June 25th, 2014

7 of the World’s Most Beautiful and Threatened Beaches

It’s summer and for most of us, that means at least one trip to the nearest beach. Splashing in the ocean, soaking up the sun, sinking my toes into the sand: these are sensations only the beach can provide. Sadly, our pollution and exploitation of all the ocean has to offer has put the world’s most beautiful beaches in jeopardy. In 100 years, a beach-side vacation may be something people only read about in books.

7 of the Worlds Most Beautiful and Threatened Beaches

1. Rhossili, Wales

Rhossili Bay Gower peninsula

Rhossili, a world-famous five-mile sweeping bay located on the tip of the Gower peninsula in southwest Wales, is in danger because of erosion caused by global warming and climate change.

2. Goa, India

beach goa india

“People around the world picture Goa as the ultimate beach destination and what adds to the charm is the lush green environs of the state. But locals and conservationists fear that iron ore mining companies in India are not only spoiling the natural beauty of the region, but threatening the lives of many wild animals stricken out of their forest homes,” reports IndiasEndangered.com.

3. Railay, Thailand

Railay Beach Thailand

“I genuinely fear for Railay,” writes travel blogger Adventurous Kate. ”I’m afraid that it will become the next Koh Phi Phi, the entire island smelling like sewage because the infrastructure can’t handle the number of visitors.”

4. Koh Rong Island, Cambodia

Cambodia Beach

“Koh Rong Island is an inexpensive, unspoiled island getaway with turquoise-green waters, miles of powder-white beaches, endless palm trees, untouched fishing villages and only a handful of beachfront bungalows,” reports BBC Travel. But don’t wait too long if you want to see it that way. “In 2006, Kithr Meng, a Cambodian tycoon, purchased a 99-year lease on the island from the Cambodian government. His 20-year plan includes building an airport for small aircrafts, a marina, a golf course, casinos and several five-star resorts.”

5. Seychelles, Indian Ocean


In the past decade, the rising sea level has taken a bite out of this spectacular strip of shore in the Indian Ocean northeast of Madagascar. “Rising temperatures and the melting of polar ice caps are blamed for raising ocean levels and threatening to destroy the nation’s pristine coastline – the country’s No 1 tourist attraction. Some of the archipelago’s low-lying islands could be fully submerged if the rise continues,” reported the National.

6. Magdalen Islands, Quebec

The approximately 13,000 residents of Magdalen Islands have watched intensifying natural forces threaten the boundaries of their home in recent years. “Warmer winters and fiercer storms, rising seawaters and the slow sinking of the islands are responsible for an alarming loss of coastline, and the erosion appears to be accelerating,” reports Canadian Geographic.

7. Miami Beach, Florida

In May 2014, a new scientific report on global warming, the National Climate Assessment, named Miami as one of the cities most vulnerable to severe damage as a result of rising sea levels. Beth Buczynski June 22, 2014 5:30 pm   Care2.com

3 Essential Oils You’ll Want to Use This Summer

What scents remind you of summer? Perhaps the bright sweet smell of fresh cut grass comes to mind, or the smoky warm scent of a campfire.

What about the scent of peppermint? Lavender? Or lemongrass? While this herb, flower and grass combination may not be at the top of your list, I think all three of these are perfect essential oils and scents for summer. And here is why…

Lavender (Lavender augustifolia, Lavender officianalis):

While many people prize lavender for its sweet calming scent, lavender essential oil has many uses beyond a floral relaxant. These include helping heal acne, bug bites, bruises and sprains. Beyond these uses though, I chose lavender as a summer essential oil because summer often equals sunburns.

Lavender essential oil has long been used to treat burns of all degrees. To help treat your sunburn you can keep a lavender body spray in your beach bag, immerse a towel in cold water that has a couple of drops of lavender essential oil in it and then dab it on the skin, or simply mix a drop or two of oil into a palm full of aloe vera and rub it on any areas that have received too much sun.

Naturally, safe sunbathing techniques should be practiced at all times, but if you happen to accidentally stay in the sun too long, grab the lavender, dilute it (the smell can be a bit powerful if you use too much, although many people use this oil neat) and apply as necessary!

Tip: Lavender essential oil can also help keep bugs away!

Essential Oil safety: Although lavender is considered a “safe” essential oil, you should always test a small amount on your skin diffuser before applying to larger areas of the body. Check for further contraindications and warnings.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita):

Peppermint is one of my favorite essential oils. Its strong sweet minty scent is the perfect nose candy for those looking for relief from the heat during a hot muggy day. Peppermint oil not only smells delicious, but it is both stimulating and cooling.* This is an intense oil though so I recommend using it in a diffuser if you’re using peppermint for its stimulating properties or in a highly diluted body spray for cooling and refreshing the body. One of my favorite body spray blends is Rosemint Refresh, from Kainoa Farms. It is a unique blend of Rose Geranium Hydrosol, Rosewater and Peppermint essential oil. A delicious and refreshing blend!

* The high menthol content in peppermint is what helps your body feel cooler.

Tip: If you’re not a fan of peppermint or find the oil a bit strong, try spearmint essential oil instead. It contains many of the same properties as peppermint, but has a more subtle scent.

Essential Oil safety: Do not use neat on the skin. Check for further contraindications and warnings.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citatus):

Lemongrass is another delicious scent. If you’re looking for an essential oil to keep the bugs away, but are not a fan of citronella, adding lemongrass to your essential oil bug spray blend is a good bet. This bright refreshing scent is a wonderful pick-me-up as well as a bug repellent. And I much prefer the scent of lemongrass to the scent of citronella (although citronella is also very useful to have around).

Depending on how much of a bug magnet you are, a lemongrass body spray may do the trick on its own. But if not, experiment with making your own bug spray blend including oils such as lavender, peppermint, Cypress, basil, etc… there are plenty of wonderful essential oils that work as bug repellents so have fun creating a blend that keeps the bugs away and smells great!

Tip: Witch hazel works wonders in a body spray, as it helps the essential oils to mix with water. Use 1-2 tablespoons of witch hazel per 8 ounces of purified/distilled water. Simply pour the water into your container, add witch hazel and essential oils (5-30 drops depending on the oils you are using) and shake well!

Essential Oil safety: There are some warnings about using lemongrass for children, although I found conflicting information on this. Check for further contraindications and warnings. Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati June 23, 2014 5:02 pm Care2.com

Poachers Just Killed the Biggest, Most Loved Wild Elephant in the World

He was enormous, iconic and beloved among elephants. His name was Satao and he was the most famous “tusker” in the world.

Tuskers are elephants with tusks so big they weigh over 100 lbs. each and nearly touch the ground. Not every elephant has the genetic pre-disposition to grow tusks this big. Satao was perhaps the largest one left. He roamed the Tsavo East National Park in Kenya for some 45 years – a magnificent reminder of how grand and glorious wild animals truly are.

All that changed on May 30, 2014. On that day, ivory poachers left Satao dead, lying in a heap on the muddy ground with his face hacked off.

Satao the elephant

Felled by a Poisoned Arrow

Satao had recently taken to wandering near the boundary of the Tsavo East National Park. Nearly 1,000 other elephants were doing the same, as this area provided newly abundant vegetation due to recent rain. The problem is that this same location has long been a popular poaching spot.

Well aware of the constant threat to Satao, for 18 months the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Tsavo Trust, a Kenyan not-for-profit conservation group, banded together to keep track of his whereabouts. Using aerial reconnaissance and people on the ground, the team did everything it could to shield Satao from danger.

They’d seen him alive and well nine different times during May from the air and the ground.

Sadly, it wasn’t enough. On May 30, one poisoned arrow brought Satao down. Watch a video containing what may be some of the last footage ever shot of Satao here (warning: at the end of this video are graphic still images of his carcass):

“An arrow smeared with Acokanthera poison hit him in his left flank and penetrated his body cavity. It travelled right through to his vital organs,” reported wildlife photographer Mark Deeble on his blog, A Wild Filmmaker in Africa. Satao had been shot with such arrows before and recovered, but this time was different.

“With today’s mounting poaching pressures and anti-poaching resources stretched to the limit, it proved impossible to prevent the poachers getting through the net,” noted the Tsavo Trust in a press release about the incident.

A Great Life Lost

Searchers found Satao’s carcass on June 2, but with his mighty tusks and most of his face missing, they needed verification before announcing the death. KWS and the Tsavo Trust searched for Satao along his regular range for days and could not find him.

Ultimately, Satao’s still-perfect ears and the pattern of mud caked on his forehead and back provided the necessary proof. If you can bear to see what he looked like when found, click here for a photo of Satao’s carcass. Look at it to understand the enormity of the crime being perpetrated against these majestic creatures.

Satao from overhead

“Today it is with enormous regret that we confirm there is no doubt that Satao is dead, killed by an ivory poacher’s poisoned arrow to feed the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in far off countries. A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece,” the Tsavo Trust announced on June 13.

“The loss of such an iconic elephant is the most visible and heart-rending tip of this iceberg, this tragedy that is unfolding across the continent,” Frank Pope of Save The Elephants told The Telegraph.

Fighting a Losing Battle with Ivory Poachers

Ivory poaching is indeed an incredibly serious problem. In 2013 alone, more than 20,000 elephants were killed in Africa, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

International ivory trading has been illegal since 1989, when CITES imposed a worldwide ban. That matters little to buyers in China and Thailand, who drive most of the demand for illegal ivory today.

To put the problem in perspective, ivory is now reportedly more valuable than gold. It’s little wonder criminals are unable to resist the lure of so much money. It’s tragic they care so little for ivory-bearing animals that they don’t hesitate to kill as many of them as they can.

The Tsavo Trust, working with Save the Elephants and KWS, has launched a program aimed at offering better protection to the Tsavo area tuskers. The Large Elephant Monitoring Project regularly flies over the Tsavo East National Park, keeping tabs on the tuskers. With luck, they’ll be able to prevent further such tragedies.

An iconic elephant is gone for no reason other than human greed. Those who loved Satao are grieving. Those who killed him had certainly already forgotten him, being too busy hunting Satao’s friends to give him another thought.

Those poachers may be thinking of him now, though. In a final bit of good news in this case, KWS authorities reported on June 21 that they’ve arrested three suspects in the killing of Satao. Perhaps a measure of justice will prevail after all. Whatever happens, it could never compensate fully for the heartbreaking loss of this one-of-a-kind legend. usan Bird June 23, 2014 : Care2.com

Amanah Syed Ali, Shamsul Azhar dan Sahol Hamid ...

UMNO Cheras terbaik!

MALAM kelmarin saya menghadiri majlis ulang tahun ke-20 UMNO Bahagian Cheras.

Sungguh unik malam itu. Jemputan lelaki memakai persalinan kepahlawanan Melayu, berbengkung dan bertengkolok.

Itulah pertama kali saya melihat, dengan kagumnya, pakaian hulubalang, kepahlawanan dan pembesar Melayu dalam pelbagai gaya dan mewakili pelbagai negeri sekali gus.

Ia cukup unik. Ikatan tengkoloknya cukup hebat. Nilai estetikanya cukup tinggi.

Sepatutnya perlu ada satu muzium yang menempatkan semua pakaian Melayu zaman silam itu untuk tatapan generasi sekarang dan akan datang.

Saya boleh bayangkan itulah pakaian lazim yang dipakai di zaman Kesultanan Me­layu lebih 500 tahun dahulu.

Syabas ketua bahagian Cheras iaitu Syed Ali Alhabshee, seorang berketurunan Arab Yemen, yang berasimilasikan Melayu jati Nusantara.

Yang menariknya Perdana Menteri (PM) Najib Tun Razak tidak hadir ke majlis negara meraikan Presiden Republik Tajikistan, untuk semata-mata memenuhi undangan ke majlis UMNO Cheras itu.

UMNO Cheras ternyata lain daripada yang lain. Sepatutnya itulah yang patut dicontohi oleh semua bahagian UMNO seluruh negara. Ia amat mesra rakyat dan diuruskan secara profesional. Ketua bahagiannya cukup versatil dan berani berhujah - katanya demi masa depan UMNO mengatasi individualiti.

Namun yang menarik perhatian saya dalam majlis itu ialah ucapan PM selaku Presiden UMNO.

Saya yang duduk di sebelah Datuk Shukor Abdul Manan, setiausaha sulit kanan kepada Timbalan Perdana Menteri (TPM) menyapa beliau "sungguh mendalam maksud ucapan Najib itu." Beliau bersetuju dan mengangguk.

TPM Muhyiddin Yassin juga sepatutnya hadir ke majlis Cheras itu, namun diarahkan oleh bosnya untuk hadir ke jamuan negara bersama Presiden Tajikistan itu.

Najib menggariskan enam faktor yang UMNO dan para pemimpin serta ahli-ah­linya perlu ada untuk memastikan kesinambungan parti itu dan kuasa Melayu.

Faktor pertama adalah ketaatan kepada Allah SWT dan Rasul serta mematuhi arahan pemerintah dalam apa sahaja keputusan demi kebaikan setiap lapisan rakyat Malaysia.

Faktor kedua adalah kesetiaan kepada negara dan parti yang perlu diterjemahkan pada setiap pilihan raya dengan memberi kemenangan kepada calon yang telah dipilih.

Perkara ketiga adalah keberanian dalam perjuangan iaitu kita tanamkan sifat berani semasa berjuang kerana lawan akan takut pada orang yang berani dan itulah sebenarnya karakter orang Melayu.

Yang keempat adalah kesetiakawanan sama ada susah atau senang. Bila ada pilihan raya pastikan parti kita berjaya tapi kalau tahu kalah, kita bantu rakan lain untuk memastikan mereka menang.

Dua faktor seterusnya adalah kebijak­sanaan dan keikhlasan yang bagi orang Melayu, sifat ikhlas itu telah dipupuk melalui amal ibadat kepada Allah SWT yang menjanjikan ganjaran pahala.

Bagi saya faktor kedua dan keempat - kesetiaan dan kesetiakawanan - amat pen­ting dalam sesuatu perjuangan. Jika hilang kedua-dua itu maka pincanglah sebuah persatuan dan rosaklah sebuah kesatuan.

Dalam suasana politik Melayu kini yang berpecah-belah, mesej itu jelas amat pen­ting sekali.

Kita tidak boleh lagi berpecah-belah. Melayu harus bertaut kembali. Belajarlah daripada kesilapan pemimpin dan orang Melayu sejak zaman kesultanan silam dahulu. Bacalah Sejarah Melayu dan renungilah kutub-khanah bangsa itu.

Hasad dengki, tamak haloba, angkuh, bongkak, taksub, jahil, suka berkelahi membawa kelemahan dan kehancuran kepada Melayu.

Oleh itu jangan ada jugalah adu-domba oleh mana-mana pihak ke atas perhubu­ngan Najib dan Muhyiddin. Perlukah dilaga-lagakan antara kedua-duanya?

Akhir sekali syabas Syed Ali dan barisan kepemimpinan UMNO Cheras. Sebagai seorang yang bukan ahli UMNO, selagi masih berada dalam alam kerjaya ini, saya melihat parti itu dengan penuh harapan - syaratnya contohilah Cheras!

Petronas jangan bagi muka!

KENYATAAN terbaharu tauke Petronas, Shamsul Azhar Abbas pasti akan mengundang kemarahan. Orang Melayu selama ini pun memang marah dengannya kerana dasar ‘liberalisme’ beliau di dalam syarikat minyak itu.

NGO-NGO totok Melayu mengawasi cara kerja Shamsul dengan penuh teliti. Kontraktor-kontraktor Melayu yang selama ini berada di bawah program VDP (program pembangunan vendor) memang bengang dengan beliau.

Sudah pasti wawacara Shamsul dengan The Edge keluaran terbaharu itu juga mergundang kemarahan orang kerajaan.

Tetapi dalam hal ini, saya mengambil jalan tengah. Saya tidak marah dengan beliau.

Kita kena baca maksud yang tersirat dan tersurat kemarahannya pula kepada orang yang disebut dalam wawancara itu.

Tegas Shamsul, dia akan mempertahan ‘profesionalisme dan kebebasan’ syarikat itu ‘tanpa rasa takut’.

Dia tidak akan tunduk kepada tekanan politik supaya memberi kerja kepada usahawan yang belum terbukti berjaya. Dia tidak akan membiarkan dirinya diugut oleh kontraktor-kontraktor yang mempunyai kabel yang kuat.

"Ia bukan saja mereka di luar (yang menyusahkan) tetapi juga mereka dalam kerajaan - para birokrat. Campur tangan birokratik meng­usahkan kerja."

"Kerajaan mahu kita menjadi seperti syarikat minyak antarabangsa, seperti Shells dan ExxonMobils, kami akan cuba menjadi seperti itu. Tetapi Shell dan ExxonMobil tidak diganggu oleh kerajaan mereka."

"Ia adalah amanah … diamanahkan … perkataan diamanahkan itu cukup kuat - sebagai seorang Islam, ia adalah satu dosa besar jika kita melanggar ‘amanah’.

"Kami berurus dengan ahli-ahli politik; mereka bercakap tak serupa bikin, jadi ia amat menyusahkan… ini cukup mengecewakan."

"Saya juga orang Melayu, saya bangga sebagai Melayu... anda fikir saya tidak mahu membantu orang saya sendiri? Sudah tentu saya akan membantu mereka, tapi dengan cara yang betul - bukan melalui pemberian mudah dan disuap ke mulut."

Ternyata kata-kata Shamsul Azhar, yang mengambil tampuk kepimpinan kerusi Presiden dan CEO Petronas daripada Tan Sri Hassan Marican pada 2010 cukup pedas.

Siapa yang makan cili dia akan terasa. Teruskan Shamsul Azhar. Laksanakan tugas dengan penuh dedikasi.

Jika ia adalah amanah, kotakan apa yang dikata itu. Jika tidak nanti sumpah boleh memakan diri. Negara memerlukan Petronas yang sihat dan walafiat.

Saya faham maksud Tan Sri. Saya juga tahu banyak cerita - campur tangan itu dan ini. Kita tahu sama tahu ya.

UiTM pusat lonjak akauntan Melayu

NAIB Canselor UiTM, Ir. Dr. Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar sedang sibuk. UiTM telah dilantik menubuhkan pusat profesional perakaunan.

Ia adalah satu lagi amanah dan kepercayaan yang diberikan kerajaan kepada ins­titusi itu. Seorang sahabat yang cukup kritikal terhadap PM, amat bersetuju dengan cadangan itu. "Yang itu saya puji dia..."

UiTM dijangka bakal melaksanakan kepercayaan itu segera. Kita perlu melahirkan lebih ramai lagi akauntan bumiputera Me­layu. Hasil perancangan itu dijangka melahirkan seramai 7,600 akauntan profesional menjelang tahun 2020. Ini adalah lonjakan sebanyak 25 peratus.

Kini hanya lapan peratus sahaja akauntan profesional bumiputera di seluruh negara. Sahol memberitahu, UiTM telah mengenal pasti ‘feeder’ bagi program profesional itu.

Program profesional perakaunan itu merupakan nilai tambah kepada UiTM kerana perakaunan adalah bidang ‘niche’ di universiti itu.

Kita berharap langkah positif ini akan melonjakkan lagi profesional bumiputera Melayu. Marilah kita menyokong usaha murni ini.

Oleh itu Ir. Dr. Sahol ia adalah amanah demi agama, bangsa dan negara. Laksanakan amanah itu sebaik mungkin.   Zaini Hassan: Utusan/Rencana/20140625

Panas dan pelik di sana sini

BUMI Malaysia tidak pernah sunyi dengan isu-isu panas. Kadangkala isu-isu ini pelik tetapi benar-benar berlaku.

Tidak kira waktu meskipun tatkala penduduk dunia sedang mengalami demam Piala Dunia dan dengan kedatangan fenomena El Nino yang menghangatkan lagi muka bumi Malaysia ini. Akibat tangan-tangan manusia yang mencemari suasana nyaman dan damai Malaysia, isu-isu panas ini seolah-olah tidak ada titik noktahnya.

Dimulai dengan isu kebocoran dan ketirisan di sana-sini melibatkan kisah penyeludupan diesel ke negara-negara jiran, disusuli pula isu penyeludupan pendatang asing tanpa izin (PATI). Bayangkan penyeludupan manusia boleh berlaku walhal 'barang' yang diseludup itu sukar untuk disembunyikan berbanding diesel.

Sekiranya tidak berlaku kemalangan yang melibatkan warga negara Myanmar tempoh hari, rasanya kisah ini tidak begitu hangat diperkatakan oleh orang ramai.

USAHLAH kita berperang dan berbunuhan sesama sendiri seperti di Iraq sehingga
menyebabkan rakyatnya terpaksa mencari perlindungan di kem pelarian yang diwujudkan oleh
Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB). - GAMBAR HIASAN

Selepas kemalangan itu berlaku, tragedi tongkang karam di perairan Sepang dan Air Hitam, Pulau Carey membongkar kisah penyeludupan manusia yang nampaknya amat mudah berlaku di negara kita. Malang sekali kerana akhirnya imej negara juga yang terpalit akibat kisah-kisah sebegini.

Kisah penculikan di Sabah yang nampaknya tiada penyelesaian kukuh membangkitkan satu lagi situasi panas kepada imej pelancongan negara. Dikhabarkan bahawa dalangnya PATI. Pelik kerana acap kali berlaku tetapi itulah kenyataannya.

Mungkinkah kerana para pemimpin terlalu sibuk 'bertelagah' berebut kuasa dan berpolitik sepanjang masa sampaikan isu-isu besar negara dikesampingkan? Tidakkah sepatutnya isu-isu yang melibatkan keselamatan negara, semua pemimpin politik yang dipilih oleh rakyat bersatu untuk menjaga negara? Usah hanya mendengar penasihat-penasihat yang mendendangkan kisah-kisah khayalan yang indah-indah belaka.

Ambillah iktibar titah Sultan Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah semasa Mesyuarat Dewan Negara Perak ke-159. Pemim­pin perlu menyempurnakan ikrar Amirul Mukminin dengan menjaga kebajikan seluruh orang yang dipimpin. Bukannya hanya menjaga kebajikan segelintir golongan yang rapat dengan pemimpin.

Begitu juga, jangan sesekali hanya bertindak membantu segelintir golongan hanya kerana ingin menjaga periuk nasi sendiri sebagai pemimpin. Walhal, ramai lagi orang yang dipimpin lebih memerlukan bantuan pemimpin. Lebih ramai golongan yang lemah seperti orang kelainan upaya (OKU) yang memerlukan bantuan seperti memudahkan mereka ini berurusan di semua kaunter sektor awam mahupun swasta.

Tetapi adakah perkara ini cuba diselesaikan secara menyeluruh berbanding mempolemikkan semua isu sehingga menjadi isu panas demi kepentingan diri sendiri?

Usahlah semua perkara ingin digunakan sebagai peluang politik untuk mendapatkan perbatuan politik yang lebih baik. Banyak lagi isu rakyat yang perlu ditangani dengan kadar segera. Misalnya, dalam kita menuju ke arah negara maju, apakah kita mudah terlupa sahsiah dan akhlak juga cukup penting. Dalam kita terlalu taksub dengan ranking, adakah kita mudah terlupa dengan nasib rakyat kita sendiri?

Apalah gunanya kita menjadi sebuah negara maju yang hebat dengan bangunannya dan gah dengan kekayaannya tetapi itu hanya sekadar luaran. Sahsiah rakyat semakin mundur. Akhlak semakin dipinggirkan. Kita pula terlebih barat berbanding orang barat itu sendiri. Adakah ini yang kita mahukan sebagai penduduk bagi sebuah negara yang maju?

Pelik tapi itulah kenyataannya, tanda-tanda 'kemajuan' itu sudah kelihatan. Lagi pelik apabila golongan majoriti pula yang dilanyak hak-hak mereka kononnya tiada keadilan, kesaksamaan atau istilah yang lebih panas lagi kesamarataan!

Walhal terdapat seribu satu bukti bahawa golongan majoriti di Malaysia melayan sebaik mungkin golongan minoriti. Cuba cabut semua bangunan komersial di Lembah Klang milik bukan bumiputera, berapa banyakkah bangunan yang dimiliki oleh golongan bumiputera? Boleh dibilang dengan jari! Bumiputera, majoriti dari segi penduduk tetapi dari sudut lain serba-serbi minoriti.

Itu baru secebis bukti sahaja. Belum lagi dinyatakan, jumlah pinjaman yang diberikan kepada mereka ini berbanding golongan minoriti yang menguasai ekonomi. Belum juga disebut bilangan akauntan dalam kalangan mereka berbanding golongan minoriti. Tetapi kenapa masih dipusingkan fakta seolah-olah ketidakadilan berlaku?

Sebuah institusi pendidikan seperti Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) pun mahu diserang habis-habisan hanya kerana tujuan penubuhan institusi ini untuk membantu golongan majoriti yang lemah dalam pelbagai bidang. Di kolej-kolej swasta yang dikuasai oleh sesuatu pihak tidak pula diperdebatkan. Apa yang tidak adil dengan wujudnya UiTM? Adakah dengan adanya UiTM, pihak-pihak lain dinafikan hak mereka untuk mendapat pendidikan tertinggi?

Sekali lagi, usahlah 'memusing' fakta sebenar. Berpijaklah pada realiti bahawa model pembangunan yang dilaksanakan selama ini tidak menindas mana-mana pihak. Kalau tidak, mana mungkin anak-anak orang miskin seperti penoreh getah dan nelayan boleh menjadi pegawai tertinggi dalam sektor awam dan swasta. Belum lagi diambil kira ada di antara mereka menjadi jutawan dan usahawan yang berjaya.

Isu panas melibatkan kaum sering diperdebatkan seolah-olah tiada langsung keadilan di muka bumi Malaysia walhal yang peliknya mereka jugalah yang mendapat nikmat yang cukup besar sampaikan harta kekayaan boleh diwarisi untuk tujuh keturunan!

Menjelang bulan Ramadan ini, diharapkan isu-isu panas ini 'disejukkan', manakala umat Islam Malaysia berusaha untuk mengeratkan hubungan persaudaraan tanpa mempedulikan latar belakang politik masing-masing. Terlalu banyak percakaran melemahkan kekuatan ummah dan ini akan diambil kesempatan oleh pihak lain.

Buktinya, tahun lalu, terdapat isu panas yang sengaja diciptakan semasa Ramadan membangkitkan kemarahan umat Islam Malaysia. Majoriti rakyat mahukan kehidupan aman dan damai. Usahlah menjadi seperti negara Asia Barat yang pada awalnya gembira dengan 'bantuan' barat kononnya mene­gakkan demokrasi tetapi akhirnya berperang dan berbunuh sesama sendiri. Negara barat hanya lepas tangan.

Tidakkah kita mendapat pengajaran yang cukup besar daripada apa yang berlaku di negara-negara berkenaan. Atau kita masih selesa dengan kemewahan yang dikecapi di negara kita sehingga kita lupa bahawa kemewahan ini boleh pergi selama-lamanya tanpa dimaklumkan terlebih dahulu.

Bersyukurlah atas kemewahan yang diberikan oleh Allah SWT. Semoga Ramadan yang bakal tiba beberapa hari lagi memadamkan api permusuhan sesama Islam dan menghilangkan 'kepanasan' yang melanda negara dengan memberi keinsafan kepada kita dalam menghayati keperitan orang lain.

* Rohami Shafie ialah Pensyarah Kanan Perakaunan dan Kewangan, Pusat Pengajian Perakaunan (SOA), Kolej Perniagaan (COB), Universiti Utara Malaysia. Utusan/Rencana/20140625

Perspective: Bold step forward

THE launch of the National Education Blueprint two years ago prompted the question: Will it be implemented as detailed in the plan?

Many noted that we often produce good plans, but cannot translate them well enough, if at all. This perception, whether right or wrong, has become a dark cloud hovering over the blueprint.

And it must be quickly dispersed if confidence in the future of education in the country is to be firmly restored. Indeed, one international expert on education was quoted as saying it now depends on how the blueprint will be implemented.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, launched The 2013 Annual Report on the Education Blueprint. This is the first annual report card of sorts that is meaningful and highly symbolic for a number of reasons.

Participants at the recent British Council Professional Up-skilling of English Language Teachers (Pro-ELT) Showcase event.

It is, foremost, a clear indication of the aim to get the blueprint implemented. Similar to the functions of Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU), the Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU) has been set up to monitor the implementation of the blueprint.

Secondly, the report marks the willingness to be transparent as part of public responsibility for assessing the progress made last year.

Thirdly, it serves as part of a continuing process to engage the public, namely parents, the teaching profession and other stakeholders in the progress so far.

Fourthly, it is a form of recognition of achievements as well as a reminder that there is more to be done.

Lastly, the annual report can be a start of a new culture of sharing and openness in matters related to education in a non-politicised way.

After all, this is information objectively assessed against set targets backed by data. For example, out of the 25 initiatives implemented last year, 12 have seen positive and significant performance by achieving some of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI). Among these initiatives are pre-school enrolment, vocational education transformation plan, higher order thinking skills, literacy and numeracy skills, and English language teachers proficiency.

The first two initiatives mentioned above are to address the issue of access which is one of the aspirations stated in the blueprint. The remaining relates to other aspirations such as acquiring thinking skills, knowledge and bilingualism.

On the dimensions of equity, two initiatives – the District Transformation Programme and Inclusive Education Programme – are said to show encouraging achievements.

Yet two other initiatives in terms of efficiency, namely Ministry Transformation and Basic Infrastructure Enhancement, also achieved the KPI set. So, too, the transformation of teacher education institutes, as well as the establishment of school leadership and teachers’ charter in the effort to enhance quality. Parent involvement is also on the rise.

While many of these are quantifiable as KPIs to be achieved, there are aspects that are not easily measured. These are aspirations such as promoting “ethics and spirituality”, “national identity” and “unity”.

An initiative on “unity” – the Student Integration for Unity Plan – was implemented last year but it takes time to achieve a noticeable outcome before it can be convincingly reported.

These “softer” aspects must receive equal – perhaps much more – emphasis, given the different nature of tracking and measuring “intangibles” which cannot be quantified using figures and percentages.

It, however, cannot be overemphasised that these are aspirations that will underline the success of the education transformation in more lasting and sustainable ways because they shape attitudes, build the right values and virtues to be internalised as part of the acculturation process in creating a good learner, citizen as well a wholesome person as stated in the blueprint and the National Education Policy.

It is imperative to reiterate that education has to move beyond academic achievements – regardless of excellence – but, at the same time, it must not fail in actualising the other potentials of a holistic human being. In other words, education, too, must be in itself holistic in content, delivery and measurement.

While the report is laudable as a positive first step in casting away any scepticism about the implementation of the blueprint, it must embrace all the aspirations stated therein in moving ahead. Kudos for taking this bold step forward.   DZULKIFLI ABDUL RAZAK - NST Learning Curve 25 JUNE 2014 @ 6:21 PM

’A fish rots from the head’

IT was refreshing to read Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap’s column on education in a tabloid last week. It is also somewhat overdue!

A Guru Cemerlang even before she was appointed to the cabinet, she writes from experience unlike armchair advocates. Her focus on leadership “beyond the technical and professional aspects of school (or, for that matter, universities) management" is sound and timely. It is also the aim of the Education Blueprint in realising the oft-talked about transformation at all levels of education.

I have always found that the word pemimpin conveys a more comprehensive meaning than “leader”. For a start, it not about that one person who sticks out like a sore thumb, ready to exercise command-and-control or micro-manage. It is someone who is always ready to walk hand-in-hand (which is what pimpin literally means) as described by Yap. Someone who is ready to share and work as a team through thick and thin for the sake of education and the students in particular.

The selflessness and sacrifice of a pemimpin is often not visible. A pemimpin is less hierarchical in the sense that his comfort zone is very well spread out and he can fit in almost anywhere, often brushing protocol aside.

From my observations, teachers serving in the rural and remotest parts of the country understand this better because of the cultural nuances that nurture and embrace the pimpin principle which has lost its essence in a more modern setting.

The elements of “relationship” and “collegiality” are vital. And more so in an educational setting where learning takes place best when the environment is more stable, cordial and friendly, based on a high degree of trust and honesty (intellectually or otherwise).

Consultation and participatory leadership are inherent in the concept of pemimpin where consensus or near consensus is the ultimate goal. It, no doubt, can be transformational if it strikes a rallying point for a quantum change, and is at once democratic in fervour.

This makes participatory leadership even easier to practise daily by harnessing diversity, building engagement, creating collective transformational actions, yet remaining respectful and inclusive in its human encounters. As Nelson Mandela said: “Democracy is a process and democracy in a university is a process that we have to work at every day.”

In such a conducive milieu, people (including students) speak more freely and frankly without the anxiety of making mistakes (which is an integral part of learning) or the fear of being reprimanded (at times for no rhyme or reason other than someone is overshadowed in the process) — more so when it comes to the untried and untested as Yap suggested.

A pemimpin does not have to pull rank to remind subordinates who is the boss (who most likely is not leader material and needs to intimidate others when challenged).

Opportunities are more open and more readily accessible rather than being assigned to “camps” of a chosen few.

Figuratively, there is no better axiom to describe the situation than "a fish rots from the head". Be mindful though it is often not the person per se but more of the practice that causes the decay.

Here again, a pemimpin is less likely to err when collective leadership is practised instead of a one-man show made worse by a burning ambition to forge a legacy. The rotting head will invariably affect the entire body sooner or later.

Unfortunately, the rot spreads across the board, regardless of fancy designations or the size of the institution/organisation at his helm.

As far as the rotting head is concerned, size does not matter. The saying “too big to fail” does not hold true as current events show. While school principals may want to be a pemimpin, they too may be victims of other rotting heads, and this goes on to bigger heads. Indeed, the bigger the fish head which rots, the worse the stench! NST Learning Curve 25 JUNE 2014 @ 6:38 PM