June 9th, 2014

Memastikan keselamatan pekerja

TIDAK semua orang sanggup berjemur di bawah remang terik mentari terutama untuk bekerja di terminal minyak yang dibina di pesisiran laut. Suhu adakalanya boleh mencecah sehingga 40 darjah selsius menjadikan hanya mereka yang benar-benar kuat secara mental dan fizikal mampu bertahan lama dalam kerjaya ini.

Namun bagi Hafiz Sayudin, 25, faktor cuaca bukanlah halangan bagi dirinya untuk bergelar penyelia keselamatan tapak binaan kontraktor pembinaan di sektor minyak dan gas di selatan Semenanjung Malaysia.

Walaupun memiliki diploma yang membolehkan dirinya untuk bekerja di pejabat yang lebih selesa dan berhawa dingin, Hafiz membuktikan anak muda sepertinya bukanlah jenis yang terlalu memilih kerja.

Bagi Hafiz, pekerjaan sebagai penyelia walaupun di tempat yang tidak selesa bukanlah alasan untuk dirinya bekerja sambil lewa.



SEBELUM memulakan kerja, Hafiz Sayudin (kanan) memastikan langkahlangkah keselamatan diambil oleh semua pekerja di tapak binaan

“Saya tidak menafikan minat antara faktor saya memilih kerjaya ini. Semuanya selepas sepupu memperkenalkan saya dengan kerjaya lasak yang sebenarnya sudah lama diperkenalkan namun tidak ramai yang mengetahui tentang kepentingannya.

“Kerjaya ini sebenarnya amat mulia iaitu kami memastikan keadaan 'fizikal' setiap pekerja sebelum masuk dan selepas keluar dari tapak binaan adalah sama. Umpamanya jika dia mempunyai 10 jari kaki dan tangan sebelum masuk ke tapak binaan, begitulah juga ketika keluar. Tiada secarik luka di mana-mana anggota tubuh mereka.

“Tetapi seringkali perkara ini tidak dititikberatkan. Kami sering dilabel sebagai golongan yang melambatkan kerja. Ini kerana untuk mencapai satu objektif keselamatan terdapat beberapa langkah tambahan kerja selamat yang perlu dipatuhi," katanya.

Memanglah kata Hafiz, tanpa mengikuti prosedur ini, urusan akan menjadi lebih cepat, namun risikonya menjadi semakin tinggi dan sekiranya berlaku perkara yang tidak diingini pastinya bukan sahaja menyusahkan semua pihak, malah akan melambatkan perjalanan projek itu secara keseluruhan.

Warga asing

Bila dibandingkan dengan jabatan lain di tapak bina, bahagian keselamatan yang paling banyak berhubung dengan pekerja yang terdiri daripada warga asing seperti dari Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar dan Filipina.

Kepercayaan warga asing ini kepada para penyelia itu pula bukan sekadar membabitkan urusan kerja, malah melibatkan hal peribadi seperti menyerahkan kad ATM mereka untuk kemasukan dan pengeluaran wang tunai.

Penyelia juga diibaratkan sebagai kaunselor yang mendengar masalah mereka yang jauh daripada keluarga dan anak-anak.

“Walaupun wujud sedikit masalah komunikasi, namun bukanlah penghalang untuk merapatkan diri dengan pekerja warga asing.

“Saya adakalanya meletakkan diri saya di tempat mereka. Bayangkan mereka berkelana ke negara yang beribu batu jauhnya dari negara asal semata-mata untuk mencari pendapatan halal. Meninggalkan keluarga demi sebuah kehidupan yang bukanlah terlalu selesa demi mencari rezeki untuk ahli keluarga," kata Hafiz yang juga sering ke hospital dan balai polis menyelesaikan masalah peribadi melibatkan pekerja warga asing.

Cerita Hafiz, pekerja warga asing ini sebenarnya amat baik hati. Mereka langsung tidak kedekut untuk mengeluarkan belanja daripada pendapatan mereka yang tidak seberapa untuk membeli makanan dan minuman kepada semua yang bekerja di tapak binaan.

“Penyelia sering juga dianggap sebagai ‘abang besar’ oleh pekerja warga asing terutama bila berhadapan dengan masalah di tempat kerja. Malah sesekali kami dipanggil ‘doktor’ kerana melakukan pertolongan cemas sebelum kehadiran ambulans atau dihantar ke hospital," imbas Hafiz.

Peristiwa aneh

Satu pengalaman yang sukar dilupakan Hafiz di satu projek yang disertainya sebelum ini ialah apabila dia didatangi dua lelaki misteri yang mengarahkan supaya kontraktor menghentikan projek yang sedang dijalankan. Dalam dakwaan dua lelaki tersebut, kawasan itu merupakan bekas tapak istana kesultanan di zaman dahulu dan ia adalah keramat.

“Mereka memberikan masa selama sebulan untuk mengosongkan tempat kerja dan mengugut sekiranya kami mengabaikan nasihat tersebut musibah seperti tsunami akan melanda.

“Pada mulanya kami semuanya menyangkakan dua lelaki tersebut hanya mahukan wang pampasan, namun setelah ditawarkan sagu hati mereka berdua menolak, malah mengingatkan kami sekali lagi tentang amaran tersebut.

“Kebetulan sehari selepas itu, cuaca di tapak binaan sering berlaku ribut-ribut kecil, dengan ombak yang agak meninggi sedikit sebanyak membuatkan kami terfikir kembali amaran dua lelaki misteri tersebut," katanya. NOOR FAZRINA KAMAL Utusan/Bicara_Agama/20140606

Piala Dunia kembali lagi!

BERBEZA dengan Liga Perdana Inggeris yang berlangsung selama 10 bulan setiap tahun, kejohanan Piala Dunia pula diadakan setiap empat tahun. Faktor ini mendorong ramai orang menanti-nanti tarikh sepak mula Piala Dunia pada 12 Jun ini. Tarikh untuk temasya paling hebat di dunia!

Perbezaan waktu di Amerika Selatan bermakna siang di Brazil, malam di Malaysia. 12 Jun di sana, 13 Jun di sini. Acara perasmiannya di Sao Paolo bermula 2 pagi (waktu Malaysia) dan perlawanan pertama tuan rumah menentang Croatia jam 4 pagi. Tamat perlawanan, jangan lena sampai tengah hari. 13 Jun ialah Jumaat!

Secara peribadi, saya tidaklah seronok sangat kerana pasukan negara ini tidak semestinya sekuat pasukan kelab. Pada Piala Dunia 2010 di Afrika Selatan, ada Cristiano Ronaldo dalam Portugal pun tidak ke mana. Lionel Messi juga 'senyap' bersama Argentina. Ini dua pemain terhebat dunia hari ini dan empat tahun lalu.

Fakta tepat: Ronaldo bersama skuad Real Madrid dan Messi di Barcelona dibantu oleh pemain hebat daripada pelbagai negara yang membentuk pasukan idaman dunia. Portugal dan Argentina memerlukan lebih daripada sekadar dua pemain itu untuk memenangi Piala Dunia kali ini. Nyatanya, pasukan Sepanyol dilihat berpeluang mempertahankan kejuaraannya, selain Brazil memiliki kelebihan sokongan penyokong sendiri.

Satu-satunya pasukan yang sering dilabel sebagai 'terlebih publisiti' ialah England. Memang benar ketika England diketuai David Beckham dan kemudiannya, John Terry, England gagal melangkah jauh atau menyumbat sepakan penalti. Pasukan England 2014 ini berbeza.

Diketuai Steven Gerrard, pasukan ini dibarisi ramai pemain muda dan terbentuk daripada nukleus kelab Liverpool yang menduduki tangga kedua liga 2013/2014. Terdapat tujuh pemain Liverpool dengan enam daripadanya dijangka berada dalam kesebelasan utama. Satu lagi pasukan yang orang tidak pandang di Afrika Selatan empat tahun lalu ialah Uruguay. Hari ini, orang semua kenal siapa itu Luis Suarez. Penyerang berbisa Liverpool.

Pernah tengok Piala Dunia dari jarak dekat? Piala ini dibawa ke Malaysia awal tahun ini sebagai satu daripada promosi FIFA. Direka oleh pengukir Itali, Silvio Gazzaniga pada 1971 pada harga AS$50,000. Kini trofi tersebut bernilai AS$10 juta (RM32 juta). Namun, melihatkan kepada usaha membida menjadi tuan rumah dan persediaan pasukan, nilai Piala Dunia jauh lebih tinggi daripada nilai trofi yang disalut emas 18 karat itu.

Penganalisis ekonomi meletakkan anggaran kos yang lazim digunakan pada tiga temasya Piala Dunia yang memberi impak positif kepada ekonomi iaitu AS$9 bilion (Jepun dan Korea Selatan pada 2002), AS$12 bilion (Jerman pada 2006) dan AS$5 bilion (Afrika Selatan 2010).

Bagi kejohanan di Brazil ini, penganalisis ekonomi memberi unjuran impak positif ekonomi daripada AS$3 bilion hingga AS$14 bilion.

Satu laporan memberi anggaran kejohanan tersebut akan menambah hampir AS$30 bilion kepada Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar (KDNK) Brazil antara tahun 2010 dan 2013, menjana 3.63 juta pekerjaan setahun dan menambah AS$8 bilion daripada segi perolehan cukai. Temasya ini bakal menarik 3.7 juta pelancong ke negara itu, dengan jangkaan akan berbelanja purata AS$2,488 seorang.

Faktor feel good yang dikaitkan dengan Piala Dunia juga memberi kesan positif, dan penyelidikan ekonomi menyokong faktor ini. Sebelum Piala Dunia 2006, sebanyak 70 peratus lelaki dan 62 peratus wanita British bersetuju temasya itu akan memberi impak kepada kerjaya mereka. Sebanyak 62 peratus lelaki dan 52 peratus wanita berkata jika pasukan mereka mencatat keputusan baik, ia akan melonjakkan semangat mereka.

Daripada segi perniagaan, sektor peruncitan British menikmati peningkatan jualan bernilai AS$2 bilion kerana inilah masa orang membeli televisyen baru, piza, arak dan sebagainya untuk menonton perlawanan.

Sama seperti ekonomi bola sepak peringkat kelab, pemenang Piala Dunia tahun ini akan meraih AS$35 juta.

Syarikat-syarikat pengiklan yang digelar 'rakan kongsi komersial rasmi FIFA' juga menikmati laba besar. Semasa Piala Dunia di Afrika Selatan, Adidas menjual enam juta baju bola sepak, meningkat daripada tiga juta semasa Piala Dunia Jerman 2006. Saluran YouTube Visa 2010 World Cup ditonton 7.5 juta kali, 50 peratus ganda daripada jangkaan.

Profesor Fakulti Strategi Perniagaan Sukan di Coventry University, Simon Chadwick berkata, semua fakta di atas bagaimanapun, boleh dipersoalkan kerana lazimnya ia diumumkan oleh kerajaan atau juruperunding yang mereka lantik.

"Pengkritik menyatakan walaupun Brazil akan menikmati pulangan ekonomi lebih AS$3 bilion kesan limpahan Piala Dunia tetapi kos sebenar ditanggung negara itu ialah AS$11.5 bilion. Kos pembinaan stadium, misalnya, telah meningkat berganda kepada AS$3.68 bilion,’’ ujarnya.

Semasa kejohanan Piala Persekutuan (Federations) tahun lalu di Brazil, berlaku banyak tunjuk perasaan dan bantahan rakyat terhadap pelbagai isu daripada kenaikan tambang bas hingga kes rasuah kepada pengecualian cukai kepada FIFA. Protes seumpamanya menambah lagi kos kepada bajet. Kerajaan Brazil dipercayai berbelanja sekitar AS$855 juta untuk pasukan keselamatan.

Menurut kaji selidik Datafolha yang terkini pada 8 April lalu, hanya 48 peratus rakyat Brazil bersetuju penganjuran Piala Dunia di negara itu sebagai idea yang bagus, menurun daripada 79 peratus pada 2008.

Pada 2007, apabila Brazil diumumkan sebagai pemenang bidaan tuan rumah Piala Dunia 2014, Presiden Brazil ketika itu, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva menyifatkannya sebagai kemuncak kejayaan negara itu muncul sebagai negara maju. Setelah berdekad-dekad bergelumang dengan krisis ekonomi, Brazil memiliki ekonomi berasaskan mata wang yang stabil. Kelas pengguna baharu berjaya diwujudkan dalam kalangan rakyatnya yang miskin. Dan dengan harga komoditi meningkat, Brazil menemui telaga minyak yang terbesar di dunia di perairan Rio de Janeiro. Pasaran saham Brazil melonjak 44 peratus pada 2007. Dua tahun kemudiannya, Rio memenangi bidaan penganjuran Sukan Olimpik 2016.

Tetapi ekonomi Brazil terencat. Selepas mencatat pertumbuhan 7.5 peratus pada 2010, ekonomi negara itu kini berada dalam tahun keempat merudum, sebahagiannya akibat penurunan harga komoditi. Kelas pengguna mencair setelah mencatat hutang kad kredit yang besar. Sektor perkilangan juga teruk disebabkan cukai tinggi manakala projek prasarana terbantut, sekali gus menjejaskan daya saingnya di benua Amerika Latin.

Apakah penganjuran Piala Dunia ini berbaloi? Tiada jawapan mudah dan bergantung kepada siapa yang anda tanyakan. Bagi FIFA, tentunya amat menguntungkan. Bagi penonton seperti kita, tahanlah mata berjaga subuh-subuh buta sehingga ke perlawanan akhir. Penyokong England sekalian, anda tidak akan menonton berseorangan.   Johardy Ibrahim johardyibrahim@twitter.com Utusan/Rencana/20140608

Perangi 'musuh dalam selimut'

"Dalam membanteras kegiatan ini, saya tidak bimbang musuh yang nyata sebab kita nampak, tetapi apa yang paling saya takuti ialah musuh dalam selimut.’’


Itulah kata-kata seorang pegawai kanan sebuah agensi penguat kuasa yang diberi tanggungjawab untuk membanteras penyelewengan diesel bersubsidi yang ketika ini dikatakan berada pada tahap cukup serius.

Apa yang dimaksudkan oleh beliau ialah bagaimana terdapat kelemahan dan penyalahgunaan kuasa termasuk dalam kalangan agensi penguat kuasa sehingga memungkinkan usaha membanteras kegiatan jahat itu menghadapi kesukaran.

Akibat daripada keadaan itu jugalah, sindiket yang terlibat dalam perbuatan tersebut tidak pernah berasa takut atau gerun dengan mana-mana agensi penguat kuasa kerana mereka tahu bagaimana hendak menangani pihak itu bagi memastikan 'perniagaan' mereka tidak diganggu.

Persoalannya, sampai ke bilakah kita harus membiarkan 'musuh dalam selimut' ini terus bermaharajalela sehingga ia mengakibatkan kerajaan menanggung kerugian berbilion ringgit akibat penyelewengan diesel bersubsidi?

Usahlah kita bercakap soal mekanisme atau cara untuk mengelakkan penyelewengan itu berlaku kerana ia tidak akan membawa apa-apa erti jika ada dalam kalangan agensi penguat kuasa kita sudah begitu selesa untuk menikmati kemewahan dengan menjamah rezeki daripada sumber yang haram.

Penulis bukanlah bercakap kosong atau membuat tuduhan melulu tetapi berdasarkan pengalaman bertemu dengan pelbagai pihak dalam usaha mendedahkan penyelewengan diesel bersubsidi.

Rasuah

Cakaplah di mana sahaja, laut mahupun darat, di sungai mahupun laut, di jeti persendirian mahupun pelabuhan, amalan rasuah menjadikan pelindung kepada sindiket untuk melaksanakan aktviti penyelewengan itu.

Apa akan berlaku jika ada agensi penguat kuasa sanggup menerima rasuah secara bulanan? Apa akan terjadi jika ada anggota tersebut bersedia menjadi tali barut kepada sindiket apabila serbuan hendak dilakukan? Dan sudah tentu sesuatu yang mendukacitakan apabila ada agensi penguat kuasa membiarkan sahaja peraturan sekadar menjadi hiasan dalam buku undang-undang.

Ini belum lagi mengambil kira bagaimana ‘keajaiban’ berlaku apabila serbuan di syarikat yang lesen perniagaan sudah tamat tempoh sejak setahun lalu, secara tiba-tiba boleh dihidupkan dalam tempoh beberapa jam sahaja selepas serbuan dilakukan.

Akhirnya, serbuan yang bertujuan membanteras penyelewengan diesel bersubsidi hanya menjadi sia-sia, malah penulis diberitahu ada kejadian di mana bukti berupa bahan bakar itu akan 'berubah wajah' menjadi air disebabkan ada anggota agensi penguat kuasa bersedia 'membantu' sindiket.

Kesemua faktor inilah yang memungkinkan penyelewengan diesel bersubsidi tidak mampu dihapuskan kerana sindiket sudah memastikan anggota agensi terlibat menjadi 'balaci’ kepada mereka.

Oleh itu sudah tiba masanya, pembanterasan kegiatan haram itu bukan sekadar melalui operasi-operasi yang hanya menyasarkan sindiket kecil sahaja tetapi lebih utama sindiket besar.

Tetapi masalahnya seperti mana dimaklumkan oleh satu sumber kepada penulis ialah amalan rasuah dalam kalangan anggota agensi penguat kuasa menjadi halangan utama.

"Mereka inilah yang menjadi 'musuh dalam selimut’ dan selagi kelompok ini tidak dihapuskan habis-habisan, percayalah usaha kita akan menjadi sia-sia," kata sumber tersebut.

Namun begitu, kerajaan sama sekali tidak boleh berputus asa, sebaliknya perlu memikirkan untuk mewujudkan sebuah pasukan khas yang diketuai satu agensi tertinggi yang boleh memberi arahan ke atas agensi lain. Penubuhan petugas khas ini adalah penting bagi menangani jenayah terancang berkaitan dengan penyelewengan diesel bersubsidi. Dalam memperkatakan soal ini kewujudan pasukan petugas yang dikoordinasi oleh Jabatan Peguam Negara adalah model yang terbaik.

Apa yang perlu difahami, ketirisan dan penyelewengan bahan bakar itu bukannya melibatkan wang berjumlah ribuan ringgit tetapi sudah mencecah berbilion ringgit sejak lima tahun lalu, oleh itu apakah wajar kita mahu terus bergantung kepada beberapa agensi penguat kuasa di peringkat kementerian atau jabatan, yang kita tahu dalam kalangan mereka sendiri pun ramai yang disahkan menjadi 'musuh dalam selimut'. Siapakah mereka? Jawapannya ada kepada agensi terlibat. Zulkifli Bakar Utusan/Rencana/20140608

Dasar yang membebankan rakyat China

Seperti saya katakan pada bahagian akhir coretan lalu, Mao Tse-tung telah mengambil langkah drastik menghapuskan pengkritik-pengkritik dasarnya melalui kempen besar-besaran yang dinamakan Anti-Rightist Campaign yang berjalan setahun sehingga pertengahan tahun 1958. Lebih daripada setengah juta para intelektual dan cendekiawan China telah diperangkap oleh Mao dengan tipu helahnya. Chow En-lai dan Liu Shao-chi merasakan diri mereka juga telah diperdaya oleh Mao kerana mereka tidak menduga Mao boleh bertindak sedemikian.


Bagi Chow dan Liu, yang pada mulanya telah mencadangkan kepada Mao supaya menggalakkan kritikan-kritikan terhadap parti dan dasar-dasar kerajaan, berasa bimbang kesan-kesan buruk terhadap ekonomi Soviet semasa pemerintahan Stalin akan berlaku di China jika dasar Great Leap Forward dilancarkan tanpa mengambil kira pandangan rakyat China terlebih dahulu.

Tujuan utama dasar Great Leap Forward adalah untuk meningkatkan secara mendadak pengeluaran pertanian serentak dengan perindustrian di China dan ia dimulakan pada pertengahan 1958. Mao menganggap hasil perindustrian China dapat dipertingkatkan menerusi penggunaan tenaga manusia secara besar-besaran tanpa keperluan mengimport mesin-mesin berat dari luar negara. Mao mengetepikan langsung keperluan kepakaran teknikal dan mengurangkan kerenah birokrasi.

Mao Tse-tung merencanakan peningkatan pengeluaran gandum/jagung serentak dengan pengeluaran besi sebagai asas untuk membina ekonomi moden China yang kukuh. Dia dengan yakinnya meramalkan, dalam tempoh 15 tahun selepas dilancarkan dasar Great Leap Forward (pertengahan 1958), pengeluaran besi oleh China akan mengalahkan United Kingdom.

Dalam bidang pertanian, Mao melancarkan tahap kedua collectivization yang telah dimulakannya pada awal tahun 1950-an mengikut acuan Soviet di mana collectives kecil-kecilan digabungkan menjadi besar dengan diberi nama People’s Communes. Buat permulaan, satu percubaan telah dibuat di Chayashan, provinsi Hunan pada April 1958 di mana plot-plot kecil telah dihapuskan dan communal kitchens diperkenalkan. People’s Communes secara kilat menjadi bentuk baharu sistem ekonomi untuk seluruh negara China.

Menjelang akhir tahun 1958, 25,000 People’s Communes telah ditubuhkan, dengan purata 5,000 keluarga tergabung dalam sebuah commune. Semua commune ini ditentukan boleh berdikari dalam serba-serbinya. Peserta/pekerja hanya diberi work points sebagai ganti gaji. Wang tidak lagi diperlukan dalam kehidupan ‘masyarakat’ People’s Communes.

Berbahaya

Penentang-penentang sistem People's Communes menganggap ia semacam sistem aparteid yang telah dikenakan ke atas petani-petani China. Kenapa tidaknya, kerana People’s Commune bertujuan semata-mata untuk memuncakkan penghasilan pertanian demi memenuhi keperluan makanan penduduk bandar dan golongan pekerja kilang, sedangkan kehidupan penduduk desa yang di bawah sistem itu terkongkong. Mereka yang bangkit mengkritik sistem ini dianggap berbahaya dan dikenakan pelbagai bentuk tindakan. Tidak ada peluang untuk mereka melepaskan diri. Jika didapati cuba melarikan diri akan dikenakan tindakan yang dinamakan party- orchestrated public struggle yang bersifat fizikal, malah boleh menyebabkan kematian.

Atas desakan Mao juga, Politburo Parti Komunis China dalam bulan Ogos 1958, membuat keputusan untuk melipatgandakan pengeluaran besi dalam tahun 1958 itu juga. Ini adalah melalui penubuhan apa yang dinamakan backyard steel furnaces di merata tempat. Dapur-dapur leburan ini tumbuh bertaburan di seluruh China seperti cendawan tumbuh selepas hujan di bandar dan desa-desa. Ia berjalan siang dan malam kerana hendak memenuhi kehendak Mao supaya pengeluaran besi dilipatgandakan bagi tahun 1958 (pada masa keputusan Politburo itu dibuat hanya tinggal empat bulan).

Saya ingin mencadangkan kepada anda mengikuti kisah yang diceritakan penulis Jung Chang dalam buku menariknya The Swan. Dia menceritakan bagaimana pokok-pokok di sekitar kampungnya habis ditebang oleh orang kampung untuk membuat kayu api bagi dapur-dapur leburan besi itu. Juga, bagaimana petani-petani telah dikerah meninggalkan ladang untuk bekerja di dapur-dapur leburan sampai menyebabkan ladang ketandusan pekerja untuk kerja-kerja menanam atau menuai.

Jung Chang juga menceritakan bagaimana dia, sebagai murid sekolah ketika itu, disuruh pihak sekolah dan ibu bapanya supaya sentiasa memerhati dan mengutip setiap benda ‘bersifat besi’ dalam perjalanan ke sekolah dan semasa pulang ke rumah. Misalnya, jika dia ternampak sebatang paku atau jarum sekalipun, dia akan mengutipnya dan menyerahkan kepada guru atau ibu bapanya. Di dalam buku mereka Mao, The Unknown Story, Jung Chang dan Jon Halliday menceritakan kenapa Mao menekankan keperluan peningkatan hasil besi: "Another fiasco that drained the peasants’ energy, and brought disaster, was an order from Mao that the entire nation had to ‘make steel’. The Superpower Programme needed a lot of steel ….. When he boasted to Communist leaders in Moscow in 1957 that China would ‘overtake Britain in fifteen years’ (which he later shortened to three), and when he told the Chinese he was fully confident that China could ‘overtake America' in ten years, steel output was what he had in mind. Mao set the 1958 target at 10.7 million tons. How this came about illustrates his broadbrush approach to economics." (halaman 449/450)

Menurut buku itu lagi: "Steel mills and related industries like coal mines were to go flat to speed up production. Rules and common sense were cast aside. His (Mao’s) response was to order the general population to build ‘backyard furnaces’. At least 90 million people were ‘forced’, as Mao said matter-of-factly, to construct such furnaces, which Khrushchev not unfairly dubbed ‘samovar’ furnaces, and which produced not steel at all, but pig iron, if that (halaman 450)." Slogan parti yang dicadangkan kepada rakyat: "To hand-in one pickaxe is to wipe out one imperialist, and to hide one nail is to hide one counter-revolutionary."

Di seluruh China, banyak rumah penduduk kampung dirobohkan, manakala penghuni-penghuninya tidak dipedulikan. Ini semata-mata untuk membolehkan parti menggunakan papan dan bumbung rumah-rumah sebagai bahan bakar untuk dapur leburan. Manakala, di bukit-bukit dan gunung yang boleh didaki, pokok-pokoknya habis ditebang, dan kesan deforestation menyebabkan berlakunya banjir di beberapa wilayah di China yang berpanjangan sampai beberapa dekad lamanya (halaman 450).

Apakah Mao berjaya mencapai sasarannya? Mengikut halaman 450/451 buku tersebut : "By 31 December (1958), the 10.7 million tons figure was reached, but Mao acknowledged to his top echelon, ‘only 40% is good steel’ ; and more than 3 million tons were completely useless. The ‘good steel’ had been produced by proper steel mills ; the useless stuff from the backyard furnaces, almost all of which were soon abandoned."

Pendek kata, usaha Mao dalam pengeluaran besi itu adalah pembaziran yang besar dari segi penggunaan sumber dan tenaga manusia. Dalam coretan akan datang, saya akan mengisahkan wabak kebuluran di seluruh China gara-gara dasar Great Leap Forward Mao Tse-tung. Abdul Rahim Noor Utusan/Rencana/20140608

Analisis Mingguan: Bisik-Bisik Awang Selamat

Menjunjung kasih

Bagi mengelakkan sebarang salah faham, disalah erti dan dimanipulasi terutama pihak yang mahu menangguk di air keruh, Awang memulakan ruangan ini dengan menjunjung kasih ke atas Sultan Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.

Juga ikrar taat setia kepada baginda. Tidak sesekali terbit di hati untuk menyinggung perasaan atau membuatkan baginda murka. Perlu dinyatakan bahawa Utusan Malaysia dan Mingguan Malaysia ialah akhbar paling komited mempertahankan perlembagaan, kedudukan Islam dan Raja-raja Melayu.

Sesiapa sahaja boleh membuat kajian mengenainya. Sampai hari ini Utusan tidak goyah biar apa pun dugaan yang dilalui. Ketika institusi Raja diasak, dihina dan ditohmah oleh pelbagai pihak, Utusan berada di hadapan mempertahankannya. Apatah lagi jika berdepan dengan golongan yang mahu menulis semula perlembagaan dan menghapuskan sistem Raja Berperlembagaan, Utusan telah terbukti mengambil pendirian yang berani dan lantang menentang mereka. Utusan tidak pernah lari daripada perjuangan murni ini, yang sudah menjadi kepercayaan kami.

Namun media juga harus memainkan peranan sebenar. Kasih sayang kepada institusi Raja juga bererti bersama-sama melindunginya daripada terdedah kepada penghinaan apalagi terhakis keyakinan rakyat. Maka menjadi tanggungjawab untuk media melahirkan pandangan dan kritikan yang membina jika dirasakan sangat perlu, asalkan dalam lingkungan yang positif . Itulah semangat yang dibawa dalam memperkatakan isu Rang Undang-Undang bagi menubuhkan Lembaga Perumahan dan Hartanah Johor (LPHJ).

Tiada sebarang niat serong. Jika laporan mengenainya dimurkai, Awang pasrah. Biarlah dimurkai Raja asalkan dapat membawa suara rakyat kerana antara rakyat dan Raja berpisah tiada. Seharusnya pembesar istana berlapang dada dan responsif terhadap apa sahaja maklum balas. Itulah juga resipi menjadikan institusi Raja lebih disanjung dan disayangi rakyat. Daulat Tuanku.

Lemahkah?

Ramai gusar apabila Menteri Besar Johor, Mohamed Khaled Nordin menegaskan bahawa Rang Undang-Undang bagi menubuhkan LPHJ tetap akan dibentangkan di Dewan Undangan Negeri, esok.

Nampaknya ia bercanggah dengan suara pelbagai pihak meliputi badan-badan bukan kerajaan, tokoh akademik, penganalisis perundangan, politikus hinggalah kepada negarawan.

Jika mahu mengambil semangat demokrasi memandangkan isu tersebut mempunyai implikasi besar, elok ia ditangguhkan. Tidak rugi apa-apa dan untuk apa tergesa-gesa. Dapatkanlah terlebih dahulu maklum balas pelbagai pihak terutama rakyat Johor sama ada mahu berpegang kepada Raja kuasa mutlak atau Raja Berperlembagaan.

Awang tidak mahu mempertikaikan kewujudan LPHJ walaupun tanpa lembaga seumpama itu agenda perumahan kos rendah dan mampu milik termasuk untuk bumiputera boleh dilaksanakan sebagaimana di negeri lain. Yang penting ialah kemahuan politik yang tinggi dalam agenda perumahan rakyat, memantau pelaksanaan dan menghukum pemaju yang gagal dalam tanggungjawab mereka. Tetapi biarlah kerajaan Johor dengan formulanya sendiri. Cuma yang menjadi persoalan, lemahkah pentadbiran negeri sehingga terpaksa mewujudkan LPHJ dengan penglibatan Sultan? Apakah ada jaminan tiada campur tangan Sultan walaupun Menteri Besar menekankan bahawa beliau tetap ada kuasa eksekutif? Bab inilah yang lebih dikhuatiri.

Dilema MB

Menjadi harapan ramai agar Menteri Besar benar-benar menggunakan kuasa eksekutif dalam pentadbiran negeri. Cakap-cakap berlegar di Johor bahawa beliau dikatakan terikat tangannya dan lebih akur kepada banyak campur tangan istana terutama dalam pembangunan hartanah. Awang tidak pasti sejauh manakah kesahihan. Mungkin ada asas kebenaran atau ia sekadar persepsi yang berlegar begitu meluas. Tetapi sebahagian rakyat Johor resah dengan perkembangan di negeri itu. Mereka berkongsi banyak cerita dalam sektor hartanah dan kebocoran maklumat daripada para pegawai awam negeri yang membuak-buak rasa tidak senang.

Lalu timbul dakwaan liar merumuskan Khaled lemah dan asyik tunduk, yang Awang tidak fikir begitu. Inilah dilema mana-mana Menteri Besar yang mudah disalahertikan, adakalanya ditohmah. Awang tetap menyokong Khaled dan percaya potensi besar beliau akan lebih menyerlah selepas ini.

Semua orang tahu bukan mudah untuk menjadi Menteri Besar di Johor tetapi itu bukan alasan untuk Khaled mengambil jalan selamat. Apa pun, beliau harus menggunakan isu ini untuk memperlihatkan kualiti kepimpinannya. Krisis jika ditangani dengan betul akan menguatkan lagi seseorang pemimpin. Cuma beliau perlu tampil memberikan penjelasan lebih meyakinkan masyarakat yang makin kritis pemikiran mereka. Ingatlah bahawa beliau ialah ADUN yang dipilih oleh rakyat dan diberi mandat oleh Kerajaan Pusat untuk menjadi Menteri Besar. Dahulukanlah kepentingan rakyat biar apa cabaran sekali pun. Hal itu mesti kelihatan apatah lagi pada waktu yang kritikal.

Suara YB

Ucapan Ahli Undangan Negeri (ADUN) Kempas, Johor, Tengku Putra Haron Aminur Rashid pada persidangan DUN baru-baru ini, menarik perhatian. Beliau membangkitkan beberapa isu antaranya kegiatan perjudian yang berleluasa di Johor. Begitu juga isu penjualan tanah kepada pelabur asing, yang hangat diperkatakan sekarang.

Memetik kata-kata beliau: "Kesetiaan, ketaatan dan kemurniaan hati warga Johor jangan sekali-kali dirobek apabila kita melayan orang asing atas nama menggamit pelaburan."

Beliau meminta agar pentadbiran Menteri Besar tidak akan merelakan mana-mana pihak untuk membuat rakyat Johor khususnya di bumi Kempas menitis air mata mereka.

Tentu ada sebab, petunjuk sekelilingnya dan latar belakang yang kuat sehingga Tengku Putra boleh menzahirkan ucapan tersebut. Lebih mengejutkan apabila ADUN itu membuat pendedahan tentang satu memorandum persefahaman (MoU) antara hartawan negara jiran dengan pihak tempatan bagi mewujudkan sebuah syarikat keselamatan di Wilayah Pembangunan Iskandar. Syarikat asing itu bukan hanya untuk membekalkan 600 orang pengawal lengkap bersenjata malah dilengkapi jaringan peralatan serba canggih termasuk sistem perisikan.

Kebimbangan Tengku Putra Haron adalah dari aspek ancaman keselamatan dan kedaulatan Johor, yang tidak boleh diambil mudah. "Jangan sampai rakyat di negeri Johor menang bersorak tetapi negerinya tergadai." Tahniah YB atas keyakinan untuk bersuara.

Mengadap...

Seorang teman bertanyakan kepada Awang, apakah wakil Utusan Malaysia dipanggil mengadap Sultan Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar berikutan laporan di muka depan kelmarin berhubung isu rang undang-undang LPHJ dan kuasa sultan.

Itulah pertanyaan biasa dalam kalangan orang media setiap kali ada isu sensitif yang menyentuh istana Johor. Apa yang Awang boleh tolong jawabkan bagi pihak Utusan - tiada.

Keresahan orang media terhadap perkara seperti itu patut dihentikan. Sebenarnya tiada sebab dalam era moden terutama landskap media yang baharu, pembesar istana boleh sesuka hati memanggil editor atau wartawan, apatah lagi untuk dimarahi. Itu bukan cara wajar.

Awang pun kalau menjadi bos media tidak mahu datang sekiranya dipanggil mengadap untuk tujuan seperti itu melainkan jika diundang untuk berbuka puasa atau hal-hal lain yang kita semua boleh merasa selesa.

Jika ada sebarang teguran atau mahukan penjelasan daripada media, cukup sekadar Sultan atau pihak istana mengutuskan wakil untuk bertemu dengan orang media. Adalah tidak sesuai bagi Sultan mencemar duli berurusan secara langsung dengan mana-mana editor jika timbul situasi yang tidak menyenangkan. Itulah juga amalan pihak istana di Eropah, Jepun dan Thailand malah kesultanan negeri lain di negara ini kerana tidak mahu wujud salah tanggapan seolah-olah ada pihak seperti dibuli.

Awang percaya Sultan Johor walaupun terkenal dengan sikap tegasnya, adalah seorang budiman dan tidak akan merendahkan nilai serta darjatnya sebagai seorang Raja. Lebih-lebih lagi, zaman telah berubah.   Utusan/Rencana/20140608

Wujud konflik istana-kerajaan

Rang Undang-undang Lembaga Perumahan dan Hartanah Johor 2014 tidak disangka-sangka menimbulkan kontroversi dan seluruh negara kini membincangkannya. Mungkin ini kali pertama sebuah rang undang-undang peringkat negeri menimbulkan perbahasan yang sedemikian hangat.

Apa yang menarik ialah rang undang-undang itu menyeret Institusi Beraja. Dan ini menjadi semacam isu yang menyatukan; termasuk yang baru-baru ini berselindung di sebalik takhta untuk mempertahankan kuasa.

Walau apa pun kontroversi berkenaan, sekali lagi memaparkan pertembungan antara demokrasi dan istana. Ia mengimbau semula Krisis Perlembagaan pada 1983 dan 1993 yang berpunca daripada tindakan Kerajaan Persekutuan mengemukakan pindaan ke atas beberapa peruntukan yang menyentuh kuasa dan kedudukan Raja-raja.

Sebagai sebuah Negara Berperlembagaan kita perlu kembali kepada peruntukan dan semangat yang ada di dalam undang-undang dasar itu. Semua orang, daripada Raja kepada rakyat biasa mempunyai hak dan tanggungjawab.

Ia perlu dilihat secara demokratik dan saksama. Demokrasi banyak makna dan implikasinya. Demokrasi di negara ini berpandukan kepada peruntukan dan semangat yang dikandung oleh Perlembagaan kita, baik Perlembagaan Persekutuan mahupun Perlembagaan-Perlembagaan Negeri di dalam Persekutuan.

Raja Berperlembagaan - Erti dan Implikasinya

Melihat apa yang berlaku di Johor itu sudah ada pihak yang bertanya: Apakah Malaysia ini negara Raja Berperlembagaan atau negara beraja mutlak?

Sesungguhnya kita tidak perlu bertanya sedemikian. Ini kerana, sebagaimana yang dikatakan oleh sesetengah pakar yang berkenaan, apa yang dikatakan Raja berkuasa mutlak itu pada hakikatnya tidak pernah wujud dalam erti kata sebenar. Setiap Raja, kata mereka lagi, dikekang oleh sekatan tertentu baik yang bersifat nilai atau agama.

Sama dengan hakikat negara demokrasi itu sendiri. Kita masih belum tahu negara mana di dunia ini yang benar-benar demokratik dalam erti kata yang sebenar. Setiap negara yang dikatakan demokratik itu mempunyai kelemahan dan kecacatan tertentu. Sebab itulah masing-masing cuba menutup kelemahan itu dengan hujah bahawa negara mereka demokratik "dalam acuan kami."

Begitulah halnya dengan konsep Raja Berperlembagaan. Tidak ada satu definisi yang dapat menjelaskan konsep itu dengan jelas dan tepat. Suruhanjaya Reid sendiri hanya menyebut bahawa konsep Raja Berperlembagaan itu sebagai sesuatu yang biasa difahami dalam konteks sistem berparlimen atau negara Westminster yang prototaipnya ialah United Kingdom.

Dalam konteks negara seperti Malaysia yang mempunyai perlembagaan bertulis ada yang mendakwa Raja Berperlembagaan itu membawa maksud raja yang mengikut nasihat kerajaan yang memerintah. Ini tidak semestinya betul kerana ada hal-hal tertentu yang Perlembagaan sendiri membenarkan Raja - Yang di-Pertuan Agong atau Raja-raja - bertindak sendiri atau menolak nasihat kerajaan.

Hal-hal seperti agama dan melantik kerajaan bahkan membubarkan dewan disebut secara jelas oleh perlembagaan sebagai kuasa budi bicara. Kita tidak mengatakan bahawa dalam hal-hal itu Raja-raja boleh bertindak sesuka hati. Apa yang hendak dikatakan ialah definisi "bertindak mengikut nasihat" itu ada kelemahan walaupun secara umum ia tidak salah.

Selain itu memaksa Raja mengikut apa sahaja yang dikehendaki oleh kerajaan juga menimbulkan masalah. Yang pertama konsep sedemikian sebenarnya mempersoal apa perlunya kita mengekalkan sistem beraja. Dalam bahasa yang mudah: Apa gunanya ada Raja kalau ia hanya menjadi pak turut?

Apalagi jika kita turut menginginkan sebuah sistem pemerintahan di mana elemen atau mekanisme semak dan imbang itu berjalan untuk mengelakkan monopoli kuasa atau negara satu parti. Raja-raja yang baik boleh memainkan peranan yang berkesan sebagai ejen semak dan imbang.

Sebab itu saya fikir Raja Berperlembagaan ialah raja yang berfungsi mengikut peruntukan dan semangat perlembagaan. Oleh kerana peruntukan undang-undang sering kabur dan membawa makna yang berbagai-bagai, saya rasa apa yang lebih penting ialah raja itu akur dan komited dengan semangat yang dikandung oleh perlembagaan. Dalam konteks syariah, ini mungkin apa yang dikatakan sebagai maqasid al-shariah.

Kontroversi di Johor

Saya rasa apa yang menyebabkan persoalan timbul tentang rang undang-undang berkenaan ialah ia memberi peranan dan kuasa yang tidak pernah wujud sebelum ini. Dan saya tidak pasti apakah sebab-sebab di sebalik keganjilan itu.

Saya cuba bersangka baik: mungkin istana berasa kuasa sedemikian perlu memastikan bahawa tidak berlaku penyelewengan dan seumpamanya. Maklum sahajalah nilai hartanah bukan kecil dan sudah ramai 'raja' baru yang muncul kerananya.

Meskipun niat sedemikian baik, kita berada di zaman moden di mana niat sahaja tidak mencukupi. Ada cara dan pendekatan tertentu yang perlu kita akur dan patuhi. Dalam konteks kuasa Raja-raja meskipun tidak semua kuasa yang diperuntukkan oleh perlembagaan kita boleh diterima di negara lain, skima yang kita pakai ini adalah sesuatu yang mempunyai sejarah dan latar belakangnya sendiri. Ini termasuk kuasa agama dan beberapa kuasa politik yang lain termasuk kuasa melantik kerajaan dan membubar dewan.

Pendeknya ini sudah cukup berat dan menimbulkan persoalan. Senarai ini tidak perlu ditambah dengan kuasa-kuasa lain yang bersifat rutin dan pentadbiran yang tertakluk kepada prinsip akauntabiliti dan pertanggungjawaban. Ini yang dimaksudkan dengan pertembungan dengan kerajaan yang memerintah. Dalam bahasa yang mudah jika berlaku kesilapan dan kelemahan, siapa yang hendak disoal? Sudah tentu kerajaan.

Bagaimanapun rang undang-undang ini memberi kuasa tertentu kepada Raja. Ini yang menimbulkan konflik. Inilah sebenarnya kebimbangan yang disuarakan: bahawa rang undang-undang ini berpotensi mengeliru dan menyukarkan konsep pertanggungjawaban kerajaan kepada dewan.

Konsep ini adalah konsep asas dalam sistem Kabinet dalam negara Westminster seperti Malaysia. Ini jugalah sebabnya mengapa salah untuk seorang Menteri Besar bergantung kepada istana: di sisi perlembagaan kekuatan Perdana Menteri atau Menteri Besar ialah sokongan majoriti dalam dewan bukan perkenan istana.

Mungkin relevan untuk disebut bahawa sejarah sendiri mencatat bahawa Raja-raja Melayu sebelum kedatangan British pun umumnya tidak aktif dalam urusan rutin pentadbiran harian. Kalau rasuah dan penyelewengan yang ditakutkan, saya fikir penyelesaiannya ialah memperkasa dan memberi laluan kepada agensi-agensi yang berkenaan.

Di sisi perlembagaan, istana tidak dikekalkan untuk melakukan kerja-kerja itu. Meskipun kita menyanjung pendekatan oleh Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah yang keluar menyamar di waktu malam di bandar Melaka, pada abad ke-21 ini ada kelainan yang tidak membenarkan pendekatan sedemikian diambil oleh pihak istana.

Dalam pada itu ada perkara-perkara lain yang perlu dilakukan oleh Raja; agama sebagai contoh. Sudahkah ia selesai dilakukan dengan sempurna? Sudah tentulah sukar untuk diterima sekiranya dalam keadaan agama masih lagi memerlukan jagaan dan pimpinan pihak-pihak yang diberi tanggungjawab mengetuainya oleh perlembagaan, terlibat di padang bola dan sekarang dalam urusan perumahan dan hartanah pula.

Perlu disedari bahawa sistem beraja ini diberikan ruang dalam demokrasi kerana ia mempunyai kelebihan tersendiri. Sebagaimana yang kita lihat di Thailand, Sepanyol dan Jepun, Raja-raja mereka memainkan peranan kritikal yang terbukti memberikan kestabilan kepada negara-negara berkenaan.

Bagaimanapun itu semua tidak muncul dengan percuma atau secara kebetulan. Raja-raja itu, bahkan waris-waris takhta, dilatih melalui proses yang tertentu yang menyebabkan mereka muncul sebagai tokoh hebat yang sudah sedia dicatat oleh sejarah masa kini. Saya lihat keterlibatan yang keterlaluan dalam hal-hal yang rutin dan duniawi hanya akan mengotorkan jiwa dan peribadi Raja-raja.

Raja Boleh Proaktif, Tapi Caranya Kena Betul

Apakah ini bermakna bahawa saya mahukan Raja-raja tidak memainkan peranan dalam pentadbiran? Saya tidak mengatakan begitu. Saya fikir dalam kerangka perlembagaan yang ada, Raja-raja masih boleh berperanan dengan efektif. Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan negeri memberi Raja-raja ruang untuk memainkan peranan.

Contohnya mendapat maklumat - dan ini tidak dikekang oleh Akta Rahsia Rasmi - daripada kerajaan yang memerintah tentang apa sahaja. Mungkin ada yang membangkitkan pindaan perlembagaan yang dikemukakan oleh pentadbiran Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, khususnya yang dibuat pada 1994.

Apa pun saya berpendapat raja tidak memerlukan undang-undang untuk berbuat sesuatu; khususnya yang baik. Kita lihat bagaimana Raja Bhumipol Aduljadej dan Raja Juan Carlos begitu disanjung meskipun inisiatif mereka tidak disokong oleh sebarang peruntukan perlembagaan atau undang-undang. Karisma dan ketinggian moral jelas menjadi kekuatan bagi kedua-dua raja itu. Dalam konteks Sepanyol, Juan Carlos akan selamanya diingati kerana menyelamatkan demokrasi daripada dimamah oleh kekuatan senjata pihak tentera.

Apa pun kebenaran di sebalik rang undang-undang di Johor itu apa yang kelihatan di mata rakyat ialah hal ini amat berbahaya kepada kelangsungan dan keberkesanan institusi beraja di negara kita. Walaupun ia berlaku di Johor, negeri-negeri beraja yang lain tidak terkecuali daripada menerima tempiasnya. * Dr. Abdul Aziz Bari ialah mantan profesor undang-undang UIAM yang kini mengajar di Fakulti Sains Sosial, Unisel. Beliau banyak menyelidik tentang Perlembagaan, termasuk institusi beraja. Utusan/Rencana/20140608

Bintang ternama bukan jaminan kejayaan

LEBIH 90 peratus skuad Pahang yang menjulang Piala FA 2014 adalah terdiri daripada barisan pemain musim lalu. Rata-rata mereka sebelum ini baik tempatan atau import bukanlah terdiri daripada pemain berstatus bintang yang menjadi buruan pasukan lain.

Malah pada awal musim 2013 ketika barisan pemain Tok Gajah diperkenalkan, penyokong Pahang sendiri resah menghitung nasib pasukan untuk bertarung dalam aksi Liga Super yang cukup mencabar. Masakan tidak, selepas kembali ke Liga Super, Pahang hanya diperkuatkan dengan beberapa pemain Selangor iaitu Mohd. Razman Roslan, Azidan Sharudin serta Mohd. Amirul Hadi Zainal.

Selain itu, hanya Azamuddin Mohd. Akil boleh dianggap ‘ada nama’ apabila tirai musim lalu dibuka manakala pemain import juga bukanlah dari liga berprestij Eropah. Sedangkan tahun lalu peminat bola sepak tempatan dihangatkan dengan keghairahan pasukan tertentu berbelanja besar memburu pemain ternama. Namun kepimpinan Persatuan Bola Sepak Negeri Pahang (PBNP) di bawah teraju Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah nyata mengambil langkah tepat menaruh kepercayaan penuh kepada skuad berkenaan.

Ini apabila pemain Tok Gajah mempamerkan aksi meyakinkan sehinggalah kejayaan menamatkan kemarau Piala Malaysia selama 22 tahun - kejayaan yang tidak pernah diramal mana-mana pengkritik bola sepak pada awal musim lalu.

Dan akhirnya, nama-nama seperti Mohd. Hafiz Kamal, Saifulnizam Miswan dan Faizol Hussein bukan asing lagi dengan ada yang dipanggil menyarung jersi kebangsaan manakala bintang trio dari Selangor yang sebelum ini agak malap bersama pasukan lama mereka kini kembali bergemerlapan.

Bukan itu sahaja, Tok Gajah juga melahirkan bintang muda kelahiran Pahang seperti penjaga gol, Mohd. Khairul Azhan Daud, R. Gopinathan, Mohd. Fauzi Roslan dan beberapa yang lain.

Maka, untuk aksi 2014, tidak menghairankan apabila PBNP mengekalkan barisan hampir sama. Cuma bezanya pada tahun lalu pemain hanya diperkenalkan di sebuah restoran francais makanan segera di Kuantan tetapi bagi 2014 majlis sama dilakukan di sebuah hotel ternama di ibu negara.

Ini menepati reputasi mereka sebagai juara bertahan Piala Malaysia sekali gus bagi musim 2014, Pahang adalah pasukan yang perlu diawasi dan ini dibuktikan dengan menjulang Piala FA Sabtu lalu. Nyata, biar ada pasukan berbelanja mewah hinggakan pemain kebangsaan pun hanya layak memanaskan bangku simpanan kerana terlalu ramai bintang, formula tersebut bukanlah penentu kejayaan.

Benar dalam era profesional wang adalah elemen penting tetapi ia bukanlah segalanya. Banyak lagi faktor lain yang perlu seiring baik dalam atau di luar padang. Sebab itu kemenangan Pahang di pentas final Piala FA 2014 adalah momen penting dan manis kepada bola sepak negara. Ia seakan memberi motivasi memandangkan bukan semua pasukan mampu berbelanja besar memburu pemain ternama walaupun semua pasukan dahagakan kejayaan. Malah tidak terkecuali renungan untuk peminat sendiri yang ada kalanya turut ghairah membuat desakan supaya pengurusan berbelanja besar membawa pemain bintang seolah-olah hanya itu jalan mencapai kejayaan.

Tidak dinafikan jika dilihat di luar negara, Manchester City di Liga Perdana Inggeris (EPL) antara pasukan yang meraih kejayaan dengan cara ini. Namun harus diingat, pada masa sama di Liga Sepanyol musim ini, Atletico Madrid berjaya memecah monopoli Real Madrid dan Barcelona untuk muncul juara biar pun tidak mampu bermewah seperti dua gergasi tersebut.

Sebahagian kejayaan skuad kendalian Diego Simeone ini disumbangkan pemain yang dibangunkan hasil akademi bola sepak mereka di samping pemain import yang menepati keperluan pasukan, bukan kerana mereka mempunyai nama besar. Jadi buat pasukan di Liga Malaysia, ingatlah bola sepak bukanlah sukan yang kejam kerana kejayaan tidak semestinya memihak kepada pasukan yang mampu mengeluarkan wang seperti air sahaja.

Jadi utamakanlah pembangunan akar umbi untuk sentiasa membentuk barisan pelapis yang pada bila-bila masa sahaja mampu mengisi kekosongan yang diperlukan. Pahang sendiri biarpun suatu masa pernah digelar Real Madrid Malaysia kerana dibarisi pemain bintang baik import atau pemain tempatan, masih menekankan pembangunan bakat anak tempatan. Mungkin kerana itu, Pahang mempunyai pemain yang memiliki semangat juang tinggi selagi wisel penamat belum dibunyikan seperti dibuktikan dua musim kebelakangan ini. Kekuatan ini sekali lagi diperlihatkan dalam kebangkitan skuad bimbingan Zainal Abidin Hassan pada perlawanan akhir menentang Felda United.

Maka kepada peminat pasukan yang mempunyai sumber kewangan terhad, ingatlah, wang mungkin dapat membeli pemain tetapi belum mampu menjamin kejayaan. Kepada yang berkemampuan pula, tidak salah memilih formula Manchester City jika itu dirasakan jalan terbaik biarpun belum menjamin kepastian. Apa pun, prestasi mengkagumkan Pahang ini pastinya perkembangan baik untuk saingan bola sepak tempatan.   Khabar Dari Kuantan Utusan/Rencana/20140609

What's in a title?

Sometime last week, a parliamentary colleague from PKR suggested that all elected representatives should stop the practice of addressing each other as YB or Yang Berhormat outside the legislative chambers and to ask the general public to do the same. Is this a reasonable or even a practical request?

Within the legislative chamber, the standing orders, for those who may not know, prohibit MPs from addressing each other by name. Hence, we would usually address each other by the name of our constituency or sometimes with the honorific YB, or sometimes both, example Yang Berhormat dari Serdang.

As far as possible, I try to address my parliamentary colleagues by their names outside the legislative chamber. This is not an issue among my Pakatan colleagues, many of whom are familiar faces and expect me to call them by their names. But it is slightly trickier with my BN colleagues who are less familiar to me.

Thankfully, since most of the BN MPs are either Datuks, Datuk Seris or Tan Sris, I can get away with this by addressing them with their titles without using YB. But for the handful who are not yet Datuks? For example, would it be disrespectful if I address Masjid Tanah MP, Mas Ermieyati Samsuin, as Puan Mas?

If I’m still trying to figure out what is the best way to address my colleagues in parliament, what about the general public most of whom do not have any prior friendship or relationship with their MPs before they were elected into office? Most of them will just play it safe and address us as YBs, just to avoid the possibility of offending some of us.

Thankfully, my friends still call me Kian Ming or OKM. I would have it no other way. Some of them call me YB just to tease me. For those who don’t know me so well and don’t yet feel comfortable to call me Kian Ming, I ask them to call me Dr Ong instead. Over time, I hope that they would feel comfortable enough to call me Kian Ming.

Perhaps, what is more important than how an MP expects to be addressed, is how he or she expects to be treated. I’ve heard of stories of MPs who expect tents to be set up and specially decorated chairs to be brought for events which they are officiating in.

In Sabah and Sarawak, I’ve heard stories of how an entire kampung or village has to be in attendance to welcome their elected representative, who in some places will arrive in a helicopter.

As a result of some of these established expectations, many people are surprised when I turn up at events by myself, driving my own car and with my backpack on my shoulder. Coupled with my age and supposedly young features, sometimes the organisers fail to recognise me until I introduce myself to them.

More often than not, after their initial apologies, they would ask “Are you here alone?” I’m guessing that they are more used to MPs attending an event with an entourage, at the very least with a driver or bodyguard.

I had an opportunity to participate in a road building project that is part of DAP’s Impian Sarawak initiative to bring small-scale development projects in the rural areas of Sarawak.

This project required me to hike up a 3km trail to a village in the Mambong district. It took me about 1½ hours and when I arrived, many of the villagers were surprised that I, as an MP, would elect to hike up this trail to visit their kampung. (Apparently, their MPs and ADUN would only drop by in a helicopter) .

They were even more surprised when I joined the Impian Sarawak volunteers to carry stones to reinforce a bridge and to move 50kg fertiliser bags so that the trail could be widened.

I slept in the living room of one of the villagers together with the other volunteers and stayed for three days and two nights. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

About two months later, I’m told that the road together with a few bridges, are almost completed. I’ll be going up to the kampung in a few weeks’ time to complete this project.

I’m thankful that many of my colleagues have been involved in such projects in Sarawak and do not expect any special treatment even though they are elected representatives.

Whether they are addressed as YBs or not, they put their support into these projects and make their contribution felt. While the job of an elected representative is not to do so-called "menial" jobs such as pick up rubbish or carry tables and chairs, I strongly feel that we should not think that these jobs are somehow beneath us.

If we are called to stack chairs after an event, we should be ready to carry out these tasks. Just like when we are called to make our voices heard in parliament. Ultimately, for me, having this kind of attitude is far more important than insisting that people not address us as YBs.

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. DR ONG KIAN MING The STAR Online  June 8, 2014

Enough laws to help the destitute

THE Government is again considering having new penalties in the legislation that deals with beggars and vagrants. The aim here, said Women, Family and Community Development Minis­ter Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, was to “carry out enforcement against syndicates that exploit individuals, or those who make begging a career”.

A similar idea for a review of the law was floated a decade ago.

The explanation back then was not much different either – to act against those who rely on begging as an easy yet dishonest way to earn money from the generosity of others.

The fact that the proposal has resurfaced after 10 years suggests that the authorities are increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in curbing begging.

There has been no significant decline in the number of beggars and vagrants taken in by the Social Welfare Department over recent years. The figures for 2002 and 2003 were 1,008 and 1,439.

Last year, the department reported about 1,000 beggars, while between January and April this year, 353 beggars were picked up in 484 operations nationwide.

However, is amending the law to target bogus beggars the best way to help the destitute?

Destitute is a key word in this matter.

After all, the legislation in question is called the Destitute Persons Act 1977, which is described as an Act “to provide for the care and rehabilitation of destitute persons and for the control of vagrancy”.

Among other things, it empowers a social welfare officer to put a destitute person in a welfare home.

It also provides for rules for the management of welfare homes and for the handling of those residing in the homes.

It is interesting that the Act defines a destitute person as anybody found begging in a public place in a way that will annoy others at the place or that will create a nuisance.

Alternatively, the Act sees a destitute person as an idle person (whether or not he is begging) found in a public place “who has no visible means of subsistence or place of residence or is unable to give a satisfactory account of himself”.

Either way, these are generally people who need a helping hand; nobody in normal health and socioeconomic circumstances would willingly opt for a life on the streets.

The Ministry acknowledges that, but it is also concerned that the syndicates and professional panhandlers are making the problem worse.

However, amending the Act may be an overkill.

There are other laws to tackle the more worrisome elements.

For example, if the beggars are foreigners, chances are there is a violation of immigration rules.

Under the Child Act 2001, it is an offence to use a child for begging.

And the police have been known to act against begging syndicates by invoking the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2007.

Going after swindlers should not be the job of the social welfare agency.

The national social welfare policy calls for a benevolent and positive approach, and that means focusing on the many truly destitute persons. The STAR Says Sunday June 8, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Laws must unite, not divide us

We must move towards common ground instead of building up walls between us.

FOR most of us, our twenties are likely to be the most intellectually and emotionally challenging phase of our lives as we explore ideologies, philosophy and religion to form our own opinion.

On a societal level, our young 57-year-old country, too, is still constantly going through bouts of figuring itself out.

While we are privileged to enjoy great diversity in terms of religious, racial, linguistic and regional backgrounds, there are some who do not hesitate to jeopardise national harmony in pursuit of their own agendas.

For the past few weeks the hot topic has been the possible implementation of PAS’ hudud law.

I find it difficult to see why such a fundamental change is sought ... one that would scrutinise one half of a multi-cultural society at a time when it is clearly more important for us to form common ground than build walls between us.

Those opposed to PAS’ hudud law would say it is archaic, inhumane by today’s standards and a threat to both human rights and women’s rights.

However, I’m more concerned about its effect on a country that boasts harmony amid its people’s diversity.

I do not oppose my Muslim countrymen from pursuing what’s religiously rightful to them, but for hudud to be implemented in a multi-religious society, it would be like a separatist move that would unnecessarily highlight the distinction between the Muslims and non-Muslims.

In Malaysia, that distinction is largely a racial one as well.

I’m very opposed to any policies or systems that encourage polarisation among Malaysians.

As it is, we are divided and possibly disintegrating under the weight of separate school policies, disparate economic policies and political parties that fight for selected groups of Malaysians instead of the broader national interest.

It is truly sad when we can no longer go to each other’s open houses and attend functions in each other’s place of worship.

Recall Nur Damia Irsalina, whose parents ended up catching Australian motivational speaker Nick Vujicic at a petrol station because they could not attend his talk at a church.

Like Vujicic, Nur Damia was also born with tetra-amelia syndrome.

Vujicic was a source of inspiration to the parents as their seven-year-old was also born without limbs.

Surely one can go to an inspirational talk held in a church and hold fast to one’s faith?

In a chat with civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan, he says when law enforcers take one aspect of the Syariah and plant it in a secular system, it would cause injustice and inequality instead of achieving the justice sought after by Islam.

“The reality is that we are a secular country and not an Islamic state. Therefore, implementing hudud in Malaysia would run foul of certain provisions of the Federal Constitution,” Syahredzan said.

Taking all that into thought, the imposition of hudud law on half the country while secular law rules the other half serves only to further divide us.

Diversity breeds creativity, division breeds contempt.

Syarie lawyer Rosli Dahlan said hudud is only one aspect of Syariah law, but it was more important to understand the objective of laws in human society.

“If the premature or improper implementation of hudud will create injustice, anarchy and chaos, then what purpose does it serve? I cannot understand this obsession with hudud by justifying it as the need to implement God’s law and justice system.

“God does not need justice. We, mankind, do!”

A recent Time article points out that Brunei’s move to implement hudud could be nothing more than a ploy to shore up the Sultan’s popularity.

Looking at Pakistan and Sudan’s interpretations of hudud, it appears politicians have used hudud as a way of fulfilling their own agendas and motives, instead of justice.

I place my faith in our parliamentary democracy to decide what is best for Malaysia.

I believe that the country’s economic and sociopolitical progress are testimony to why our current laws are enough, as long as they are upheld in the right manner, by an independent police force and judiciary.

Liz Lee believes that Malaysians of the 2010s are ready to engage in meaningful and constructive debates. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. he STAR Home News Opinion June 8, 2014

Schools: Virtual Learning Environment transforms lessons

SOME 600 school administrators from 200 schools in the east coast of Sabah were given an insight into how technology and the Internet could help them teach better in a recent one-day educational awareness event in Tawau.

Previously held in Kota Kinabalu and Beaufort, 1BestariNet Professionalism Day — which is aimed at empowering school leaders to drive forward the use of technology in their schools and to foster more collaboration and sharing of best practices among neighbouring schools — involved participants from Kunak, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Tawau.

1BestariNet, the Education Ministry’s effort in transforming the education in the country by leveraging on the Internet and technology to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban students, made Malaysia the first country in the world to connect all schools nationwide through a single, cloud-based learning platform and high-speed 4G internet connectivity.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching, who officiated the state-level event, said in her speech she appreciates and supports the Ministry’s efforts to improve the quality of learning across the country through the 1BestariNet project, in line with Shift 7 of the National Education Blueprint.

“We cannot ignore technology or Internet usage in everyday life and we certainly cannot deny their importance in education. We need to understand how to leverage technology to develop education in our country in general, and particularly in Sabah.

“The Frog Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and the 1BestariNet project provide numerous benefits to schools, such as enabling teachers to create engaging digital teaching resources and share best practices nationwide,” Yap said, adding that to date, more than 2,000 digital materials are shared voluntarily by teachers onto the FrogStore (an online marketplace for educational resources) which are available to educators in 10,000 schools across the country.

“The 1BestariNet project can offer access to quality world-class education to all schools, both in urban and rural communities, which means children will be given equal opportunities and resources regardless of their background,” she added.

Also present were Sabah State Education Department deputy Director Hajah Maimunah Suhaibul, Tawau district education officer Encik Darman Shah Asakil and his deputy Aidul Hadi Karim as well as YTL Communications Sdn Bhd executive director Datuk Yeoh Soo Keng.

During workshop sessions at the event, Yap had a hands-on experience with the Frog VLE as well as interacted with educators, heard success stories and best practices from schools that have been using the 1BestariNet and Frog educational facilities.

SMK Majakir, Papar leaders Encik Fareed and Puan Mahani have successfully driven the use of Frog VLE extensively by creating comprehensive teaching and learning sites as well as videos to educate students in a fun yet informative way.

For SMK Agama Mohamad Ali, a rural secondary boarding school, Frog VLE has transformed the way lessons are imparted in a more interactive manner.

Teachers have been using it expansively and now the school has achieved one of the highest total logins (100 per cent) for teachers and students amongst all the schools nationwide.

A total of 10 million 1BestariNet IDs have been made available to students, parents and teachers in 10,000 primary and secondary government schools nationwide.

These IDs give single sign-in access to a suite of educational benefits including access to the Frog Virtual Learning Environment Google Apps for Education and FrogStore.

They now have access to a wealth of digital content including textbooks, teaching and learning videos as well as interactive and game-based learning applications on FrogStore.



LAILI ISMAIL | news@nst.com.my New Straits Time Learning Curve 08 June 2014

Perspective: Beginning and ending with ideas

IDEAS: Their production and consumption

IN the course of my vocation in the university, I am asked, ad nauseam, what my deliverables are. In recent years, the word “product” is used to describe output, which in conventional parlance, will denote a thing, a gadget, a model, formulae or something tangible, perhaps a peer-reviewed journal paper or a book.

Lately I have noticed peers describing their deliverables as producing modules, guidelines and indexes indicated in their research proposals.

While such deliverables give a measure of an academic’s diligence and perseverance, the “performance” of those who teach in universities and other similar institutions is quite something else.

I have written about academic life and intellectuals (which need not necessarily mean the same thing) in my previous columns. But let me return to the theme. The core of the notion of an intellectual is the dealer in ideas, as such — not the personal application of ideas, as in engineers or nuclear scientists who apply complex scientific principles to physical structures or mechanisms to build a bridge or rocket.



Despite his insights and talents, Bill Gates is not regarded as an intellectual.
— Picture courtes of technobuffalo.com

Or consider a policy wonk — obsessed with “social engineering” — doing applied social science, the end product is the formulation and implementation of policy (by other bureaucrats).

The discourse on intellectuals in Malaysia — the producer of ideas — is a rare occurrence. Thomas Sowell, an economist, offered some insights into intellectuals in Intellectuals and Society (2011). An intellectual’s work, he asserted, begins and ends with ideas.

He cited Jonas Salk, the inventor of vaccine, and Bill Gates’ computer operating system. Despite the brainpower, insights and talents involved in those and other achievements, such individuals are not intellectuals.

On the other hand, Adam Smith, who never ran a business (he was a philosopher — not an economist in the modern sense), and Karl Marx, who never administered a Gulag, were intellectuals. Ideas are not only key to their functions, but a criteria of achievements and a source of their occupations.

Intellectuals are occupied in the pursuit of ideas. In a university setting, the quintessential intellectuals of the academic world, for example, are those in fields which are more pervaded by ideas as such, noted Sowell.

We do not go to a school — medical, engineering or business — or a department — sport science or information technology — when we want to find an academic intellectual.

Traditionally, as we have seen in Malaysia and the world over, such consciousness comes from disciplines such as sociology and anthropology, economics, history and literature. The last one is in the guise of Malay Studies. And the first political science study was at Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1970.

But the study of politics began much earlier at University of Malaya in the Economics Faculty, under the name of public administration. There was no such thing as an intellectual from the political science department then. They would be seen as dangerously subversive.

And many intellectuals are indeed subversive to the powers that be. Their works may be seldom read, much less understood. But the intricacies of their analyses have inspired vast numbers of intellectuals, and through them, the public.

When we talk of intellectuals (not necessarily public intellectuals), we mean an occupational description, rather than a qualitative label or an honorific title.

Another label is the intelligentsia. Historian W. R. Roff in The Origins of Malay Nationalism (1974) delved into the role of the Malay intelligentsia in early 20th century Malaya. These are also producers of ideas which included mainly teachers, journalists and social activists.

During that period in Malaya (and including Singapore), periodicals were used to disseminate ideas about emancipation, progress, religion, race and identity, colonialism, wealth, labour, power, war and peace. But these ideas did not come from the intelligentsia themselves, but through them from master ideas by intellectuals.

Journalists and teachers, who functioned as columnists and writers, were both producers and consumers of these ideas. These are part of the intelligentsia, which includes, but is not limited to intellectuals.

While Sowell noted ideas are not the exclusive property of intellectuals — engineers, financiers and physicians also work with ideas — certain peculiar attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns come to mind when intellectuals are discussed.

Two features are spelt out — verifiability and accountability. Empiricists will not agree but among intellectuals, non-empirical criteria are much celebrated.

In contrast to engineers and scientists, where empirical success which is manifested and enduring is accepted as proof, the “ultimate test of a deconstructionist’s ideas is whether other deconstructionists find those ideas interesting, original, persuasive, elegant or ingenious”.

Intellectuals do not go through external tests, except for the peer-reviewed journal and the currently fashionable Institute of Science Indexed (ISI) publications (and now they are into ISI-indexed books).

The fault line — between those most likely to be considered intellectuals and those who are not — tends to run betweenwhether ideas are ultimately subject to internal or external criteria.

The great social danger, as Sowell described it, with purely internal criteria is that they can easily become sealed off from feedback from the external world, their plausibility very much depends on what one already believes. e.g. the circle of conversations surrounding the production of an academic journal; and who already believes in what, which says nothing about the empirical validity of that idea in the external world — a Kuhnian paradigm.

But external to the university may be argued as internal among the fraternity of scientists and scholars.

The world has seen how potent ideas are sealed off from the external world. These ideas — of Adam Smith, Lenin, Marx, Shariati, Tolstoy, Machiavelli and Attaturk — impact on that very external world itself. Closer to home, we have Jose Rizal, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Soekarno, Lee Kuan Yew and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Another feature is accountability. Intellectuals are ultimately unaccountable to the external world. These are confirmed by such concepts as academic tenure, “academic freedom” and “autonomy”. It has become a matter of a principle that intellectuals be free from social standards, while setting standards for others.

Intellectuals are listened to in deference. Some acquired a reputation for idealism.

And indeed, the impact of Imperial Japan’s Kyoto School of Philosophy in the likes of Nishida Kitaro and Keiji Nishitani and the philosophes of the French Enlightenment such as Voltaire, Condorcet and Jean-Jaques Rosseau can hardly be disputed.

The face and spirit of nations and modern civilisation bear the soul of the production and consumption of these ideas. New Straits Times Learning Curve 08/06/2014 A. Murad Merican

Three nefarious tools of the devil

Class Wrecker: Satan, like a lion on the prowl, seeks to disrupt boys from gaining knowledge, says my former teacher

LAST month, the nation paid tribute to teachers who tirelessly worked to impart knowledge to our children. Tributes were written by students, gifts presented and those who contributed immensely to the nation's education were honoured.

But above all things, teachers cherish the time when students pay attention in class and learn something to improve their lives. This can be in the form of lessons that help students excel in exams or precious advice, which leads to doing the right thing.

I remember one such advice, or rather, a warning, given by my Bahasa Malaysia teacher when I was in Form 2.

My old BM teacher believed that man has a sworn enemy and his name is Satan -- the devil. She says after the fall from grace, Satan dedicated himself to the destruction of mankind. And what better way to do that than to distract the sons of Adam from studying?

According to her, the devil had three potent devices to disrupt the learning process. I can't remember how she described them, so allow me to exaggerate a bit as I share along:

Hypnotic cane (tongkat pukau)

This lulling device is Satan's favourite tool. You can see its prevalence during hot days when the afternoon session is about to begin.

One whack to the back will "break" the spine and cause students to slump on their desks. The cane's spell then works its way up to the brain, causing a trance-like state, which is hard for teachers to snap them out of.

Every time a teacher calls for attention, the more Satan goes around swinging the lethargic cane. In the end, teachers will blame students for not getting a good night's rest (it's a more logical explanation).

Blabbering lipstick (gincu celoteh)

Ever been in a one-way conversation where there's no stopping the motormouth? Yes, that's the blabbering lipstick, which works even on adults!

The classroom may suddenly degenerate into a noisy, raucous environment. What is even more baffling is that everyone is speaking at once, each trying to drown out the other in their own conversation. Have you tried to interrupt somebody so engrossed in a conversation?

I did. They seem to be able to shut out and ignore your presence. Imagine this when poor teacher is trying to conduct her lessons. This is by far the most potent tool in Satan's sleeve and he always manages to apply it on the sly.

Worse still, says my former teacher, is when the devil experiments with the obnoxious lip balm (gincu celupar). He uses a prototype that causes students to snap and give a provocative reply when teachers attempt to draw them back to the lessons at hand. Thank God, this device is rare and I realise that it is of utmost importance, even for adults, to guard our lips against this dangerous weapon that Satan pours his money into.

Temptress doll (patung goda)

Did I mention that I studied in a boys' school before it became co-ed in 1995?

Well, the only girls during my time were in morning sessions in Form Six. I guess there's nothing more tantalising than studying for five years in a hormone-filled pubescent environment with 40 straight guys and a few aloof, older girls.

Whenever a Form Six girl walked past my class (some of them really pretty), what else could my classmates and I see except poetry in motion? According to teacher, this was where the devil took advantage of our weakness.

The classroom is like a universe and teacher was the centre that pulled all things together. But unfortunately, "poetry in motion" was the temptress doll.

As the pretty comet shot past our universe, it tended to upset the balance of attention and pulled ours along with it, leaving poor old teacher (especially my BM teacher) exasperated in front of the blackboard.

Sorry teacher, it was not because we were being sexist or your class was boring. It's just because we were sidetracked and fell for the charms of the temptress doll.

There we have it, the three weapons of Satan to watch out for. To foil his evil schemes in class, teachers and students have to master the art of connecting right to effectively transfer knowledge. To teachers, I wish you all the best in doing your duties. To students, watch out for the devil's tricks!



New Straits Times Columnist 08 June 2014 Kenny Goh | kennyg@nst.com.my  

Weed out the black sheep

D-DAY LESSONS: 70 years ago, thousands of people kept secrets to end the ambitions of one man, but today, few can do the same to protect their own country and people

THOSE watching their television sets on Friday evening -- specifically news channels -- would have been greeted by visuals from Normandy in France, where the 70th anniversary memorials for that most famous of D-Days were taking place.

In military parlance, D-Day is the term used to indicate the day a mission would take place. There were countless D-Days before June 6, 1944. There have been countless others since.

But mention D-Day and the Normandy landings come to mind straight away, for most people anyway.

Some 132,000 Allied troops were landed on the five sectors of beaches in Normandy chosen for the invasion -- Sword, Juno, Gold, Utah and Omaha -- on that day alone.

There were also 24,000 paratroopers who led the way hours earlier, landing under cover of darkness to work behind the lines on various missions, flown aboard more than 1,000 aircraft. By the end of August, the Allies had landed some three million soldiers in Europe.

The beach landings on D-Day, codenamed Operation Neptune (many think it was called Operation Overlord, but that codename was for the entire operation to invade Normandy, while Neptune was for the crossing of the English Channel), was the beginning of the end for the Nazis in western Europe. It was a massive operation, indeed.

Some 5,000 vessels were involved in carrying troops across the English Channel. It was no mean feat gathering such assets, and to make matters even more incredible, these vessels were from several countries.

It was, one can only imagine, a logistics nightmare, but one which ultimately proved successful.

But let's set aside the logistic preparations, the bravery of the men who fought that day so long ago and the huge expenditure it must have called for. One important factor which contributed to the eventual success of the invasion against Adolf Hitler's so-called Fortress Europe remains not very widely known. And, it begun months before.

Operation Bodyguard, and the various independent operations under it, was a high-level deception plan which Allied Command initiated. These operations allowed the Allies to achieve tactical surprise on D-Day itself.

These operations achieved several objectives: convincing the Germans that the invasion would eventually be carried out in Calais, that the invasion would come at a later date and that the Allies had more men than they actually did.

The last objective was achieved by feeding misinformation to the Nazis. The Germans "learned" that the Allies had "activated" more army groups in addition to those already in Britain.

This gave the impression that more troops were arriving in Britain. In truth, these extra army groups were non-existent.

The first objective, meanwhile, was so successful that when the invasion did happen, Hitler delayed sending reinforcements -- including his much-feared tank divisions -- to Normandy from Calais, believing that the former was merely a feint by the Allies and that the real invasion would still occur at the latter. This was an unplanned but happy (for the Allies) consequence of Bodyguard.

But all the planning and execution of plans and deceptions would not have counted for much, or anything at all, if there had been loose lips on the side of the Allies.

The entire plan was known only to a few people, and only later on -- close to D-Day -- filtered down the line. Even then, information was compartmentalised.

Hard to imagine, isn't it? Hundreds of thousands of people involved in the landings, from the troops on the beach and those in the vessels, to those back in England monitoring and coordinating things, yet, information was successfully kept from the Germans.

Fast forward almost 70 years -- several time zones away -- and we have Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein admitting that graft and information leakages within security forces were the main causes of the recent breaches in security in the coastal regions of Sabah.

It is an embarrassment, really. Seventy years ago, hundreds of thousands of people kept secrets so that they could end the ambitions of one man and his political party set on controlling Europe. Today, a few people out of only several thousand can't do the same to protect their own country and people.

The fact that these are people who have taken a solemn oath to protect the nation and its people, to throw back any foreign intent on challenging Malaysia's sovereignty, makes it even worse.

The authorities need to do everything possible to weed out the black sheep, the traitors among our own security forces.

Make no mistake about it, graft in exchange for any security information is an act of treachery. It is treason of the highest order.



Leslie Andres | lesliea@nst.com.my New Straits Times Columnist 08 June 2014

On how good grammar can go so wrong

TALKING TENSES: A step by step approach is best when teaching English to beginners

RECENTLY, I had to grapple with the rudiments of grammar and so, I began to realise how deficient my knowledge has been. I started with the past but was soon embroiled with the intrusion of the present. The past can open its door to the present, I discovered. How can that be possible?

One evening, many years now, I was walking home in a quiet street when two cars suddenly wheezed past. I thought they were just some young tearaways drunk on speed, so I just stepped back to the kerb to see them go. But then, not a few yards away from where I was standing, one car suddenly ran alongside the other and nudged it violently to the kerb.

"As I stood there, I see this man pull out a gun and he starts shooting at the other car...," I said.

The persons listening to my story were new learners of English. In fact, they were complete beginners, put under my charge by their employers in the misguided hope that I would be able to teach them "survival English". You know, asking for the price of goods in shops, buying a ticket at the railway station, asking for directions, things like that. But unbeknown to me, they had taken what I had told them the previous day to heart: always stick to your tense and be guided by when the action took place; English makes great demands on that. Events in the past? Verbs in the past, too, yes please.

As they wrote what I was saying into their notebooks, one of them noticed my glaring mistake. "Teacher," he said. "You stood there, but he starts shooting."

I knew I was not making a mistake but I could not explain to them why "as I stood there, I see a man pull a gun out and starts to shoot" was right. We read that style of writing very often in fiction and I myself am not averse to using that jump from the past into the present whenever I get excited about an event, or a narration. The shooting incident barely a few yards from where I was standing shocked me greatly; when I was narrating the event I felt as if I was there once  again, as if they were happening in the present. But how do I explain to these not-so-young novices that I was not going against my own previous dictates?

This is the difference between causal knowledge and what cognitive scientist Art Markman calls the illusion of explanatory depth. We are so familiar with the many ways things work that we assume full knowledge. And yet, there are still so many gaps: so, how do you fill them, replenish yourself with real knowing?

One of the ways is through teaching, as I found out. To teach, you must have a thorough understanding or you will be caught out. You must be able to explain things step by step, the necessary causal knowledge, so that what you are trying to explain makes sense, to yourself and to the people who are asking to be taught.

It was only through the sharp eyes and ears of my students that I discovered a way of explaining how past and present tense can be mixed, through a grammatical form called the historical present. If you use the historical present, you can bring back the past as if it were happening here and now before you. I had to look that up.

In reading, say before an examination, I used to revise by reading notes that sounded and felt familiar to what I thought I knew, what I had read. But this knowledge was illusory because I did not really sit down to analyse in detail what I thought I had, I did not put it in my own words and more importantly, I did not read it as if I was going to explain it to another person. Little wonder then that I often produced poor results.

So, I had learned something valuable: read as if you are going to teach. You don't want to be a teacher, perhaps, but teach yourself. All learning is self-taught. You go to a teacher of course but the internalising of your knowledge is yourself. It is you telling yourself that this is the cause of that and so on until it makes complete sense. By trying to explain things to yourself as if you were a teacher you will discover the gaps that you have and then the quality of your knowledge will be superior to what you previously had.

Try reading like a teacher: understand, analyse, refit the parts in your own words. A teacher cannot repeat what is in the books but he or she makes sense of what's written and then explains to the students what it is all about. When you read a book that impresses you, reread. You will probably go through the veil and see the workings of its magic. This is how great writers learned to write: Benjamin Franklin was one such.


Wan A. Hulaimi  | elsewhere@columnist.com based in the UK New Straits Times Columnist 08 June 2014

Not wise to shatter the demarcations

A FINE BALANCE: The people may berate politicians, but there is no room for such expressions in rakyat-royalty ties

THIS newspaper went with a black-and-white cover on the death of the much-loved Sultan Azlan Shah who had served as Yang di-Pertuan Agong and lord president.

Last Saturday, page one was adorned with a picture of a smiling Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah with the prime minister, ahead of the king's birthday.

The Kedah Sultanate dates back to 1136, making it, easily, one of the world's oldest reigning monarchy. The Kedah Royal House produced our first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, who died in 1990, aged 87, and was buried at the Royal Mausoleum, Langgar.

All the other royal households in the country are equally important institutions, steeped in tradition. By extension, such a history strengthens the collective self-esteem of a nation.

It is against such a venerated backdrop that commentators shall and have been dissecting the story emanating from the south.

At the outset, let's look at some basic pointers. One, this has not been billed as a crisis. Two, unlike the 1983 and 1993 constitutional crises, this does not actually pit the monarchy against the executive branch.

The Johor state government is the one tabling the Housing and Property Board Bill. Three, this news cycle could effectively end with additional explanations and tweaking to the bill. Conversely, this episode has quickly generated a gathering chorus of views by eminent persons, all amplifying the principles of constitutional monarchy.

Tun Musa Hitam told this newspaper on Saturday the matter could have ramifications beyond Johor and that if "the allegations are true, then it will affect the fundamental principles of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy".

It would be hasty to suggest this has been a legacy of the 1993 crisis although hints and whispers canvassed by the media then have remained relevant.

In fact, events 21 years ago shall be dissected with a great deal more intensity as we await for more clarity on the Housing and Property Board Bill controversy.

For starters, excesses are frowned upon as demonstrated by the tone of media scrutiny in 1993. There is no dichotomy, really, on the part of the rakyat, in the disquiet over any form of excesses vis a vis the admiration for the monarchy.

The rakyat essentially looks upon royalty as enduring icons who would charmingly grace the realms of constitutional monarchy.

On the contrary, they shall prod, even berate and harass their elected representatives and members of the administration at the state and federal levels.

Politicians go to the hustings seeking to inspire the electorate on their visions on affordable housing, for instance. The electorate may applaud or otherwise, for there is accepted fuss in the rakyat-politician relations.

There must not be space for such expressions in the rakyat-royalty ties. That is the genesis of the nation preceding the present-day, post-Merdeka country.

As things stand, it is the duty of the state government of Johor to both defend the sanctity of the monarchy and, separately, to deliver on its promises to the electorate.



Rashid Yusof | abdulras@nst.com.my    New Straits Times Columnist 09 June 2014

Contract between rulers and people

CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY: People accept rulers as their constitutional monarchs, who exercise their powers in accordance with the Constitution

ENGLAND took hundreds of years to make her king a constitutional monarchy. The system developed to what it is today in the 18th and 19th centuries when daily powers of government were exercised by the cabinet and Parliament elected by the people through elections.

Under the system, the king acts as a head of state, free from politics and in accordance with what is provided for by the Constitution.

Apart from being a symbol of national unity, the king holds some power such as to dissolve Parliament, to appoint the prime minister and to assent to bills passed by Parliament.

However, the exercise of these powers is subject to convention while others are a formality.

The British political theorist Walter Bagehot in his book The English Constitution identified three main political rights which a constitutional monarch could freely exercise: the right to be consulted, the right to advise, and the right to warn.

When Malaya gained independence in 1957, through the Reid Commission whose members were common law judges, Malaya chose a constitutional monarchy system. That was a wise decision.

It was accepted by the people and the rulers (I am using the term ruler(s) when referring to Malaysia). It became a contract between the rulers and the people.

The people agreed to accept the rulers as their constitutional monarchs, who would exercise their powers as provided by the Constitution. The rulers also agreed with these conditions.

The model is the United Kingdom model. Thus, in interpreting the provisions of the Constitution, we also need to understand the background and the conventions.

For example, the Constitution may use the word "advice" such as "on the advice of the minister". By convention, the king is required to follow the advice.

As a result of two "constitutional crises" during the period when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister, two amendments were made to the Federal Constitution which, I believe, could be the first of their kind in the world.

FIRST, the provision that the ruler must sign a bill passed by Parliament within 30 days, otherwise, it will automatically become law. (Article 66 (4A).

This amendment would not have been necessary if the ruler understood his role, including the conventions. Signing the bill is a formal job. A king or a ruler should not block any law made by Parliament. The legislative power was given to the Parliament; and,

SECOND, the establishment of the special court. Originally, like the king of England, the rulers in Malaysia were above the law. They could not be sued or prosecuted.

But, when a ruler assaults and hurts someone, when rulers begin to get involved in business and incur large amounts of debts, then remedies have to be given to the other party. Otherwise, it is not fair. The Constitution was amended to establish the Special Court. (Article 182).

As chief justice, I had presided the first case involving a ruler that went through a full trial, from the beginning till judgment. (See the first judgment on my website www.tunabdulhamid.my).

In that case, the former ruler of Malaysia and a reigning ruler of a state at that time, was ordered by the court to pay US$1 million (RM3.2 million) to a bank. The ruler complied with the order and paid the sum. That is an example of what Malaysia should be about. The case is the best illustration of the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Malaysia.

In the last 56 years, apart from two "crises", the system had worked well. Malaysia should be proud of it.

However, sometimes, there is a misunderstanding about the role of the ruler. In one case in the Syariah Court in a state in Peninsular Malaysia, the judge referred the issue of apostasy to be decided by the sultan. That was a mistake.

No one other than the court's judges (including the judge himself) has jurisdiction to decide the issue. The sultan is a constitutional monarch and should not be equated with caliph or a sultan in the past. Judicial power has been given to the Syariah Court. That should be understood.

Other than that, there are times when we hear groups calling for a matter to be referred to the Conference of Rulers or who try to seek the intervention of the Conference of Rulers in a matter. I think this is also incorrect.

They should not try to involve the Conference of Rulers and the Conference of Rulers should not get involved in such matters. It is different where the Constitution provides for the consent of the Conference of Rulers for an amendment.

According to news reports, a bill will be tabled in the Johor state assembly to set up the Johor Housing and Property Board.

It is interesting to note that the bill contains provisions to give administrative powers to the sultan of Johor. The sultan will be given the power to oversee the accounts of the board, dismiss and appoint a new board, determine the amount of their remuneration and allowances and "to appoint a director who could be chosen as chief executive" of the board.

I do not want to comment on the proposal in detail because I have not seen the bill. But even what is mentioned in the newspaper is disturbing enough.

Are we moving away from constitutional monarchy and heading for absolute monarchy as in Brunei or heading towards anarchy? We have nine rulers. Which direction are we going?

Involvement of rulers in the administration would create all kinds of problems. They may be sued. That may compromise their positions.

I am concerned that the officers of the board will only be "yes men" for fear of being dismissed. They will not be able to make decisions in a professional manner.

The bill must not violate the Federal Constitution and the state constitutions. The concept of constitutional monarchy must be upheld.

What I have mentioned so far is based on the assumption that the ruler is honest, that there is no abuse of power, embezzlement, corruption, self-interest and so on, and also that there is no party behind the ruler who uses the ruler's position to make profit.

Otherwise, I fear that the contract between the people and the rulers mentioned at the beginning of this article will fall apart.

This comment piece was written before the Johor menteri besar’s announcement yesterday on revisions to the bill. Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad New Straits Times Columnist 09 June 2014