai “salah seorang pemain utama" apabila membincangkan setiap isu antarabangsa di rantau ini.

Obama juga pastinya sedar akan perkara ini dan adalah penting bagi Washington untuk terus mengukuhkan hubungan baik dengan Kuala Lumpur agar permulaan baru yang terjalin ini dapat membuka jalan ke arah kerjasama yang lebih mantap dalam pelbagai bidang.

SHAHBUDIN EMBUN ialah Ahli Majlis Perundingan Melayu Malaysia dan blogger Lawyer Pokok Cherry. Utusan Rencana 20140503

Enggan berpakaian metroseksual

ISNIN lepas, untuk pertama kali dalam tempoh lebih dua tahun saya terpaksa memakai sut penuh dengan tali leher. Bertugas membuat liputan acara Presiden Amerika Syarikat Barack Obama di ibu negara.


Itu pun sudah lupa cara ikat tali leher. Asalkan yang depan tidak pendek, yang belakang tidak panjang. Di pejabat Utusan Malaysia, tidak diwajibkan bertali leher. Berbeza dengan syarikat pesaing di Jalan Riong. Protokol, kata sahabat di sana walaupun mengakui bertali leher untuk wartawan yang mengejar deadline amat menyesakkan nafas.

Pematuhan etika berpakaian selalunya mengikut kesesuaian majlis. Jika ke Parlimen, maka kenalah berpakaian sut lengkap atau berbaju kebangsaan siap dengan songkok dan samping. Hari Jumaat, ada yang memakai baju Melayu sekerat, sekali gus mencacatkan keharmonian pakaian tersebut dan memburukkan pemakainya.

Hal etika berpakaian ini adalah sesuatu yang serius di tempat kerja, terutama pejabat kerajaan. Malah, orang ramai yang datang berurusan, tidak akan dilayan jika memakai selipar dan berseluar pendek.

Hari Khamis sektor awam digalak memakai baju batik. Kalau kebetulan singgah di Alamanda pada hari tersebut, sejuk saja mata memandang. Tampan dan lawa kakitangan kerajaan kita. Ada banyak kesan positif daripada dasar galakan ini, selain menyuburkan industri batik Malaysia.

Dalam kalangan sektor swasta, ketetapan memakai batik tidak ada. Sebelum ini, penetapan itu wujud bila kena menghadiri majlis makan malam dengan tetamu kenamaan. Sedaya-upayalah mengeluarkan ilmu kung fu Bruce Lee mengelak daripada terkena tugasan tersebut.

Secara umumnya, etika berpakaian baik di sektor swasta atau awam ialah pakaian itu hendaklah kemas bagi kedua-dua jantina. Tapi bagaimana berpakaian untuk kelihatan seperti jutawan? Ironinya, saya terbaca artikel mengenai hal ini semasa cuti Hari Buruh. Ironi kerana berangan-angan berpakaian seperti jutawan.

Harus dinyatakan bahawa saya bukan membaca artikel ini dalam majalah atau laman web fesyen atau hiburan. Tetapi dalam portal berita niaga di bawah segmen ‘Strategi’. Ini artikel serius. Bukan main-main. Saya ketawa dalam hati.

Ini kerana tajuk ‘penjagaan kulit sempurna’, pantas membawa memori ketika menemu bual seorang pegawai kanan sebuah syarikat korporat. Ketika itu, sudah petang dan dia berdiri mengadap matahari. Semasa dia menjawab soalan, saya terpandang kulit pipinya. Pegawai itu lelaki. Sekilas itu dalam fikiran saya, dia ini sealiran dengan David Beckham nampaknya. Metroseksual.

Untuk seorang lelaki memiliki kulit halus (tanpa parut jerawat atau luka) bermakna dia memperuntukkan masa dan wang yang banyak untuk mencantikkan kulitnya, sama ada kerap ke salon kecantikan atau menyuntik kalogen. Tidak pula saya bertanya jika dia banyak makan tempe.

Tetapi tidak semestinya wujud kemungkinan itu. Ini kerana dalam artikel itu, antara petua yang diberikan ialah seseorang haruslah memastikan tidurnya bukan sahaja cukup tetapi sempurna mengikut waktu. Dengan cara ini, kulitnya boleh dipelihara.

Memetik tulisan Vicky Oliver dalam bukunya yang berjudul The Millionaire’s Handbook: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire, Even If You’re Not, anda disaran supaya mencatat berapa jam masa tidur anda selama beberapa hari.

"Setelah mendapat gambaran tentang jumlah jam tidur anda, cuba dapatkan masa tidur yang sama setiap malam, termasuk pada hujung minggu. Paksa diri anda tidur dan bangun pada waktu sama setiap hari,’’ tulis Oliver. Dengan cara ini, anda akan dapat memelihara kulit anda.

Saya sebagai lelaki bukan penganut fahaman metroseksual, tidak berhasrat mencuba petua ini. Saya percaya bahawa lelaki tulen hendaklah berkulit kasar dan ada sedikit parut kerana wanita yang saya tanya tentang hal ini turut sama menolak lelaki berkulit licin sebagai calon untuk dijadikan suami ideal. "Nanti atas meja solek, krim muka dia lagi banyak daripada saya,’’ katanya.

Artikel itu seterusnya, memetik juruperunding imej, Sylvie di Giusto berkaitan isu pemakaian kasual. "Masalah dengan kasual, ia tidak pernah didefinisikan sepenuhnya, berbanding formal,’’ ujarnya.

Ramai orang menganggap kasual bermaksud `aku tidak peduli bagaimana hendak berpakaian’, kata di Giusto. Sebaliknya, kasual seharusnya bermaksud hanya beberapa lapis pakaian kerja anda yang berbeza.

Beliau merujuk kepada Presiden Obama, yang menetapkan definisi kasualnya ialah dengan menanggalkan jaket sut, tali leher dan menyingsing lengan.

Seseorang itu boleh menukar seluar kerjanya dengan jeans yang kemas, bukan koyak atau luntur warna yang akan merubah sama sekali makna ‘pakaian kerja’.

Petua di Giusto tentang kasual ialah pakaian itu dengan pantas boleh dikemaskan. Misalnya, bawa jaket dan bila tiba-tiba kena menghadiri mesyuarat tergempar, pakai jaket tersebut.

Satu lagi aspek dalam etika berpakaian ialah tidak menggunakan minyak wangi terlampau banyak sehingga menjejaskan penumpuan orang terhadap apa yang anda cuba perkatakan.

"Detik anda terhidu bau minyak wangi anda sendiri, ia bermaksud anda memakainya terlalu banyak,’’ kata di Giusto. Cuma beliau juga mengakui nasihat itu tidak bersifat sejagat kerana di Itali dan Perancis, penggunaan minyak wangi yang kuat tidak menjadi kesalahan.

Di Malaysia dengan cuaca panas terik, eloklah guna minyak wangi berpada-pada. Bila bercampur peluh, baunya berisiko boleh bertukar menjadi bahan berbahaya untuk kesihatan terutama, orang sekeliling.



JOHARDY IBRAHIM Utusan Rencana 20140504

Kisah perempuan bermulut celupar

Baru-baru ini Bro menerima satu rakaman suara perbualan antara kakitangan pusat khidmat pelanggan yang menguruskan sebuah lebuh raya dengan seorang perempuan berikutan kesesakan teruk di lebuh raya itu.


Apabila mendengar rakaman berdurasi 3 minit tersebut Bro terkejut besar kerana si perempuan yang membuat panggilan itu tidak henti-henti memaki hamun kakitangan berkenaan kerana dia tersangkut dalam kesesakan lalu lintas.

Bro percaya ada antara kita yang mendengar rakaman perbualan itu, cuba dengar baik-baik perkataan yang dihamburkan, Bro rasa kalau hantu dengar, dia pun lari, bahasa digunakan terlalu kasar dan tidak layak sama sekali dikeluarkan seorang perempuan.

Namun walaupun ada orang kata Bro anti perempuan tetapi Bro nak ucapkan tahniah dan `tabik' kepada kakitangan pusat khidmat lebuh raya itu yang tetap melayani panggilan tersebut dengan penuh sopan dan berhemah. Kalau orang lain mungkin si perempuan mulut celupar itu dah `bertemu buku dengan ruas'.

Bro kata macam tu, sebab walaupun Bro seorang lelaki tetapi Bro tak tergamak hendak keluarkan perkataan seperti mana dilakukan si perempuan tersebut. Macam-macam dia kata sehinggakan tak sempat jumpa anak kat rumah pun lebuh raya yang disalahkan.

Bro tak faham kenapa perlu perempuan tersebut memaki hamun kakitangan berkenaan, kalau nak buat aduan atau nak bagi pandangan berilah secara berhemah, tak payah nak maki hamun seolah-olah si penerima panggilan yang juga seorang perempuan tidak ada maruah.

Kalau dah tak mahu tersangkut dalam kesesakan lalu lintas janganlah bekerja duduk sahaja kat rumah layan suami dan anak. Kalau nak kerja juga bersedialah menerima apa juga masalah ketika di jalanan, jangan salahkan orang lain.

Soal dia sampai rumah lewat, tak sempat jumpa anak, letih bekerja dan kemudian tersangkut dalam kesesakan lalu lintas, itu bukan masalah orang lain, tetapi masalah diri sendiri, kenapa `gatal' sangat nak bekerja di tempat yang jauh.

Bro hargai dia bekerja sebab hendak tambah pendapatan keluarga tetapi sia-sia sahaja pahala yang dilakukan melalui perbuatan itu kalau pahala 'tercicir’ di tengah jalan disebabkan memaki hamun orang lain.

Yang Bro pelik tu, kalau dah tahu tak mahu sampai rumah lewat sebab nak uruskan keluarga kenapa cari rumah jauh daripada tempat bekerja?

Kenapa tak cari sahaja pekerjaan yang dekat dengan rumah, kalau tak, lebih baik lepak saja di rumah...habis cerita.

Bro hairan di mana letaknya maruah perempuan yang suka sangat mengeluarkan perkataan kotor dan memaki hamun orang lain. Perempuan yang macam ini Bro anggap ada krisis identiti dan tidak tahu budi pekerti seperti manakah yang sepatutnya ditunjukkan oleh seorang perempuan.

Sebab itulah, Bro selalu cakap perempuan ni kalau tengah marah, tak ingat dosa pahala, semuanya dihamburkan, dia ingat dengan memaki hamun orang lain, masalahnya boleh selesai.

Begitu juga perempuan si panggil tersebut, Bro fahamlah dia letih bekerja tetapi adakah itu caranya hendak melepaskan geram. Adalah lebih baik baik, perempuan itu mencari pahala tambahan apabila tersangkut dalam kesesakan lalu lintas seperti berzikir kepada Allah, Bro yakin insya-Allah, segalanya akan dipermudahkan.

Ini tidak, maki hamun orang sampai tak ingat dunia, Bro rasa orang tak siuman pun tak akan keluarkan perkataan yang perempuan tu lafazkan.

Sebenarnya, Bro dah acap kali jumpa dengan perempuan yang suka sangat maki hamun orang apatah lagi kalau dia diberi mempunyai kedudukan dan berpeluang mempengerusikan sesuatu mesyuarat.

Kalau boleh semua orang dalam mesyuarat tu dia maki, kononnya dialah paling hebat dan sempurna.

Bro berpendapat perempuan macam ni lupa daratan dan sengaja melupakan bahawa setiap yang kita lakukan biar pun sekecil zarah sekali pun pasti ada pembalasannya satu hari nanti.

Cubalah fikir sikit, bagaimana kalau kita berada dalam kedudukan orang yang kita maki hamun tu, apakah perasaan kita? Dah tentu kita marah, sedih dan kecewa.

Jadi Bro nak nasihatkan perempuan-perempuan yang suka sangat maki hamun orang apabila ada masalah banyak-banyaklah ingatkan Allah.

Bro nak ingatkan, kalau sekarang kita memaki hamun orang jangan terkejut kalau nanti di satu masa ada orang akan maki hamun kita pula dan paling menyedihkan kalau perbuatan itu dilakukan orang yang rapat dengan kita termasuklah anak kita sendiri.

Ingatlah apa yang kita lakukan sama ada baik atau buruk pasti ada pembalasan, namun seperti biasa ramai perempuan yang tidak pernah mempedulikan hakikat ini seperti mana perangai perempuan yang membuat panggilan tersebut.

- JUMPA LAGI, Bro Tompok KUCING JANTAN Utusan Rencana 20140504

Filem Cina The Journey lebih Islamik

Filem Cina tempatan, The Journey mencatatkan kutipan lebih RM17 juta. Itu termasuk duit tiket Siti yang menonton filem itu sebanyak tiga kali. Walaupun tidak ada CGI (satu istilah yang pengarah Melayu kerap menyebutnya) The Journey menghamparkan satu wacana budaya dan sosial yang sangat tinggi.


Kalau Siti adalah pengarah filem Melayu terutama yang gemar melondeh pelakon, sudah tentu Siti hantuk kepala ke dinding kerana malu. Siti malu kerana The Journey sebuah filem Cina, diarahkan oleh orang Cina dan dilakonkan juga oleh Cina tapi ia lebih Islamik berbanding filem arahan orang Melayu dan Islam.

Tapi sesetengah pengarah Melayu mana ambil pot semua itu. Entah-entah mereka tak menonton pun The Journey. Iyalah filem ini tak ada adegan bogel-bogelan atau londeh-londehan. Tak ada juga kisah sekular kerana filem ini tentang pelestarian budaya Cina walau di mana mereka berada.

Siti melihat dunia filem Melayu hanya banyak kecoh, kepoh dan riuh rendah termasuk berpesta-pestaan dan penuh dengan skandal sambil memperagakan pakaian mahal. Filem Melayu tidak membawa idealisme, yang banyak ialah gambar-gambar mati yang bergerak. Balik-balik cakap tentang mesej kononnya filem mereka menyumbang melahirkan manusia yang baik-baik. Tapi nak baik macam mana niat pengarah yang buat filem itu pun banyak yang tak betul.

Sebab itu Siti sakit hati dengan sebahagian besar filem Melayu. Siti bayar untuk menonton tapi tak setimpal dengan duit yang Siti keluarkan. Rasa macam nak lontar telur kemuruk saja kepada pengarah begini. Menyesal menonton.

Bila pertama kali menonton The Journey, hati kecil Siti berbisik, "Filem beginilah yang aku cari. Bukan filem sengal cinta-cintaan atau filem hantu yang setengah masak."

Filem Melayu yang pelakon wanitanya suka kangkang koyak, londeh melondeh tak boleh jual macam The Journey. Kenapa? Lepas ini pengarah-pengarah berkenaan kenalah fikir sikit adakah resipi yang merosakkan agama, bangsa dan negara itu masih boleh buat untung?

Ini menunjukkan penonton sudah memilih karya yang menjadi penawar, bukannya racun. Memang orang Cina banyak menonton filem The Journey dan mereka tidak menonton filem Melayu.

Siti fikir orang Cina menonton The Journey bukan kerana ia sebuah filem Cina. Sebabnya Siti sendiri tak merasakan The Journey sebuah filem Cina tapi sebuah paparan peradaban manusia.

Yang peliknya orang Melayu Islam pula suka dengan filem menceritakan dunia gengster, penagih dadah dan orang menjual orang. Bagi orang Melayu filem gengster boleh membina insan untuk memacu negara pada masa depan. Maka mereka pun menontonlah filem-filem yang sebenarnya telah dibakulsampahkan oleh Barat.

Ini juga membolehkan kita membuat kesimpulan bahawa filem hantu dan kisah tahyul banyak ditonton oleh orang Melayu Islam. Sepatutnya perkara ini tidak berlaku. Malah orang Melayu Islam sepatutnya bercitra tinggi dan memilih filem yang baik.

Orang Cina pula menonton filem yang mengangkat peradaban bangsa mereka. Mereka menonton kisah kemanusiaan yang sejagat, merentasi geografi, budaya dan sosial. Mereka tahu menghargai filem yang baik untuk membina jiwa dan rasa kemanusiaan.

Filem The Journey mengenai seorang wanita Cina tempatan membawa pulang seorang lelaki Perancis ke rumah keluarganya di Cameron Highland. Mereka akan berkahwin dan peringkat awal lelaki Perancis itu tidak boleh menerima budaya Cina keluarga kekasihnya.

Si wanita itu sanggup memutuskan hubungan dan membatalkan perkahwinan sekiranya lelaki itu tidak boleh menerima budaya Cina. Satu lagi yang menarik dalam budaya Cina pasangan yang belum berkahwin tidak boleh tidur sebilik. Ironinya banyak filem Melayu menonjolkan seks bebas termasuklah keluarga Melayu yang kononnya elit tidak hirau tentang seks bebas ini.

Siti melihat The Journey lebih Islamik berbanding filem Melayu yang dihasilkan oleh orang Melayu Islam. Sepatutnya bila orang Islam membuat filem, filem mereka tak menjadi perkakas menyebarluaskan budaya songsang dari Barat. Tapi ini tidak berlaku kerana banyak orang Melayu yang buat filem menjadi lebih sekular daripada Barat.

Siti menyimpulkan untuk menghasilkan sebuah filem yang baik, pembuatnya mesti seorang manusia dan pemikir. Kalau pembuatnya umpama robot yang tidak berperasaan, filem yang dihasilkan hanya layak dilontar telur kemuruk. Tak berguna langsung.

SITI JARUM: Sesetengah pengarah Melayu memang tak tahu malu. Utusan Rencana 20140504

Politik Istana Segambut

PADA pemilihan PKR yang lepas terdapat sebanyak 160 aduan rasmi daripada ahli dan pemimpin PKR sendiri kepada jawatankuasa pemilihan parti PKR. Sehingga hari ini tiada sebarang kesimpulan dan susulan tindakan daripada aduan yang lepas.



Sekiranya PKR sendiri tidak dapat menjamin kesuburan demokrasi dan ketelusan dalam pemilihan parti mereka sendiri maka siapa mereka untuk terus mempersoalkan demokrasi dan ketelusan sistem pilihan raya di negara kita? Mereka perlu terlebih dahulu mengubah diri sendiri sebelum berhasrat untuk mengubah orang lain. Statistik angka 160 aduan pemilihan parti sudah boleh direkodkan sebagai pemilihan parti politik yang paling kotor dalam sejarah Malaysia.

UMNO dan Barisan Nasional Lahirkan Bakat Pemimpin Terkemuka PKR

Pakatan Rakyat sering kali suka menjerit slogan ABU (Asalkan Bukan UMNO) dan mencipta permainan persepsi politik bahawa segala-galanya yang tidak baik berlaku dalam negara kita adalah salah UMNO. Rakyat Malaysia perlu diingatkan bahawa Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim sendiri merupakan pemimpin UMNO selama 16 tahun (1982-1998). Di samping itu, kesemua calon Timbalan Pengerusi PKR 2014 memiliki asal usul UMNO baik Azmin Ali, Saifuddin Nasution ataupun Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

Persoalannya, jika masyarakat pada hari ini suka sangat untuk mengagung-agungkan pemimpin PKR maka mengapa pula mereka mahu membeli pakaian daripada reject shop (PKR) sedangkan mereka boleh mendapatkannya daripada pengeluar utama (UMNO)?

Pemilihan PKR 2014

Segala tuduhan dan fitnah yang dilemparkan terhadap SPR dan Barisan Nasional dalam Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13 kini sudah menjadi realiti dalam pemilihan mereka sendiri. Sehingga hari ini PKR gagal untuk membuktikan terdapatnya isu black out, pengundi hantu dan Bangladesh yang disebarkan oleh mereka. Namun begitu, pemimpin, ahli dan jawatankuasa pemilihan PKR sendiri kini mengesahkan terdapatnya black out, pengundi hantu dan kepincangan dalam pemilihan parti mereka. Banyak laporan cuba mengaitkan masalah penyelewengan pemilihan kali ini dengan Azmin. Jika dalam isu kes liwat Anwar, isu yang dibangkitkan ialah Tampering DNA maka kini isunya ialah Vote Tampering dalam pemilihan mereka.

Namun begitu, saya memiliki analisis yang berbeza dalam krisis pemilihan terbaharu yang melanda PKR. Sudah menjadi pengetahuan umum bahawa Azmin tidak lagi mendapat sokongan daripada ‘ahli istana Segambut’ dalam pemilihan kali ini. Tindakan awal Anwar untuk bertanding jawatan no. 1 parti adalah satu langkah untuk menyekat kemaraan kuasa dan pengaruh Azmin. Sekatan halus ini akhirnya menyebabkan Azmin terpaksa berlawan dalam posisi no. 2 parti.

Anwar pula mencaturkan anak perempuannya (Nurul Izzah) dan anak didik baharunya (Rafizi Ramli) untuk membantu Saifuddin berdepan dengan Azmin. Hal ini disebabkan Saifuddin dilihat sebagai seorang yang lebih mudah dikawal berbanding Azmin dan Khalid yang memiliki pengaruh tersendiri dalam parti.

Malangnya, strategi dan rancangan awal Anwar dan Rafizi kini tidak bergerak seperti mana yang diharapkan oleh mereka. Kebangkitan Azmin kini jauh meninggalkan dua lagi calon dalam pemilihan kali ini apabila keputusan terkini menunjukkan Azmin selesa di hadapan dengan 5,111 undi dan diikuti Saifuddin sebanyak 2,322 undi. Khalid pula mendapat 2,228 undi. Sekiranya undi Khalid dan Saifuddin bergabung (4,610) maka angka ini masih lagi jauh di belakang Azmin.

Keadaan ini menyebabkan terdapat pihak yang berkuasa dalam PKR, cuba untuk menjadi dalang masalah pemilihan PKR dan akhirnya dikaitkan dengan Azmin. Strategi ini untuk menjejaskan kredibiliti dan imej Azmin dalam pemilihan parti yang masih lagi belum bermula di lapan negeri lain.

Kedua, sekiranya pada hampir pengakhiran pemilihan rancangan ini gagal, maka mereka mungkin akan menggunakan jawatankuasa pemilihan parti dengan alasan penipuan pemilihan untuk membatalkan kelayakan Azmin untuk posisi no. 2 dalam parti. Strategi yang sama digunakan sebagai alasan kekalahan pakatan pembangkang kepada Barisan Nasional pada PRU-13.

Keluarga Anwar dan Istana Segambut Hilang Kuasa?

Analisis awal ini jelas menunjukkan lebih daripada 75 peratus (Azmin - 5,111 dan Khalid 2,228 ) ahli PKR sendiri tidak menyokong calon yang direstui oleh Istana Segambut. Adakah keluarga Anwar dan Istana Segambut semakin hilang cengkaman kuasa, sokongan, pengaruh dan populariti mereka dalam parti?

Adakah ramalan pakar feng shui Cina yang dilaporkan oleh China Press pada tahun 2012 semakin menjadi realiti? Pada tahun 2012, China Press menulis tentang telahan pakar feng shui yang meramalkan Anwar, 67, pada penghujung usianya ditinggalkan kawan-kawannya dan hidup kesepian keseorangan.


SHEN YEE AUN Utusan Rencana 20140504

Mendedahkan dongeng Malaysiakini

MALAYSIAKINI sejak penubuhannya pada tahun 1999 sering mendakwa diri sebagai sebuah organisasi media yang paling bebas, tidak berpihak dan menyajikan berita terkini.

Namun hakikatnya di sebalik slogan dan retorik yang dilaungkan ternyata mereka berpihak kepada pihak pembangkang sekali gus tidak sebebas yang digambarkan.

Apatah lagi berita terkini yang dikeluarkan mereka lebih berunsur kontroversi, adakalanya mengugut dan mempunyai agenda tersendiri dalam memecah belah rakyat berbilang kaum di negara ini. Berikut dinyatakan pandangan beberapa pihak yang menganggap Malaysiakini tidak lebih mesin propaganda pembangkang dalam menjayakan agenda politik yang kotor.

1. Isu Islam

Walaupun saya sudah membaca Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, Harakah dan pelbagai akhbar lebih 25 tahun dahulu, Malaysiakini menjanjikan berita yang terkini serta dilihat bebas. Sekurang-kurangnya, itu yang pemiliknya mahukan dan yang pembaca mimpikan.

Terbaharu, Malaysiakini untuk kali keseribu, menjual harga diri orang Islam di Malaysia. Mereka galak menghasut bukan Islam untuk membenci orang Islam dalam isu hak penjagaan anak yang diberi kepada ibu bukan Islam yang kemudiannya ‘dirampas’ oleh bapa mualafnya.

Di kala akhbar cetak lain mengambil sikap sederhana dengan tidak mensensasikan isu tersebut kerana khuatir mengguris hati bukan Islam, Malaysiakini berterusan menyerang kredibiliti anggota penguat kuasa yang beragama Islam yang bertindak mengikut akta yang ada - sama ada sivil mahupun syariah.

Malaysiakini langsung tidak peduli akan perasaan orang Islam terhadap artikel mereka, apatah lagi komen mereka yang menggunakan nama samaran dalam ruang komen pembaca untuk membakar sentimen benci Islam.- Mustaqim Abdul Rahman (21/04/2014)

2. Isu MH370

Saya membaca laporan portal propembangkang, Malaysiakini, Kit Siang panggil sidang akhbar mempersoalkan ayat yang digunakan Perdana Menteri (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) berhubung pesawat MH370 berakhir di koridor selatan. Walhal, dalam Malaysiakini juga ada kenyataan Duta Besar China (Dr. Huang Huikang) menyatakan itulah setepat-tepatnya ayat yang digunakan oleh Perdana Menteri.

"Inilah sengaja dieksploitasikan. Dalam hal ini, kita jangan lupa, Kit Siang ialah seorang dramatis. Dahulu, dia menangis ‘takut’ kemungkinan logo roket tak dibenarkan untuk digunakan semasa pilihan raya umum lalu," katanya ketika membahaskan titah ucapan Yang di-Pertuan Agong di Dewan Negara. - Ahli Dewan Negara, Senator Datuk Dr. Firdaus Abdullah (25/04/2014)

Laporan portal berita propembangkang, Malaysiakini disifatkan tidak ubah seperti barah berbahaya yang mampu merosakkan pemikiran masyarakat terutama golongan muda di negara ini. Laporan yang tidak bersandarkan fakta serta gemar menyajikan pendapat tidak berasas bertujuan menimbulkan spekulasi, tidak sewajarnya dibiarkan.

"Malaysiakini sering mewujudkan pelbagai spekulasi melalui pemberitaan yang akhirnya mencalarkan imej negara di mata dunia. Perkara tersebut dapat kita lihat dalam kebanyakan laporan mereka tentang kehilangan pesawat Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH370," katanya. - Presiden Majlis Belia Felda Malaysia (MBFM), Anuar Abdul Manap (14/04/2014)

3. Isu media adil

Kewartawanan di negara ini terbahagi dua (mengikut persepsi ini): yang adil dan yang tidak adil. Ironinya walaupun dalam keadaan wartawan tidak mengamalkan pertimbangan yang adil (seperti kata sesetengah pihak) kita mempunyai organisasi media yang mendakwa mengamalkan ‘kewartawanan adil.’ Salah satunya Malaysiakini.

Tetapi kewartawanan ‘adil’ cara Malaysiakini tidak mungkin wujud kalau Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) tidak memberikan kebebasan itu. Saya tidak dapat membayangkan apakah yang berlaku kepada Malaysiakini sekiranya KDN mengambil pendirian ‘sangat adil’ seperti tindakan pihak berkuasa Singapura terhadap media. - Ku Seman Ku Hussain (13/04/2014)

Kebebasan bersuara hanya layak untuk kelompok yang memihak kepada mereka sahaja, kalau kebebasan bersuara itu menghentam mereka sudah pasti ia disenyapkan dengan seribu satu alasan.

Jika benar Malaysiakini mengamalkan kewartawanan tulen maka mereka perlu mengamalkan sikap bertanggungjawab dengan menapis terlebih dahulu apa juga komen yang mereka fikirkan tidak sesuai disiarkan.

Tetapi ini bukanlah perkiraan Malaysiakini kerana dalam agenda kewartawanan Malaysiakini bukannya mahu mengamalkan kewartawanan yang profesional tetapi lebih banyak dipengaruhi oleh sentimen yang kadang kala pasti mengetepikan rasional.

Dengan berselindung di sebalik istilah ‘Malaysiakini tidak akan bertanggungjawab’ dan ‘laman sosial’, Malaysiakini tidak boleh melenting jika mereka dianggap berbuat demikian untuk melakukan serangan kepada mana-mana pihak yang mereka tidak senangi termasuklah kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN). - Zulkiflee Bakar (12/04/2014)

Malaysiakini perlu bersikap jujur serta menyatakan kewibawaan mereka dalam setiap laporan yang disajikan kepada masyarakat. "Mereka mengutuk Utusan Malaysia serta media arus perdana lain sebagai lidah rasmi kerajaan yang tidak bersifat adil sedangkan mereka sendiri menjadi kuda tunggangan kepada pihak pembangkang. - Presiden Majlis Belia Malaysia (MBM), Mohamed Maliki Mohamed Rapiee (14/04/2014)



Utusan Rencana 20140504

Siapakah yang membentuk imej diri kita?

Waktu yang paling penting pembentukan imej diri seseorang bermula ketika sejak lahir hingga enam tahun. Pada peringkat usia ini, minda kanak-kanak analoginya umpama span, sama ada cecair yang jernih dan keladak yang berada di sekitarnya, semuanya diserap masuk ke dalam span. Begitulah yang berlaku kepada kanak-kanak berusia sejak lahir hingga enam tahun ini, apa-apa yang mereka lihat dan dengar semuanya dirakamkan dalam minda bawah sedar/minda segar mereka.


Oleh sebab itu ada tiga perkara yang ibu bapa tidak boleh lakukan dalam mendidik anak-anak, terutama pada peringkat awal pembesarannya.

Pertama, melabelkan anak-anak.

Contohnya apabila anak-anak kita tidak mahu berkawan dengan anak-anak tetamu yang datang ke rumah kita, di hadapan tetamu ibu bapa mengatakan anak mereka ini pemalu sangat dan tidak reti bercampur. Maka anak-anak yang mendengar penyataan ibu bapa yang memberi label negatif kepada diri mereka, akan tertanam mesej negatif itu dalam minda bawah sedar atau minda segar mereka. Akhirnya terbentuklah imej diri seorang individu yang tidak pandai bersosial dan tidak memiliki keyakinan diri apabila mereka dewasa.

Keadaan yang sama juga akan berlaku kalau ibu bapa suka mengatakan anak mereka nakal, jahat, degil, tidak dengar kata dan seumpamanya (perkataan negatif). Berikanlah label yang positif kepada anak, seperti ‘anak yang baik’, ‘anak yang bertanggungjawab’, ‘anak yang rajin’ dan seumpamanya. Oleh sebab itu ibu bapa, kawal emosi dan berkatalah dengan akal bukan dengan emosi apabila berhadapan dengan ragam anak-anak.

Kedua, menghukum anak-anak dengan cara kekerasan.

Kanak-kanak sejak lahir hingga enam tahun, pada waktu ini perlukan sepenuhnya kasih sayang. Rahsia atau tenaga yang paling besar menjadikan dunia ini nikmat ialah kasih sayang. Kanak-kanak yang dididik dengan kasih sayang akan membentuk imej dirinya menjadi seorang yang penyayang.

Kalau mereka dibesarkan dengan kebencian dan kritikan, mereka akan belajar membenci orang dan suka mengkritik serta mencari kesalahan orang. Puji dan berilah penghargaan kepada anak-anak.Mereka yang sering dipuji dan diberikan penghargaan akan tinggi semangatnya, ceria dan bertenaga.

Ketiga, membanding-bandingkan anak-anak.

Iaitu membandingkan anak-anak dengan sesama adik-beradik mereka, atau mewujudkan persaingan antara anak kita dengan anak orang lain. Anak-anak yang dididik berlumba untuk mengejar pencapaian keduniaan (menjadi kuda pacuan) untuk ayah dan ibu bermegah-megah dengan pencapaian akademik anaknya, walaupun tidak dinafikan banyak kesan positif, tetapi tanpa disedari telah membina imej diri negatif kepada anak-anak. Kerana anak-anak ini ibarat setandan kelapa, dalam setandan kelapa tidak semuanya elok buahnya.

Maka bagi anak yang mendapat penghargaan daripada ibu bapa kerana pencapaian cemerlang dalam pelajarannya, mereka akan turut bermegah sama seperti ibu bapanya, sedangkan anak yang tidak berjaya mencapai hasrat ibu bapanya akan berasa rendah diri, tidak disayangi, dan berasa ibu bapanya pilih kasih. Imej diri negatif kepada anak-anak yang lemah sedang dibina oleh ibu bapa yang membanding-bandingkan kemampuan anak-anaknya.

Apabila anak-anak berumur 14 hingga 21 tahun, mereka dipengaruhi oleh alam sekeliling/persekitaran dan kawan-kawan mereka. Sebab itulah daripada usia 14 tahun ke bawah, adalah waktu yang sangat penting dalam pendidikan anak-anak, kerana ibu bapa boleh membentuk imej diri anak-anak, sebelum mereka berdikari dan terdedah dengan dunia persekitaran yang lebih terbuka dan mencabar.

Bersahabat

Pada usia begini ibu bapa perlu menggunakan kaedah bersahabat dengan anak-anak. Kenal kawan-kawan anak-anak kita dan lebih baik lagi jika kita mengenali keluarga kawan-kawan mereka. Kebersamaan ibu bapa dalam aktiviti yang disukai oleh anak-anak, sebagai ‘sahabat’ adalah sangat baik, berbanding jika ibu bapa melepaskan anak-anak bersama-sama rakan sebaya mereka. Perlu diingat pada usia begini anak-anak adalah remaja yang sedang menghadapi krisis identiti, dan mereka sedang tercari-cari identiti atau imej dirinya.

Remaja yang mempunyai ibu bapa yang garang; suka memukul, mengherdik, memaki-hamun dan cuba mendidik anak dengan disiplin dan kekerasan, akan menjadikan anak remaja ini, seorang yang suka bermuka-muka. Di hadapan ibu bapa atau guru kerana takut dan terikat dengan disiplin, mereka akan menjadi seorang yang pendiam, baik dan patuh kepada disiplin yang ditetapkan. Tetapi, di belakang ibu bapa atau guru nanti, mereka akan tunjuk sikap ‘singa’ mereka. Mereka menunjukkan jiwa memberontak mereka terhadap apa-apa yang mereka alami sama ada di rumah atau di sekolah, dan membalasnya dengan membuli orang bagi melepaskan geram yang terpendam di hati.

Oleh sebab itu, kalau hendak marah anak atau pelajar, kawal dan tingkatkan akaun emosi mereka sebelum dihukum atau sesudah dihukum. Sebelum kita memarahi anak atau pelajar, puji kebaikan mereka dahulu dengan menyebut kebaikan-kebaikan yang telah mereka miliki. Kemudian itu barulah disebut kesilapan atau kesalahan mereka yang menjadi kekurangan bagi melengkapkan diri mereka menjadi seorang individu yang hebat dan berimej positif.

Selepas memberikan hukuman kepada anak atau pelajar, nyatakan kepada mereka mengapa kita memarahinya dan mengambil tindakan terhadapnya. Dan katakan kepada mereka, kita bukan memarahi kerana benci kepada dirinya, tetapi kita marah kepada kesalahannya dan tidak suka kepada perangai mereka, bukan tidak suka orangnya. Kalau memukul anak, pukullah dengan tujuan mengajar bukan mendera atau melepaskan emosi marah. Kalau boleh didiklah anak dengan kelembutan bukan kekerasan.

Setiap kali kita marah kita merosakkan imej diri anak atau pelajar, dan akaun emosi mereka tercalar. Sebab ‘fikiran’ menghasilkan ‘emosi’, ‘emosi’ menghasilkan ‘tindakan’, dan ‘tindakan’ itulah menghasilkan tabiat, perwatakan, personaliti, akhlak dan imej diri.

Jom audit diri adakah kita seorang yang menyumbang kepada pembentukan imej positif atau imej negatif? Jangan cari keburukan dan kutuk mengutuk tetapi carilah kebaikan. Kita menjadi orang yang susah memuji orang sebab hati kita tidak bersih. Kita menjadi orang yang kurang harga diri sebab kita tidak suka menghargai orang. Orang yang pemikirannya kecil suka memperkecilkan orang. Orang yang berminda besar suka membuat orang menjadi besar dan hebat. Orang yang berminda kecil - masalah jadi besar, dan orang yang berminda besar -masalah menjadi kecil. "Jom jaga diri, jaga akidah, ibadah dan akhlak".

* Ikuti program Kanta Prof. Muhaya di TV2 setiap Rabu 6.30 pagi dan ulangan setiap Jumaat 1.30 tengah hari.

* Fanpage: wwww.facebook.com /profdrmuhaya.

* PROF. DR. MUHAYA MOHAMAD ialah Profesor Oftalmologi, Allianze University College of Medical Sciences (AUCMS) dan Penceramah Utama Jelajah Celik Famili dan Felo Dakwah Yadim. Utusan Rencana 20140504

Anugerah buat Malek Noor

UMUM mengetahui penghijrahan yang dilalui oleh bekas juara bina badan Asia, Datuk Malek Noor, 59, dalam mencari keredaan Allah lebih 10 tahun yang lalu.

Dedahnya, daripada seorang yang dahulunya tidak menunaikan kewajipan sebagai seorang beragama Islam, dia bersyukur diberi hidayah untuk pulang ke jalan yang benar bagi menebus segala dosa lalu.

Semuanya bermula pada 2002 apabila dia terdengar sayup-sayup azan Maghrib di masjid berhampiran kediamannya membuatkan dia tersedar kelalaian seumur hidupnya dalam mengejar duniawi lalu timbul keinsafan pada usia 46 tahun.

Detik tersebut mengubah hidup Malek 360 darjah. Segala kejayaan zaman kegemilangannya dalam bidang bina badan dibuang terus daripada hidupnya. Sejak itu hidup Malek lebih tenang dan gembira berbanding dahulu.

Namun, tidak ramai tahu di sebalik hidayah yang diberikan, ada lagi anugerah yang tak terduga diterimanya selepas penghijrahannya iaitu kebolehan untuk ‘melihat’ dan mengubati mereka yang datang menemuinya.

Tidak mahu dilihat umpama ustaz, jauh sekali bomoh atau pawang, dia mengumpamakan dirinya sebagai penyampai daripada Tuhan bagi membantu apa yang mampu menerusi apa yang diperturunkan daripada dalam mimpi.

MALEK pernah menerima pelbagai anugerah sewaktu zaman kegemilangannya sebagai atlet bina badan yang berjaya.

Ceritanya, selama dia hidup, tidak pernah sekalipun dia melihat perkara dari alam ghaib sehingga dia mendapat mimpi tersebut, hijab matanya umpama terbuka membuatkan dia kadang-kadang dapat melihat sedikit alam tersebut menimbulkan lebih keinsafan dalam dirinya.

Dia juga mula mampu membaca perwatakan dan masalah orang yang ditemuinya.

Selain mimpi, dia terdengar suara seperti alat rakaman di telinganya yang mengajar Malek apa perlu dilakukan dalam menyelesaikan sesuatu masalah.

"Tidak tahu macam mana, saya mula bergantung sepenuhnya dengan ayat al-Quran. Di dalam kereta saya memasang dan mendengar rakaman bacaan ayat al-Quran, di rumah malah ketika tidur sekalipun saya kena mendengarnya.

"Rasa seperti satu kewajipan mendengar dan membaca ayat suci al-Quran," tambahnya.

Lama dia menyimpan rahsia tersebut, sehinggalah Malek pulang dari mengerjakan haji pada Oktober tahun lalu bersama isteri tercintanya, Datin Dr. Wan Asma Wan Ismail, 55.

Tidak tahu bagaimana mahu membuka rahsia tersebut, Malek menyuruh isterinya baring lalu dia mengurut Wan Asma yang merupakan seorang doktor.

Terkejut isterinya melihat kebolehan Malek. Hilang segala sakit di badannya dengan urutan tersebut walaupun sebelum ini ujar Malek, dia tidak pernah mengurut sesiapa.

Membantu

Dia pun mula menceritakan setiap apa yang berlaku terhadap dirinya dan atas sokongan isteri, dia membuat keputusan untuk menggunakan pengetahuan yang diperturunkan kepadanya bagi membantu mereka yang memerlukan.

Malek mula membantu rakan-rakannya terlebih dahulu dan sehingga timbul keyakinan, dia mula memberi perkhidmatan di Sinar Permata Solution di Bandar Baru Uda, Johor seterusnya ke cawangan-cawangannya yang lain sekitar Malaysia.

"Bila orang tanya, saya tak cakap saya ada ilmu, cuma saya umpama penyampai dari Allah. Saya menurunkan apa yang saya dapat dalam mimpi.

"Saya menggabungkan kebolehan itu dengan pengetahuan dalam bidang pemakanan dan kesihatan bagi memberi penyelesaian kepada mereka," ujar Malek yang mempunyai Diploma Pemakanan Fizikal dari Weider College, Kanada.

Terang Malek, kebanyakan pesakit yang menemuinya itu sebenarnya berpunca daripada pemakanan yang tidak betul dan tidak menjaga kesihatan seperti yang sepatutnya.

Namun terang Malek, tidak semua masalah pesakit yang datang menemuinya dapat diselesaikan. Ada perkara yang terlalu berat dan di luar kemampuannya.

Ada keadaan sehingga dia pula yang sakit apabila berdepan dengan pesakit yang ‘datang’ bersama makhluk halus yang terlalu kuat.

Ujar Pengarah Eksekutif Universal Fitness & Leisure Sdn. Bhd. ini, kadang-kadang dia merasakan satu beban berat ditanggungnya dalam menerima keistimewaan tersebut.

Ditanya tidakkah kisah mengurut pesakit sehingga ke kaki walhal dirinya seorang berpangkat Datuk dan merupakan orang penting untuk beberapa buah syarikat, ujarnya, dia tidak kisah dengan hal tersebut.

"Bukan senang mendapat peluang untuk memberikan kembali apa yang Tuhan berikan kepada kita dan saya percaya itu satu rahmat.

"Sebagai orang Islam, kita tidak boleh berbangga diri dan bermegah walaupun tinggi mana pangkat kita.

"Sebusuk-busuk kaki yang diangkat itu, esok-esok kaki itulah yang membantu di akhirat nanti," ujarnya.

Bergurau mengenai kehidupan selepas berkahwin dengan cinta hatinya pada 12 Mac 2012, ujar Malek, dia merasakan kebahagiaan yang tidak pernah terbayang olehnya sebelum ini.

Ujarnya, walaupun mereka tinggal berjauhan akibat komitmen isterinya sebagai pakar kanak-kanak di Hospital Pakar Perdana KPJ di Kota Bharu, Kelantan dan dia sebagai pengerusi beberapa buah syarikat di Kuala Lumpur, mereka berhubung melalui telefon sebanyak 10 kali sehari.

Malah, jika ada kelapangan, Malek akan berusaha untuk pulang ke Kelantan seminggu sekali bagi melepaskan rindu.

"Memang bahagia bersama dia. Setiap hari kami bergurau dan seronok apabila mempunyai teman yang juga kawan baik saya. Ikutkan hati, esok juga saya mahu terus pulang dan tinggalkan semua (komitmen) di sini. Tapi tanggungjawab di sini masih banyak," terangnya.

Raja Intan Dianna Raja Azaham Utusan Rencana 20140504

Kaji semula tahap membaca

PAGI Rabu lalu, saya berkesempatan mengunjungi Pesta Buku Antarabangsa Kuala Lumpur (PBAKL) Ke-33 di Pusat Dagangan Dunia Putra (PWTC), Kuala Lumpur. Hari ini pesta buku akan menutup tirai.


Ketika saya menuju ke PWTC, deretan bas sekolah dan bas persiaran kelihatan bersidai di tepi jalan dekat Bukit Tunku.

Apabila menjejakkan kaki di ruang legar PWTC, membuatkan hati saya lebih teruja. Baharu pukul 10 pagi, lautan manusia sudah memenuhi ruang dewan PBAKL. Paling ramai ialah pelajar sekolah rendah dan menengah.

Mereka datang untuk mendapatkan bahan rujukan, sudah tentu buku ulang kaji berkaitan peperiksaan. Bagi penuntut institut pengajian tinggi pula mencari bacaan ilmiah. Petugas di gerai-gerai buku tak menang tangan melayan permintaan pelanggan.

Kebanyakan pengunjung sudah tentu teruja apabila terdapat banyak buku, novel dan majalah ditawarkan pada harga yang berpatutan.

Secara kebetulan juga saya bertemu dengan kenalan lama - penyajak, pelakon dan bekas penyunting surat khabar Utusan Melayu, saudara Pyan Habib. Dia mempromosikan buku Balada Pyan Habib di gerai Institut Terjemahan dan Buku Malaysia (ITBM). Sempat juga melihat gelagatnya berkomunikasi dengan pembeli bukunya itu.

Melihat orang ramai berpusu-pusu menyelinap setiap lorong di dalam dewan pameran buku ini, timbul pertanyaan dalam minda saya, betulkah kajian tentang rakyat Malaysia hanya membaca dua halaman sahaja dalam setahun.

Mungkin itu kajian sedekad lalu, bagaimana trend membaca kita sekarang? Kajian ini mesti dilakukan supaya fakta usang itu perlu diperbetulkan. Siapa patut lakukan tugas ini?

Gaya penerbitan buku sekarang pun telah dipelbagai khususnya dalam penghasilan buku yang bermutu tinggi berbanding bahan bacaan berunsurkan tahyul dan hantu.Hakikatnya, minat sesetengah masyarakat kita terhadap buku semakin meningkat.

Tak kiralah minat mereka kepada buku berunsurkan agama, komik, kartun ataupun novel. Yang penting minat membaca itu usah dibalas dengan kritikan yang akhirnya boleh membunuh minat membaca.

Persembahan kandungan buku sekarang semakin menarik tidak seperti dahulu. Bagi buku kanak-kanak, kandungannya disampaikan secara ilustrasi yang menarik, bermaklumat serta berwarna-warni. Begitu juga reka bentuk buku-buku agama dengan corak dan warna yang menyegarkan mata.

Di PBAKL, ramai penggemar buku menjadi rambang mata untuk memilih bahan bacaan daripada pelbagai genre.

Industri buku Malaysia boleh maju. Kempen memupuk sikap membaca dalam kalangan rakyat Malaysia perlu diperhebatkan demi kemajuan industri buku negara.

Sejak sedekad lalu, ramai penulis baharu telah meraih keuntungan melalui penulisan baik novel, komik atau biografi. Atau menjadi penulis untuk buku rujukan pelajaran, keagamaan dan motivasi pelbagai bidang.

Jadi kejayaan beberapa penulis telah memberi inspirasi kepada rakyat Malaysia, mereka bukan sekadar menjadi pembaca, tetapi boleh terlibat dalam penghasilan sesebuah karya.

Selain pameran buku baharu di pasaran serta jualan buku dengan tawaran harga menarik, pelbagai aktiviti dan program turut disediakan untuk para pengunjung PBAKL. Antaranya ceramah penulisan, bengkel penerbitan buku, pelancaran buku dan sesi bertemu penulis.

Berdasarkan pengamatan terhadap sambutan pengunjung ke mana-mana pesta buku yang dianjurkan baik di Kuala Lumpur atau di negeri-negeri, diharap budaya membaca dalam kalangan masyarakat terutama generasi muda bertambah baik.

Nampaknya, bahan bacaan tradisional iaitu yang dicetak dengan reka bentuk menarik berjaya melawan serangan bahan bacaan dalam bentuk digital atau e-book. Ini berdasarkan pada banyak penerbit buku dan majalah masih kekal hingga ke hari ini.

Bagaimanapun kebanyakan penerbit sekarang bukan lagi menghadapi masalah pasaran, tetapi berhadapan dengan masalah mendapatkan manuskrip yang bermutu. Peluang ini patut direbut oleh penulis lama dan baharu dengan menawarkan penulisan yang bermutu dan kreatif untuk diterbitkan.

Sehubungan itu, penerbit pula jangan terlampau tamak dan patut menawarkan bayaran royalti atau honorarium yang setimpal kepada para penulis dalam usaha menggalakkan pertumbuhan industri buku kita.



AZMAN ANUAR Utusan Rencana 20140504

Bukan defensif tetapi membentangkan realiti

DAKWAAN sesetengah pihak bahawa mereka didiskriminasi di negara ini bukan isu baharu. Tetapi cerita sebenarnya hanya dilarang menggunakan kalimah Allah dalam Bible bahasa Melayu.


Nampaknya begitu mudah pihak tertentu melontarkan tuduhan bahawa negara ini mendiskriminasikan kaum minoriti yakni bukan Melayu dan bukan bumiputera dan juga agama selain Islam.

Tidak banyak pihak yang mempunyai kuasa menyanggah dan membetulkan tanggapan yang salah dan mempunyai agenda memburukkan Malaysia. Yang banyak ialah berdiam diri seolah-olah mengiyakan yang salah itu sebagai suatu yang betul. Mereka tidak ada keberanian untuk membetulkan kesengajaan itu.

Bagi saya ini tindakan tidak patriotik dan ada agenda peribadi. Ini tidak adil kepada orang Melayu dan bumiputera di mana mereka dianggap hidup mewah di atas hak kaum minoriti. Gambarannya seolah-olah orang Melayu menguasai ekonomi negara ini. Padahal hakikatnya tidak sampai 30 peratus ekuiti dipegang oleh orang Melayu.

Kalau dicongak secara mudah adakah penguasaan 30 peratus ini bererti menguasai ekonomi negara ini? Kalau orang Melayu mendiskriminasikan kaum lain terutama Cina sudah tentu penguasaan ekonomi Melayu sekurang-kurangnya 51 peratus. Tetapi tidak sampai 30 peratus. Yang selebihnya siapa yang punya?

Kalau kita intai-intai senarai sepuluh orang terkaya di negara ini, berapa orang Melayu dan berapa pula orang kaya Cina serta jumlah kekayaan mereka. Kalau inilah dinamakan diskriminasi, kenapa hendak bising? Bukankah itu menguntungkan orang Cina? Pelik bukan, pihak yang kena diskriminasi pula yang memonopoli. Inilah perkara pelik yang hanya berlaku di Malaysia.

Mereka menuduh kerajaan hanya memberi tumpuan kepada agama Islam dan melarang kebebasan agama lain, fakta yang berada di depan mata kita adalah sebaliknya. Kebebasan melampau diberikan kepada agama lain hingga seolah-olah Islam bukan lagi Agama Persekutuan. Di mana diskriminasinya?

Saya sendiri ada kalanya terfikir Islam bukan lagi Agama Persekutuan. Sebabnya jumlah kuil Hindu misalnya di Kuala Lumpur hampir sama atau sudah lebih berbanding masjid. Untuk merobohkan masjid jauh lebih mudah berbanding kuil dan dalam banyak keadaan kerajaan memilih untuk mengalah. Di Putrajaya yang 95 peratus orang Islam pun akan dibina kuil terbesar yang terletak di Presint 20. Adakah ini kerana di Putrajaya ada dua masjid besar, maka kuil Hindu besar pun mesti diadakan?

Setiap kali perayaan Thaipusam, beberapa jalan utama di Kuala Lumpur terpaksa ditutup kepada lalu lintas. Ini untuk memberi peluang kepada perarakan penganut Hindu. Kerana menghormati kebebasan beragama seperti yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan, saya cuba untuk tidak merasakan keadaan lalu lintas yang terganggu itu sebagai masalah.

Malah rakan-rakan yang tinggal di sekitar Batu Caves dan Selayang selalu merungut kerana setiap kali perayaan Thaipusam, mereka terpaksa berkurung dalam rumah. Ini disebabkan keadaan lalu lintas sangat sesak dengan kehadiran beratus ribu penganut Hindu untuk berkumpul di Batu Caves.

Tetapi saya selalu menasihatkan inilah kehidupan kita dalam negara pelbagai kaum dan agama. Kita perlu bertolak ansur dengan memberi peluang kepada penganut agama lain meraikan acara agama masing-masing.

Saya tidak mempersoalkan sambutan dalam agama lain yang mendatangkan kesusahan kepada orang Melayu dan Islam. Ia sekadar membentangkan bahawa tuduhan agama lain didiskrimikasikan adalah tidak benar sama sekali.

Isu agama memang suatu yang sensitif. Kerap kali banyak yang hilang kewarasan apabila merasakan agama mereka dipinggirkan. Tetapi yang sepatutnyanya merasa sensitif ialah orang Islam kerana kebebasan luar biasa diberikan kepada agama lain.

Tetapi kerana orang Melayu Islam mempunyai kewarasan dan tolak ansur yang tinggi, bara ketidakpuasan hati itu terkawal. Faktor ini membuatkan kehidupan masyarakat pelbagai agama di negara ini harmoni dan aman. Sebab itulah kita mesti membetulkan tanggapan yang mengatakan berlaku diskriminasi agama di negara ini.

Dari segi ekonomi dan pendidikan pula, kalau ditinjau sepanjang Najib Razak menjadi Perdana Menteri, hampir RM500 juta peruntukan telah disalurkan untuk meningkatkan taraf hidup kaum India. Ini untuk memastikan kaum paling minoriti daripada tiga kaum utama itu berjaya dalam ekonomi dan pemilikan ekuiti.

Misalnya menerusi Tabung Ekonomi Kumpulan Usaha Niaga (Tekun), kerajaan memperuntukkan RM34.5 juta untuk membantu peniaga kaum India antara tahun 2008 hingga 2011.

Pada 2012 pula Tekun menyalurkan peruntukan RM30 juta sementara 2013 sebanyak RM50 juta dan tahun ini juga RM50 juta kepada kaum India. Bagi dana lain, dalam tempoh dari Ogos 2012 hingga Oktober 2013, sebanyak 8,107 permohonan daripada usahawan India telah diterima dan sebanyak RM119.4 juta sudah disalurkan.

Bagi memastikan generasi muda India tidak ketinggalan dalam pendidikan, kerajaan menyalurkan peruntukan RM100 juta untuk Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil (SJKT) sama seperti yang diperoleh Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina (SJKC).

Semua yang dibangkitkan ini bukanlah untuk mengungkit atau defensif tetapi sekadar menegaskan tidak berlaku diskriminasi seperti yang dicanang oleh pihak tertentu. Saya terpaksa menulis ini kerana hanya satu dua sahaja orang politik yang bersuara membetulkan tanggapan ini. Mengiyakan tanggapan salah tentang agama, bangsa dan negara adalah tindakan tidak bertanggungjawab. Saya tidak mahu menjadi seperti mereka. Ku SEMAN KU HUSSAIN Utusan Rencana 20140504

Asia Tenggara bergolak?

SEPERTI yang tercatat dalam coretan saya terdahulu, Chin Peng berhijrah ke China pada pertengahan tahun 1961 untuk mengetuai apa yang dinamakan Perwakilan Jawatankuasa Pusat Parti Komunis Malaya (PKM) di Beijing. Ini atas keputusan PKM yang berpangkalan di Sadao, selatan Thailand (kemudian berpindah ke Betong). Saya telah ceritakan kenapa PKM menghantar Chin Peng ke China. Walaupun risikan Cawangan Khas ada menunjukkan bahawa PKM, setelah berundur ke sebelah Thailand di sempadan Malaysia - Thailand membuat persiapan mahu meneruskan perjuangan bersenjata, namun Chin Peng, dalam bukunya ‘Chin Peng, My Side of History,’ ada berkata parti telah membuat keputusan "… at least for the forseeable future, to abandon our armed struggle and revert to underground political activities…" (halaman 424 buku tersebut). Ini dinyatakannya kepada Le Duan, pemimpin tertinggi parti komunis Vietnam Lao Dong semasa dia singgah di Hanoi dalam perjalanan ke Beijing.



Mengikut halaman 428 hingga 436 buku Chin Peng, sebaik-baik tiba di China beberapa perbincangan telah diadakan antara pihaknya dengan petugas di Jabatan Perhubungan (Liaison Department) Parti Komunis China (PKC) di Beijing.

Pada awal tahun 1960-an itu Deng Xiao-ping, yang bakal mengubah dasar-dasar kerajaan China selepas kematian Mao Tse-tung (1976), ialah Setiausaha Agung PKC dan Liaison Department, terletak di bawah urusannya secara langsung, bermakna segala rumusan perbincangan dihantar terus kepada Deng Xiao-ping.

Dipendekkan kata, pada akhir siri perbincangan itu, Parti Komunis China bersetuju untuk memberi lebih banyak bantuan kewangan kepada PKM. Tetapi, jelas bantuan ini bersyarat iaitu PKM hendaklah meneruskan perjuangan bersenjata.

Ini dinyatakan oleh Deng Xiao-ping sendiri semasa pertemuan dengan Chin Peng di pejabatnyapada Julai 1961 yang turut dihadiri Siao Chang dan Musa Ahmad. (Siao Chang ialah AJK Pusat PKM, sementara Musa Ahmad ialah pengerusi parti ketika itu. Siao Chang telah mengetuai perwakilan PKM semasa perundingan damai di Phuket pada 1988/1989. Dia meninggal dunia kerana penyakit barah semasa perundingan masih berjalan.)

Di halaman 428 dalam bukunya Chin Peng berkata : "Deng memulakan perbincangan. Katanya, tidak berapa lama lagi Asia Tenggara akan mengalami perubahan besar. Kami (Chin Peng) tahu Deng baru saja mengadakan perbincangan dengan Ho Chi Minh … dan dia tahu rancangan Ho untuk menyatukan seluruh Vietnam. Juga, Deng tahu perancangan (orang komunis) di Burma (kini Myanmar), Siam, Laos, Kemboja dan Indonesia kerana mereka diberi kemudahan-kemudahan latihan yang penting di China pada masa itu (tahun 1960-an).

Seterusnya, di halaman 429, Chin Peng berkata: "Dari segi strategi, Deng menegaskan seluruh rantau Asia Tenggara akan bergolak hebat yang mana kami (PKM) telah sekian lama melaluinya... Saya menanyakan Deng: "Jika kami memulakan semula perjuangan bersenjata, apakah pertolongan yang boleh kami harapkan dari China?" Saya beritahu Deng, ini adalah perkara yang akan dipersoalkan oleh Jawatankuasa Pusat PKM".

Bantuan kewangan

Menurut Chin Peng, pertemuan sehari suntuk dengan Deng Xiao-ping pada bulan Julai 1961 itu berkesudahan dengan pihaknya dikehendaki membuat cadangan kepada Jawatankuasa Pusat PKM untuk meneruskan perjuangan bersenjata, manakala Deng memberi janji bahawa China akan membantu PKM dari segi kewangan jika sesuatu persetujuan bersama dapat dicapai. Perkara-perkara detail akan diuruskan Liaison Department.

Selepas pertemuan itu, Chin Peng mengadakan perbincangan dengan pemimpin-pemimpin PKM yang tinggal di Beijing. Di halaman 433 bukunya, Chin Peng berkata: "Yang ironiknya, Musa Ahmad, orang yang telah kami angkat menjadi pengerusi parti sejak sebelum perundingan Baling (1955) - yang kemudiannya akan belot terhadap kami - menunjukkan sikap cukup optimistik terhadap cadangan Deng.

Kata Musa: "Dengan pertolongan China, kita boleh merampas Malaya dalam masa lima tahun." Pandangan Musa tidak munasabah. Saya berpendapat, dalam masa lapan hingga sepuluh tahun lebih munasabah. Akhirnya, semua AJK Pusat PKM bersetuju dengan kehendak Deng supaya PKM kembali kepada perjuangan bersenjata. Namun bagi Chin Peng, dia berhujah: "I fell in line, as did the rest. But, in truth, behind our affirmative decision lay a degree of reluctance. After all, our 1959 Sadao resolution had not been a passing whim. We had arrived at it following much analysis and self-criticism."

Selepas itu, beberapa siri rundingan telah diadakan dengan Liaison Department yang memakan masa beberapa minggu sebelum keputusan-keputusan muktamad dicapai. Seperti disimpulkan oleh Chin Peng di halaman 436 dalam bukunya : "I don’t wish to go into the exact details of how our secret financial channels came about. Suffice to say, we operated then in very respectable circumstances for 20 years and were never disturbed. The CPM always functioned within strict budgetary constraints, and even tougher controls were applied the moment Peking starts funding us in 1961. Each year our requests, based on US dollar calculations, were lodged with the Chinese (Liaison Department). But we could draw funds in practically any currency we liked. As requirements presented themselves, our budget was expanded accordingly by the Peking authorities. These general arrangements remained in place until the financial assistance dried up in 1989." Yakni, bantuan kewangan daripada China, menerusi Liaison Department itu telah dihentikan oleh China sebaik-baik saja Perjanjian Damai Haadyai dimeterai pada Disember 1989.

Ada beberapa perkara yang menarik bagi saya yang tidak disebut oleh Chin Peng dalam bukunya di sekitar tahun 1960-an dan 1970-an yang berlaku di China semasa dia bermastautin di sana.

Maksud saya ialah perkara-perkara yang, walaupun pokoknya menyentuh pergolakan politik atau pemerintahan negara China, namun ada kaitannya dengan Parti Komunis Malaya. Sesetengahnya ada disentuhnya secara sepintas lalu walaupun saya rasa dia boleh mengupas lebih meluas lagi.

Sebagai contoh, Chin Peng tidak mengulas dengan mendalam sesetengah pemimpin kanan Parti Komunis China yang saling bertelagah untuk merebut kuasa, dan bagaimana Mao Tse-tung pula, dengan cukup licik dan tipu helah telah memperdayakan pihak-pihak yang bertelagah itu untuk memperkukuh dan menyelamatkan kedudukannya.

Mao melakukannya dengan cara melaga-lagakan pemimpin-pemimpin PKC yang dimaksudkan, sampai ada antara mereka yang dizalimi atau terseksa.

Chin Peng juga tidak menyebut langsung kesan-kesan buruk daripada dasar Parti Komunis China yang memberi sokongan padu kepada Parti Komunis Indonesia (PKI) pimpinan D.N Aidit yang berkesudahan dengan tercetusnya peristiwa berdarah yang dinamakan Gerakan Gestapo PKI 30 September 1965 atau ringkasnya G30S.

Ini ialah peristiwa keganasan di mana Parti Komunis Indonesia, dengan sokongan sangat padu daripada Presiden Soekarno telah cuba merampas kuasa politik di Jakarta pada malam 30 September 1965, bermula dengan pembunuhan empat orang Jeneral Tentera Darat Indonesia. Ia berkesudahan dengan pengharaman serta-merta PKI serta pembunuhan ratusan ribu anggota parti itu, kebanyakannya oleh tentera Indonesia, sebahagiannya rakyat biasa negara itu sendiri.

Ada sumber mengatakan bilangan yang terbunuh melebihi satu juta orang. Lebih malang lagi, ia menyebabkan terputusnya hubungan diplomatik antara Indonesia dan China, selain menyalakan api kemarahan dan kebencian rakyat Indonesia terhadap warga Indonesia keturunan Cina.

Banyak maklumat diterima Cawangan Khas PDRM bahawa di sesetengah wilayah di Indonesia, ramai penduduk warga Indonesia keturunan Cina dibunuh secara kejam dan rumah-rumah serta kedai-kedai mereka dibakar gara-gara tanggapan mereka bahawa pihak Parti Komunis China terbabit dalam peristiwa berdarah G30S itu.

Ini semua berpunca daripada keserakahan Parti Komunis China di bawah pimpinan Mao Tse-tung dalam tahun 1960-an yang mahu menyebarkan fahaman komunisme corak Mao Tse-tung.

Hakikat bahawa Parti Komunis China semacam sudah tahu apa yang bakal berlaku di Jakarta, gara-gara langkah PKI dengan aksi G30S itu tampak tersirat di halaman 428 dalam buku Chin Peng.

Beginilah katanya : "Deng knew the minds and plans of the… Indonesian comrades who all maintained important training facilities in China at this time.(1960-an)."

Seperti yang saya katakan, pertemuan Chin Peng dengan Deng Xiao-ping pada bulan Julai 1961, sedangkan peristiwa Gerakan Gestapo PKI itu meletus pada bulan September 1965, hanya empat tahun sahaja jaraknya.

Saya akan mengisahkan lain-lain aspek pergolakan politik Parti Komunis China dalam tahun 1960-an dan sejauh mana perkembangan-perkembangan itu telah mempengaruhi kedudukan dan hala tuju perjuangan Parti Komunis Malaya.



ABDUL RAHIM NOOR Utusan Rencana 20140504

Bisik-Bisik Awang Selamat ~ Hudud, Cap Ayam, Polis, Gay dan Ayam-Ayam

Brunei dan hudud

Awang menerima permintaan daripada seorang sahabat agar menyiarkan teks penuh Sultan Brunei berkaitan pelaksanaan undang-undang syariah di negara tersebut.

Bagi tujuan rekod maka disiarkan teks tersebut, yang sudah tentu juga buat renungan kita bersama. Lebih-lebih lagi ketika isu hudud hangat diperkatakan di negara ini.

Pada 22 Oktober 2013 lalu, beta telah mengumumkan pewartaan perintah kanun hukuman jenayah syariah 2013 maka pada hari ini setelah berlangsung enam bulan beta dengan bertawakal kepada Allah SWT serta bersyukur mengisytiharkan bahawa esok hari Khamis 1 Rejab 1435H bersamaan 1 Mei 2014 adalah tarikh mulanya berkuat kuasa perintah kanun hukuman jenayah syariah 2013 fasa pertama, yang kemudian diikuti dengan fasa selanjutnya.

Tidak berbangkit sama sekali kita menangguhkan sebagaimana yang dinukilkan oleh media. Kita perlu memahami ungkapan enam bulan selepas akta digazetkan di mana sehingga ke hari ini pun ia masih lagi di dalam lingkungan enam bulan tersebut.

Alhamdulilah dengan ini kita mengulangi sejarah perundangan Islam yang pernah diamalkan beberapa kurun terdahulu di negara ini.

Semua itu adalah berkat keazaman kita untuk menolong agama Allah di bumi bertuah ini, Allah telah berjanji untuk menolong kita jika kita menolong agamanya.

Ini pasti berlaku sebagaimana firmannya dalam surah Muhammad Ayat 7 tafsirnya; "Wahai orang-orang beriman jika sekiranya kamu menolong agama Allah nescaya Allah akan menolong dan membela kamu untuk mencapai kemenangan serta menetapkan pendirian kamu dalam membela kebenaran."

Dengan mengembalikan segala pujian kepada Allah maka kewajipan beta dan kewajipan kita semua dihadapan-Nya dalam perkara perundangan sudah pun kita sempurnakan. Tinggal sahaja lagi peranan masing-masing terutama agensi-agensi berkaitan hendaklah melaksanakannya dengan penuh tanggungjawab, amanah dan berhemah.

Ingatlah fokus kita hanyalah kepada Allah jua, untuk mencari redhanya jua semata-mata bukan melihat ke kiri dan ke kanan untuk mencari-cari siapa yang suka atau tidak.

Kita tidak pernah melihat orang lain dengan kaca mata yang buruk kerana itu adalah hak dan pilihan mereka. Kita juga tidak mengharapkan mereka menerima dan mempersetujui kita tetapi memadailah jika mereka menghormati kita sahaja sebagaimana kita juga menghormati mereka.




SULTAN Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

Adapun andaian-andaian berupa pelbagai teori adalah perkara lumrah yang tidak pernah berkesudahan, kita tidak boleh berpegang dengan teori yang statusnya tidak lebih daripada teori berbanding dengan apa yang kita pilih adalah tuntutan agama.

Sesungguhnya tuntutan Allah itu bukanlah teori tetapi hukum wajib yang tidak ada keraguan padanya.

Kalau teori mengatakan undang-undang Allah kejam dan tidak adil tetapi Allah sendiri telah menegaskan undang-undangnya itu adil maka di manakah harga teori itu di sini berhadapan dengan wahyu Allah.

Dengan ikhlas kita tegaskan bahawa keputusan untuk melaksanakan perintah kanun hukuman jenayah syariah 2013 ini bukanlah untuk suka-suka tetapi adalah atas dasar mematuhi perintah Allah yang termaktub di dalam al-Quran dan al-hadis. Beta amatlah bangga dan sukacita atas pendirian rakyat dan penduduk negara ini yang telah menyatakan sokongan tidak berbelah bahagi termasuk daripada kalangan mereka yang bukan beragama Islam.

Lebih-lebih lagi sokongan padu turut diambil oleh ahli-ahli majlis mesyuarat negara di dalam sidangnya yang berlangsung baru-baru ini.

Parti cap ayam

Belum pun hilang daripada ingatan terhadap kekecohan dan pergaduhan di banyak cabang Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) empat tahun lalu, musim pemilihan kali ini juga dilanda pelbagai masalah. Padanlah kepimpinan PKR berkerut dahi setiap kali menjelang pemilihan.

Semalam, pemilihan di Sungai Petani tegang sehingga proses pengundian bagi jawatan ketua Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK) terpaksa ditangguhkan.

Awang sekadar senyum. Cabang tersebut diketuai oleh Johari Abdul yang juga Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Pemilihan Parti (JPP). Cabang sendiri pun bermasalah bagaimana mahu memantau cabang lain.

Baru-baru ini, cabang Batang Sadong di Sarawak dan Kemaman, Terengganu turut kecoh dengan pelbagai insiden termasuk dakwaan manipulasi undi ketika bekalan elektrik terputus. Pada pemilihan lalu, insiden yang sama pernah berlaku di cabang tersebut.

Ketika Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13 (PRU13), PKR agresif menyebarkan fitnah dan tohmahan ke atas Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR), rupa-rupanya parti itu sendiri yang mengamalkan cara kotor. Memalukan.

Seorang pemimpin PKR, Badrul Hisham Shaharin mendakwa masalah pemilihan di Batang Sadong adalah angkara puak Azmin Ali dan mahu kelayakan calon Timbalan Presiden itu dibatalkan. Awang jangkakan Azmin dapat pertahankan jawatan, pengaruhnya masih kuat.

Pemilihan di Kemaman, turut tegang yang menyaksikan ketua cabangnya, Rafizi Ramli dilaporkan hampir tewas di tangan pencabarnya, Mohd. Ramlee Hamzah tetapi ‘diselamatkan’ oleh tindakan provokatif dan dakwaan masalah teknikal. Rafizi yang selalu menggambarkan dirinya hebat, kena minta nyawa di cabangnya sendiri.

Setakat ini, jika tidak silap Awang, pemilihan di lapan cabang terpaksa ditangguhkan. Nampaknya reputasi PKR yang tidak tahu mengurus pemilihan parti, masih tebal. Budaya ganas, suka mencetuskan kekecohan dan menipu semasa pemilihan, terus menjadi-jadi.

Awang melihat permasalahan ini berpunca daripada kegagalan kepimpinan Anwar Ibrahim dan isterinya, Wan Azizah Ismail selaku presiden. Inilah akibat memilih pemimpin yang dilingkari masalah moral dan integriti. Lebih-lebih lagi PKR telah dibina atas asas songsang dan ekstrem maka nilainya rendah dan rapuh. Soalan Awang kepada Anwar, bagaimana mahu memimpin negara jika tidak cekap mengurus parti politik.

Begitu hebat beliau melobi di negara Barat untuk mengangkat imejnya tetapi parti pimpinan sendiri bertaraf cap ayam.

Tabik polis

Tidak terlewat bagi Awang merakamkan ucapan tahniah kepada pasukan polis kerana mengendalikan kawalan keselamatan dengan baik sepanjang perhimpunan membantah Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan (GST) semasa cuti Hari Pekerja, Khamis lepas.

Hasrat penganjur iaitu sebahagian ahli parti pembangkang diketuai oleh Anwar Ibrahim untuk melihat polis terikut rentak mainan provokasi perhimpunan itu, sekali lagi tidak kesampaian. Maka tidak berlaku huru-hara. Tetapi Awang kasihan kerana hampir semua yang menyertai perhimpunan itu ialah orang Melayu. Seperti biasa Melayu mudah makan hasutan dan terpedaya sedangkan kaum lain terutama Cina bijak dalam percaturan politik mereka.

Syabas juga kepada polis atas kejayaan menahan sekumpulan militan di tanah air ini. Ini termasuk pendedahan berpuluh-puluh rakyat Malaysia yang mengangkat senjata untuk mati syahid dalam perang saudara di Syria.

Mengejutkan apabila melihat bekas pemuzik rock, pelajar dan aktivis kemanusiaan Malaysia berjuang bersama tentera pemberontak di negara bergolak itu. Ada yang sampai terbunuh.

Cabarannya apa lagi yang kita tidak tahu tentang aktiviti militan di negara ini?

Ada desas-desus terdapat ramai lagi suspek termasuk yang sedang dilatih menjadi militan, bergerak secara senyap. Mereka bukan setakat mahu berjihad di Syria malah menjadikan kelompok tertentu di Malaysia terutama yang menghina Islam sebagai sasarannya. Awang berharap dan berdoa agar desas-desus itu tidak benar. Keganasan bukan cara Islam.

Perarakan gay

Tanpa disedari ramai, perhimpunan membantah GST telah dicemari oleh aktivis dan kumpulan lesbian, gay, biseksual dan transgender (LGBT).

Setiap kali perhimpunan seperti itu, makin ramai individu LGBT tampil, sama ada yang berani mengaku status sebenar ahupun yang sebaliknya.

Ketua Delegasi Muslim UPRo, Azril Mohd. Amin melihat hal tersebut dengan menjangkakan suatu hari nanti akan berlangsungnya perarakan gay di Malaysia.

Awang sependapat. Sememangnya aktivis LGBT kini memperhebatkan usaha menuntut banyak perkara termasuk berarak sebagaimana di banyak negara Barat.

Bayangkan nanti perarakan bogel dan sesama jantina bercium dalam perarakan depan Dataran Merdeka?

Apa sudah jadi?

Jalan Gelang, Pudu di ibu negara suatu ketika dahulu kelihatan tenteram dan ‘bersih’. Yang menghairankan Awang, ia sudah menjadi kawasan hitam dengan aktiviti pelacuran.

Sekumpulan aktivis sosial memberikan maklumat tersebut, yang disifatkan mereka sebagai menakutkan. Mereka mendakwa, pada malam-malam tertentu terutama hujung minggu, hampir 400 pelacur kebanyakannya warga China dan Vietnam berlegar mencari pelanggan di kawasan tersebut dan sekitarnya.

Awang terganggu apabila diberitahu sebahagian pelanggan adalah remaja termasuk pelajar sekolah. Aktivis tersebut menunjukkan gambar dalam simpanan mereka, sebagai bahan bukti.

Awang geleng kepala sambil meronta pertanyaan apa sudah jadi dengan pihak berkuasa kita?


Utusan Rencana 20140504

Towards a grade-free system

A Singapore varsity makes the bold move to curb obsession with grades.

IN a bold move by the National University of Singapore (NUS) to reduce the obsession with grades, how its freshmen perform in exams may no longer count in their final mark.

The initiative, already in place at its medical school, will be rolled out in phases to other faculties, which could include law and engineering, from as early as this year, revealed NUS president Professor Tan Chorh Chuan.

Details are still being worked out for what NUS has called its “grade-free” system, which will be extended to the whole school over the next few years. But while there will still be tests and exams, first-year students will no longer get A to F grades.

Instead they will just be given a distinction, pass or fail in their modules — and these will not form part of their Cumulative Average Point, which determines the quality of the degree awarded at the end of their course.

“We think that it is important to reduce some of the over-focus on grades as the most important thing to go for, as opposed to actual learning,” Tan said.

“Grading - in terms of Pass or Fail - will still occur. But this is really to help students know where they are in relation to a subject.”

NUS, which has the biggest intake of freshmen among universities in the island nation, currently has about 6,900 full-time first year students.

The move to take some pressure off freshmen, comes amid a broader shift towards an education system less fixated on grades.

Top universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have already gone “gradeless”, Tan pointed out.

At the Singapore University of Technology and Design, which partners MIT and took in its first cohort in 2012, Term 1 students get a “pass” or “no record” in each subject and there is no Grade Point Average (GPA) given. In Term 2, students receive A, B, C or “no record”, but only passing grades are used to calculate their GPA.

While the Nanyang Techno-logical University and Singapore Management University do not have a similar policy for first-year students, several courses are graded on a pass-fail basis.

By doing away with grades, Tan hopes that freshmen can venture out of their comfort zone and take on more “exploratory” type of courses.

This would also free students to go beyond books and “spend time to develop their personal qualities which are not so easy to grade”.

While there are concerns that students may be less motivated to study if they are not graded, the experience at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, which piloted the grade-free scheme in 2010, showed otherwise, said Tan.

“Students are more collaborative, and there is a greater focus on actual learning,” he said.

NUS’ medical students now go “grade-less” for their first two years.

“You gain a degree of freedom to explore non-academic pursuits ... It also helps to reduce unhealthy competition,” said 20-year-old second-year medical student Nicole Lee, who has time for co-curricular activities and community work.

But she admitted that some of her peers may feel insecure without a letter grade to show how well, or poorly, they are doing.

NUS is also looking at revamping its General Education modules to provide a more well-rounded education.

Currently, students must take two of these modules, which include topics like Globalisation and New Media, as well as two “breadth” subjects which are outside their area of specialisation.

But some ended up choosing subjects they were already good in or feel confident of scoring in.

One way to address the problem, Tan suggested, is to “repackage” these subjects into categories, and make it compulsory for students to choose from each of these.

The schemes are being planned for the new academic year starting August, but the revamp will take years to complete.

Said Tan: “It may be helpful for a student who is very good in literature to learn some quantitative techniques like statistics.

“The question is how do we encourage or ensure that students really learn in areas in which they are not very strong in but would be quite essential to them.” — Asia News Network . ONG HWEE HWEE The STAR Home News Education 02 March 2014

Be positive and count our blessings

We can whine and complain about things, or we can review the many luxuries we have conveniently classified as essentials. To be positive is not to deny the negative. It is simply acknowledging that there are many people in worse circumstances than us.

AN archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her.

Everyone in the ballroom erupted in cheers when the father of the bridegroom, who is known to us as quite a serious man, closed his speech with this quote by Agatha Christie.

It concluded a very heartfelt and moving speech. This father certainly had good lessons to pass on to his son and his daughter-in-law, and I was inspired.

I quietly took out my little 555 notebook and jotted down some of the salient points he made.

And as I looked through the pages I was transported back to one wedding dinner some months back that took place in the heart of Putrajaya.

My good friend from school days was the host and in typical Malaysian fashion, he had to start his speech with salutations to all the VIPs present.

It has been said that a speech should be like a skirt – long enough to cover all the essential parts and short enough to be appealing.

I remember my friend’s speech well because he kept to the three-point formula.

Those of us who have to sit through long speeches know that any speaker who ventures beyond the three points basically loses the attention of the audience.

Even if he is accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation, it is a matter of time before we murmur: “No power, no point!”

The three valuable lessons that my friend imparted to his son that evening were – be positive, be purposeful and be passionate.

The editor in me immediately noticed the alliteration, an important element in public speaking to make the message stick.

I paid particular attention to the story my friend shared about how to be positive.

“If you think you can, you can and if you think you can’t you are probably right,” he said.

“Challenges will come your way. It is said so poignantly that there is no life into which some rain has not fallen. All sunshine makes a desert.

“Obstacles are opportunities for growth. Stumbling blocks are stepping stones. It is the rough seas that make good sailors. Pain produces endurance, endurance, character and character, hope.”

I am sure many were inspired by his speech that night. It is a lesson that applies to all of us.

We can whine about the inconvenience of water rationing, or we can learn that it is not so difficult to build a simple contraption to harvest rainwater. And that we really need not wash our cars every day.

We can complain about GST, or we can review the many luxuries we have conveniently classified as essentials.

In the process, we can perhaps become more sensitive to the people around us who still struggle to earn in a month what some of us may earn in a day.

To be positive is not to deny the negative. It is simply acknowledging that there are many people in worse circumstances than us.

That, in itself, would make us count our blessings.

Executive editor Soo Ewe Jin (ewejin@thestar.com.my) remembers the time when the emcee at a friend’s wedding dinner declared after the last course: “And now, we have come to the end of the marriage…” Thankfully, this couple is still happily married after nearly three decades. The STAR Home News Columnist 04 May 2014

Haunted - but not by the dead

Be scared. Be very scared. We are a haunted nation. There are spirits everywhere.

Take our highways, for instance. Over the last few years, many hundreds of people have died on the North-South Expressway and the Karak Highway.

The Ops Sikap and Ops Selamat statistics tell the story. For Chinese New Year 2013, there were 129 fatal accidents. A year earlier, it was 145.

And it’s all the work of evil spirits. Or so says our Raja Bomoh Ibrahim Mat Zin.

He should know. He has done his “research” at the spot where the late Karpal Singh was involved in an accident.

It seems the jungles through which the highways run are where these evil spirits reside. Every now and then, they come out and endanger the lives of drivers.

He has offered to take a helicopter ride from Johor to Perlis to cleanse the highway of these spirits so we can all have a safe ride home.

For someone who often drives home to Penang, that sounds like a good idea. Maybe we should just let him do it – providing of course that he pays for the helicopter ride himself. I will even throw in a coconut or two. Imagine the savings to the taxpayers if we don’t have to pay overtime to traffic policemen and station them all along the highway every festive season.

The policemen could even be with their families for Hari Raya – and Chinese New Year, too, now that the force is on a campaign to hire more Chinese.

Those spirits are really everywhere.

In Penang, they have started a “haunted tour” at the new state museum. You go to the toilet and get a couple of companions back to bed with you, companions you can’t see. So they tell you. It’s scary stuff.

I must have passed that part of Macalister Road a thousand times and never knew of the spirits. The building stands just off where second-hand bookstores – now housed in Chowrasta Market – used to be. You could get mystery, horror, romance, philosophy and even some kinky stuff.

The back of the building led to more kinky stuff, at the seedy part of Jalan Datuk Keramat.

The only spirits we could find there were more hard stuff than scary stuff. And it certainly was more sex than hex.

Talking of hex, the Malacca Chief Minister and his team of bomoh-types are still trying to convince some spirits to give up some the state’s rich – apparently, very rich – heritage.

Treasure worth billions in little Pulau Nangka is set to be unearthed, as soon as workers dig into a cave and get their hands on them.

The treasure is part of what Sultan Mahmud was said to have spirited away when he fled south to set up the Johor sultanate after the “white Bengali” Portuguese arrived in 1511.

But there are guardians on the island, spirits that have been tasked with protecting the treasure. Those who have tried get in have been unable to leave, and those who did come out were in a daze or a trance.

It’s a bit like the curse of Tutankhamen. Until now, the spirits have refused to let anyone in.

Pulau Nangka isn’t the only ghostly story out of Malacca. Nearby Pulau Besar is actually more famous. Here, there are huge graves, testimony of a race of giants who used to live there. And it seems they still come out and roam the island.

Many people still go there in search of fortune. And there are stories of visitors who go amok, speak in strange languages and run into the sea to try and drown themselves.

There are many other stories like that around the country. Like Kellie’s Castle in Perak, where it is said that William Kellie Smith, the man who built it – the castle was never finished – can still be seen walking on the verandah and looking out sadly at the grounds. His daughter Helen is said to be walking around in her old bedroom, although neither of them died anywhere near the castle. They died in Europe.

But like most dead people, they do the living no harm. We do not have to fear them.

The real fear, for me, is not from the spirits but from the living – from those who go around spewing hatred and divisiveness, those who threaten violence and scream bloody murder over every little thing.

We have to fear those who would segment us by race, by religion and try to subjugate everyone into obeying them and their beliefs.

Now, that is really scary. And even the raja bomoh can do little about it. That spectre of violence haunts me.

The writer, who can be reached at raj@thestar.com.my remembers this line from Charlie Chaplin’s spirited Great Dictator speech. Let us fight to free the world. To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. The STAR Home News Opinion 04 May 2014

One too many Sultans of Sulu

There are many claimants to the Sultanate of Sulu, making it impossible for them to reclaim the land their ancestors lost.

LAST week I visited Sulu and Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, and guess who kept popping up during my trip? The Sultan of Sulu.

Two and a half of them, in fact.

On Wednesday, I was introduced to a man related to the late Jamalul Kiram III – the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu – at a fish market on Jolo island in Sulu province.

The 60-something man who spoke Bahasa Malaysia claimed to be Jamalul’s younger brother. However, he did not want to admit he was a Kiram.

"Perhaps he was afraid because his brother Azzimudie led the intrusion into Sabah," said my friend, referring to the Lahad Datu armed intrusion by the Royal Sulu Army to claim Sabah in March last year.

The next day I met Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram who claimed to be the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo. The 48-year-old sat on his wooden throne at his house in Jolo town while I asked him about the kidnapping on Jolo island.

Then, on Friday, I met a 62-year-old cardiologist in Zamboanga City in Mindanao who believed he was indeed the real Sultan of Sulu.

The Sultan of Sulu is a Cardiologist


Paramount Sultan Ibrahim Q. Bahjin-Shakirullah II.

This man claimed to the Paramount Sultan Ibrahim Q. Bahjin-Shakirullah II.

"Are you Chinese?" asked the Paramount Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo.

"I’m Kadazan," I answered.

"What is Kadazan?" he asked.

"See, you don’t even know your own subjects," I said.

The cardiologist laughed heartily and said: "I have never been to Sabah. I have not received any invitation."

"Why don’t you invite yourself?" I asked.

"If I do, my people will gather in big numbers in Sabah and the (Malaysian) Government will be alarmed," he pointed out. "That is why I won’t go without an invite," he added.

"Who are the people who will gather in big numbers when you arrive in Sabah?" I asked.

"The rakyat," he said.

"And, who are these rakyat?" I enquired.

"The Tausug people," he said.

The Tausugs are called Suluks in Sabah.

"Who is the real Sultan of Sulu?" I then asked.

"Are you ready to listen from the beginning? This is not a short story but a long one," he said.

The Paramount Sultan told me a tale that began in 1936 and involved treachery, Spanish, Americans, Kirams, rivalry, Malacanang and the Sultan’s consort who was someone else’s wife.

I got lost midway through the history lesson — to be exact, his version of history.

Anyway, to cut his long story short, his line is the real Sultan of Sulu and not the Kirams.

"How many Sultans of Sulu are there?" I asked.

"So many. All of those who are invoking genealogical linkage to the Sultanate — even those who don’t belong to the royal houses," he said.

"Are the others claiming to be Sultans, your rivals?" I asked.

"They are not my rivals as I am the Paramount Sultan," said the cardiologist who was proclaimed Paramount Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo in 2004.

"So you are the No. 1 Sultan?" I suggested.

"I am equal with them. But some consider the Paramount Sultan as No. 1," he said with a satisfied smile.

Throughout the conversation, the Paramount Sultan insisted that Sabah belonged to the Sulu Sultanate and as a Sabahan, I argued passionately that the claim had no basis.

He argued that the 1878 agreement between Alfred Dent and Baron von Overbeck of the North Borneo Company and the Sultan of Sulu stated that the Sultanate had leased and not ceded North Borneo (what Sabah was called before 1963) to the British company.

"Malaysia is still paying the sultanate RM5,300 a year for leasing Sabah," he pointed out.

"Who gets the money?" I asked him.

"It is shared by the nine family members of the Kirams," he said.

In 1939, Chief Justice C.F.C. Macaskie of the High Court of North Borneo ruled that "cessation money" was payable to the nine heirs of Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram II, who died childless in 1936.

"You are not getting any of the money?" I asked.

"I don’t want the money. The rental (money) is a curse. The one who receives it without spending a cent on the rakyat will be cursed to die in poverty," he said.

What the Paramount Sultan dreams of is to unite all the Sultans of Sulu so that they can claim what their ancestors have lost – North Borneo, Sulu, Tawi Tawi, Basilan, Sulu, Sibugay (part of Mindanao), Palawan and Spratly islands. "Geo political intrigue in South-East Asia will not allow us to be united.

"Malaysia, Philippines, United States, Australia and other countries don’t want the Sultanate to be united. Because if we are united, we can get back our historical rights."

"Why can’t you all unite?" I asked.

"I can spend a thousand pesos to call a Sultan for a unity meeting but the Philippines can pay a Sultan one million pesos and make him a puppet. The same with Malaysia, United States and Australia," he said.

"So you will never ever be united?"

"There is China," he said, with a knowing smile.

"China is interested in the Sulu Sultanate. Spratlys was the picnic ground of the Sultan of Sulu. China’s claim to it is that the Sultan of Sulu donated it to them."

"Some people think that those who are claiming to be Sultan of Sulu are a joke? Is it a joke?" I asked.

"They are right," he said.

"Why?" I said.

"Because they are too many claimants," he said.

Many claimants dream they can make billions of ringgit from Sabah, the property their ancestors lost.

PHILIP GOLINGAI the STAR Opinion Columnist 28 April 2014

When Bossman Obama came a-calling

Barack Obama was the toast of the nation last week. In the parlance of the new generation, he is one cool dude!

HE is the Big Boss to more than 200 million Americans in his country and, some say, to about three billion other people elsewhere.

It was a whirlwind 48-hour visit here and at each place he went, people watched his every move and jotted every word he uttered – right down to the food he ate and to his stunning remark, “Malaysia Boleh!”

A president of a powerful nation often conjures images of a strict taskmaster or a stern authoritarian.

Yet, the most important guest Malaysia had the opportunity to fete came across to many observers as just a regular American guy trying the best he can to win friends for his country.

I followed Obama only on TV and the net, and while I do not agree with some of the thoughts he shared with his varied audiences, I think, in the parlance of the now generation, he is one cool dude!

I was impressed that he did not have to put on a different mask or façade to satisfy each different gallery he was playing to.

He showed the same casual moves, spontaneous responses and frankness, whether speaking in the presence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, interacting with children, engaging with young leaders or giving a sympathetic ear to grouchy NGO activists.

When you think about it, he would be the ideal company boss who understands the importance of his associates’ own job satisfaction and success and he inspires them with every encouraging word.

Indeed, those who had the chance to get up-close to the man rated him “five stars” for his people-friendly demeanour, his eloquence and his sense of being a good listener and persuasive speaker.

And that’s another lesson that can be learned by bosses everywhere – whether they are political chieftains, corporate captains, association heads or youth club leaders.

Gratifyingly, every interest group which came to listen to the president got something from the discussions to further push their cause: business opportunities, education prospects, talent search, race relations and, yes, even a chance to badmouth the country before the world’s most influential leader.

Sure, Obama came with an agenda and he was unrelenting in pushing for his favoured Trans-Pacific partnership (TPP) that, among others, purportedly seeks to improve trade and investment as well as promote innovation, economic growth and development in the region.

He sees Malaysia as a worthy partner, although TPP critics look at his country as being a bully that regards smaller nations as being easy to wrap around Uncle Sam’s fingers.

Obama admitted he too faces tough opponents back home but their flak against his administration had not veered him away from the TPP goals, objectives and responsibilities.

His message was plainly that lack of focus is the source of a lot of frustration and confusion; and that’s a point bosses in Malaysia can learn.

Returning home, however, he would find many of his countrymen disapproving of his policies on a myriad of matters, particularly in the economy, healthcare and his management of the crisis in Ukraine.

For his party people, the president’s low numbers could hurt Democratic candidates facing legislative elections in November.

But he certainly did not show his anxiety during his visit, and he was as persuasive as he could be in chalking up good ratings here – and presumably also during his trips to Japan, South Korea and the Philippines – despite hitting low ebb in the United States.

Admittedly, I have gained new respect for Obama. And, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak and his colleagues can give themselves a pat on the back for having hosted and managed a remarkable presidential visit.

At the end of the day, bosses – president, prime minister and right down to the ketua kampung – have to work equally as hard as the people they lead.

Granted, many managers could use some improvement in their management style and skill. But before you judge them too quickly, just think of the enormous pressure they work under daily; at times with few resources.

And remember, the only thing any manager, especially the one running the country, can hope to get truly rewarded for is: the bottom line.

Associate Editor Shah Adyll Dadameah thinks ‘boss’ is a four-letter word that, at times, intimidates. At other times it can be as frivolous as going into a mamak restaurant and calling out “Boss, kasi teh tarik satu.” The STAR Opinion Columnist 04 May 2014

The good, the bad and the ugly of tax

IN less than a year, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be a reality. Come April 1, 2015, Malaysia will join the ranks of some 160 countries in having this form of tax system.

In fact, some 90% of the world’s population already live in countries with GST or Value-Added Tax. In a sense, therefore, we are not venturing into new territory.

But any form of taxation, be it new or simply revised upwards, is bound to evoke an emotional response.

The anti-GST rally held on May 1 is indicative of such a response. While we should respect the right to peaceful assembly as a means to articulate one’s grievances, we also need to ask if those present fully understand how GST works, and how they will be personally impacted.

It is never easy to explain things in a rational manner when certain quarters play the populist card to the hilt. After all, they are not the ones who have to administer the painful medicine necessary to boost the country’s economic health.

The Malaysian population has just crossed 30 million but only about 5.6% or 1.7 million of the country’s population pay income tax. Figures from the Inland Revenue Board reveal that only one million Malaysian employees pay tax although there are four million employees with income tax files.

Similarly, of the 450,000 companies that have files in the IRB, only 75,000 companies are classified as eligible taxpayers.

This being tax season, we hear the usual lament about how those who are employed and taxed upfront pay more because they do not have tax consultants to help them minimise their tax liability. We have anecdotal evidence about the entrepreneur driving a luxury car who probably pays less tax than the senior manager he employs.

There may be creative ways to file one’s tax returns so as to fall out of the tax bracket but the GST will at least ensure that those who spend more on goods and services, based on their consumption patterns and habits, will contribute to our tax coffers.

And that include tax evaders, prosperous businessmen-hawkers who don’t pay income tax, and even the neighbourhood soya bean milk seller who is able to send his children overseas on his own expenses.

What is important, however, is to tell the ordinary person that he does not have to pay GST for a packet of nasi lemak or char koay teow. And that there will be some 3,000 exceptions or zero-rated products such as food items when the GST is implemented.

From what has been revealed so far, basic products including rice, sugar, salt, piped water supply, bus, train, health services and highway tolls will not be included in the list.

In short, if you live a simple lifestyle based on needs rather than wants, the GST is not going to hurt your pockets the way the political opportunists seem to suggest.

The government needs to do a better job communicating this message across to the masses. Putting up billboards, publishing the occasional articles, or having seminars and confe­rences will not help the ordinary people understand the issues.

Our politicians, whichever side of the divide, should work together to ensure that what is collected is well managed and spent, without the wastage and leakages that are regularly revealed by the Auditor-General.

When it comes to the economy, we need to be in one accord to steer the Malaysian economy out of choppy waters. The STAR Opinion Columnist 04 May 2014

A disturbing dichotomy

We need to cool things down a bit to resolve the sad saga of legal conflict due to religious issues.

THE domestic discord between a fractious couple (which between it made 35 police reports against each other during the last two years) has metamorphosed into a national, religious and racial controversy that has besmirched the name of many public institutions including the courts and the police.

We need to cool things down a little bit, see issues with some detachment and accept that in every country where legal pluralism is allowed, some painful conflicts of jurisdiction are unavoidable. The law in every land is a maze, not a motorway. Its multiplicity, diversity and conflicting hierarchies create a thicket that is never easy to traverse.

In our federal system, federal laws clash with state laws and the legal scene is quite turbid.

At the state level, syariah enactments of one state conflict with enactments of another state and reciprocal enforcement of each others’ judgment is an unfulfilled dream. Within the boundaries of a state, especially in Negeri Sembilan, Sabah and Sarawak, competition exists between custom and religion.

In Sabah and Sarawak, the rivalry between Native courts and Syariah courts is intense but is kept diplomatically discrete.

The most painful, unedifying and politically charged disputes are between civil and Syariah courts. They jar our landscape now and then and disturb our national harmony. What is not well known is that the clashes are not always between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Sometimes it is Muslims challenging the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts. For example in Latifah Mat Zin v Rosmawati Sharibun (2007) there was a dispute between the daughters of the deceased and his widow over the joint account of the husband and the wife. At contention was whether the civil High Court or the Syariah court has jurisdiction?

Occasionally there are objections to Syariah courts assuming jurisdiction on marriages contracted abroad between Muslims under foreign law.

Relating to non-Muslims, the most heart-wrenching dispute is about the religion of a deceased when there is information that prior to his death he had secretly converted to Islam.

Another tragic and intractable issue is the custody of children when one party to a non-Muslim marriage converts to Islam and opens the door to a jurisdictional clash.

This is what happened in the Deepa-Izwan case. The root cause of the jurisdictional conflict is Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution which states that the civil High Courts and inferior courts shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.

Another problem is sections 3 and 51(1) of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act (LRA) 1976. Section 3 states that the Act shall not apply to a Muslim. Section 51(1) states that if one party to a civil marriage has converted to Islam, the other party may petition the civil court for divorce.

Shockingly, this means that the converting party has no right to apply for dissolution of his marriage that was contracted under civil law.

As Izwan was not subject to the LRA, he rightly went to the Syariah court for dissolution and ancilliary relief – much to the detriment of Deepa whose hard-won civil court order for custody of her two children was short-lived when the ex-spouse in defiance of the High Court order forcibly removed one child from her custody.

This was not the first case of its sort but it has left a deep impact on our conscience. We need urgently to repair our frayed social fabric damaged by such disputes. My suggestions are tentative, subjective and open to revision.

First, the constitutional scheme of things in 1957, that the Syariah courts shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam, should be reiterated.

Second, the Muslim volksgeist that their religious law should apply to them should, however, be respected. The radical solution that legal dualism should be abolished and there should be one uniform family law for all citizens is untenable. People have a right to live by their personal laws.

Even countries like the UK allow the Jews to apply their personal laws in defined fields.

Third, the federal government should engage with moderates of all communities and resist the cynical (and hitherto successful) effort to close down all discussion on “sensitive issues”.

Fourth, the country as well as our official religion suffer disrepute when Islam is instrumentalised by some converts to gain quickie divorces and obtain easy custody and guardianship over their children to the detriment of the non-converting spouse.

Conversion is their right but they must respect the Federal Court ruling in Subashini a/p Rajasingam v Saravanana (2008) that a non-Muslim marriage does not dissolve automatically upon one party’s conversion to Islam. The civil courts continue to have jurisdiction.

Fifth, the government had a few years ago taken initiative to draft new legislation to resolve inter-religious family disputes. The Bill met stern opposition from some Muftis and some members of the Conference of Rulers and was shelved.

It is time to revive the Bill after adequate consultation. Sweeping problems under the carpet is not doing our nation any good.

Sixth, the government should rely on Article 130 to refer to the Federal Court for the court’s opinion all questions that have arisen about the working of Article 121(1A).

This article was inserted to resolve disputes between Syariah and civil courts but has brought in its wake new dilemmas. That’s life and the law. Good laws often lead to undesired and undesirable consequences. We need to go back to the drawing board and begin anew.

Shad Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. The STAR Opinion Columnist 17 April 2014

Will he go like a gentleman?

Speculation is rife that Terengganu will have a new Mentri Besar by May amid claims that Datuk Seri Ahmad Said had promised to stay on for only a year after the general election.

DATUK Seri Ahmad Said is quite a talkative man but the Terengganu Mentri Besar’s lips seem to be sealed with super glue in recent weeks.

The air is thick with speculation that he is on the way out. He knows that everyone is talking about it and a few brave souls have even asked him about it. But he would just flash his gap-toothed smile and try to move off.

On Wednesday, he told reporters: “If I say yes, you will say no. If I say no, you will say yes.”

KUALA TERENGGANU 13 FEB 2014: State exco chairman of science and technology, innovation, energy, green technology and water Datuk Ahmad Razif Abd Rahman (left) handed out the e-books  at the Kuala Nerus e-book distribution ceremony at the Gong Badak Indoor Stadium here yesterday.starpix by zabidi tusin/the star/kuala terengganu.
East coast ripples: Najib is under pressure to find replacement for Ahmad (pic above) in Trengganu..

No one could quite make out what he meant by that except that it was not a yes or a no and not even a maybe.

But Terengganu reporters are quite resigned to the Mentri Besar’s style. Ahmad, or Mat Said as he is known in Umno, is an approachable and simple man but they also know that he has a stubborn side and a hot temper. They know better than to push too hard.

The latest round of speculation has to do with an agreement made after the general election that he would stay on for only a year as Mentri Besar.

KUALA TERENGGANU 13 FEB 2014: State exco chairman of science and technology, innovation, energy, green technology and water Datuk Ahmad Razif Abd Rahman (left) handed out the e-books  at the Kuala Nerus e-book distribution ceremony at the Gong Badak Indoor Stadium here yesterday.starpix by zabidi tusin/the star/kuala terengganu.
Potential candidate: Ahmad Razif is one of the possible replacements.

The agreement came about a week after the Barisan Nasional almost lost Terengganu, winning only 17 seats against 15 seats by Pakatan Rakyat. It was a political disaster especially given that Ahmad had assured his bosses in Putrajaya that he would deliver 29 out of the 32 state seats.

The clock is ticking and the renewed round of speculation over Ahmad’s fate has to do with the fact that it is only another two weeks to the one-year deadline.

Some claimed that Ahmad signed a letter agreeing to go after one year but a senior Umno politician from Terengganu who was privy to the letter said there was no mention of when Ahmad would let go of his post.

The senior politician suggested that the one-year tenure was more of a verbal agreement between the Prime Minister and Ahmad.

By right, the Mentri Besar ought to have taken responsibility and bowed out after the near calamity. Ahmad not only refused to go, but had apparently threatened to jump with two other assemblymen if he was not reappointed.

At that point in time, the 17 Umno assemblymen were summoned to Umno’s PWTC headquarters where they were quizzed about their intentions. Although not a single person said he would follow Ahmad out, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak could not afford to call Ahmad’s bluff because he was fighting too many fires.

However, all the assemblymen were asked to take the oath of allegiance or bai’ah in the name of the Allah. They also signed letters pledging their loyalty to the party.

Why the big excitement then if there is nothing in black or white about the Mentri Besar’s position?

According to the above senior politician, Najib had summoned two influential Terengganu division chiefs to his office a few days after Ahmad was reappointed.

The Prime Minister knew that Ahmad’s reappointment was not a popular decision. He was aware that it was like rewarding someone who had failed and was trying to hold the party to ransom.

Najib admitted that he and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin were deeply disappointed that Ahmad did not deliver the seats as promised. The Prime Minister had described the promise as “cakap suai” (empty talk).

When the pair told him that he should have let Ahmad jump, Najib said he did not want to risk the state falling. He told them the one-year grace period was to give Ahmad a “soft landing”.

Everyone is waiting to see if the “soft landing” will happen.

Palace ties

Ahmad came to power on the back of a sword. Then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wanted to reappoint the technocratic Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh as Mentri Besar but there was opposition from the Palace. The stand-off almost led to a constitutional crisis and the post eventually went to Ahmad.

Ahmad has struggled for respect and support because the majority of assemblymen after the 2008 election were supporters of Idris. He has a kampung style and has tried to build a reputation as a people’s Mentri Besar. But he has failed to win over the other side which remains critical of everything he does, more so after the last general election.

Dr Azmi Omar, political analyst from Terengganu
Dr Azmi: ‘State will fall in next general election if (there is) no change.’

According to Terengganu research analyst Dr Azmi Omar, the issue of replacing the MB is no longer about Mat Said’s faction versus Idris’ faction. He said Idris is no longer a factor and is not even a division chief.

“The MB had a full term after GE13 to prove himself but he blew it. After he was given a second term, he failed to make improvements. He even went to Antarctica. Now he talks about saving the state after squandering the two-thirds majority we had to a mere two-seat majority,” said Dr Azmi.

Ahmad put many of his own men as candidates in the 2013 election and it was obvious that the dismal 17-seat outcome was partly caused by political sabotage on the ground.

He also has himself to blame. His critics accuse him of playing divide-and-rule politics and of undermining division chiefs who are not his men. He would appoint those opposed to the division chief as his special officers, give them allocations and they would move around the division as though they are the boss.

Appointments to the village committees are a big deal to the Umno grassroots leaders and Ahmad is said to have blocked the appointments of those aligned to his opponents.

When pressured by Putrajaya to remove a senior state government officer who was nicknamed “MB ketua”, or the second MB, he gave the man an even cushier job as CEO of Terengganu Incorporated.

Ahmad will always be in the shadow of his predecessor Idris, who is still the benchmark of excellence for many Terengganu folk.

Idris was Mentri Besar for only one term but he gave the state a new airport, a beautiful seafront esplanade, the Crystal Mosque, a Civilisation Park and a modern stadium although the roof collapsed twice. He impressed the people so much that they gave Barisan a thumping majority in 2008. More important, he gave Terengganu folk a sense of pride.

“During Idris’ time, when we come to KL, people ask about what was happening in Terengganu. Now when we arrive in KLIA, we want to hide our face,” said Dr Azmi.

Locals were quite prepared to give Ahmad the benefit of the doubt in his first few years. They liked his people-oriented style but somehow the disenchantment set in and the outcome of the 2013 election was proof that their love affair with him is over.

For a number of years, Ahmad’s clout had stemmed from the fact that he is the preferred choice of the Palace. Terengganu is overwhelmingly a Malay state and no politician in his right mind would want to be seen as challenging the Palace.

His palace ties lent him prestige and protection. Ahmad had even told close friends that he fears no one but the Sultan. Six years down the road, those ties are no longer what they used to be. The Palace is not against him but neither is it opposed to proposals for a replacement. The Palace is not an impervious entity, it is aware of what people on the ground are saying about Ahmad.

Possible replacements

There are claims that Najib has met the Sultan about the political transition and a few have gone so far as to suggest that they met before the Sultan left for Europe. But Najib keeps everything close to his chest.

Many in Umno are resigned to the fact that Terengganu will fall in the next general election if things continue this way. The 2013 outcome was a wake-up call and according to Dr Azmi, if there are no changes, it will be goodbye to Terengganu for Umno in the next general election.

KUALA TERENGGANU 16 April 2013: Wan Abdul Hakim Wan MokhtarN-32: Air Putih
Younger option: Wan Hakim is
another name being bandied about.

“What upsets me is that the state nearly fell. But his supporters are now using the narrow majority as reason for him to stay on. If he had done well, people would have left him alone but he almost lost the state,” said Dr Azmi.

Apart from whether Najib will exercise the political will to act, the other question is who can take over.

Two names have been circulated. One of them is state exco member and Seberang Takir assemblyman Datuk Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman. He was the first to take Ahmad’s side back in 2008 and for that, Ahmad rewarded him with a senior exco post which is equivalent to being the deputy mentri besar.

But there has been some cooling off between them and Ahmad Razif has since been relegated to an ordinary exco member. Ahmad Razif, 49, has a master’s degree and is the most highly educated member of the state executive council, which includes an assemblyman with only a Form Three education.

Another potential candidate is Wan Hakim Wan Ahmad, a second-term Air Putih assemblyman whose father was former Mentri Besar Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Wan Ahmad.

Wan Hakim, 45, who graduated from the American Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, also has a master’s degree. He has done well as the Barisan whip in the State Legislative Assembly, he is humble and hardworking and, unlike many Terengganu politicians, he speaks good English.

Ahmad is a sort of family friend to Wan Hakim’s father who had taken the young Ahmad under his wing as some sort of “anak didik” or political pupil. He is known to Wan Hakim as “Abang Mat”.

Most of the hurdles to a change at the top in Terengganu have been cleared except for one last big hurdle – Ahmad himself.

No one can predict whether he will go like a gentleman or fight to stay on. Or worse, jump to the enemy camp. The STAR Opinion Columnist 27 April 2014

Hudud - test for the Constitution

There are provisions for the federal legislature to authorise Kelantan to implement its Islamic criminal enactment.

PARTI Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) appears determined to introduce a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament this June to implement its Syariah Criminal Code Enactment of 1993. The Enactment had, two decades ago, sought to apply hudud, the Islamic penal code, to Muslims in Kelantan. However, it could not be implemented due to many constitutional hurdles.

Federal-state division: First, under Schedule 9, List II, Paragraph I, States have authority relating to “creation and punishment of offen­ces by persons professing the religion of Islam, except in regard to matters included in the Federal List”.

Criminal law and procedure, administration of justice, jurisdiction and powers of all courts, creation of offences in respect of any of the matters included in the Federal List or dealt with by federal law are in federal hands. Theft, robbery, rape, murder, incest and unnatural sex are all dealt with by the federal Penal Code. These offences are, therefore, out of bounds for the States even though they are also serious wrongs in Islamic criminal jurisprudence.

Second, Schedule 9, List II, Paragraph 1 clearly provides that Syariah Courts shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam.

This means that Syariah Courts have no power to apply the hudud laws to non-Muslims even if the non-Muslims consent to be so subject. Jurisdiction is a matter of law and not of submission or acquiescence.

Third, the Constitution in Schedule 9 List II para 1 says that Syariah Courts “shall not have jurisdiction in respect of offences except in so far as conferred by federal law”.

The relevant federal law is the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965. It imposes limits on penalties that the Syariah Courts can impose. These are maximum three years jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes. Death by stoning, amputations and life imprisonments are outside the powers of the States.

Fourth, police, prisons, reformatories, remand homes and places of detention are all in the Federal List. Therefore, State-run detention or rehabilitation centres enforcing hudud penalties are all beyond State powers.

New momentum: PAS is hoping that these significant hurdles can be overcome if it takes the battle to the federal Parliament and gets the federal legislature to authorise Kelantan to implement its Islamic criminal enactment. Indeed, such provisions exist.

Article 76A: This Article permits the Federal Parliament to extend the legislative power of the States to enact laws on matters in the Federal List. This means that if the political equation is favourable, the Federal Parliament could by a simple majority pass an Act to authorise Kelantan to enact laws on crimes in Kelantan. The Kelantan law would then supersede any federal law on the point. In addition, under Article 80(4), the federal government can by law extend the executive authority of the State to cover the authorised federal topic.

Private Member’s Bill: Perhaps Kelantan intends to initiate a Private Member’s Bill to launch the Article 76A initiative. Private members are those MPs not holding ministerial posts. They may, under Standing Orders of the two Houses, draft a Bill and seek leave of the House by way of a motion to introduce the Bill.

If leave is granted, then the Bill shall be referred to the Minister concerned. With his report, the Bill can be taken up for second reading, debate and vote.

Such a Bill requires a simple majority of those present and voting. With 21 MPs from PAS, 88 from Umno and some Muslim MPs from PKR and Sabah and Sarawak, the Bill could squeeze through. The political dynamics is, of course, immensely complicated.

Constitutional crevices: Presuming that PAS succeeds under Article 76A to make inroads into the Federal List or through a Private Member’s Bill to legislate for criminal law in Kelantan, will the hudud issue be settled once for all? No one with knowledge of constitutional law will argue that the issue is straightforward and simple. Even if the State Enactment is passed, it may be challengeable in a court on constitutional grounds.

For example, if the State law on crime is made applicable only to Muslims and two thieves, one a Muslim and the other a non-Muslim, on conviction receive radically different penalties, is this not a flagrant violation of the rule of equality before the law under Article 8?

Article 8 forbids differentiation between persons on the ground of religion “except as expressly authorised by this Constitution”. There is an exception in Article 8(5) in relation to personal law. “This Article does not invalidate or prohibit any provision regulating personal law”.

Matters of theft, robbery, rape, incest and homosexuality are by no stretch of imagination matters of personal law. This means that it is arguable that our Constitution does not permit two thieves, similarly situated, to be treated differently for purposes of the law relating to punishment.

Alternatively, the Kelantan hudud law could apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In such a case, constitutional objections will arise that our Constitution does not permit the syariah to be imposed on non-Muslims.

It would be different, of course, if Malaysia were a full-fledged Islamic state. Then the hudud or any other uniform criminal law would apply to all.

Which leads one to the perennial polemic about whether Malaysia is an Islamic or secular state? The issue is immensely complicated and cannot be covered here in detail save to say that we have a supreme Constitution. The syariah applies in only a limited (though expanding) field and only to Muslims.

Any change to this arrangement will ne­­­ces­­­s­i­­tate radical amendments to many provisions of the Constitution, require special two-third majorities in both Houses, consent of the Conference of Rulers and consent of the Governors of Sabah and Sarawak.

It is clear that the PAS attempt to secure the enforcement of its 1993 Islamic criminal law is part of its broader aspiration of an Islamic state. There are many slippery slopes and constitutional conundrums.

Shad Faruqi, Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM, is a passionate student and teacher of the law who aspires to make difficult things look simple and simple things look rich. Through this column, he seeks to inspire change for the better as every political, social and economic issue ultimately has constitutional law implications. He can be reached at prof.shad.saleem.faruqi@gmail.com. The views expressed here are entirely his own. The STAR Opinion Columnist 01 May 2014

Thinking Skills: Powerful message on multiplicity

THE town hall meeting between United States President Barack Obama and youth leaders at Universiti Malaya last Sunday saw questions raised on issues, ranging from philosophical to personal, like what happiness meant to the president; what are the values he upholds the most; his regrets; his first community service project; his dream during his teen years; and the legacy he wished to leave behind.

There were also questions like how the Gen Ys are supposed to champion global issues when they do not have a say in the policy-making and Obama's advice for Malaysia, which aspires to be a developed nation by 2020.

Like many Malaysians, I am particularly interested in the question raised by our Myanmar friend on how do we embrace diversity of cultures, race, languages and beliefs across Asean.

In response, Obama said there were instances when minorities find themselves being "disadvantaged" or "experiencing hostility". However, he stressed that "no country would succeed if part of its population is sidelined or discriminated against".

Obama also asserted that women should be given the same education and employment opportunities as men.

The youth leaders were told to embrace their culture and background while respecting the differences in language, food and religion.

They were also told to be on the side of politics which unite people. Most importantly, Obama's message to youths is "to treat people the way you want to be treated", a basic principle which is highlighted in all religious books.

He added that one of the things that makes Asean interesting is its diversity. All nations should embrace it to draw strength from its people by upholding civil rights, political rights and human rights of citizens.

Obama emphasised the point that democracy does not end with elections, but is dependent on strong institutions, open political space and a vibrant civil society which accords respect to every citizen, regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

It is a forthright message by a powerful world leader to the upcoming leaders of Asean and Malaysia whose strength lies in the melting pot of cultures and dynamism of a pluralistic society.

S. Mathana Amaris Fiona, Puchong, Selangor

Thinking Skills: Seeing the bigger picture

I REFER to the letter "Education: A thought for dual-medium schools" (NST, April 22). Most people would agree with me if I say generally, learning English opens up opportunities for a wider learning process.

The writer referred to the learning of English as enabling her "to think clearly and see the bigger picture".

It brings to mind the different methods of education experienced by my friends' children, who are schooled in the United Kingdom.

Most of them are able to explain clearly their understanding of issues or subjects being discussed.

Today, some children have yet to be able to explain their surroundings when they are aged 4 or 5.

Education experts may need to find out why students are unable to express their thoughts, or in other words, explain things eloquently.

This may sound harsh, but as a lecturer, I have always felt that students' grades do not reflect their ability to think.

My friend, a private university lecturer, agreed with my theory of "knowledge-chunking".

According to the theory, since knowledge is chunked based on the different subjects, our students have become too exam-oriented and rigid in their thinking skills.

This is a result of knowledge being "chunked", based on the subjects being taught at schools.

For instance, students learning Geography are not able to link the knowledge related to Science when they discuss about growing a particular plant.

This is because they only learn how plants are being grown in Science and the different types of plants in Geography.

The connection of these knowledge is, however, lost.

When students are asked to describe the process based on their understanding, it cannot be articulated.

This theory was supported when I visited Kolej Tunku Ja'afar Primary School on its open day last March.

The teaching process at the school is conducted using themes. For example, when they study about forests, they learn how plants are grown (Science), the different types of forest animals (Science and Zoology), photosynthesis (Science), the various types of plants and forests (Geography), and environment and responsibility (Civic Education), among others.

I noticed that there was no "knowledge-chunking" in their process of learning.

Wouldn't it be good if this is put into practice?



Dr Siti Suriani Othman, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia NST opinion letters-to-the-editor/thinking-skills 03 May 2014

Tamil Schools: Improve facilities of schools

TAMIL schools have longstanding issues, such as poor infrastructure, limited facilities, old buildings, lack of administrative staff and government assistance.

Though much has been dispensed to Tamil schools over the years, the rate of development to upgrade their facilities and infrastructure has been slow. There are 523 Tamil schools in the country. Many of them are in estates and are in a poor state.

These estate schools once enjoyed good enrolment but are now under-enrolled because many estate workers have migrated to towns in search of better jobs.

These estates are now mostly deserted or are manned by foreign workers. As a result, Tamil schools in estates are facing student shortages and are in a state of neglect.

These estate schools, which account for 70 per cent of Tamil schools, are partially aided by the government, and the Education Ministry has limited jurisdiction over them.

Most of the buildings are old and in dire need of repairs. They do not have proper facilities such as classrooms, toilets, canteens, libraries, teachers' rooms, offices, fields and halls.

The status of these schools has to be changed from partially-assisted schools to fully-aided schools. Only then can the Education Ministry look into the infrastructure of the schools.

Relocating under-enrolled schools to other areas could inconvenience the children and parents. Only 155 Tamil schools are located in urban areas and are fully-aided by the government and have new buildings and good infrastructure.

The quality of teaching staff in Tamil schools has improved by leaps and bounds. In the 1990s, 30 per cent of the teachers were untrained, today, only one per cent are untrained and 45 per cent have a bachelor's degree.

The teaching of the national language has to be improved. Achievement in Bahasa Malaysia is at 70 per cent.

Many pupils perform poorly in the Bahasa Malaysia in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah.

Remedial classes to improve pupils' performance have been organised by specialist teachers for BM and English. Preschool education opportunities for Tamil children is limited. Only 40 per cent of the Tamil schools have preschools, which are fundamental for child development.

There is no need to build or open new Tamil schools. It would be enough to maintain and improve the condition of the 523 Tamil schools in the country to be on a par with the national schools.

Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Opinion letters-to-the-editor tamil-schools-improve-facilities-of-schools 04 May 2014

Arshad: The man and his mission

HIGHLY HONOURED: In mastering himself, he helped change the nation’s destiny

IT was a gathering among friends, acquaintances and family members. They came from far and near. Some have not met him for years. Others were representing those whose paths have crossed with him over many years. Some 200 of us gathered to honour Tan Sri Arshad Ayub, but instead,   felt honoured by him.

I have known him for many years. But, I have always been an admirer of his intellect.

I was fortunate to have worked with him on a board of a public-listed company. I have seen him in action. He was always tough, forthright, firm, but fair, and just. He will scrutinise minute details, literally, with a magnifying glass. I joked with other board members that I suspected forensic auditing was, in fact, invented by him.

But, he is, first and foremost, a gentleman. He is always the fatherly figure who will eventually bring calmness to the boardroom. He is the one who will normally be the voice of reason and conscience. Chief executive officers (CEOs) have had sleepless nights before facing him in board and audit committee meetings, but Arshad does not preach; he guides and plays mentor. "You survive Arshad, you can survive anywhere," says a CEO.

Despite the difference in our age, we have a lot in common. We came from Muar. Our parents were rubber tappers. We came from very poor families. But, he endured more than I did. He lost his father because of dysentery when he was still very young. As the eldest child, it was incumbent upon him to feed the family. He was a sickly kid.

Despite that, Arshad knew the only way to unshackle the yoke of poverty was via education.

Arshad almost did not make it in his studies. He could have ended up as a trishaw puller or a labourer with the Forestry Department. He did not get into the University of Malaya in Singapore. He went to the College of Agriculture in Serdang.

Later, he got through his Higher School Certificate and, in September 1954, he got a scholarship to study Economics and Statistics at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth. He pursued education tenaciously, despite earlier setbacks.

He was lucky. He had many to thank for. But, he taught us the virtue of hard work, fearless determination and the will to succeed.

A book about him is titled A Second Chance: Life and Mission of Arshad Ayub. It is a book that demands attention. It is not so much about what he has achieved, but more importantly, how he can inspire us. It is a truthful story of a poor village boy, who was given a second chance to succeed academically. And, in doing so, it changed him and he became a change master himself. And, this helped change the destiny of his nation.

He is committed to helping his bangsa, for he knew they needed to leapfrog and be jolted out of their complacency. He wanted to instil in young Malays the meaning of self-respect, credibility, dignity, accountability and achievement. He wanted them to have a winning mentality.

When he was entrusted to head Institut Teknologi Mara (ITM, now UiTM), his priority was to produce professionals in various vocations. And, to prepare them for the realities of world. It was a gargantuan task, but Arshad knew failure was not an option. Arshad did more than just produce professionals and technopreneurs; he instilled the spirit of self-confidence in them.

He believed in "building values" -- the key for success in an ever-changing landscape. Hundreds of thousand of ITM graduates are grateful that Arshad was there during its formative and critical years.

ITM is just one of his many stellar achievements in various endeavours. He is, undoubtedly, one of the finest minds in the country. He is the embodiment of the best and brightest the country has to offer.

In a career that has spanned almost six decades, he has worked with or for all the prime ministers. Integrity is his middle name. He has been bestowed almost every conceivable honour the country can offer. The fact that he is the recipient of the coveted Merdeka Award in Education and Community speaks volumes of his contributions.

Yet, even at 86, Arshad is not showing any sign of slowing down. For many who know him, this indefatigable crusader of excellence will continue to make his mark for many years to come.



Johan Jaaffar | zulu.jj@hotmail.com Twitter: @Johan_Jaaffar NST Opinion Columnist arshad-the-man-and-his-mission 03 May 2014

Will India's next focus be economics?

POST-POLLS: Nation has no time to lose

ONCE the polls are over and politics of government-making is done with, assuming a clear mandate, one way or the other, and not a fractured verdict, will economics take over?

After the fatigue that nearly two months' exercise -- not to count several months of countdown and cacophony -- that the political discourse has generated, there is really no time to lose to mend the economy.

If some of the global financial institutions have predicted a slow recovery, there is also worrying news about a below-par monsoon, thanks to El Nino, that may or may not cause drought in large parts of the country.

In a similar post-polls situation in 1991, P.V. Narasimha Rao, although heading a minority government, had taken quick, drastic measures. Inducting Dr Manmohan Singh as his finance minister, he laid the foundation of economic reforms.

Hey you !


A Kashmiri woman belonging to the nomadic Gujjar tribe showing the indelible ink mark on her finger at a polling station in Baba Nagri, northeast of Srinagar, India. After the two-month ‘fatigue’ of political discourse, the country looks set to direct its attention on economic moves. AP pic

Singh has ruled himself out of the next government. Hence, the future of what is dubbed "Manmohanomics" -- a mix of market-friendly reforms with anti-poverty measures -- shall be decided by the political colour of the next government.

Opposition leader Narendra Modi is perceived as winning, if media reports and the poll surveys -- themselves subjects of a frenzied debate -- are any indication. As Modi campaigns, his confidence increasing by the day, he is already being hailed as the winner.

Unsurprisingly, with Modi's emphasis on economic development, speculation has begun about his likely team of economic advisers. That, at least, lowers the political ante and allows for a semblance of debate, amidst incessant name-calling.

The man most talked about, Columbia University don Jagdish N. Bhagwati, 79, happens to be Singh's friend and fellow student at Cambridge University in the 1950s.

The renowned economist belongs to the neo-classical school. Last week, he indicated to Reuters his readiness to chair an advisory council that Modi might constitute.

Bhagwati said Modi could appoint as chief economist Arvind Panagarhia, a fellow Columbian, 18 years his junior.

The Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), whose nominee Modi is, denied any discussion on the two posts because the elections are under way.

Bhagwati and Panagarhia have been openly critical of Singh's economic policies and promoted Modi's "Gujarat Model" of development.

There is an interesting angle to the debate that began long before the elections.

Bhagwati has had a public academic spat over India's welfare policies with another renowned economist, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, also a Cambridge contemporary of Singh, because Sen supports the government's welfare measures and poverty-alleviation programmes.

While agreeing on the need for social spending to fight poverty, Bhagwati has accused Sen of not backing reforms needed to stimulate growth, including in tax, labour, privatisation and foreign investment. Sen denies it.

Bhagwati said he would urge Modi to allow more foreign investment and trade to spur growth and curtail government spending.

"To enhance growth, he will need to promise that India will open more to trade and FDI (foreign direct investment)."

He wants the next government to position India as a trading power, seeking to enter, "on its own terms," regional pacts, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated between the United States and East Asian nations.

He also expects Modi to move decisively to attract foreign investment, and that he would eventually implement a policy opposed by his party -- to allow foreign retailers like Wal-Mart and Tesco free access to Indian markets.

He is conscious of the politics of it: while not opposed to economic reforms, BJP, whose support comes from the trading class, has opposed FDI in retail.

This is because of its reluctance to allow credit for the measure to the Manmohan government. Critics point out that Wal-Mart has Best Price Modern Wholesale brand outlets in Modi-led Gujarat and Punjab, governed by a BJP ally.

Modi's room for manoeuvre would depend on the size of his potential victory.

"He will do it, but he can't do it right away, because you can't go against your party," Bhagwati conceded.

"This time I know that ideas that correspond to mine are to be implemented, as they have been implemented over the years in Gujarat," said Bhagwati, born in British India in what is today Gujarat -- Modi's home-state and political bastion.

The "Gujarat Model" that Modi has been prompting for entire India has had vocal support of Bhagwati and Panagarhia. The latter has written extensively on it in theoretical terms, attracting attention of the Western governments and investors.

Indeed, the "Gujarat Model" has become a contentious poll issue. Other states claim they have done much better. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa says her "TN Model" is better. She finds instant support from Modi's rival, Congress' Rahul Gandhi.

Political semantics apart, actually, with Gujaratis, known for mercantile prowess globally, the state made tremendous strides long before Modi's advent.

In his book "The Gujaratis of India", Vijay Sanghvi says: "Gujarat has never achieved, before or after, the pace of economic development as it did in the 1980s under Congress Chief Minister Madhavsinh Solanki and Finance Minister Sanat Metha. For four consecutive years, the growth rate crossed 13 percent, touching 17 percent in 1983."

Gujarat's growth is rightly criticized for poor human development indicators. It ranks 16th among India's 25 states, behind Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and even small States -- Sikkim, Mizoram, Goa, Punjab and Delhi -- in policy effectiveness, says the India Public Policy Report 2014 released this year.

Scholars Maitreesh Ghatak and Sanchari Roy, writing in Economic & Political Weekly published from Mumbai, say:

"Gujarat, one of the richest states in India, was always at par or ahead of the rest of India during the 1980s, and unambiguously ahead in the 1990s. There is no evidence of any differential acceleration in the 2000s, when Modi has been in power.

"Just the fact that Gujarat had a higher rate of growth than the whole country during the period Modi is chief minister is not considered good enough evidence in favour of a 'Modi effect' on growth,' say the scholars.

.

Mahendra Ved | mahendraved07@gmail.com  New Straits Times Columnist 03 May 2014

Too many years still a slave

LABOUR DAY BLUES: We read of struggle and liberation in 'Roots' years ago, but 'Kunta Kinte' is still bound, and in our midst

THREE days ago the world offered a deep bow to labour as if it was an emperor, and a noble light fell brightly on all those who worked.

But on the outer edge of the throne room, a certain breed of workers with meagre bodies dwelled, and at this place the rays weakened and darkness grew broad and long, and this made them feel quite alone and fearful.

These people are the slaves of the 21st century.

"What?" you exclaim. "Slaves do not walk the earth any more!"

Surely, then, you are living on a plateau in a high mountain somewhere breathing in pleasure like opium and watching one popcorn movie after another.

I do not castigate lightly. A short time ago, a reader, K, entered into correspondence with me about my annoyance at homosexual marriage and slavery. He said: "Thanks for writing about slavery being abolished but it would be braver of you to acknowledge that more people in the world today are in slavery than at any time in history and many are right under your noses..."

Oh dear! He is probably right. While no country wants to be seen as giving sanction and succour to slavery, it has found a way to survive, and thrive. Because it derives life from the greed and wickedness and foolishness of man which no law can hope to completely contain.

But the law is of some help. Three years after the American Civil War ended slavery, China entered into an 'equal treaty' with the United States which protected Chinese immigrants to America... Before the treaty in 1868, the Chinese, who worked as labourers on the railroad and in the mines, suffered great abuse and humiliation. Jung Chang, writing on the reformer, Empress Dowager Cixi, quotes Mark Twain: "I have seen Chinamen abused and maltreated in all the mean, cowardly ways possible to the invention of a degraded nature, but I never saw a policeman interfere in the matter and I never saw a Chinaman righted in the courts of justice for wrongs thus done him."

So it was that after 1868 the burden of living was not as heavy for the Chinese in America. But prejudices and hostility remained entrenched in the minds of the resident population. One hundred and forty-six years later, I am not entirely persuaded the volcano that spewed venom is alive no longer.

And one hundred and forty-six years later as K sadly points out, "young girls arrive as virgins, full of hope and spend the first week raped and beaten and then fall into a life of slavery, complacency and lies. The threat always that their parents and village neighbours will be told that they are prostitutes if they escape... Well unfortunately to a girl in Vietnam or Myanmar promised US$500 a month to work in a hairdresser's they just believe it".

Many pictures of these hapless young women have I seen, taken by colleagues during raids by the authorities on this joint and that. They are someone's mother, daughter or sister; pseudopuritans condemn them, criminals lay them out like meat and consumers of news treat them like, well, another item on the evening bulletin.

And the rest of us? We think of them as fodder for jokes, or we blame the enforcers for the state of affairs, or we ignore them. We may as well bind them in chains ourselves.

My own experience paints another dreadful picture of the extent of human depravity. At a restaurant I used to frequent, I learned belatedly that the workers, all from abroad, were made to sleep on the hard tables after the last diners had left. The businessman probably had it in mind to save some money, but not to save his employees from some hardship, even at the time of rest.

I came to know that the workers were resigned to their fate, labouring seven days a week from dawn to the witching hour for that few extra ringgit. They were aliens in this land, not alien to their rights. But little did they understand.

Now, they are all gone, to home and family, or to another enslaving existence.

It is beyond the compass of this space to make recompense to these workers or those women, or to lay out all the filthy facets of modern-day slavery. Or to make known all the actors, whether in authority or not, who perform on such a disgusting stage.

But I am moved by the anti-slavery champion, William Wilberforce, to finally leave you with this:

Who is the emperor, who also is slave?

On Labour Day, the question returns anew,

Can people tell with eyes brave,

When brightness blinds all but few.



David Christy | davidchristy@nst.com.my    New Straits Times Columnist 04 May 2014

150-year-old historical Wong Ah Fook mansion owner to face fine

JOHOR BARU: The owner of the land where the old mansion of Wong Ah Fook previously stood, will be slapped with a maximum fine of RM500,000 for demolishing the building without a permit.

Johor Baru City Council's (MBJB) chief whip Datuk Yahya Jaffar said that the fine will be imposed under the Local Government Planning and Development Act 1963.

Yahya said this to reporters after launching the World Laughter Day 2014 at Taman Merdeka here this morning.

He added the owner, a Johorean residing in Singapore, had probably acted in haste after learning that the state government was in the process of declaring the mansion to be a historical site.


Johor Baru's 150-year-old dilapidated mansion belonging to philantropist and contractor Wong Ah Fook
which was still in tact several days ago. NSTP/Roslan Khamis


"If that really happens, the owner would not be able to do anything with the land," he said.

It is learnt the land measuring 1.1 acres could be worth RM30 million in the market.

Yahya said no proposed building plans have been submitted to MBJB yet.

He added there was also no application for a permit to demolish the building as well.


Johor Baru's 150-year-old mansion belonging to philantropist and contractor Wong Ah Fook
which was demolished late Wednesday. NSTP/Roslan Khamis

On Wednesday night, the 150-year-old mansion was demolished despite efforts made to preserve the building by various parties.

Johor's iconic philanthropist and contractor Wong Ah Fook, whose name was etched in Johor's modern history with a road named after him, had previously lived in the mansion.

Wong, who had close ties to the then state ruler Sultan Abu Bakar in the mid-1800s, had built some of the most recognisable heritage buildings in Johor, including Istana Besar, Balai Zaharah, the residence of the state's first menteri besar, Datuk Jaafar Mohamed, at Bukit Senyum and the Johor Baru prison in Jalan Ayer Molek.

Earlier, community leaders from the Johor Baru Tiong Hua Association rallied together to prepare a formal appeal to the Johor Menteri Besar's office, albeit, a tad too late.

Following the demolition of the building, the Johor Baru Chinese History and Heritage Museum chairman Tan Chai Puan said the incident had prompted a non-governmental organisation (NGO) to start making an inventory of all the historical buildings in the state, especially in Johor Baru.



Chuah Bee Kim | news@nst.com.my NST Latest 150-year-old-historical-wong-ah-fook-mansion-owner-to-face-fine 04 May 2014

The rise of jobless graduates

GRADUATE EMPLOYABILITY: While universities are filled with young hopefuls who are eager to join the rat race and climb the corporate ladder, thousands quickly realise that nothing in life comes easy, especially a successful career. Field experts explain that a poor command of English, lack of confidence and unrealistic expectations are some of the main job busters. However, all is not lost for young adults, who can easily get help, learns Audrey Vijaindren

ANITA Sude  was jobless for more than a year after graduation. During this period, she harvested sago with her father in the jungles of Sarawak.

They used to earn a measly RM5 to RM7 for every 0.5m of sago trunk. They had to carry the trunks to the market. Anita could carry only one trunk, while her father could carry two at the most.

Their income was too small for the back-breaking work they had to do. Yet, it was the only source of income for the family.

"I graduated with a degree in Marine Biology from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and, yet, I could not find a job for more than a year.

"I felt pressured because I am the only graduate among my seven siblings. My family expected me to get a good job immediately after graduation," says the 27-year-old Melanau.

All that changed the day Anita found out about Skim Latihan 1Malaysia (SL1M).


Anita Sude landed an administration executive position after completing an eight-month stint under SL1M.

"I applied online, but did not have much hope until, one day, I was called for an interview.

"I had to persuade my mother to let me go. She did not want me to travel far because she thought it was not worthwhile. She wanted me to settle for a job in Sarawak."

Eight months later, Anita graduated from SL1M.


SL1M secretariat head Norashikin Ismail says few firms are willing to hire graduates who cannot take criticism

"Today, I am an administration executive for a company that supplies and installs audio-visual and information technology equipment. I am really happy with my life now. My parents have accepted my decision to work in Kuala Lumpur and, yes, I can support them financially."

SL1M secretariat head Norashikin Ismail says many young adults still do not have the confidence or right attitude to enter the job market, even after graduation.


Sudhev Sreetharan says Setia Haruman feels it is socially responsible to help solve Cyberjaya’s talent requirement problem

"We are here to help them, but fresh graduates need to help themselves first. Unfortunately, how can they do so, if they do not know what they lack?

"They need to have the right attitude and must get out of their comfort zones."

SL1M is part of a corporate social responsibility programme under the Economic Planning Unit, aimed at giving back to society. It focuses on helping underprivileged graduates enter the job market through internships and attachments.


Imran Kunalan says a more intensive English course at the tertiary level of education
is useful and must be coupled with continuous practice

The programme was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on June 1, 2011, as part of efforts to increase graduate employability. SL1M 2012 is a continuation of the initiative.

During the attachment period of between eight and 12 months, participants receive an allowance of at least RM1,000 each, which will be paid directly by the companies involved in the training scheme.


Vimleswary Sivasubmaniam works in Shell’s Human Resources Department

Participants are required to undergo at least two months of soft-skills training and six months of on-the-job training with the companies. They will be assisted by the companies to land jobs before the end of their stints in the programme.

In two years, 42,000 of the programme's graduates have landed jobs.

Norashikin says many graduates have personality issues and problems holding conversations in English.

"Most of them are introverts, who are extremely shy and reserved. There are also those who are quite shallow. They are able to read, memorise and regurgitate. But, when you mix things up, they are unable to connect the dots.

"The most problematic issue is that they are afraid to converse in English. They may have good qualifications on paper, but they are afraid of speaking in English for fear of making mistakes.

"Most of them come from different levels in society. If they hail from a state with a particular dialect, they are even more intimidated. Some get mocked by their friends if they speak in English."

Unfortunately, not all attachments have yielded positive results. Some of the feedback that Norashikin has received from companies include unrealistic job expectations and attitude problems.

"It is not easy dealing with Gen Y employees because when their superiors at work correct them, they throw in the towel. If they are unhappy with the smallest things, they just up and leave after a few months. They think the world revolves around them.

"They think: 'I am a graduate, so I need to be treated a certain way. Do not ask me to photocopy or fax things, stay a minute later at work or do anything that is not specified in my job description.'

"Recently, we arranged for some SL1M candidates to have interviews at a public-listed company. Although they were for executive positions, the newbies would be required to work in shifts.

"Out of 3,000 candidates, only 30 showed up for the interviews. And, after hearing the job description, only a handful accepted the positions. It is a crime to not get a job in Malaysia and, yet, thousands are unemployed.

"There are 130,000 graduates who want to join SL1M. While we would like to help all of them, the reality is that there are limited companies willing to take them. Our hope is that companies realise that by taking in SL1M graduates, they are giving back to society.

"You may need to change their mindset and groom them, but these graduates are rare gems, especially those from rural areas. Despite their circumstances, they got themselves into universities."

So far, there are 120 government-linked and private companies involved with SL1M.

"We are only a team of 12, with barely any facilities or budget. If we can find jobs for 42,000 graduates in two years, I am sure others can do this and much more.

"Besides the double tax deduction, some companies will be able to join SL1M through the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF)-SL1M scheme. This enables the companies to utilise the HRDF levy to train SL1M graduates as future workers."

Norashikin says the ultimate goal is for companies to equip the graduates with five work skills.

"The first is mastering communication, be it in English, Bahasa Malaysia, presentation or public speaking. Second is problem solving, and creative and analytical thinking. It is time for them to think out of the box.

"Organisational adaptability is the third area to focus on. Fourth, they should be value-driven professionals, so if they are checked on by the 'dragon lady' in the office, they should take it as a challenge to prove that they can do better. The fifth skill includes proper grooming and etiquette."

She says it is time to stop raising a "strawberry generation" that is easily bruised.

"We do not want graduates who have to be taught everything. Most companies are willing to hire graduates who are not experts in their field, but few establishments want to deal with employees who cannot take criticism."

Making career dreams come true  

VIMLESWARY Sivasubmaniam, 27, had only one dream:  to work for an oil and gas company. Her father used to be a driver,   but kept cows for their  milk  to supplement the family's   income.

"Every day, we had customers who came to our house to buy fresh milk. Though I did not help with the milking, I cleaned the cowsheds."

After graduating with a business administration degree, she applied for a graduate programme.

Of the 8,000 applicants, only 200 were selected for training, which was sponsored by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). Vimleswary was one of the lucky few.

Like the other trainees, she cried upon learning that the training was hard, starting from 6am and finishing at midnight. Yet, it turned out to be the best time of her life, as she is now proudly working in Shell's Human Resources Department.

Ong Chin Eng, 26, is the son of a rubber tapper. Growing up in Tangkak, Johor, he went along as a youngster to collect rubber during the school holidays.

Ong and his parents tapped trees and collected rubber from 7am to 10am. They would be bitten by mosquitoes and ants.

Like many poor folk, his family knew that education was the way out of poverty.

"My parents encouraged us to study hard. But, I feel that luck also played a big part in me getting a place in university. I am the only university graduate in my family."

After graduation, he was jobless for more than two months. But, his friend saw an advertisement for a graduate employability programme and encouraged him to apply.

Ong was recruited for the BNM programme, which turned into Skim Latihan 1Malaysia. Upon completing the programme, he was hired as an information technology officer at a reputable company.



Audrey Vijaindren NST Nation General The-rise-of-jobless-graduates-1.586514 04 May 2014