July 6th, 2014

Hukum orang busukkan nama negara

Dalam bulan puasa ni Kunta Kinte cuba nak elak cakap hal-hal tak baik. Tapi nampaknya susah. Ada aja benda tak baik kita baca dalam surat khabar yang kita tak boleh tutup. Suka tak suka kita kena bincang juga.

Dulu, khususnya pada zaman Perang Vietnam, kita dengar orang Amerika dibagi gelaran ugly Americans atau orang Amerika hodoh pasal mereka sombong dan besar kepala bila berada di negara orang.

Sekarang kita dengar pula ungkapan ugly Chinese sebab sikap dan tabiat buruk pelancong dari negeri China. Imej pelancong dari China sangat buruk sampai Kerajaan China sendiri naik malu.

Perkara ini jadi cukup serius hingga Kerajaan China terpaksa buat undang-undang khas untuk rakyat China yang melancong, sama ada dalam atau luar negara.

Antara peruntukan yang dikenakan adalah jangan korek hidung di depan khalayak, jangan kencing dalam kolam mandi dan jangan curi jaket pelampung kapal terbang.

Mereka juga disuruh hormati undang-undang larangan merokok, jangan buang sampah merata-rata, jangan bercakap terlalu kuat atau menjerit di khalayak ramai dan jangan paksa orang tempatan ambil gambar mereka.

Kisah warganegara kita

Nampaknya kita pun tak terlepas daripada imej buruk ini pasal makin ramai warganegara kita yang buat kerja kotor dan tak senonoh di luar negara.

Sekarang tengah heboh cerita seorang anggota tentera yang bertugas di Suruhanjaya Tinggi kita di New Zealand dituduh pecah rumah dan menyerang dengan tujuan merogol.

Masya-Allah! Kalau betul dakwaan Kerajaan New Zealand itu, malu besarlah kita. Nampak-nampaknya ada asas bila kerajaan kita sendiri dah ambil keputusan hantar dia balik ke New Zealand untuk hadapi tuduhan.

Kalau sabit kesalahan, busuklah nama Malaysia, nama Islam dan nama Melayu. Tahniah kepada Wisma Putra kerana serah dia kepada pihak berkuasa New Zealand.

Kalau dia budak jalanan lain ceritalah. Tapi dia seorang anggota Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM) yang dibagi taraf diplomatik pula. Minta maaflah kalau Kunta Kinte tanya, macam mana orang macam ini boleh anggotai ATM.

Kunta Kinte tak mahulah nak tanya apa dah jadi dengan ATM atau ungkit kontroversi yang babitkan Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (TUDM) dalam misteri kelepasan penerbangan MH370 atau pencerobohan bumi kita oleh pengganas dan pendatang haram.

Kena tunjuk profesionalisme

Cuma sebagai wartawan tua, Kunta Kinte nostalgia mengenai masa lalu ATM bila mana namanya cemerlang kerana tewaskan komunis dan harumkan dari Congo sampai ke merata pelosok dunia.

Mudah cakaplah, kalau Wisma Putra dan Kementerian Pertahanan tak bertindak tegas dan betul dalam kes yang sangat mengaibkan ini, Kunta Kinte kata mereka pun wajib dikutuk dan dicela. Alhamdulillah mereka bertindak betul dengan hantar dia balik ke New Zealand.

Mudah cakap, Kunta Kinte kata macam inilah; menteri kita yang ramai itu tolonglah tunjuk kesungguhan dan profesionalisme bila jalankan tugas. Janganlah lembik, lembut dan apologetik tidak kena tempat. Atau hanya banyak cakap. Tunjukkanlah yang mereka ada tulang belakang dan ada iltizam pertahankan maruah dan nama negara.

Jangan biarkan satu Malaysia terpalit akibat seekor dua kerbau yang bawa lumpur. Yang ini Kunta Kinte cukup bimbang pasal makin ramai rakyat Malaysia yang terbabit dengan jenayah dan kerja kotor di negara orang.

Usah pandang ringan

Laporan Bernama pada 16 Julai 2012 kata, seramai 2,500 rakyat Malaysia ditahan di penjara luar negara atas pelbagai kesalahan dalam tempoh enam bulan pertama tahun itu.

Dewan Negara dibagitahu, antara kesalahan yang mereka buat adalah seludup dadah, bunuh, palsukan kad kredit, kesalahan komersial, mencuri, kesalahan imigresen, menipu, palsukan dokumen dan seludup manusia. Daripada bilangan itu, 1,400 adalah Cina, 700 Melayu dan 400 India.

Jadi kita janganlah pandang ringan atau ambil mudah perbuatan keji rakyat jelata kita di luar negara apatah lagi kalau yang buat kerja jahat itu anggota diplomatik dan tentera. Wallahuaklam.

E-mel ke rencanabh@bh.com.my Untuk berkongsi pendapat anda. Berita Harian Rencana 2014/07/06 - 02:33:14 AM Kunta Kinte

Apa khabar orang Melayu Majidee?

TANYA penduduk Johor Bahru di mana letaknya Kampung Melayu Majidee, dan anda akan serta-merta diberitahu di mana lokasinya dan bagaimana anda boleh sampai ke tempat itu. Kampung ini adalah satu-satunya penempatan orang Melayu tertua di bandar ini, sejak dahulu kala.

Saya (anak Muar) kenal Johor Bahru sejak 1958, bila saya mendaftarkan diri sebagai pelajar Tingkatan 6 di English College (namanya pada masa itu). Sejak itu saya melihat satu demi satu penempatan orang Melayu di sekitar bandar ini pupus dan hilang ditelan pembangunan.

Saya biasa keluar masuk Kampung Majidee kerana ada saudara-mara tinggal di situ. Mulai akhir tahun 70-an, saya lebih kerap ziarahi kampung itu kerana adik ipar saya telah membina rumahnya di situ. Pendek kata setiap kali bercuti ke Johor, saya tinggal di rumah adik ipar di kampung itu.

Jadi, anda faham kenapa saya terkejut besar bila membaca berita di beberapa portal minggu lalu bahawa Kem Majidee (yang terletak berhampiran dengan kampung ini) tidak akan wujud lagi di situ kerana kawasan itu akan dibangunkan semula dengan satu projek hartanah mega bernilai bilion ringgit.

Kem tentera ini, yang beroperasi sejak Mac 1940, terletak antara Jalan Bakar Batu dan lebuh raya Tebrau, yang menghubungkan Johor Bahru dengan Kota Tinggi dan bandar-bandar lain di sebelah timur Johor. Disebabkan saiz keluasannya yang besar (kira-kira 132 hektar) kem ini pasti menjadi rebutan oleh pemaju tempatan dan luar negara.

Kita dimaklumkan bahawa kem tentera yang telah ‘berkhidmat’ kepada negara kita selama lebih tujuh dekad di bandar Johor Bahru ini telah dipindahkan ke Banang, Batu Pahat. Segala khidmat cemerlang 2,500 anggota tentera yang menjadi penghuni kem ini telah ‘dibayar’ dengan pemindahan ke beberapa lokasi lain, bukan dengan pengekalan kem ini sebagai satu mercu tanda sejarah negeri ini.

Mungkin ramai yang tidak tahu bahawa kem Majidee ini merupakan antara kem tentera yang tertua di negara ini, wujud sebelum Perang Dunia Kedua. Dibuka pada tahun 1940, kem ini menjadi sebahagian daripada strategi pertahanan negara, selain menjadi ‘rumah pertama’ komando Tentera Darat negara ini.

Beberapa pihak telah melahirkan kebimbangan mereka bahawa penutupan kem tentera yang tertua ini akan ‘menjejaskan kekuatan pertahanan’ negara kita di kawasan selatan Johor. Namun Panglima Medan Tentera Darat (ketika itu), Leftenan Jeneral Datuk Raja Mohamed Affendi Raja Mohamed Noor (kini Tan Sri) menyatakan bahawa keselamatan dan strategi pertahanan di bahagian selatan Semenanjung Malaysia tidak akan terjejas.

Nyata sekali, dalam ‘buku kira-kira’ pentadbir negeri, mewujudkan satu hab komersial bernilai jutaan ringgit ala Mid Valley Megamall di Kuala Lumpur adalah lebih penting bagi masa depan negeri Darul Takzim ini.

Generasi masa depan pastinya tidak akan tahu tentang kewujudan kem tentera ini kerana pembangunan projek komersial Southkey Megamall di tempat ini pasti akan melenyapkan segala tanda atau bukti kewujudannya di masa silam.

Samalah halnya dengan generasi masa depan kita yang tidak akan tahu kewujudan Pantai Lido di pinggir Selat Tebrau kerana pantai riadah ini kini sudah hilang ditelan pembangunan mega Danga Bay - apatah lagi setelah kawasan tambak laut ini dijual kepada syarikat gergasi Cina dengan harga berbilion ringgit.

Kehilangan kem tentera ini dan kewujudan ‘penggantinya’ (projek komersial) pastinya memberi impak besar kepada penduduk kampung Melayu Majidee. Soalnya apakah projek komersial ini akan benar-benar mendatangkan manfaat kepada penduduk kampung Melayu ini?

Jika harga jualan hartanah yang dibangunkan nanti mencecah jutaan ringgit, apakah orang Melayu Johor amnya dan penduduk Kampung Melayu Majidee khasnya, akan mampu membeli dan memilikinya?

Jika jawapannya, ‘Tidak’, apakah ini tidak bermakna 30,000 penduduk Kampung Melayu Majidee akan hanya menjadi pemerhati arus pembangunan yang berlaku di hadapan mata mereka?

Sinonim dengan orang Melayu

Mengikut seorang blogger, "Kem Majidee dan kawasan persekitarannya amat sinonim dengan orang Melayu di Johor Bahru."

Penutupan kem tentera itu bakal ‘menyaksikan demografik di bandar raya kelahiran UMNO itu diambil alih oleh kaum-kaum lain yang lebih berkemampuan dari segi ekonominya’.

Penutupan kem tentera itu sekali gus menandakan titik noktah kepada imejnya yang selama ini dikenali sebagai kawasan orang Melayu Johor Bahru.

Pada masa lampau, penduduk di sini mampu memberi kemenangan kepada calon BN dan mengekalkan Parlimen Johor Bahru di tangan parti pemerintah. Ekoran penutupan kem tentera lama ini dan kemunculan ‘penggantinya’ projek hartanah bernilai berbillion ringgit (yang pastinya di luar kemampuan pembeli Melayu), apakah senario ini akan terus kekal seperti dulu? (lihat http://forum.cari.com.my/portal.php?mod=view&aid=13188 ) .

Mengikut portal hartanah popular (iProperty.com), harga jualan sebuah kondo yang akan dibangunkan di tempat ini adalah antara RM600,000 hingga RM1.5 juta.

Selain itu, pemaju akan juga membina apa yang dipanggil Boutique Pods yang pertama di Johor Bahru setinggi empat tingkat, dengan harga jualan bermula daripada RM15 juta. Pemaju juga akan membangunkan 41 unit kedai di dalam kompleks beli-belah empat tingkat di situ dengan harga jualan setiap unit bermula dari RM2.4 juta sehingga RM6.3 juta.

Projek mega di tapak lama kem Majidee ini juga akan mewujudkan satu kompleks beli-belah ala Mid Valley Megamall di Kuala Lumpur, dianggarkan bernilai RM6 bilion. Pastinya, sama seperti Mid Valley di Kuala Lumpur, harga sewaan lot kedai di kompleks beli-belah yang akan dibangunkan itu akan berada di luar kemampuan peniaga-peniaga Melayu.

Walaupun sukar bagi saya menerimanya, Johor Bahru terus membangun.

Rakyat Johor tidak menolak atau menentang pembangunan. Masalahnya jenis pembangunan sekarang dilihat lebih menguntungkan pelabur asing dan pembeli hartanah asing. Pembangunan hartanah (baik komersial atau kediaman) jenis mampu milik sukar sekali ditemui.

Amalan penjualan hartanah kepada pelabur asing sekiranya tidak dikawal sebaik-baiknya akan menggawatkan keadaan. Hal ini kerana pelabur asing mungkin memilih pembangunan yang tidak lagi berwajah tempatan.

Bila hartanah yang dibangunkan dan dijual sudah mencecah jutaan ringgit, penduduk asal Johor Bahru sendiri (seperti halnya dengan penduduk Kampung Majidee) dikhuatiri tidak lagi mampu membeli atau menyewanya. Salleh Buang : Utusan/Rencana/20140705

Menyokong Mohammad Redzuan Othman

Prof. Datuk Dr. Mohammad Redzuan Othman sepatutnya berasa malu. Seorang intelektual sepertinya tidak sepatutnya membiarkan reaksi keterlaluan terhadap penamatan jawatan beliau sebagai Pengarah Pusat Kajian Demokrasi dan Pilihan Raya Universiti Malaya (Umcedel) dan Dekan Fakulti Sastera dan Sosial Sains UM.

Mohammad Redzuan, 59, yang akan bersara tahun depan sepatutnya berlapang dada menerima keputusan pengurusan UM sebagaimana dahulu beliau dilantik ke jawatan tersebut. Beliau bukannya dipecat tetapi diberi kebebasan untuk terus menyumbang kepakarannya selaku anggota kumpulan penyelidik Umcedel dan sebagai seorang profesor di Jabatan Sejarah, Fakulti Sastera dan Sains Sosial.

Yang sepatutnya lebih berasa malu ialah mereka yang memberi reaksi berlebihan daripada sepatutnya. Mereka mahukan penjelasan tetapi setelah Naib Canselor, Datuk Dr. Mohd. Amin Jalaluddin menegaskan keputusan itu dibuat mengikut kepentingan universiti dan tidak mempunyai sebarang kaitan dengan sebarang bentuk tekanan daripada pihak luar, mereka tetap bercakap sebaliknya.

Mereka tetap bercakap semua ini akibat tekanan politik. Mereka dengan pantas menyebarkan persepsi dan andaian bahawa keputusan pentadbiran UM adalah daripada arahan Putrajaya. Sekonyong-konyong para pemimpin politik pakatan pembangkang berlumba-lumba memberikan reaksi menempelak kerajaan dengan dakwaan menyekat kebebasan ahli akademik.

Seperti ada satu set reaksi digerakkan. Reaksi mereka begitu tersusun. Ada sahaja isu yang boleh dikategorikan sebagai merugikan kerajaan dan menguntungkan pakatan pembangkang, set gerakan ini akan dilancarkan. Tidakkah gerakan mereka ini diragui?

Portal propembangkang yang mula-mula menyebarkan isu tersebut sebelum disusuli dengan reaksi emosional termasuk oleh bekas timbalan menteri, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah yang sepatutnya bersikap sederhana. Beliau mengumumkan berhenti sebagai felo penyelidik UM, sebagai solidariti bersama Mohammad Redzuan.

Gerakan seterusnya dapat dilihat sekarang. Ada demonstrasi dan bantahan daripada kumpulan pelajar. Mungkin selepas ini ada reaksi daripada pihak asing yang diundang khas oleh kumpulan ini.

Menyebelahi

Rasanya semua orang tahu siapa Mohammad Redzuan. Nama beliau popular setiap kali ada pilihan raya. Walaupun kaji selidik Umcedel selalu menyebelahi pakatan pembangkang tetapi pihak kerajaan atau parti pemerintah menanggapinya secara apa adanya.

Selain itu, kaji selidik Umcedel akan berlaku begitu sahaja sebagai sebahagian daripada konflik antara kajian ilmiah dan permainan politik.

Apa yang berlaku ke atas Mohammad Redzuan adalah satu proses biasa. Tempoh penggal perkhidmatannya akan tamat dan beliau akan bersara tahun depan. Tiada sesiapa yang memecat atau menyingkirkan beliau. Barangkali beliau sendiri yang takut kepada bayang-bayang.

Pemilihan pengarah dan dekan baharu pula dibuat secara telus, demokratik dan mengikut peraturan yang ditetapkan sebelum ini. Tiada yang luar biasa. Mereka hanya mengandaikan bahawa Mohammad Redzuan dipecat atau ada campur tangan Putrajaya. Jawatan itu pun bukanlah gah sangat. Kita pun tidak pernah mendengar ada kaji selidik Umcedel yang mendapat pengiktirafan antarabangsa.

Malangnya, mereka bersungguh-sungguh dan sepakat mahu menyatakan semua andaian itu adalah satu kebenaran. Maka mengambil kesempatan daripada apa yang berlaku ke atas Mohammad Redzuan, diaturlah gerakan agar andaian itu dilihat benar-benar satu kenyataan. Agar nantinya Putrajaya dicap sebagai mencampuri urusan ahli akademik. Dari sini nanti, mudahlah pula gerakan seterusnya untuk memberikan gambaran buruk tentang Putrajaya terutama dalam kalangan orang muda.

Dahulu pada tahun 2011 semasa kontroversi peletakan jawatan Naib Canselor Universiti Selangor (Unisel), Datuk Dr. Rosti Saruwono tidak pula ada suara bantahan campur tangan daripada kerajaan. Kontroversi di universiti sama pada 2008 juga memperlihatkan isu yang hampir sama Razali Agus, 52, ditamatkan perkhidmatannya - campur tangan kerajaan negeri. Tetapi tiada siapa wakil daripada pakatan pembangkang mahupun NGO mereka yang peduli.

Inilah strategi politik mereka. Sesiapa juga yang menyokong atau dilihat simpati kepada pakatan pembangkang akan dibela sehabis mungkin. Lihatlah apabila ada pegawai kerajaan atau guru besar dan guru yang ditukarkan kerana isu berkaitan parti pembangkang, mereka dengan cepat melabel kerajaan tidak adil, kejam dan sebagainya. Tetapi jika sebaliknya, mereka hanya diam membisu. Inilah prinsip kebebasan, keadilan dan kesaksamaan berpilih-pilih ala pakatan pembangkang yang kesannya kini semakin memecah-belahkan masyarakat. ZULKEFLI HAMZAH Utusan/Rencana/20140706

Pulangnya biduanita sepanjang zaman

RADIO kecil berwarna biru itu berada di atas rak paling hampir dengan dapur tanah di rumah usang kami. Dengan bunyi ‘kriuk-kriuk’ kecil yang selalu terbit dek frekuensi yang terganggu kala butang ‘on’ dimainkan, itulah peneman sunyi kami anak-beranak, selain sebuah televisyen hitam putih 14 inci.

Ketika itu, awal tahun 1980-an, kami tinggal di tepi Sungai Dungun, Terengganu. Saya masih kecil tetapi sangat berminat dengan radio kerana sering menghidangkan irama-irama yang mampu membuatkan seorang anak kecil seperti saya melekat di dapur bersama arwah ibu.

Seringkali juga sedang asyik bersembang, ibu menyuruh kami adik-beradik diam, tiba-tiba. "Syhhhh, Seri Dewi Malam sudah datang, " kata arwah ibu yang sekali gus jari jemarinya memperkuatkan lagi bunyi yang teralun dari radio. Nah, alunan Seri Dewi Malam lebih mantap, mudah menyerap dan ketika itu jugalah, saya melihat wajah ibu memerah. Dalam senyum yang santun, ibu benar-benar terhibur dengan alunan suara emas penyanyinya bersenandung. Kami melihat wajah ibu seperti melur di pagi hari, kembang senyumnya penuh seri.

Kata arwah ibu, Sharifah Aini inilah pengganti Saloma, isteri P. Ramlee. Selepas Saloma tiada, ibu tidak punya artis lain yang dinanti-nantikan suaranya di radio, sehinggalah munculnya Sharifah Aini dengan kelas kesenimanan yang cukup tinggi. Kata ibu saya juga, Sharifah Aini pandai mengaji, sebab itu suaranya begitu merdu kala menyanyi.

Demikianlah seorang Sharifah Aini, membeli jiwa, memberi mimpi untuk kaum wanita berdiri, termasuk ibu saya ketika itu. Gaya, keterampilan, cara bersopan manja dia bercakap dan sudah pasti suara lemak merdu yang menjadi pembawaan adalah ciri-ciri wanita yang cukup sempurna di mata penggemar.

Selepas saya dewasa dan mengenalinya secara peribadi, penilaian saya terhadap Sharifah Aini jauh lebih tinggi berbanding zaman di mana ibu saya mengenang seorang Sharifah Aini. Kata cerdik pandai, seniman yang hebat bukan saja diukur kejayaannya tetapi usia kesenimanan yang dimilikinya. Sharifah Aini yang mesra kami panggil Kak Pah, membuktikan bahawa dia berkarya sepanjang zaman, malar segar berdekad-dekad lamanya.

Anak kepada pasangan Syed Jaafar Syed Sahil dan Sharifah Noor Syed Ahmad Al-Attas ini dilahirkan di Nee Soon, Singapura pada 2 Julai 1953. Namun sejak usia lapan bulan lagi, Sharifah dijaga serta dibesarkan oleh neneknya, Tengku Wan Mariam Tengku Wan Tahir serta datuknya, Syed Sahil Syed Ali Al-Jufry, di Majidee, Johor Bahru.

Dengan pendapatan daripada hasil memandu teksi, kehidupan mereka sekeluarga cukup sederhana sehinggalah Sharifah Aini sewaktu kecil pernah mengambil upah menggiling cili dan menjual buah nangka serta kuih muih tradisi Johor lainnya. Nasibnya mula berubah, selepas menjuarai pertandingan Bintang RTS 1968 di Singapura dengan lagu Tiga Malam. Namanya kemudian gemilang sekali apabila berkolaborasi dengan seniman Datuk Ahmad Nawab yang mencipta lagu-lagu popular untuknya seperti Seri Dewi Malam (EP 1970), Aku Kekasih Pujaan (EP 1970) dan Aku Dan Dia (EP 1971).

Beliau kemudian disunting menjadi artis rakaman EMI dan terus bertahan dengan syarikat itu selama 38 tahun. Hasilnya, nama Sharifah Aini hari ini terukir dalam The Malaysia Book of Records sebagai penyanyi paling lama dengan sesebuah syarikat rakaman dan memiliki 135 album. Pada 2006, beliau dianugerahkan dengan gelaran Biduanita Negara.

Banyaknya lagu popular beliau menjadikan Sharifah Aini muncul sebagai artis pertama negara yang digelar ‘superstar’. Antara lagu popular lain beliau ialah Hapuslah Airmatamu, Seiring Dan Sejalan (duet bersama Broery Marantika), Terbang Helang, Bunga Tanjung, Jalak Lenteng, Seribu Mawar, Kau Tinggi Di Awan Biru, Hiburkanlah Hatiku, Kau Pergi Tanpa Pesan dan Kau Racun Hidupku.

Saya melihat dia sebagai pejuang yang berjuang sehingga ke penghujung hayat. Dua kali gagal dalam perkahwinan bukan penamat perjuangan untuk bahagia dengan percaturan diri.

Sedang satu-satu anak tunggalnya, Aliff Omar masih meneruskan pengajian di tanah Arab, Sharifah Aini hanya punya beberapa pembantu mendiami rumah bernilai jutaan ringgit itu. Lalu saya bertanya, "Rumah bagai istana raja, Kak Pah sendiri, apakah tidak sunyi?"

Jawabnya ringkas, "Barangkali sudah ditakdirkan Allah, hidup sendirian sehingga ke penghujung usia."

Bagi Sharifah Aini, dengan membahagiakan insan lain, itu menjadi sesuatu yang membahagiakan dirinya walaupun mungkin keseorangan melalui hidup yang bulat ini. Benarlah, sehingga saat 'kepulangannya', tidak ada yang sehebat dirinya. Proses menjadi seniman itulah yang menjadi tunggak ‘kekayaan’ seorang Sharifah Aini. Saya percaya sebahagian besar daripada kita sangat terhutang kepadanya.

Hari ini sama seperti ibu saya, mengenang biduanita yang meninggalkan sejuta kenangan di hati peminat. Sungguhpun saya bukan peminat setia Sharifah Aini (kerana saya bukan berada pada zamannya, barangkali), insan bernama Sharifah Aini itu sendiri menghantar banyak makna dalam kehidupan saya lewat perkenalan kami, kerana bidang tugas saya sebagai wartawan seni dan hiburan di Utusan. Dia antara sebahagian insan berpekerti baik dan berperibadi indah pada sudut pandang saya.

Di sebalik pentas yang gemerlapan, Sharifah Aini juga mengisi hidup dengan membuat amal kebajikan. Dia telah menjayakan hampir 1,000 persembahan amal selain memelihara banyak anak-anak yatim. Dia mendekatkan diri kepada Allah bersama rakan-rakan di luar dunia seni. Saya pasti dia menemui jalan pulang yang sebaiknya pada sisi seorang muslimah.

Sisi yang peribadi ini tidak dipertontonkan dan hanya yang rapat sahaja tahu bahawa dunia gemerlapan tidak menjauhkan dia dengan tuntutan seorang muslimah. Selepas berjaya memetik bintang dia tetap berpijak pada hakikat kehadirannya sebagai hamba Allah.

Detik 1.26 pagi Sabtu ketika Ramadan berada di pintu hari ketujuh, dia menutup usia 61 tahun di Pusat Pakar Perubatan Damansara. Sharifah Aini pergi setelah hampir dua tahun bertarung tiga penyakit serius, paru-paru dijangkiti kuman, radang paru-paru (dideritai semenjak dua tahun lalu) dan H1N1 yang (dideritai semenjak lima bulan yang lalu).

Duhai Seri Dewi Malam, selamat kembali menemui Pencipta. Segala budi baik, bakti luhur yang kau berikan tetap dikenang melangkau zaman. Al-Fatihah!     TENGKU KHALIDAH TENGKU BIDIN   Utusan/Rencana/20140706

Nampak 'permainan' portal berita itu

Untuk kesekian kalinya, kalau bukan Malaysiakini maka Malaysian Insider yang akan cuba memburuk-burukkan hasil tulisan karyawan Utusan Malaysia.

Ada sahaja pandangan dan teguran kolumnis Utusan Malaysia terutama kalangan pengarangnya dituduh tidak betul dan dilihat cuba mencetuskan perpecahan kaum. Walhal tulisan kolumnis Utusan Malaysia dipetik dari sudut yang salah dan di-spin.

Terbaharu, tulisan Cuit Zaini Hassan bertajuk "Lagi nasib si peniaga Melayu" di-spin konon kegagalan mempertahankan kedai telekomunikasi di Alamanda adalah kerana model mentor-menti peniaga Cina.

Oleh kerana busuk hati juga menyebabkan fakta tentang kejadian yang menimpa isteri kepada bekas wartawan lain ditukar kepada isteri Zaini. Artikel Zaini adalah untuk mengingatkan GLC supaya mengikut model yang digunakan oleh peniaga Cina dalam memajukan perniagaan kaum bumiputera bukannya menyalahkan peniaga Cina atas kegagalan orang Melayu.

Tak habis-habis portal berita propembangkang ini memutar-belitkan laporan berita. Sasaran mereka ialah pemimpin UMNO.

Selepas Malaysiakini memfitnah Perdana Menteri, Malaysian Insider pula berhari-hari menyerang Menteri Dalam Negeri Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi berhubung isu kepala lembu yang diletakkan di rumah ADUN DAP RSN Rayer.

Portal propembangkang sudah beberapa kali berbohong, dan terus berani menyiarkan artikel terbaharu bertajuk "Seorang lagi pak menteri menyerlahkan kejahilannya."

Malaysian Insider melemparkan persepsi jahatnya dengan mendakwa Zahid Hamidi seolah-olah bersetuju dengan golongan bertanggungjawab melemparkan kepala lembu itu.

Kalau kita baca dengan teliti, kandungan artikel portal propembangkang itu bersikap berat sebelah dan beberapa kali cuba memburukkan Zahid Hamidi dan Kementerian Dalam Negeri yang dipimpinnya. Walhal Zahid Hamidi telah memaklumkan bahawa insiden tersebut sedang disiasat.

Hentam Pemimpin

Biasanya portal propembangkang itu tidak melaporkan perkara yang sebenar. Ia menyiarkan laporan secara berpilih mengikut selera pengarangnya. Lebih seronok lagi bagi mereka jika laporan itu dapat menarik simpati pembacanya dan menghentam pemimpin Melayu dan Islam melalui ruangan komen.

Malaysian Insider dan Malaysiakini memberi ruang dan menjadi medan untuk puak-puak propembangkang dan antiagama Islam untuk mengeluarkan kata-kata hasutan.

Kalau dibaca tulisan pembaca dalam ruangan komen, memang menyakitkan hati kerana ditulis tanpa asas dan syok sendiri. Mana-mana pihak yang cuba bersikap memihak atau berkecuali akan diganyang habis-habisan.

Etika kewartawanan dalam portal propembangkang baik Malaysian Insider atau Malaysiakini sebenarnya sudah mati. Sebab itu wartawan dan pengarangnya bagaikan tiada perasaan bila menulis. Mereka tak peduli sasaran tulisan mereka.

Cuba kita baca laporan portal propembangkang ini terutama tentang isu bukan Islam. Bukan main mereka gembar-gemburkan. Pihak Islam sahaja yang nampak bersalah.

Bagi portal berkenaan, kalau mereka kutuk agama dan umat Islam serta orang Melayu, itu tidak menjadi hal. Mereka harap orang Melayu tak perlu balas dan melawan. Kata-kata kesat dibiarkan membanjiri ruang-ruang komen kepada laporan yang berat sebelah dengan ayat-ayat menghasut. Komen-komen yang tidak menyebelahi mereka, cepat-cepat dilupuskan.

Namun, sebaliknya kalau orang Melayu kritik penganut agama bukan Islam, mereka pula akan buat kecoh dan gemparkan isu itu ke seluruh negara. Mereka ingat kita bodoh dan tak nampak permainan itu.

Sebab itu berhati-hatilah membaca portal berita berkenaan. Cuba fahami maksud tersirat yang ingin disampaikan oleh portal berita propembangkang. Mereka akan sentiasa ‘spin’ berita-berita daripada Utusan Malaysia dan cuba mewujudkan persepsi negatif kepada akhbar Melayu ini.

Oleh itu, berhati-hatilah membaca berita daripada portal berita propembangkang kerana setiap artikel mereka, akan ada agenda tersembunyi.

Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) dan Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) wajib siasat agenda mereka dan dalang yang cuba melaga-laga masyarakat pelbagai kaum dengan membiarkan hasutan dan laporan palsu disiarkan dalam laman portal berkenaan.

Usah biarkan api-api hasutan itu menjadi terlalu besar, nanti sukar untuk dikawal.   AZMAN ANUAR Utusan/Rencana/20140706

Propaganda Great Leap

Menjelang awal 1959, keadaan di seluruh China sangat jelas menunjukkan dasar Great Leap Forward mendatangkan kesan-kesan buruk terhadap ekonomi dan keadaan hidup rakyat China. Ini telah saya ceritakan dalam beberapa coretan sebelum ini. Patut juga disebut, dasar ‘gila’ Mao Tse-tung itu dilancarkan serentak dengan Rancangan Lima Tahun Kedua negara China yang dilaksanakan mulai tahun 1958 dan berakhir pada tahun 1963.

Seperti saya katakan juga, tujuan utama Great Leap Forward ialah membangunkan secara serentak sektor pertanian dan perindustrian China. Asas perkiraan Mao ialah meningkatkan penghasilan sektor industri menerusi penggunaan tenaga manusia yang melimpah dan murah di China, tanpa perlu mengimport mesin-mesin berat. Itulah salah satu aspek pemikiran Mao yang menjadi pegangan Parti Komunis Malaya (PKM) seperti saya kisahkan dalam Mingguan Malaysia bertarikh 9 Mac 2014. Perlembagaan PKM menetapkan ideologi parti ialah Marxisme - Leninisme - Pemikiran Mao Tse-tung. Saya tidak nampak bagaimana pihak-pihak yang menyokong perjuangan PKM - semasa dahulu ataupun sekarang atas apa sebab sekalipun - boleh menafikan bahawa pemikiran Mao yang mahu dipraktikkan melalui dasar Great Leap Forward itu telah terbukti sebagai pemikiran karut, sekarut-karutnya.

Walaupun dalam beberapa coretan lalu saya ada menyentuh sedikit tentang kehidupan rakyat China di bawah sistem People’s Communes, saya berhasrat menambah lagi cerita tentang sistem ini kerana People’s Communes sebetul-betulnya adalah contoh praktikal kehidupan masyarakat komunis di China yang dipaksakan oleh Mao ke atas rakyat China.

Dalam tempoh sepuluh tahun selepas tertubuhnya negara komunis di China, rakyat masih dibolehkan memiliki tanah-tanah persendirian sama ada melalui usaha sendiri atau bergabung melalui koperasi kecil dan besar. Tetapi tanah masih dimiliki rakyat. Mulai awal 1958, pemilikan tanah secara peribadi - walau seinci pun - telah diharamkan di seluruh China. Serentak dengan itu, semua keluarga (households) di seluruh China telah dipaksa memasuki sistem kehidupan komunis yang dinamakan People’s Communes. People’s Communes dikait rapat dengan Communal Kitchens - atau dapur corak komunis - sebagai pelengkap kepada sistem People’s Communes. Parti komunis juga menggerakkan beberapa perubahan sosial yang besar temasuk mengharamkan semua institusi agama dan amalan-amalan mistik, dan menggantikannya dengan perjumpaan atau syarahan-syarahan politik bersifat propaganda.

Ada berbagai saiz sesebuah People’s Communes, tetapi kebanyakannya dianggotai 5,000 keluarga, dalam satu commune. Sesuai dengan ajaran komunis yang menidakkan private ownership (milik persendirian), penghuni-penghuni People’s Communes dipaksa melepaskan segala milik peribadi mereka. Ini temasuk barang-barang seperti periuk-belanga, pinggan-mangkuk, alat-alat pertanian, penternakan seperti ayam, babi, kerbau dan itik - semuanya diserahkan kepada People’s Communes yang dikendalikan oleh ahli dan kader-kader parti komunis. Boleh saya katakan, kesan ‘bersihnya’ ialah rakyat di bawah naungan Communes, hidup-mati untuk Commune, bukan untuk diri mereka.

Kehidupan seseorang manusia dikongkong dan diaturkan oleh Commune - dan oleh parti komunis. Sekolah-sekolah dan pusat jagaan anak-anak diadakan agar orang dewasa boleh diperah untuk bekerja baik diladang atau kilang. Orang-orang tua diletakkan di pusat-pusat jagaan agar tidak membebankan anak-anak mereka yang dikerah bekerja.

Menarik juga saya sebut sistem mengatur kerja dalam People’s Communes. Selain askar yang ditugaskan untuk mengawal ketenteraman, penduduk di sesebuah Communes ‘dipecahkan’ menjadi kumpulan-kumpulan kecil (sub-divisions) yang dinamakan Pasukan Kerja (Work Team). Sebuah Pasukan Kerja menggabung dua belas keluarga (kanak-kanak berumur tiga belas tahun ke atas dianggap menjadi tenaga kerja dalam kehidupan Communes). Dua belas Work Teams digabung menjadi pula satu Briged Kerja (Work Briged).

Di atas kepercayaan yang membuta tuli bahawa perangai manusia boleh dibentuk menerusi dakyah atau propaganda ideologi yang bertalu-talu, kader-kader parti komunis yang radikal yang diberi tugas menguruskan People’s Communes yakin sepenuhnya bahawa dengan meletakkan politics in command dalam sistem Communes, semua rintangan bersifat kemanusiaan dengan mudah dapat di atasi. Politik, menurut mereka, boleh membina will power manusia untuk menjayakan tujuan penubuhan Communes. Maka untuk itulah, semasa pelaksanaan Great Leap Forward (1958-1963) itu, parti komunis menggerakkan kempen propaganda siang dan malam di semua Communes, sampai ada ahli sejarah menyimpulkan "…the depth and breath of which had hitherto not been seen."

Oleh sebab People’s Communes membabitkan penghapusan sistem kehidupan berkeluarga, saya terpanggil mencatatkan dalam coretan ini pandangan-pandangan Mao Tse-tung tentang erti hidup berkeluarga seperti yang tercatat dalam buku karangan Yang Jisheng "Tombstone, The Untold Story of Mao’s Great Famine." Di halaman 174 buku itu, Jisheng berkata Mao, walaupun sedar bahawa famili adalah asas sebuah masyarakat, dia juga menganggap "the family as the social foundation of the private ownership system and a major impediment to communism… and advocated eliminating the family."

Jelas daripada petikan-petikan di atas, pembasmian konsep dan amalan hidup manusia berasaskan keluarga menjadi salah satu aspek pemikiran Mao yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Parti Komunis Malaya. Adalah juga menjadi pegangan Mao, tugas kaum wanita tidak lagi di dapur. Konsep famili Mao membebaskan wanita daripada beban turun-temurun ini.

Tetapi menjelang awal 1959, yakni tidak berapa bulan selepas Great Leap Forward dilancarkan, tanda-tanda menunjukkan "things were running out of hand". Realiti keadaan di bawah di seluruh China tidak menunjukkan kemakmuran seperti yang dilaporkan oleh jentera-jentera parti kepada kepimpinan pusat PKC. Beberapa orang pemimpin kanan seperti Chen Yun dan Peng De-huai mula menyatakan secara terbuka tentangan mereka terhadap dasar Great Leap Forward itu.

Kegelisahan mereka memuncak semasa persidangan plenum PKC di Lushan pada Julai 1959. Peng De-huai ialah Menteri Pertahanan China, satu jawatan yang diamanahkan oleh parti kerana mengenang jasanya semasa Long March. Menjelang pertemuan di Lushan, Peng telah memberi sepucuk surat panjang lebar kepada Mao, meluahkan bantahan terhadap dasar Great Leap. Tetapi Mao menganggap surat itu satu kutukan peribadi oleh Peng terhadap dirinya.

Mao mengedarkan salinan surat itu kepada pemimpin-pemimpin parti yang hadir di persidangan itu. Di bawah telunjuk Mao, mesyuarat plenum itu memutuskan Peng ditamatkan daripada jawatan Menteri Pertahanan, dan serentak itu melantik Lin Biau sebagai pengganti Peng bagi jawatan itu. Bagi Lin Biau, ini saat yang ditunggu-tunggunya.

Apakah strategi Mao dalam mendepani pihak-pihak yang tidak sehaluan dengan dasar-dasarnya? Mao, seperti biasa mundur selangkah dua ke belakang untuk kemudiannya bergerak melompat beberapa langkah ke hadapan. Dia sangat bijak dalam taktik dan siasah ini. Dia mempergunakan pihak-pihak yang disebutkan di atas untuk merancang tindakan balasnya menerusi langkah yang bakal dinamakan Cultural Revolution (Revolusi Kebudayaan). Di sanalah nanti, Lin Biau, Chiang Ching dan Kang Sheng berada di kemuncak kekuasaan atas usaha Mao, untuk melumpuhkan pihak-pihak yang menentangnya.   ABDUL RAHIM NOOR: Utusan/Rencana/20140706

Bisik-Bisik Awang Selamat

KPI judi haram

Apabila Mingguan Malaysia dan Utusan Malaysia mendedahkan secara mendalam isu mesin judi haram, ada beberapa pihak yang tidak senang, malah menuduh media ada agenda tertentu. Awang sekadar senyum. Memang banyak cabaran dalam melawan kemungkaran dan menegakkan kebenaran. Seperti biasa, media mudah dipersalahkan.

Agenda Utusan hanyalah menjaga kepentingan agama, awam dan negara. Kegiatan judi haram yang kebanyakannya berselindung di sebalik perniagaan kafe siber bukan sahaja menjadi ancaman sosial malah ancaman keselamatan.

Ia bukan sekadar soal kakitangan awam, pelajar dan pelbagai kategori lagi terjebak dengan judi malah sudah menjadi putaran ganas yang meruntuhkan sistem kehidupan. Ramai yang terperangkap dalam hutang sehingga ada yang menjual anak, isteri; merancakkan kegiatan kongsi gelap dan ah long; rasuah pelbagai agensi penguat kuasa dan pihak berkuasa tempatan (PBT); serta rangkaian sindiket dan kartel yang makin berpengaruh.

Disebabkan kegagalan pihak berkuasa menangani isu tersebut yang sudah lama berlarutan sehingga mewujudkan ribuan premis mesin judi, tercetus rasa marah dan tidak puas hati terutama badan-badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) dan masyarakat Islam.

Malah sudah ada kebimbangan ahli militan dan ekstrem dikhuatiti menggunakan keganasan dengan menjadikan premis mesin judi haram yang melambak sebagai sasaran sebagaimana pernah dilakukan oleh Kumpulan Al Maunah ke atas pusat perjudian suatu ketika dahulu.

Lebih-lebih lagi berlegar sentimen bahawa kegiatan tersebut hanya mengkayakan lagi bilionair dan taikun yang mengaut keuntungan besar. Dalam 'industri' tersebut, sebahagian sudah tahu siapa jerung-jerung besar ini, begitu juga maklumat tentang senarai panjang mereka yang disogok. Rumusan yang boleh dibuat, gejala rasuah berkaitan kegiatan mesin judi haram begitu dahsyat sehingga ramai yang sinikal, ia tidak mungkin dapat dibanteras.

Sebab itu, Awang bersyukur apabila kerajaan melalui Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) responsif dengan menubuhkan pasukan petugas khas sebagaimana diumumkan oleh menterinya, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Ia bertujuan memerangi kegiatan mesin judi haram secara habis-habisan dengan melibatkan semua pihak berkenaan terutama PBT.

Dalam hal ini Awang hargai Zahid yang komited untuk melawan gejala tersebut. Keterbukaan beliau untuk menerima pandangan dan maklum balas semua pihak, turut menarik perhatian. Diakui pihak polis telah banyak menyerbu dan merampas tetapi itu belum memadai kerana banyak lagi yang perlu dilakukan. Apa pun, beban memerangi ancaman itu tidak harus terletak kepada pihak polis semata-mata seperti ditegaskan oleh Ketua Polis Negara, Khalid Abu Bakar. Awang setuju PBT juga perlu lebih efisien dan tegas. Janganlah hanya kelihatan berani merampas gerai penjaja tetapi tidak bertindak tegas ke atas premis mesin judi haram.

Sehingga malam semalam, masih banyak premis tersebut beroperasi tanpa gentar. Awang juga tidak ingat sama ada tauke-tauke judi haram ini didakwa di mahkamah di bawah Akta Pencegahan Wang Haram dan Pencegahan Pembiayaan Keganasan 2001 (AMLA).

Maka menjadi harapan orang ramai selepas ini untuk melihat tindakan dan hasil. Sistem petunjuk prestasi utama (KPI) perlu ditetapkan kepada Datuk Bandar, Yang Di Pertua Majlis Perbandaran dan Ketua Polis Daerah. Jika mereka gagal mencapai KPI memerangi mesin judi haram, mereka harus dipertanggungjawabkan. Wakil-wakil rakyat juga perlu menjadi pendesak agar kawasan mereka bersih daripada gejala tersebut.

Dalam pada itu, beberapa aktivis NGO telah membentuk gerakan pemantauan sebagai tambahan apa yang dilakukan oleh Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia (PPIM) dan Persatuan Perlindungan Pengguna Islam Malaysia (PPPIM).

Mereka akan terus melakukan penyelidikan dan pemantauan bagi menilai sejauh mana usaha membanteras kegiatan mesin judi haram. Sama ada ia sekadar bermusim atau kosmetik semata-mata. Atau memang ia menampakkan impak bermulanya era baharu - persekitaran lebih selamat daripada aktiviti judi haram.

Denggi dan kempen

Antara hal yang menggangu fikiran Awang kebelakangan ini ialah kes demam denggi yang naik mendadak. Makin ramai pesakit dimasukkan ke hospital. Khabarnya di Klang sahaja, terdapat 250 kes sehari sehingga tidak cukup katil. Di beberapa hospital swasta, mereka yang disahkan menghidap denggi, terpaksa pulang untuk datang kemudian kerana tidak cukup bilik dan katil.

Menurut statistik Kementerian Kesihatan, bagi tempoh Januari hingga 28 Jun lalu, sebanyak 44, 518 kes denggi telah dilaporkan iaitu peningkatan lebih 200 peratus dalam tempoh yang sama tahun lalu. Menakutkan. Apa pun Awang berharap penubuhan pasukan petugas khas yang diumumkan oleh Perdana Menteri, Najib Tun Razak, dapat memberi impak dalam menangani kes denggi. Dalam pada itu, beberapa tinjauan orang ramai mendapati masyarakat masih tidak endah ancaman denggi. Agak menghairankan tahap kesedaran penduduk Malaysia masih rendah di sebalik pelbagai kempen membanteras nyamuk Aedes. Di mana silapnya? Mungkinkah kaedah kempen kurang berkesan dan masih cara lama selain isu kelemahan penguatkuasaan pihak berkuasa tempatan. Entahlah...

Bahasa ketiga?

Kedudukan bahasa Melayu sebagai Bahasa Kebangsaan semakin diabaikan. Hari demi hari, boleh disaksikan pelbagai pihak tidak menghormatinya. Terbaharu, melibatkan majlis pecah tanah sebuah universiti, baru-baru ini.

Pada batu tanda majlis pecah tanah itu, tiada sepatah pun Bahasa Kebangsaan. Yang cuma ada Bahasa Inggeris dan Bahasa Cina. Nampaknya pihak universiti berkenaan dan penganjur majlis tidak sensitif. Kalau tiada penggunaan bahasa Melayu dalam kurikulumnya, Awang boleh faham kerana ia universiti luar bertaraf antarabangsa. Persoalannya, tiada nilaikah Bahasa Kebangsaan pada acara seperti itu di tanah air ini. Kalau di banyak negara yang menjaga kedaulatan Bahasa Kebangsaan mereka terutama di China, Jepun, Korea, Perancis, Rusia, Jerman, Thailand, Indonesia dan Vietnam, keadaan tersebut tidak akan berlaku.

Apa yang Awang sebutkan ini hanya satu kes, banyak lagi insiden yang kita diamkan sahaja. Masalahnya, tiada pihak yang tampil menegur hal-hal pengabaian terhadap bahasa kita. Sayangnya, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) tidak agresif, lebih berorientasikan administratif. Alasan yang selalu diberi, tiada cukup kuasa. Alangkah baiknya, jika DBP sekurang-kurangnya memantau dan mendedahkan kepada media secara berkala mana-mana pihak yang tidak menghormati Bahasa Kebangsaan. Jika tidak, kita semua mempermudahkan sahaja bahasa Melayu menjadi bahasa kedua dan mungkin ketiga di negara ini, sebagaimana yang diidamkan oleh pihak-pihak tertentu, yang kita semua tahu.

Senyumkan mereka

Ketika makin ramai bukan Melayu ghairah menulis dalam laman sosial mempersenda orang Islam dan Melayu kerana terikut rentak tentera siber pro DAP, Red Bean Army, ada segelintir mengambil pendekatan murni.

Seorang lelaki, Kuan Chee Heng menerusi laman facebook memulakan inisiatif membantu sekumpulan anak-anak miskin kalangan orang Islam membeli pakaian baharu bagi sambutan Hari Raya Aidilfitri nanti.

Usaha beliau itu mendapat respons positif daripada kenalan orang Melayu mahupun Cina.

Awang menarik sedikit nafas lega. Di sebalik isu-isu kecurigaan antara kaum dan agama kebelakangan ini, masih ada harapan untuk menyuburkan lagi keharmonian dalam masyarakat majmuk melalui keprihatinan individu seperti beliau.

"Marilah kita membuatkan mereka tersenyum pada Hari Raya. Marilah kita menjadikan Hari Raya ini lebih bermakna buat mereka (anak-anak miskin) dan juga anda," antara ungkapan Chee Heng yang terasa damai di hati membacanya.

Dulu, sekarang...

Ketika mengunjungi bazar Ramadan di ibu negara baru-baru ini, orang ramai berpusu-pusu membeli juadah. Maklumlah, minggu pertama berpuasa. Lalu Awang dalam senyum terimbas suasana bulan Ramadan ketika kanak-kanak dan remaja.

Antara yang menarik ialah berbuka dengan pelbagai juadah dan makanan tanpa perlu ke bazar atau membeli makanan di luar. Rahsianya - jiran-jiran tetangga di tempat Awang membesar di Kampung Baru, bertukar-tukar juadah yang mereka masak dan sediakan sendiri pada setiap hari.

Suasana sudah jauh berubah. Nilai-nilai seperti muafakat kejiranan dan gotong-royong sudah lama terhakis dek pemodenan. Kalau dulu, kita boleh tahu apa yang jiran makan sewaktu berbuka dan begitu juga sebaliknya tetapi kini tiada lagi. Kini, ia sudah jadi urusan dan hal privasi masing-masing.

Dalam interaksi kumpulan WhatsApp, seorang teman memuatkan gambar lama kenangan suasana bulan Ramadan pada akhir 1960-an dan awal 1970-an.

Menurutnya, pada ketika itu, jarang orang memiliki peti ais. Jadi kalau mahu minum air berais kenalah beli ais ketul. Harganya cuma 10 sen. Yang menariknya, ramai beratur pada waktu petang untuk beli ais ketul, lambat pergi - habis.

Kemudian salah seorang teman lain dalam reaksinya menulis: "Aku masih ingat pengalaman dulu-dulu, beratur nak beli ais. Ais ketul ni penuh dengan serdak habuk kayu papan. Nostalgia betul ...Allah SWT telah permudahkan hidup ini. Alhamdulillah.'' Utusan/Rencana/20140706

Pusat judi, pelacuran dan makna 'kebersihan' bagi Kuala Lumpur

KUALA Lumpur akan bersih apabila dikuatkuasakan larangan terhadap orang perseorangan atau pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) memberi makanan percuma kepada warga gelandangan Kuala Lumpur. Itulah yang saya faham daripada kenyataan awal Menteri Wilayah Persekutuan, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansur apabila mahu 'menangkap' orang yang memberi makanan dan warga gelandangan yang menerima makanan percuma. Kenyataan-kenyataan yang berikutnya agak lembut selepas banyak pihak melihat tindakan ini agak tidak wajar.

Siapa warga gelandangan? Warga gelandangan tidak semestinya pengemis atau pesakit mental tetapi juga warga kota yang tidak mampu memiliki premis untuk berlindung. Banyak dalam kalangan warga gelandangan ini mempunyai pekerjaan tetapi tidak mampu untuk menyewa waima sebuah bilik kecil di Kuala Lumpur. Mereka inilah yang tidur di bawah jambatan dan di kaki lima bangunan sementara menunggu siang. Sebungkus nasi besar ertinya bagi mereka dan hanya yang berjiwa marhaen sahaja yang tahu nilai sebungkus nasi kepada warga gelandangan.

Saya mengakui ada sesetengah warga gelandangan yang membuang sisa makanan di merata-rata tempat, tidur di tempat awam hingga mengganggu lalu lalang. Tetapi ini tidak cukup untuk saya bersetuju bahawa hanya mereka sahaja yang mengotorkan Kuala Lumpur. Saya percaya ada lain yang lebih mengotorkan, bukan sahaja kepada imej Kuala Lumpur tetapi memberikan kesan jiwa yang buruk kepada masyarakat.

Tetapi kalau ada pihak boleh meyakinkan saya bahawa melarang memberi makanan percuma kepada warga gelandangan boleh membersihkan Kuala Lumpur, walaupun tidak sampai hati, tetapi saya akan menyokong. Bagaimanapun kita kena faham juga apakah makna 'kebersihan' kepada Kuala Lumpur dalam konteks yang lebih luas. Bagi saya Kuala Lumpur yang bersih ialah Kuala Lumpur yang bebas pusat pelacuran, pusat judi dan pusat-pusat hiburan yang bertentangan dengan Kuala Lumpur sebagai bandar raya berimej Islam.

Minggu lalu akhbar Mingguan Malaysia membuat pendedahan eksklusif bahawa di Kuala Lumpur sahaja dianggarkan terdapat lebih 2,000 pusat judi yang transaksinya tidak kurang RM40 juta sehari. Ini belum lagi berselerak pusat pelacuran yang seolah-olah diberi permit untuk menjalankan operasi tanpa merasa takut dan bimbang. Lebih teruk lagi ada kes di mana serbuan dan rampasan mesin judi dibuat pukul 2 pagi, tetapi pukul 4 pagi boleh beroperasi semula.

Sebenarnya semua ini lebih mengotorkan imej Kuala Lumpur malah menjadi satu tempat pencambahan penyakit sosial yang memberikan kesan yang sangat buruk kepada masyarakat. Kuala Lumpur ada Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) yang sepatutnya membersihkan segala kekotoran ini. Saya begitu terkejut apabila di Kuala Lumpur ada lebih 2,000 pusat judi kerana sebagaimana banyak orang tahu DBKL sangat tegas. Ini diperlihatkan dengan operasi mengangkut gerai-gerai haram dengan lori DBKL.

Merampas gerai haram untuk membersihkan Kuala Lumpur. Itu bagus. Tetapi janganlah gerai haram sahaja - yang menjadi punca rezeki pemilik untuk membesarkan dan sekolahkan anak-anak. Pusat-pusat judi kena ambil tindakan juga. Kalau gerai haram mencacatkan pandangan, pusat judi dan pusat pelacuran mencacatkan jiwa warga Kuala Lumpur. Ini lebih teruk.

Mengenakan peraturan itu dan ini kepada warga gelandangan termasuk melarang diberi makan percuma hanya pendekatan mudah supaya Kuala Lumpur kelihatan bersih. Tetapi kebersihan itu hanya luaran. Tidak bersihlah kalau luar nampak bersih tetapi di dalamnya penuh dengan kekotoran sosial.

Hasrat membersihkan Kuala Lumpur memang baik dan perlu disokong. Tetapi biarlah agenda pembersihan diperluaskan kepada semua pihak yang mengotorkan Kuala Lumpur. Melarang memberi makanan percuma kepada warga gelandangan tidak cukup untuk membersihkan Kuala Lumpur kalau kekotoran yang terlindung dari pandangan mata tidak dibersihkan.

Seorang kawan saya pernah mengamuk apabila gerai burgernya 'diangkut' naik lori. Tetapi saya mewaraskan dengan berkata bahawa dia berniaga secara haram. Ini tidak adil kepada orang lain yang membayar lesen untuk berniaga. Kawan saya akhirnya insaf dan menerima hakikat bahawa tindakan DBKL adalah betul. Tetapi apabila berselerak pusat judi seperti yang didedahkan Mingguan Malaysia Ahad lalu, saya sudah tidak ada hujah untuk mempertahankan DBKL kalau kawan saya menyoal balas tindakan saya menyalahkan dia dahulu. Saya pasti tidak ada hujah untuk menangkis tohmahan bahawa DBKL hanya menangkap bilis dan melepaskan jerung.

Mengambil semangat Tengku Adnan yang bertujuan baik untuk membersihkan Kuala Lumpur, apa kata kalau tindakan tegas dalam isu warga gelandangan diperluaskan kepada pusat judi dan pusat pelacuran. Ini Kuala Lumpur bukan Bangkok yang ada Pat Pong. Tetapi biasalah warga gelandangan ini tidak ada kuasa politik dan kuasa wang, mereka tidak berdaya untuk membantah malah sentiasa menurut perintah. Tetapi pusat judi dan pusat pelacuran ada kuasa wang. Kuasa ini boleh membuatkan undang-undang tidak dapat dilaksana, sistem akan menjadi tergendala, masyarakat menjadi mangsa.   Ku Seman Ku Hussain Utusan/Rencana/20140706

Agenda ganggu inisiatif perpaduan

PENDEDAHAN bekas Ketua Hakim Negara, Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad tentang peranan tangan ghaib di sebalik tugas mendraf Rang Undang-undang (RUU) Racial and Religious Hate Crime Bill; National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill; dan National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill, cukup menggusarkan.

Walaupun misi pihak-pihak terbabit telah didedahkan dan ditangani susulan tuntutan-tuntutan batil mereka semasa sesi Semakan Berkala Sejagat (UPR) di Geneva, Switzerland yang lalu, namun mereka menafikan malah terus menggunakan alasan menjuarai hak asasi manusia.

Usaha berterusan Majlis Peguam dan Comango ini seolah-olah cuba untuk mengganggu-gugat keharmonian negara dengan usaha menghakis asas-asas di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan, khususnya kedudukan istimewa Islam sebagai agama negara, kedaulatan institusi Raja-raja Melayu, hak-hak kaum Melayu serta anak-anak negeri Sabah dan Sarawak.

Ketiga-tiga RUU yang disediakan Majlis Peguam mengandungi lapan unsur yang boleh mengganggu-gugat keharmonian negara dan bukan memperkukuhkannya.

Jika kita mahu bercakap tentang usaha memperbaiki perpaduan negara, maka perkara utama yang wajib dilakukan oleh setiap warganegara ialah menghormati asas-asas dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan, menghayati sejarah panjang sebelum Malaysia dibentuk dan menerima realiti yang menjadikan Malaysia sebuah negara berdaulat.

Peliknya, unsur-unsur yang diketengahkan dalam draf RUU banyak bercanggah dengan kehendak ini.

PERTAMA

Hakikat bahawa penggubalan RUU tidak dibincangkan dengan teliti dan dirujuk kepada pihak-pihak berkepentingan terlebih dahulu, menimbulkan tanda-tanya tentang motifnya. RUU tersebut melibatkan isu-isu agama, perpaduan kaum dan sebagainya, namun tidak disembah maklum terlebih dahulu kepada Majlis Raja-raja.

Draf tersebut juga tidak dirujuk kepada Majlis Agama Islam Negeri dan tidak dibincangkan bersama Jawatankuasa Mempromosi Persefahaman dan Keharmonian Antara Penganut Agama (JMPKPA) dan badan berkepentingan lain. Sebaliknya, badan-badan yang kurang kredibiliti seperti Proham dan Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) memonopoli perbincangan isi kandungan draf RUU tersebut.

KEDUA

RUU tersebut mengetepikan kedudukan Islam sebagai Agama Negara menurut Perkara 3(1) Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan kedaulatan Agama Negeri yang termaktub sejak berabad. Kedudukan ini tidak pernah diganggu-gugat oleh British dan Kerajaan Persekutuan. Selain Perkara 3(1), Agama Islam telah dimartabatkan sebagai Agama Negara dengan diberikan pelbagai kedudukan terhormat dan perlindungan Perlembagaan seperti Perkara 11(4), 12(2), 37(1), 74(2) Jadual Kesembilan, 121(1A) dan Perkara 150(6A).

Hubung kait perkara 3(1) ini membawa maksud bahawa peranan dan kedudukan Islam tidak boleh diketepikan dalam membincangkan usaha mewujudkan perpaduan dan keharmonian antara agama dan kaum.

KETIGA

RUU Perpaduan Nasional (National Unity Bill) menyatakan pada seksyen 2(2) bahawa Perkara 153 ialah berhubung kedudukan istimewa orang Melayu dan bumiputera mana-mana negeri Borneo dan kepentingan sah kaum-kaum lain.

Bagaimanapun RUU Perpaduan Nasional itu sendiri bercanggah oleh kerana seksyen 7 menggunakan istilah seperti ‘racial superiority’, ‘exclusivity based on religion, belief, race…’ dan ‘…maintaining exclusive control by persons of a particular religion, belief, race…’.

Penggunaan istilah-istilah sebegini merupakan kritikan langsung dan percubaan merubah Perkara 153. Penggubal RUU Perpaduan Nasional ini perlu diingatkan tentang Perkara 38(5) bahawa "Majlis Raja-raja hendaklah diminta fikirannya sebelum dibuat apa-apa perubahan tentang dasar tentang tindakan pentadbiran di bawah Perkara 153. Penggunaan istilah-istilah di atas cenderung merujuk pada sentimen dan faham hak asasi manusia dan boleh mewujudkan salah tafsiran terhadap konteks peruntukan Perkara 3(1) dan 153 di negara ini.

KEEMPAT

Kaedah penggubalan ketiga-tiga RUU ini bertentangan dengan norma penggubalan undang-undang negara. Penggubal yang terlibat ialah Majlis Peguam, iaitu kelompok elit kecil yang telah mencadangkan kepada Jawatankuasa Kerja dalam Majlis Konsultasi Perpaduan Negara (MKPN). Hanya tiga pemain utama terlibat dalam penggubalan draf RUU tersebut dan kesemua ahli lain dalam MKPN tidak dirujuk secara sepenuhnya sebelum diserahkan kepada menteri (Nancy Shukri).

Majlis Peguam yang mempunyai kira-kira 14,000 ahli (yang juga tidak dirujuk apabila mereka mengeluarkan draf RUU tersebut) tidak mewakili kelompok majoriti umat Islam di negara ini yang akan menerima kesan langsung daripada peruntukan RUU tersebut.

Malah Majlis Peguam mengisytiharkan organisasinya sebagai badan sekular, justeru bukanlah pihak yang berkelayakan menyentuh isu-isu keagamaan.

KELIMA

Dalam mencanang tema perpaduan dan keharmonian negara, ketiga-tiga RUU tersebut jelas lebih tertumpu pada niat menjulang hak kesamarataan menurut Perkara 8 Perlembagaan Persekutuan, tetapi gagal merujuk pada fasal-fasal utama lain dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang merupakan perkara-perkara asas pembentukan negara ini serta perpaduan dan keharmoniannya.

RUU tersebut juga mengetepikan kedaulatan negeri-negeri dalam pelbagai aspek hanya kerana terpaksa tunduk kepada prinsip kesamarataan umum yang dipegang oleh penggubal. Mereka yang telah menggubal draf tersebut ternyata hanya menjunjung secara melulu konvensyen-konvensyen hak asasi manusia berkerangka liberal-sekular termasuklah International Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), yang asal-usulnya disandarkan pada sentimen anti-Semitik dan pengalaman perkauman di negara-negara Eropah.

Sejarah dan latar belakang ICERD ini ternyata sangat berbeza dengan sejarah dan latar budaya Malaysia. Malah, Malaysia tidak meratifikasi ICERD dan tidak perlu tunduk pada konvensyen seumpama ini yang belum tentu merupakan model terbaik bagi mewujudkan perpaduan dan keharmonian negara.

KEENAM

Tafsiran kepercayaan (belief) dan agama (religion) pada seksyen 4 (1) RUU Perpaduan Nasional dinyatakan sebagai "any religious or philosophical belief and a reference to belief includes a reference to a lack of belief" dan "any religion and includes any belief or lack of a religious belief". Oleh yang demikian, tafsiran ini membuka ruang yang boleh termasuk dalam tafsirannya golongan yang tidak percaya Tuhan (Ateis) dan kebebasan meninggalkan agama. Ini ternyata bercanggah dengan prinsip pertama Rukun Negara iaitu Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan.

KETUJUH

Isu-isu di sekitar keharmonian antara agama dan kaum adalah terlalu penting untuk diserahkan hanya kepada sebuah tribunal yang dicadangkan dalam draf RUU Suruhanjaya Perpaduan dan Integrasi Nasional. Fungsi sebuah "Unfair Discrimination Tribunal" yang dicadangkan dalam rang RUU tersebut ternyata mengambil alih peranan institusi kehakiman dalam memutuskan isu-isu berkaitan Perlembagaan, serta peranan Raja-raja Melayu sebagai ketua bagi agama Islam di negeri-negeri Tanah Melayu.

Malah, jika diperhalusi, kuasa dan fungsi tribunal tersebut mengingatkan kita kepada cadangan penubuhan Suruhanjaya Antara Agama (Interfaith Comission atau IFC) yang telah ditolak sekeras-kerasnya oleh pelbagai pihak khususnya NGO Melayu Islam dan Kerajaan Pusat.

KELAPAN

Seksyen 23 dalam RUU Suruhanjaya Perpaduan dan Integrasi Nasional memperuntukkan kuasa tribunal yang dicadangkan penubuhannya. Kuasa yang sangat luas tersebut termasuklah memanggil mana-mana individu untuk memberikan keterangan apabila sesuatu perbicaraan sedang dijalankan tribunal.

Ini sudah pasti membolehkan tribunal tersebut memanggil mana-mana pihak, khususnya dalam kalangan mereka yang berautoriti agama Islam. Aspek ini meletakkan hal ehwal Islam di bawah sebuah entiti yang tidak mempunyai kompetensi dan pengetahuan selayaknya tentang Islam.

Perlu ditegaskan bahawa cadangan tribunal ini tidak wajar berselindung di sebalik usaha perpaduan dan keharmonian negara untuk melakukan adjudikasi (penghukuman) isu-isu sensitif berkaitan agama dan bangsa. Kita mempunyai institusi kehakiman yang berwibawa untuk menangani isu-isu berkaitan Perlembagaan. Isu-isu berkaitan perpaduan dan keharmonian tidak sepatutnya ditangani melalui cara legalistik semata-mata, oleh kerana realiti sejarah, kebudayaan dan latar belakang keagamaan di negara ini terlalu bermakna untuk diketepikan begitu sahaja.

AZRIL MOHD AMIN ialah peguam yang mengetuai MuslimUPRo, iaitu delegasi Pertubuhan Islam Bukan Kerajaan di dalam Semakan Berkala Sejagat di Geneva, Switzerland.   Utusan/Rencana/20140706

Honesty a rare commodity

AN item in a Chinese newspaper caught my attention last week. Being a “yellow banana”, I had to rely on the translated article which appeared in this newspaper on Tuesday.

According to Sin Chew Daily, there is a coffee shop in Sungai Penjuring, Bentong, that operates on a completely self-service mode.

The operator leaves the coffee shop unattended, allowing customers to help themselves to cigarettes, carbonated drinks and beer (obviously in hot demand because of the current World Cup season).

There is a plastic container at the counter for customers to place cash, take the change if any, or even leave a tip if they so desire.

According to former village head Huang Ri Yong, the shop belongs to his brother-in-law, who usually goes out to attend to other matters after opening the shop.

“It is all about trust, and the residents here are very honest.

“They pay for what they take by leaving money at the counter. There’s no stealing because we all know each other in this neighbourhood,” he told the daily.

The story reminded me of what I wrote about in Monday Starters (which was what this column used to be called when it ran in the Business section) about Red Sky Trading, a shop run by a couple in Vermont which sells all sorts of home made delights plus lots of knickknacks piled from floor to ceiling.

Doug and Cheri Safford are also not in their shop most of the time, so people come into the shop, buy what they need, record it in a little book, and then drop the money into a glass jar.

As far as I know, there has been no incident of people taking things and not paying for them; or dipping their hands into the money jar.

Such stories are rare simply because honesty is not necessarily the best policy for many people.

As I wrote back then, “some of us are known to search out loopholes in every system. It is thus not a surprise that remarks like ‘It may not be legally wrong, but is it morally right?’ or ‘It’s okay because everyone else is doing it’ are quite commonplace.”

Stories about someone returning a big sum of money to the rightful owner, or about this coffee shop in Bentong operating unattended, make the headlines because they are rare.

Even in football, we get stories about players diving to trick the referee into awarding a penalty, but rarely do we have stories about a player admitting he committed a foul, or that a goal given should actually not count because he had used his hand to guide it in.

A CEO once said: “People of honour, people of their word, people who try to live in purity of mind and heart – such individuals stand out, if only because of their relative scarcity.”

And so we are inundated with news about corruption, from the very small cases to the big ones, here and abroad. And that’s not counting the unreported cases.

It is against this backdrop that instances of honesty stand out like stars in a darkened sky, giving hope and lighting the way. xecutive editor Soo Ewe Jin (ewejin@thestar.com.my) would like to try out an experiment where he puts a basket of the best musang king durian by the roadside, unattended, with a banner that reads, “Take one only, drop RM50 into the tin, all proceeds go to charity.”

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. The STAR Home New Opinion Columnist July 6, 2014

Discipline, a must for gifted kids

Brilliant they may be, but many extraordinary children become successful adults through sheer determination and hard work.

STUDIES have shown that excelling in studies, an art or activity, as a child is not a guarantee and, in many cases not even an indicator of being top of the class, or being a successful adult.

In their formative years, gifted children are just like others their age. As parents and guardians, we must have the strength, patience and wisdome to tackle them. Failure to do so will lead to an unhappy and troubled childhood that may spill over to adulthood.

We have heard of Sufiah Yusof who at the age of 13 gained entry to Oxford University in the United Kingdom (UK), to pursue a Mathematics programme.

She never completed her degree and the blame was on her parents for subjecting her to too much pressure.

A study conducted by Joan Freeman of Middlesex University, in the UK on gifted children, tracked their progress over the years. Many of them are in their 40s now.

Freeman expressed disappointment that a number of the respondents failed to take their “gifts” into adult life.

She was of the opinion that intervening factors could affect their progress and promise.

Among them, she said were the necessities to make a living, relationships and a tendency to deviate from goals and a lack of motivation and low expectations of their abilities.

In short, humans are not robots. A study on an elementary school in New York for intellectually gifted pupils, showed an absence of a link between early brilliance and success later on.

A happy lot

A psychologist from the American Psychological Association, who led the research found that they were generally healthy, happy, satisfied professionals and contributed to society — but they were not doing extraordinary things.

Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology on gifted children at Stanford University, showed a more depressing outcome.

“I get countless letters from adults who say that they had that false promise, that people told them how clever they were and how successful they were going to be — so they never worked hard, never persevered.

Many of them have a high IQ, but never graduated from college and never seriously pursued a profession.”

More generally, Dweck has found that telling children that they are clever can hold them back — they develop fixed mindsets.

A child labelled “gifted” may not try as hard.

David Heigham, a retired government economist in the British Civil Service had earlier testified that he never fulfilled his early potential.

As a child, he was intellectually very able, but found school work “boring” and disengaged from the challenge early on.

He did “the minimum to survive” at Oxford University, then went on to spend most of his working life in the civil service, he says.

He admits that he never acquired a pride in really understanding a subject as deeply as he was capable of and did not realise what he was missing out on until he was 40 but then it was “too late”.

Heigham believes one needs to work hard for years to fulfil one’s potential. His fault was in doing things that interested him rather than doing things that might have advanced him in his career.

Heigham’s plight and Dweck’s research show that talent alone will not take a person to the top.

An analysis of those who excel later in life shows their brilliance is only partly down to innate ability; the rest is because of intense and prolonged hard work, and key instruction along the way.

As the American inventor Thomas Edison put it: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

“I don’t think there’s any evidence that you can suddenly become a genius. Every person has to put in years of effort,” says Anders Ericsson, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University.

Slogging

He points out that when we see an individual who has achieved extraordinary mastery in a field, we think they are high achievers, yet few of us pay attention to the number of years the person must have spent slogging it out before hitting gold.

Based on their research on high achievers, Ericsson and his colleagues believe that deliberate practice is what it takes to be great.

Ericsson even questions whether any of us is born with “genius” as opposed to something that can be manufactured — an asset that a few highly motivated individuals can acquire.

“If you look at high-achieving children, you will see that the parents have provided a unique environment for them.

Ericsson’s comment is in tandem with John Sloboda, Professor of Music Psychology at Keele University, UK.

The latter found parental involvement as a key factor to excellence in a study involving 250 young people studying musical instruments.

What distinguished the high achievers from the rest was how they practised over the years.

By the age of 12, the high achievers were practising an average of two hours a day, thanks to the extraordinary effort of their determined parents. Others would spend about 30 minutes daily.

Sloboda points out that there are no examples of children becoming talented musicians without this type of intense practice, one that requires team effort.

But parents have a fine line to tread. If a parent pushes too hard, the child might reject completely.

Music teachers have tales to tell of talented pupils reaching adolescence and deciding that enough is enough, he says.

So how can young ones remain gifted?

If they remain in a supportive environment, are motivated and never get tired of hard work – they might just get there.

The road to “stardom” is a route that requires much effort from all concerned, especially the family.

Not many will be impressed by the route set by author and law Professor Amy Chua, on her children’s progress to make them high achievers.

Not many children can put up with her strict parenting style as described in her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and not many are willing to be tiger mums.



·The writer is a retired academic. He was previously attached to the Faculty of Business Management, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Shah Alam. He can be reached at ucem@hotmail.com

DR. ARZMI YAACOB
The STAR Home > News > Education Sunday July 6, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

No cause for paranoia

HERE we go again. This newspaper has just been given an unprecedented, if not unusual, distinction of being branded a “Christian extremist linked daily” and purportedly connected to some denomination banned in Singapore by a blogger.

I can only think of the Jehovah’s Wit­nesses, which was officially banned in the island republic as far back as 1972 supposedly on the grounds that its members refused to perform national service, salute the flag or swear oaths of allegiance to the state.

This denomination is also frowned upon by the mainstream churches in Malaysia.

I suppose we have plenty of liberals, secularists and moderates in the newsroom, but Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, I surely can’t detect any.

But Christian-bashing has become fashionable in Malaysia, especially among some politicians, retired politicians, writers and some one-man-show non-governmental organisations.

It’s simple – the Christians are easy targets because they are among the smallest of the minority religious groups. Malaysia has an estimated 30 million people now with Muslims making up 61.3%, Buddhist 19.8%, Christians 9.2%, Hindus 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism and other traditional Chinese religions 1.3% and others (either no religion, other religions or no information) at 2.1%, according to the 2010 census.

According to the same census, the breakdown of population by ethnicity of the three major groups is Malays (60.3%), Chinese (22.9%) and Indians (7.1%).

The reality is that the Chinese population has shrunk to half from its peak in 1957 when it was 45%.

It wouldn’t be a surprise either if there are now more foreigners, particularly Indonesians and Bangladeshis, than Indians.

Let’s look at the bigger picture. We are said to have over three million migrant workers, which is about 10% of the Malaysian population. Why is it that most of us feel there are more than the estimated numbers, especially illegal workers?

Look at the mess we have ended up with in Sabah, where 25% of the state’s three million population are said to be illegal foreigners, with some groups claiming the actual number could be as high as three million.

We all know how problematic it is for Malaysia to deal with the problems associated with these foreigners. From blatant armed intrusions to kidnapping, their activities continue to be a problem because of poor enforcement, lack of firepower, vast coastal areas to monitor and suspected corruption.

We have a big security hole to worry about. The last thing we need to get worked up over is some imagined threat from the minority Chinese and Christians in this country. Everyone in Malaysia should know that going by current trends, the Chinese community has been shrinking. Well, maybe some racist individuals with a warped sense of imagination might think otherwise.

Of all the racial groups, Malays and bumiputra fertility rates are at 2.8 children per woman, Chinese 1.8 children per woman and Indians 2.0 children per woman. It is also reported that Malay fertility rates are 56% higher than the Chinese and 40% higher than Indians.

In short, Malays are better at producing children than the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia. So it is also noticeable that Malays tend to have bigger families than the others.

Here’s the point – the sums obviously don’t add up if anyone still wants to make the Christians and Chinese as the bogeyman in Malaysian politics.

This is the political reality – except for tiny Penang, the Chinese voters can never make any serious impact on the political scene in any state in Malaysia.

It is the predominant Malay voters who have determined and shaped the political scenario in PAS-controlled Kelantan and the small majority Barisan Nasional-held Terengganu. So is the impact on PKR-led Selangor, which is where the Malay voters also play the most significant role.

The Chinese urban voters, with less understanding of the rural sentiments, have also often over-estimated their political strength, or rather the lack of it. Many often assume that their political beliefs are shared by everyone. Many rarely travel beyond Kepong or Bangsar, the urban enclaves, and they have little understanding of the political terrain in Malay rural settings.

In this murky situation, where the Chinese voters have increasingly become marginalised due to their decreasing numbers, many politicians have now tried to be the champion of the Malay community – using race and religion, unfortunately.

A few years ago, there was this incredulous claim by a state religious department that it had in its possession “talking Bibles” purportedly used for proselytising to Muslims. And before that, there were also claims that Christians were using solar-powered talking Bibles to convert the Muslims.

There are actually some who believe that there is some covert conspiracy to turn Malaysia into a Christian state. As with all religions, there will always be adherents who believe in everything their leaders, especially theologians, tell them.

It doesn’t help either when some church leaders take sides in politics, turning their pulpits into weekly government-bashing sermons. When you have openly taken sides and become partisan, then you must be prepared to face the political heat.

But the majority of Christians, whether in the peninsula or in Sabah and Sarawak, are just peace-loving people like all other Malaysians. We love Malaysia, our homeland, as much as our Muslim brethren.

We are passionate about giving Malaysia our best because this is our one and only country, and there is no cause for any selfish and paranoid politician to treat us as some kind of religious and security threat.

Moderate Malaysians, of which the majority of us are, believe that there is good in most people. All religions – Islam, Christianity or others – teach good values and, certainly, we should emphasise on the commonalities, especially the universal values that bind us together.

This country would never be able to achieve independence without the cooperation of all the races. Malaysia will never be what it is today without the diversity that is truly our strength.

Let’s spend our time on work that is more rewarding to the country instead of on mindless politics that split rather than bring Malaysians together.

If a shrinking community and a small religious group are seen as threats, then some of us have lost the plot and the ability to reason. WONG CHUN WAI The STAR Home News Opinion Columnist 06 July 2014

A constitutional monarchy that has endured

EARLIER this month, King Juan Carlos of Spain abdicated his throne after reigning for for decades. His abdication was, amongst others, a measure to save the Spanish crown from its plummeting popularity among the Spanish populace. His son Felipe VI took his place as king on June 19.

In the United Kingdom, when news broke of the abdication, mainstream newspaperThe Guardian ran a poll on whether Queen Elizabeth II should also follow suit and give way to her son Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. Also in the same newspaper, a commentator wrote an article about how Juan Carlos’ abdication was the “writing on the wall” for European royals and it should “send shivers through the House of Windsor”.

Articles criticising the monarchy are quite common in the UK. Anti-royal sentiments reached its height in the aftermath of Princess Diana’s untimely death, when many criticised the royals’ response to the tragedy. The British throne’s popularity has recovered since then, so much so that when Queen Elizabeth reached the diamond jubilee of her reign as Queen, the nation celebrated with her. Yet despite the popularity of the British royals, including of course Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, his wife Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George, there has always been a republican movement within the UK calling for the abolition of the British throne.

The British crown began in England, with separate kingdoms that were then united under one throne. Wales, at first a principality, was annexed to the English crown in the 16th century. When the Stuarts, a Scottish royal family, reigned over England, even though the English and Scottish crowns were separate, they were placed on the same head.  Later on, the two crowns were merged into one, known as the Kingdom of Great Britain. Ireland was then conquered and England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland became the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. However, most of Ireland seceded from British rule, except for Northern Ireland, and the UK now comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The UK does not have a written constitution to guarantee the establishment of the monarchy. The sources of the UK Constitution include Acts of Parliament, laws made by the Courts known as “common law” and constitutional conventions. The monarchy in the UK finds its legality and legitimacy in these disparate sources. Also because of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, where Parliament is supreme and can make and unmake any law, it is theoretically possible for Parliament to abolish the British crown.

The UK does not see a need to “protect” the crown with “lese majesty” laws; laws that criminalise insults or attacks on the dignity of the reigning monarch. Sedition, too, has been abolished. Criticising the monarchy or even calling for its abolition is not a crime in the UK, as long as it is done peacefully.

Queen Elizabeth is not only the Queen of the UK. She is also the reigning monarch of several other independent countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, Grenada and Papua New Guinea. These are former colonies or dominions of the UK and even after they are no longer ruled by the British, they retain the Queen as their head of state. Even though republicanism is high in some of these countries, the majority still opted to keep the current system. For example, in a most recent poll in Australia, 42% of those polled agreed with the statement that "Australia should become a republic", whereas 51% opposed.

A poll carried out in the UK revealed that as many as 77% of Britons favoured a monarchy over a republic.

The tradition of monarchy in the United Kingdom has endured for centuries. Except for a brief period when England became a republic following the revolution led by Oliver Cromwell, England, Wales and Scotland have had reigning monarchs. In this period where England was without a king, the “Commonwealth of England” was ruled by a Lord Protectorate for some years, before the monarchy was restored in 1660. The crown has passed from several people in different royal families - Plantagenet, Tudor from Wales, Stuart from Scotland, Hanover, Saxe-Coburg and Windsor, the last three tracing their roots in Germany, but the crown itself has endured.

It is not laws that protect and uphold the crown. It is the support of the British populace, who still think that the UK throne is still relevant in today’s world, that guarantees its place.   SYAHREDZAN JOHAN The STAR Home > Opinion > Online Exclusive A Humble Submission Monday June 30, 2014 MYT 8:41:00 AM

'DPM quits - from friction to fiction

Rumours that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was planning to resign acquired a life of its own until the Prime Minister himself stepped in to put an end to it.

THE Prime Minister has called the rumour “political fabrication” and his deputy has declared himself as “still here, alive and kicking”.

Both Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin took the unusual step of concurrently dismissing gossip that the latter is resigning from his Deputy Prime Minister post.

It was almost as though there had been some pre-arrangement between the top two to clear the air.

But Putrajaya sources suggested that Najib was actually quite startled to learn of Muhyiddin touching on the resignation rumour and it is understood that calls were made as Najib moved quickly to reaffirm that their partnership and teamwork are as solid as ever.

Najib’s use of the word “political fabrication” pretty much summed up his feelings about the rumour – it was a piece of fiction. Yet, this concocted story had been making the rounds for several weeks, floating around in social media and discussed in Umno circles.

The rumour had become so irritating that Muhyiddin finally de­­cided to put a stop to it a day before his rumoured date of resignation.

The story was that Muhyiddin would be resigning on Friday, June 20, the day when Najib was supposed to announce the Cabinet reshuffle. The date has, of course, come and gone with no resignation or reshuffle.

To complicate matters, Najib was having one of his “Kelab Setia Kawan” gatherings at his official residence, also on Thursday. The “Kelab Setia Kawan” are his friends in politics, some of whom go back with him to his Umno Youth days.

At the gathering of about 200 divisional level leaders, Najib had spoken about loyalty and urged them to stand by him through thick and thin. The timing could not have been more awkward and it probably fanned the rumours to a frenzy.

Muhyiddin’s aides were probably more worried than him because they had been bombarded by inquiries the last few weeks.

Those familiar with Muhyiddin have asked him in the face.

In fact, an Umno division chief had asked him just minutes before Muhyiddin told the media that it was untrue that he is resigning. None of his aides knew what to make of it and some of them were unsure whether it was coming from outside or inside Umno. But they were very sure their boss was staying put although the rumour refused to go away.

When Muhyiddin took a week’s leave last month, the rumour was that he was on leave prior to resigning – it was that bad.

Umno politics is such that not all rumours are mere rumours. As one press aide to a Mentri Besar pointed out, the exit of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Tun Musa Hitam from Umno had been preceded by rumours that blew like the monsoons.

The Umno administration had apparently conducted its own investigation and they think they have traced the source of the rumour. It had allegedly started as Facebook postings by a rather notorious Umno blogger who used to be close to but had fallen out with Muhyiddin.

The postings were picked up by a pro-Pakatan Rakyat news portal before it was jazzed up in a PKR website.

By then, the rumour had acquired a life of its own.

The denials by the top two is not going to stop people from talking.

The most effective way to put it to rest is for Najib to settle the Cabinet reshuffle because that was where it all started. The reshuffle story has dragged on for so long that people have become bored with guessing about the underlings and moved on to speculating about the big fish.

There is no real reason for Najib to want to replace Muhyiddin. On the contrary, there are several reasons why Najib needs Muhyiddin at his side.

“History has shown that a Prime Minister’s worst distraction is to have an ambitious deputy,” said a leading Umno insider.

Muhyiddin has been very loyal to him. It is known in Umno that he is not out to undermine Najib’s position as Prime Minister.

Besides Muhyiddin is already 67 while Najib turns 61 in July. Muhyiddin’s maturity and experience mean that he is not about to launch a palace coup, so to speak. It has given Najib the peace of mind to do his work without having to constantly peer over his shoulder.

“It is also good to have someone like Muhyiddin as the No. 2, especially when the stars of the Umno VPs (vice-presidents) are shining so brightly. Muhyiddin is a good buffer, Najib is quite comfortable with that. They are good for each other,” said the insider.

Going by Najib’s statement on the issue, it is evident that he wants Muhyiddin by his side at least until the end of this term. Their social backgrounds are very different but they are contemporaries, they came up together and the comfort level is there.

Some say the two men should make a greater effort to be seen together in social settings. Muhyiddin had once told his staff that the Prime Minister had told his Cabinet members that politics is about communication.

He said he wanted to put it into practice and had asked his staff: “Are we communicating enough?”

Perhaps the Prime Minister and his deputy should also put that into practice.   The STAR Home > Opinion > Columnists Analysis Sunday June 22, 2014 MYT 7:25:59 AM

All-out war for the big post

The earth has been rumbling under the feet of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as speculation grows that Selangor may soon be getting a woman Mentri Besar.

THE advent of the Muslim holy month has not stopped PKR leaders from pressing Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim to resign as Mentri Besar.

The political attacks against Khalid have been relentless and ruthless. DAP politicians in Selangor have also been attacking him almost daily in the Chinese vernacular papers. They cannot forgive him over the Bible issue and they have been picking apart his policies from the water deal to the Kidex highway.

But it was Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi who opened the floodgates with his Facebook posting: “Sack that bugger.”

Khalid is in a vulnerable spot. DAP has gone from being his biggest ally to being his most lethal opponent.


Crowded scene: There is no shortage of candidates lined up to take over from Khalid (right)
and among them are (from left to right) Dr Wan Azizah, Iskandar and Azmin.

Only PAS has held back from criticising him, not because they want him to stay on but because PAS is eyeing the post for one of their own, namely, architect and Chempaka assemblyman Iskandar Samad.

All pretences have been dropped and everything is on the table. Or as one journalist put it, it is “all-out war”.

Politics is a cruel and ruthless game and poor Khalid is on an island surrounded by hungry sharks.

It is hard to see him surviving as Mentri Besar especially after he lost his Kuala Selangor chairman post. It is also unlikely that he can overtake incumbent powerhouse Azmin Ali in the race for the deputy presidency.

Several party figures have been hauled up in connection to the attacks against the Mentri Besar.

Outgoing AMK or Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar and his likely successor Amiruddin Shari have been slapped with show-cause letters for publicly asking Khalid to step down. Both Shamsul and Amiruddin are regarded as “Azmin’s boys” so it was evident where they were coming from.

Khalid’s former political secretary Faekah Husin, known for her “machine-gun mouth”, also got a show-cause letter for lashing out at Khalid’s critics. Faekah, who is now CEO of Mentri Besar Inc, called them “idiotic” for asking Khalid to quit as Mentri Besar just because he lost in the division election.



Azmizam: 'They've tried everything to sabotage
our division
'She said that if a government post is to be equated to a division post, state executive councillor Dr Daroyah Alwi, who is aligned to Azmin, should also quit after failing in her bid for the Kapar chairmanship. Then Faekah twisted the knife by pointing out that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was the all-powerful Ketua Umum even without a divisional post.

The attacks from Khalid’s own party people started in earnest after news broke last week that he had been defeated as Kuala Selangor chairman. The election in Kuala Selangor has been plagued by mishaps and disputes but a power blackout during the counting of votes took the cake.

PKR has this highly questionable practice where the ballot boxes are brought from where the voting took place to be stored at the party headquarters for several days before the ballots are counted.

The counting of ballots for the MPP or central committee was done by about midnight with Khalid getting the majority of the votes over Azmin Ali and Datuk Saifuddin Nasution for the deputy president post.

As counting for the division posts were about to start at about 12.30am, the power went off and those present left the building for some fresh air.













Faekah: Lashed out at
those who attacked the
Mentri Besar
.

This was a real blackout unlike the fake blackout claims that DAP made during the general election. Power was restored only after an hour or so and when counting ended at about 4am, Khalid’s men were shocked to learn that he had lost the division leadership by 186 votes.

Khalid’s political secretary Azman Abidin said it did not make sense that Kuala Selangor would give the deputy president votes to Khalid but reject him as the division chairman.

The blackout affected the entire Tropicana area where the PKR headquarters is located but Khalid’s supporters found the whole thing too fishy to accept and his team has appealed for fresh elections in Kuala Selangor.

Khalid is not the only one affected by such suspicious twists and turns.

Azmin’s supporters had complained that the numerous polls cancellations as well as the “organised chaos” in some divisions were aimed at sabotaging Azmin.

For instance, the election in Kota Raja in Selangor was cancelled after being disrupted by a violent group.

Then it was postponed again at short notice. Members have complained about the confusion and scolded party leaders for wasting their time, telling them “jangan main-main” or not to play the fool with them.

Polls fiasco

When the election was finally convened, some men had tried to grab the ballot boxes just as polling was about to close.

“Fortunately, we managed to stop them. We don’t know who they are but they have tried everything to sabotage our division,” said newly-elected Kota Raja vice-chief Azmizam Zaman Huri.

Azmin’s boys have also questioned the polls outcome in Pensiangan in the remote interior of Sabah.

Azmin had won the No. 2 post in Pensiangan with 503 votes against 127 for Khalid and 22 for Datuk Saifuddin Nasution. But the polls were declared null and void by the election body.

When the division voted again recently, Khalid won with more than 900 votes, Azmin got only eight votes and Saifuddin zero votes.

“It was so obvious that something funny happened there,” said a former PKR assemblyman.

The PKR polls have been the mother of all ironies. All the hanky-panky they had accused other parties of were rolled out in their own party – from electrical blackouts to gangsterism and money politics.

At the Sabak Bernam polls two weekends ago, a student who was helping out with the election recognised four of his classmates going in to vote. Three of them voted using the IDs of real members but one was stopped and he told party officials that he was paid RM100 to turn up.

Law lecturer Dr Aziz Bari who is contesting for the Sabak Bernam chairman post has asked for a re-election.

“We used our handphones to take picture of the schoolboys and we have submitted our case to the election committee,” said Andy Lim, the special officer to Dr Aziz Bari.

The fights and chaos at some divisions have resembled scenes from action movies. The most gory incident occurred at the Kuala Langat election where a gang of young men attacked a middle-aged man with chairs.

Blood gushed out from his head as he fell to his knees with a broken plastic chair still looped around his neck while another chair came flying at him.

As one PKR assemblyman put it: “Sometimes, too much democracy is not good for the party.”

The election has gone on longer than the World Cup and the reputation of the PKR election body is in shreds. PKR simply does not have the resources or expertise to cope with the one-man-one vote system and there will be changes after this.

There are allegations that the chaos at the Selangor polls were aimed at forcing Khalid out and also to put the brakes on Azmin so that he does not become too powerful.

A big part of the problem is that there is no clear line of command in the PKR. Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah is not the typical party president who takes charge and issues instructions. No one is quite sure where she stands on the party election or on the question of the Mentri Besar post.

Anyway, who can blame her for keeping to the shadows? Her name tops the list of candidates for the Mentri Besar post.

The prevailing notion is that Anwar wants his wife as the next Mentri Besar and that he has secured the consensus of DAP leaders.

Azmin is seen as the second choice and DAP sources claimed the party has warmed up to Azmin over the last one year. It is also no secret that Palace officials have been watching him and they are impressed with how he conducts himself in the State Legislative Assembly.

There are two things standing in the way of Anwar’s plans. One is PAS which wants a go at the top post although it is understood that PAS will be offered an additional state executive councillor post as a compromise.

There have also been reports that PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang is blocking the change but those familiar with PAS politics would know that Hadi sways with the wind and at the moment, he is under the influence of the young Turks in the ulama group who want their man up there.

The other hurdle is the Palace. The Selangor Constitution only specifies that the candidate must be Malay and Muslim but the Palace is concerned about social conventions. Religious events are a big part of the duties of a Mentri Besar and it is still very much a man’s world when it comes to Islam.

For instance, some of the more recent duties of Khalid was praying alongside the who’s who of Selangor (all men, of course) at the funeral of the state Chief Imam Ustaz Ahmad Mustafa. A few days earlier, he joined the Sultan of Selangor for prayers at the Royal Mausoleum.

But it is understood that the Palace is not adverse to a change as long as everything is done in a constitutional manner.

The big question is whether the Palace is ready for a woman Mentri Besar. No one can quite second guess the Sultan on that but Tuanku is likely to ask for more than one name to consider for the top job. That will probably be the moment for PAS to step up to the plate.

The Selangor political crisis is about to get more interesting.

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. Jocelin Tan The STAR Home > Opinion > Columnists Analysis Sunday July 6, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Ripe for the plucking

THE Malaysian intelligence agencies and police are rightly alarmed about Malaysian militants forging links with terror networks operating in Syria.

The potential for violence on Malaysian land is real given the history of Malaysian militants who fought in Afghanistan and their record of continuing radicalisation and violence upon returning to Malaysia.

But what is even more disturbing today is that while the first generation of jihadists went abroad to kill “infidels”, this new generation of young Malaysian militants in Syria now finds it justifiable to kill fellow Muslims in what is really a sectarian war.

Everyone seems focused on the threat these home-grown terrorists pose to national security.

For me, the more urgent and immediate issue that the government and its intelligence and security services should be understanding is the link between terrorism and extremism.

How and why did these young Malaysian men get indoctrinated into extremist ideology that justified the killing of not just their usual enemies of Christians and godless Communists, but now fellow Muslims of a different sect?

What ideas and ideologies did former PAS Ulama Council member and Kedah Youth leader Mohd Lotfi Ariffin imbibe in his journey from a childhood in Kedah to a madrasah in Pakistan to acts of terror in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, to five years of ISA detention, and now on to Syria to join Sunni jihadists in a sectarian war against a Shiite-led government?

Where and how was Lotfi indoctrinated into extremist ideo­logy?

What are the narratives that led him to leave home this time, leaving behind a wife and eight children, the youngest only two months old when he left?

Mohd Lotfi is just the most high profile of supposedly up to 30 Malaysian jihadists, or even more, in Syria. Many more are being recruited and trained, ready to be sent off to expand and extend the front lines of the so-declared “Islamic Caliphate”.

There is a reality here that we are not dealing with in Malaysia – the link between the upsurge in the Malaysian public space of intolerance, demonisation, bigotry and hate speech that began in the mid-2000s and how they feed the radicalisation process.

The situation is even more distressing for many Malaysians today because of the deafening silence of the top political leadership and the critical role they should be playing in delegitimising these extremists and their brazen display of bigotry.

Nay, some Cabinet ministers even echo these extremist idealogues for their own short-term political gain.

Constant exposure to extreme opinions and ideologies in a toxic public space, without any engagement with counter arguments, can radicalise vulnerable young minds, and reinforce and provide validation to those already converted to the extremist cause.

It is the propagation of extremist narratives of bigotry, intolerance, violence and martyrdom at many sites – universities, mosques, mainstream media, online chatrooms and websites – that provides fertile ground for radicalisation to grow and thrive.

Vulnerable radicalised young men searching for a cause and a meaning to life then become easy consumers of online jihadist literature out to recruit “martyrs” for the cause of Allah.

But the radicalisation of jihadists, much research shows, begins offline, not online.

Online jihadist sites only further reinforce the indoctrination begun elsewhere.

It is high time that the government took action to delegitimise the extremist language of supremacist groups who hog the headlines with their narratives of hate, bigotry, threats and fears.

It is high time government-linked media stopped their incitement with provocative front-page headlines and projecting belligerent supremacists on national news as if they represent the voice of the whole community.

It is high time those Cabinet ministers who have been echoing the intolerant and exclusivist language of these non-state actors took a step back and think through the consequences of their action.

It is high time that the rule of law was upheld and decisions and judgments were made on the basis of justice, fairness and what serves the best interest of society as a whole, rather than on sectarian and political grounds.

And it is high time that we stopped demonising the Shia, declaring them deviants and a threat to national security. It is Malaysian Sunni Muslims who are committing acts of terror in Syria and probably by now in Iraq, not the Malaysian Shia.

How can it be good for the peace and stability of Malaysia that on a daily basis we are assaulted by extremist and intolerant views, by a breakdown in the rule of law and back-door rewriting of the Constitution, by more and more manufactured threats from both state and non-state actors?

It is their views that seem to prevail in newspapers and on television as if they represent the majority, while the voices of moderate Malaysians and Muslims determined to live together and share the nation are sidelined.

Counter terrorism research has found that while not all extremism leads to terrorism, all terrorist acts are inspired by extremist narratives, that ideas and ideologies that sow discord, hate and bigotry contribute to justifying acts of terror, and therefore cannot be left unchallenged in society.

This constitutes a battle of ideas. Where are the counter arguments and counter narratives from those in authority if they are so alarmed about the militants in our midst?

How could it be that a nation that has eschewed extremism since its birth, and adopted the politics of accommodation in managing an ethnically divided society, is today gripped by so much intolerance and supremacist thinking?

And exporting terrorists who claim to fight in the cause of Allah?

How could it be that under a government that has adopted a 1Malaysia slogan, this society is more divided than ever before?

It is time we all screeched to a halt and thought through where we are heading and the kind of Malaysia we all want to live in.

Not for the first time, I am saying bring back the objectives of the Rukunegara to heal the wounds and bring us together.

There was a time when we believed that the only way our country could survive was if all the races could get on together and eschew a zero-sum game.

That was the national narrative adopted by the political leaders in government and opposition and supported by the rakyat.

That was how we survived and thrived all these decades while other ethnically divided countries fell apart.

So can we stop and ponder on the objectives of the Rukunegara:

> to achieve a greater unity of all her peoples;

> to maintain a democratic way of life;

> to create a just society in which the wealth of the nation shall be equitably shared;

> to ensure a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions;

> to build a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology.

I believe the overwhelming majority of Malaysians continue to believe in these values.

Before it is too late, let’s focus our energy on working out how best this inter-communal national consensus on principles and objectives can be reflected in our laws, policies, and daily practices. ainah Anwar is the internationally acclaimed and award-winning ­co-founder and former executive director of Sisters in Islam (SIS Forum) and the co-founder and director of Musawah, a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family. She is a former member of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam). The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. ZAINAH ANWAR The STAR Home > Opinion > Columnists Sharing The Nation Sunday July 6, 2014 MYT 7:29:30 AM

MNS against caviar project

THE Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) questions the viability and legality of the Felda caviar production “Felda going upmarket in producing homegrown caviar” (The Star, June 27).

According to the Fisheries Act 1985 it is illegal to bring into the country an exotic species such as the sturgeon, but it seems that an exception is given by the Department of Fisheries to the Siberian sturgeon to be raised by the FGV project.

It is already known that the location of the FGV venture with a South Korean company is to be located in a 50ha Sg Tabong watershed in Kuala Tahan, Jerantut, Pahang.

Incongruously, the site is located on the left bank of Sg Tembeling, just across from the Taman Negara canopy walk.

MNS is against the project due to many reasons including that the sturgeon is an exotic (foreign) species.

Other reasons are:

1) The location of the proposed site Taman Negara, which would allow an escaped sturgeon to cause havoc in our precious kelah (Tor tambroides) and temoleh or temelian(Probarbus jullieni) as well as other species endemic to Malaysia;

2) The majority (about 90%) of the people of Kuala Tahan depend directly or indirectly on ecotourism in Taman Negara as their main income and they are very much against the project; and

3) The “bulldoze” method of the Sturgeon Project – incredibly, a project just next to a national icon and a heritage site was passed without going through the usual feasibility study, if not an Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) study and report.

Just because the project is financed by Felda and under the umbrella of both the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) and therefore directly under the Prime Minister’s Department, it does not mean the project can be dumped onto a community and the nearby environment without the necessary studies and reports.

The lawmakers do not have the exclusivity of breaking the laws they themselves promulgated!

Recently, Felda Global Ventures (FGV), a Felda subsidiary, launched its inaugural Sustainability Report on June 16, which was officiated by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas.

During the welcoming speech by the CEO of FGV, Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah indicted that FGV is committed in taking care of the environment and diodiversity.

Therefore, the sturgeon project at Kuala Tahan is contradictory and hypocritical to the just launched Sustainability Report.

Prof Dr Maketab Mohamed President, Malaysian Nature Society The STAR Home Opinion Letters 01/07/2014

Amend law to allow in sturgeon

I REFER to the letter, “Negative impact of fish farm” (The Star, July 3) by S. M. Mohamed Idris.

He has a valid point on the legal issue of importing sturgeon which is against the Fisheries Act 1985 – Fisheries Regulations (Prohibition of import etc, for fish) (Amendment) 2011.

The law has to be amended first before any party is allowed to import the species for any purpose. Felda, a GLC, has to abide by the law like any other company.

Actually, Felda is not the first company to bring sturgeon into Malaysia. There are other companies importing sturgeon for breeding purposes as reported in local newspapers some time ago.

Sturgeon from the fish farm is a commercial fish commonly available in the wet markets in China.

The fish is no longer on the brink of extinction and under the red alert protection list.

Caviar harvested from the sturgeon is a lucrative business, a new blue sea industry for Malaysia to escape from the middle-income trap.

Sturgeon breeding is no different than other fish breeding like African tilapia, an alien species, if the breeders have followed all licensing and technical requirements as stipulated by the Fishery Department.

Malaysia, a tropical country has an advantage for sturgeon breeding compared to their native land, as the fish grows faster in the hot climate.

There is concern that the sturgeon may pose a danger to local fish if they escape and survive in our rivers although the likelihood of the fish from the moderate climate surviving in the tropical river is slim.

A proper study should be conducted by Fishery Department to address above mentioned concerns before a commercial scale sturgeon breeding is approved and promoted by the Government.

N.K.Khoo Kuala Lumpur The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 04/07/2014

When cheap isn't cheap

WHILE scouting around for a house for my daughter, I came across this notice: “Two-storey house in Amanputra, RM400K; cheap.”

I thought that it was quite exorbitant for such a house in suburban Puchong.

Since when did a terrace house come to be priced this much and still be considered cheap?

Then somebody told me the average price for such a house in the Kuala Lumpur area was around RM620,000!

I was also informed that in areas further from the Federal capital and other core centres in the Klang Valley like Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya, the average price of a three-bedroom house in places like Rawang, Semenyih and Kuala Selangor was around RM450,000.

There are either too many exploitative profiteers in the country or the population, in general, has become exceedingly rich.

However, a recent survey showed the average monthly disposable salary (after tax) of Malaysians is just slightly more than RM3,200 a month.

So, that rules out the possibility that many home seekers are cash-loaded since that much money is usually quickly spent on medication, education, groceries, meals, transportation, utilities and financing of other comforts like leisure, clothing, furniture, home computers and TV.

If there is any money left, it is barely enough to cover a house or apartment rental, which, in the Klang Valley could be between RM1,500 and RM2,500 a month for a three-bedroom unit in city areas or RM800 to RM1,500 a month in areas outside the dense urban centres.

Ten years ago, a person earning about RM5,000 a month could “only just” manage to pay RM150,000 for such a home. If anyone, at that time, was offering a house for sale at around RM250,000, that would be considered robbery in broad daylight.

Today, a person earning RM5,000 would be regarded “poor” and, at best, only be eligible for one of those homes under the 1Malaysia People’s Housing (PR1MA) schemes.

In Malaysia, what goes up does not come down but, sadly, in some cases, employers have been known to cut the salaries or allowances of their workers or not give further increments to purportedly “save cost” for the company.

If there is any increment, it would just be a nominal sum that would essentially cover an additional meal for the day.

So, rather than Malaysians becoming attuned to the national aspiration of becoming high-earning citizens, we are digressing into a population with high debts and victims to an economic turbulence that we, the laymen, know little about or do not understand at all.

I suspect the people who are getting richer by the day, are the ones who would soon be controlling the national economy, are the money lenders.

They control anyone seeking quick cash to pay for a business expansion or for mortgage payments, or for health and education purpose or, these days, even for weddings.

So, who is it that decides that a non-luxurious terrace house going for RM400,000 is cheap?

SAD SACK Puchong, Selangor The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 04/07/2014

Perspective: Make winning a habit

THE recent announcement listing the achievements of three Malaysian academicians in The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014 must be a surprise to most.

At a time when local universities and the education system are under scrutiny and found to be lacking in certain areas such news offer some optimism.

The report by the Intellectual Property and Science Business of Thomson Reuters, one of the largest scientific database providers worldwide, named Professor Abdul Latif Ahmad from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) School of Chemical Engineering, Professor Saidur Rahman Abdul Hakim from University of Malaya Faculty of Engineering and Professor Ishak Hashim from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Faculty of Science and Technology as among the distinguished scientists who publish prolifically and are most frequently cited by their peers.

These scientists’ work and findings are of utmost importance, exerting significance influence on the work of others. Researchers in the academe regard this recognition as the highest order.

Admittedly, Abdul Latif, whose field of expertise includes membrane technology and wastewater engineering, reckons that research grants provided by the government and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation are instrumental in attaining this accolade.

He was quoted as saying: “It is clear that our researches have made an impact on the research community around the world through citations and ranking, but any research carried out should be relevant to the time and people.”

Research works are carried out not just for the sake of publication in the rush to be ranked, rather for their relevance to the time and people so that they can bring about some improvements, and add value, over and above their academic merits. This is often not easy because it needs deeper commitment and an understanding of problems and addressing the gaps in providing the right solution. It takes time, patience, support and also guidance.

Is the mention by Thomson Reuters a one-time happening, a fluke?

The involvement of the three oldest public universities and the researchers’ relatively young age indicate something.

One, it takes time to build the infrastructure and culture to conduct purposeful research with meaningful outcomes. Second, it takes an equally long time to draw on collective experiences, findings and creativity before arriving at a point where the outcomes are of considerable potential and value in making a difference. These two dimensions, namely the interactions between material and human aspects, go hand in hand. They are sensitive to consistent support in creating an enabling ecosystem for experimentation where autonomy and flexibility help unleash innovative ideas and where mistakes are expected and tolerated. Between the two aspects, the human dimension needs nurturing with a great deal of handholding — mentoring, leadership and team rapport.

On the last point I dare say that Abdul Latif and his colleagues have had the privilege of a mentor-leader in Professor Subhash Bhatia from the very early days. A life member of the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers and a member of the American Chemical Soceity, Subhash is just the right person who can spark the right kind of research activities among young and enthusiastic researchers.

He provided the father figure needed to develop and guide the research agenda. There is no substitute for experience in translating theories into practice. That said, it is an uphill bureaucratic task to acquire and retain talented expertise.

Yet another factor is the question of public support, recognition and incentive to make one feel appreciated. In USM, it takes the form of an annual Malam Anugerah Sanggar Sanjung since 2001 (which later became the precursor to Anugerah Akademik Negara). Abdul Latif is no stranger to the event year after year. This must have hardwired his psyche as a confirmed winner. He will be the next Subhash, who will spark yet another cycle of potential winners.

After all, winning is a matter of habit — so let’s get the next cycle moving with these three winners. Don't let the goose that lays the golden eggs "die" in oblivion. DZULKIFLI ABDUL RAZAK - NST Learning Curve  6 JULY 2014 @ 8:00 AM