September 7th, 2014

Jiwa Melayu Shaharudin

BAGI mereka yang biasa menghadiri forum dan wacana yang membicarakan undang-undang Perlembagaan, isu hak-hak keistimewaan orang Melayu, kedudukan institusi beraja, adat warisan Raja-Raja dan orang Melayu, seorang lelaki bernama Shaharudin Ali bukanlah satu nama yang asing.

Bekas Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Sekretariat Majlis Peguam Malaysia dan ahli Badan Bertindak Perpaduan Melayu (BBPM) Malaysia itu antara yang lantang membincangkan dan memperjuangkan isu-isu berkaitan kepentingan bangsa dan institusi raja sejak beberapa tahun lalu ketika kedua-dua aspek penting dalam penubuhan negara ini diserang dari segenap sudut oleh pihak tertentu.



MEMPELAJARI seni silat Setiabakti bagi menjiwai semangat pahlawan silam.

Meskipun sibuk dengan tugas hakiki sebagai peguam, ia tidak menjadi batu penghalang kepada anak jati Batu Pahat, Johor itu memberikan komitmennya terhadap perjuangan bangsa. Semangat kecintaannya terhadap sejarah dan sastera Melayu mendorong beliau untuk berjuang mempertahankan apa yang disayanginya daripada terhakis.

Mengenali Shaharudin, kecintaannya terhadap warisan Melayu jelas apabila beliau sanggup meluangkan masa mewujudkan sebuah laman sesawang khusus mengenai sejarah negara iaitu www.rajamenangis.com yang mendaulatkan dan memperkasakan institusi Raja-raja Melayu, sejarah serta warisan Melayu dan Islam serta sejarah kedaulatan Tanah Melayu.

Laman sesawang itu bukan hanya menjadi sumber rujukan dan kajian kepada pelajar dan penyelidik dalam negara, malah dari luar negara kerana kandungannya yang komprehensif. Ia bukan sahaja mengupas sejarah negara, malah sejarah setiap negeri dan istana raja.

Di samping itu, Shaharudin yang amat meminati sejarah dan sastera, bersama Norzailina Nordin telah menulis sebuah buku novel sejarah setebal 1,000 halaman berjudul Air Mata Raja yang mengisahkan epik sejarah Kesultanan Melayu Melaka yang belum pernah dibongkarkan oleh mana-mana penulis sebelum ini.

Buku tersebut diterbitkan oleh Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) dan dilancarkan oleh Ketua Menteri Melaka pada masa itu, Datuk Seri Mohd. Ali Rustam di Auditorium Seri Negeri, Melaka pada 17 Oktober 2011. Hasil kerja Shaharudin dan Norzailina itu turut mendapat pengiktirafan pada majlis Anugerah Buku PNM-RTM 2013.

Menurut bekas Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Institut Terjemahan Negara Malaysia Berhad (ITNM) itu, antara bahan rujukan yang digunakan dalam penghasilan buku tersebut ialah diari Alfonso de Albuquerque yang tidak ramai mengetahui mengenainya serta tulisan Tun Sri Lanang dalam Sejarah Melayu.

"Saya dan Norzailina ambil masa lebih tiga tahun untuk menyiapkan buku ini. Sepanjang proses itu, kami alami pengalaman mistik, detik suka dan duka sebab banyak juga perkara kita tidak dapat capai kesepakatan sebagai penulis bersama.

"Apabila buku ini diterbitkan, ia bukan sahaja satu buku tetapi pengalaman dua penulis dari latar belakang berbeza. Saya lihat dari sudut peguam yang mahu benda semuanya tepat manakala Norzailina melihat dari sudut bahasa, budaya dan sebagainya," jelas beliau.

Shaharudin kini dalam proses menghasilkan buku keduanya yang mengisahkan pertempuran sebenar antara tentera Portugis dengan pahlawan-pahlawan Melayu Melaka. Apa yang menariknya, buku keduanya itu bakal menggunakan sumber paling dekat dengan mereka yang menyaksikan peperangan tersebut.

"Tun Sri Lanang tulis sejarah Melaka 100 tahun selepas Kesultanan Melayu Melaka jatuh ke tangan Portugis tetapi sumber yang saya gunakan ialah mereka yang lihat peperangan itu beberapa tahun selepas peperangan itu," ujarnya.

Disebabkan pengkajiannya terhadap sejarah lama Melaka itu, Shaharudin yang juga ahli dan penasihat undang-undang, Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia cawangan Selangor, turut mempelajari Seni Silat Setiabakti bagi menjiwai pahlawan-pahlawan Melayu Melaka pada 2009.

"Buku ini mengisahkan seni sakti Melayu dan kehebatan istana dan hulubalang-hulubalang Melayu. Saya tidak puas menulis tentang sejarah Kesultanan Melayu Melaka tanpa merasai latihan-latihan yang dilalui seorang pesilat. Itulah punca saya belajar silat.

"Disebabkan faktor usia, saya diberikan pengecualian bagi tiga latihan iaitu saya tidak perlu terjun, berguling dan bertempur," katanya.

Satu lagi hobi Shaharudin ialah membaca buku dan beliau mempunyai koleksi lebih 1,000 naskhah buku di rumahnya. Minatnya terhadap pembacaan terserlah apabila beliau bukan sahaja mempunyai perpustakaan mini di rumah, malah rak buku di kepala katil dan tandas.

Buku ini bukan hanya berkaitan undang-undang tetapi pelbagai subjek termasuk bahasa dan sastera Inggeris, bahasa dan sastera Melayu, sejarah, agama Islam dan falsafah Islam, sains dan teknologi serta fizik.

Ilmu

"Selain buku, saya ada kira-kira 36,000 artikel berkaitan ilmu pengetahuan dalam pelbagai bidang yang boleh saya gunakan sebagai rujukan dalam karier saya," tambahnya.

Di samping menulis buku, Shaharudin yang merupakan ahli Persatuan Menembak Selangor gemar menghabiskan masa hujung minggunya di kelab-kelab menembak, berbanding kebanyakan peguam lain yang lebih gembar berada di rumah kelab dan padang golf. Bagi beliau, aktiviti menembak boleh menenangkan minda dan aspek itu amat penting bagi kerjayanya.

"Kalau kita tembak dalam keadaan minda tidak tenang atau dalam keadaan baran, tidak mungkin kita boleh tembak sasaran dengan tepat," katanya

Menurut Shaharudin, beliau mula terlibat dalam hobi menembak sejak berusia 19 tahun iaitu ketika melanjutkan pengajiannya dalam jurusan undang-undang di sebuah universiti di London, United Kingdom. Di sana, beliau yang memiliki dua raifal angin turut menembak di beberapa kelab menembak di London.

Pengalaman paling tidak dapat dilupakan oleh Shaharudin semasa menuntut di London ialah ditahan sepasukan polis khas ketika dalam perjalanan untuk menyelenggara raifal miliknya di sebuah kedai di Oxford Street. Insiden tersebut menyebabkan seluruh Oxford Street sesak kerana orang ramai berhenti untuk melihat apa yang berlaku.

"Saya memiliki senjata api dengan sah tetapi saya tidak ada kenderaan untuk menyimpan raifal itu. Semasa ditahan, saya beritahu polis bahawa mereka tidak boleh mendiskriminasi di antara orang yang ada kereta dan tidak ada kereta," katanya.

Satu lagi fakta menarik tentang Shaharudin ialah beliau mencipta teknik sendiri tanpa perlu menggunakan formula matematik bagi menyelesaikan permasalahan kiub rubik. Menurut Shaharudin, dengan teknik yang diciptanya pada 2008 itu, masalah kiub rubik boleh diselesaikan dalam tempoh kurang tiga minit sahaja.

"Saya juga mengajar teknik menyelesaikan permasalahan kiub rubik ini. Sehingga ini, saya ada lapan anak murid yang telah lulus cara menyelesaikan permasalah kiub rubik ini," ujarnya. AMIZUL TUNIZAR AHMAD TERMIZI    Utusan/Rencana/20140907

PPS dan RBA mampu ancam negara

Kedua-dua unit ini Pasukan Peronda Sukarela (PPS) dan Red Bean Army (RBA) kita ketahui dibelakangi oleh parti tertentu yang dapat dibahagikan konsepnya sebagai tentera siber (RBA) dan tentera sebenar (PPS). Operasi mereka penuh konspirasi dan menghalalkan apa sahaja cara demi kepentingan politik pihak tertentu. Namun begitu, mereka dipakejkan dengan begitu baik untuk mengaburi mata rakyat seolah-olah mereka ialah penjamin hak dan keselamatan rakyat. Mereka dipakejkan sebagai entiti yang baik, suci, benar dan sebagainya.


Setiap tahun sebanyak RM 1.5 juta diperuntukkan kepada PPS oleh Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang sejak penubuhan mereka pada 2011. Keadaan ini bermakna sebanyak RM6 juta wang rakyat negeri Pulau Pinang telah dibazirkan kepada PPS. Namun begitu, Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang kelihatan begitu terganggu jiwanya dengan melindungi dan mempertahankan PPS yang haram. Bagaimana pula sesebuah pertubuhan yang tidak didaftarkan dengan ROS boleh dikatakan sebagai pertubuhan yang sah?

Di bawah Seksyen 41 Akta Pertubuhan, sesuatu pertubuhan itu menjadi pertubuhan haram (unlawful society) sekiranya ia tidak didaftarkan di bawah Seksyen 7. Mengikut Seksyen 2, istilah 'pertubuhan' diberi takrif yang luas, meliputi antara lain kelab, syarikat, perkongsian atau persatuan tujuh orang ahli atau lebih, tidak kira apa pun sifat atau matlamatnya, sama ada sementara atau berkekalan. Satu entiti yang memiliki seramai tujuh orang sudah boleh dikategorikan sebagai sebuah pertubuhan dan bagaimana pula PSS yang memiliki seramai 10,000 ahli dan diberikan pakaian seragam oleh kerajaan negeri tidak mendaftarkan diri dengan ROS?

Sekirannya penubuhan PPS adalah benar-benar demi kebaikan mengapa pula tidak berani berdaftar dengan ROS? DAP, RBA dan Lim Guan Eng asyik mempertikaikan PPS tidak perlu berdaftar hanya kerana penubuhan ini adalah di bawah bidang kuasa negeri. Realitinya dalam Jadual Kesembilan Perlembagaan Persekutuan, kita akan dapati bahawa dalam Item 3 Senarai I (iaitu Senarai Persekutuan) bahawa "Internal security, including - (a) Police dan Public order" adalah dalam bidang kuasa Kerajaan Pusat, bukan kerajaan negeri.

Sebelum ini sudah terdapat banyak isu dan kes melibatkan PPS di mana mereka memukul wartawan dan rakyat Pulau Pinang yang tidak sehaluan politik dengan mereka. Menurut Ketua Polis Negeri Pulau Pinang, Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi setakat ini seramai 11 ahli PPS memiliki rekod jenayah dan merupakan penjenayah yang sudah lama dicari oleh pihak berkuasa.

Tiga ahli PPS telah ditangkap polis kerana sudah dibuktikkan mengambil dadah. Lebih daripada 20 ahli PPS daripada 156 yang ditangkap oleh pihak polis adalah golongan wanita dan mereka yang berumur 60 ke atas. Bagaimana Lim Guan Eng boleh mengatakan penubuhan PSS adalah demi keselamatan rakyat apabila terdapat ahli-ahlinya yang bertindak kejam dan ganas terhadap wartawan dan rakyat?

Bagaimana PSS mendakwa penubuhannya adalah demi menjaga keselamatan tetapi terdapat ramai dalam kalangan mereka yang memiliki rekod jenayah? Bagaimana ahli-ahli PPS boleh menjalankan tugas dengan baik jika terdapat ahli mereka yang mengambil dadah? Mengapa wanita dan warga tua pula perlu dibahayakan untuk menjaga keselamatan negeri?

Adakah DAP dan Lim Guan Eng tidak berhati perut sehingga sanggup membahayakan keselamatan warga tua dan wanita untuk menjalankan operasi PPS yang penuh dengan bahaya dan risiko? Pasukan sukerala mana yang akan melakukan tindakan di luar perundangan seolah-olah menggunakan kuasa polis untuk menahan dan mengugut orang?

Disarankan supaya Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang turut ditangkap oleh pihak polis atas Seksyen 188 Kanun Keseksaan, kerana menghalang tugas penjawat awam serta Seksyen 14 Akta Kesalahan Kecil, kerana mengeluarkan kata-kata kesat kepada penjawat awam. Lim Guan Eng dalam beberapa ceramahnya yang jelas menunjukkan emosinya tergugat dalam isu PPS apabila terang-terangan mencabar Ketua Polis Negara menahannya demi mempertahankan dan melindungi PPS yang haram.

Tindakan tersebut boleh dikategorikan sebagai cuba menghalang pihak polis menjalankan tugas mereka untuk membanteras pertubuhan haram, penjenayah dan ahli-ahli kongi gelap. Pemimpin-pemimpin DAP yang menjadi pegawai dalam PPS juga perlu ditangkap mengikut undang-undang negara. Mengikut perundangan negara, menjadi pegawai satu pertubuhan haram adalah salah di bawah Seksyen 42 - boleh dihukum penjara selama lima tahun, denda RM15,00 atau kedua-duanya sekali.

Semua 10,000 ahli PPS juga boleh ditangkap mengikut perundangan negara kerana menjadi ahli pertubuhan haram adalah satu kesalahan di bawah Seksyen 43 serta boleh dihukum penjara tiga tahun, denda RM5,000 atau kedua-duanya sekali.   Shen Yee Aun papashan88@outlook.com Utusan/Rencana/20140907

Orang media juga manusia biasa

SEJAK lebih sebulan lalu kebanyakan kita diseliputi perasaan hiba dan sedih berikutan kejadian pesawat MH 17 milik MAS ditembak jatuh oleh pihak pengganas yang pro-Rusia dalam konflik peperangan dengan pihak kerajaan Ukraine di kawasan sempadan negara itu.


Amat menyedihkan melihat harapan keluarga dan rakan taulan yang mengharap kepulangan mereka apatah lagi pada saat Aidilfitri bakal tiba.

Sudahlah beberapa bulan sebelum itu, kita dikejutkan dengan kehilangan pesawat MH370 yang dalam perjalanan menuju ke Beijing dan dikatakan berakhir di Lautan Hindi. Sepanjang dua peristiwa besar ini berlaku mungkin banyak pihak terlepas pandang, kelibat wartawan dan jurugambar adalah antara pihak yang paling sibuk dan bertungkus lumus sejak awal pagi hinggalah lewat malam.

Ada yang berkorban tenaga, masa malah kewangan melakukan tugasan tanpa sebarang rasa jemu dan berkira. Memang ada pihak yang berasa kurang senang dengan kehadiran pihak media, mungkin beranggapan kurang selesa dengan lensa kamera dan perhatian yang diberikan. Namun akhirnya semua jelas dan bersikap terbuka bahawa tugas dan amanah para petugas media itu adalah bukan kerana mahu disalah guna jauh sekali mempunyai kepentingan serta agenda peribadi.

Kita sedia maklum bahawa wartawan dan jurugambar inilah yang menjadi penghubung antara pihak yang terlibat dengan masyarakat dan ahli keluarga yang begitu bimbang dan sedih dengan apa berlaku. Semua kita sedang menanti apa kisah sebenar dan maklumat sahih tentang punca, siapa dan kenapa tragedi seburuk MH 370 dan MH 17 berlaku. Mereka ini telah dibekalkan dengan etika dan integriti yang sepatutnya dalam menjalankan tugas dan tidak seharusnya berlaku sebarang pelanggaran, terutama melibatkan pihak keluarga yang masih bersedih dengan apa yang menimpa mereka.

Mungkin terdapat beberapa berita yang kurang enak serta tidak beretika dilaporkan namun ia bukan melibatkan media arus perdana dan mereka yang berpegang kepada integriti. Hanya melibatkan kenyataan di beberapa blog, Facebook atau media sosial lain oleh pihak yang adakalanya lebih sudu dari kuah aksinya.

Etika

Soal etika ini juga tidak begitu dipedulikan oleh beberapa media antarabangsa yang sampai satu ketika cuba memanipulasikan peristiwa tersebut dengan mengaitkan pihak tertentu demi kepentingan geopolitik pihak terlibat. Malah dalam peristiwa melibatkan pesawat MH 370, berita mengenai kapten Zaharie Ahmad Shah sengaja diputarbelitkan oleh media Barat seolah-olah cuba mengaitkan beliau sebagai punca kejadian itu, sesuatu yang jelas bertentangan dengan etika.

Alhamdulillah, pihak media Malaysia terutama sekali akhbar ini telah memegang kepada etika dan integriti yang tinggi dan bukannya berkelakuan seperti paparazi di Barat yang sentiasa bertindak di luar kewarasan hanya untuk berita yang kemudian disensasikan bagi tujuan tertentu. Kini hampir semua mayat mereka yang terkorban dalam tragedi menyayat hati itu sudah kembali ke tanah air dan selamat disemadikan mengikut amalan dan kepercayaan agama masing-masing. Tiada siapa pun yang dapat menyangkal kesedihan yang berlaku dan semua pihak bekerjasama secara baik bagi memastikan misi membawa balik dan mengebumikan jenazah dilakukan secara berhemah dan tertib.

Namun malangnya satu peristiwa hitam berlaku apatah lagi dalam keadaan semua pihak termasuk masih lagi bersedih dan berkabung. Agak malang bagi seorang jurugambar sebuah akhbar arus perdana ditumbuk oleh salah seorang ahli keluarga mangsa nahas tersebut. Dalam keadaan beliau mahu memberikan laporan terbaik, jurugambar berkenaan diperlakukan sedemikian rupa seolah-olah dia begitu bersalah dan patut dilayan sedemikian rupa.

Hakikatnya perlukah kejadian tersebut dilakukan sedangkan perbuatan menumbuk atau menyerang seseorang adalah satu perbuatan yang salah di sisi undang-undang. Sepatutnya jika timbul sebarang masalah, apa yang perlu hanya nyatakan secara elok kepada jurugambar atau kepada pihak yang berkenaan jika tidak mahu sebarang liputan.

Waima jika benarlah jurugambar atau wartawan yang berada di lokasi ada membuat khilaf sekalipun, tidak perlulah diserang atau dipukul secara kasar. Apakah mereka ini bukan manusia yang perlu dilayan sebegitu rupa. Tidak bolehkah jika dilakukan secara baik atau berperikemanusiaan kerana sudah tentu setiap kelemahan dan kekurangan pasti ada jalan penyelesaian terbaik dan berhemah tanpa perlu melakukan kekasaran.

Apatah lagi ia melibatkan pihak yang telah banyak berkorban dan bersengkang mata siang dan malam untuk memberi liputan berita terbaik bagi pihak keluarga mangsa nahas serta seluruh rakyat negara ini. Apa salahnya jika toleransi dan sikap menghormati dijadikan sempadan terbaik dalam menyelesaikan sesuatu.

Bagaimanapun saya berharap perkara ini dapat diselesaikan dengan baik tanpa perlu berlarutan di kemudian hari. Kita semua faham bagi mereka yang terlibat adalah perlu sedikit ruang diberikan sebagai penghormatan terakhir. Namun kita semua juga perlu akui bahawa wartawan dan jurugambar sebenarnya hanyalah manusia biasa seperti kita semua dan bukannya musuh yang cuba merosak atau memburukkan lagi keadaan.

Maka seperti orang lain, keluarga wartawan dan jurugambar ini juga mengharapkan supaya mereka dapat pulang ke rumah dalam keadaan selamat tanpa tanda lebam atau berdarah di hidung. Dan seterusnya dapat kembali bertugas pada hari esoknya dengan selamat tanpa ancaman bagi memastikan mereka dapat meneruskan kehidupan seperti orang lain.   Hafizahril Hamid hafizahril@yahoo.com.my Utusan/Rencana/20140907

Kita tak peduli lagi bahasa kebangsaan!

Baharu seminggu kita menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan Ke-57. Minggu hadapan sambutan Hari Malaysia Ke-51 pula disambut.


Kalau kita peka, bagaimana pula dengan program Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan. Bulan apa ia diadakan. Apa tujuannya dan berapa lama tempoh pelaksanaannya.

Barangkali banyak yang tidak tahu pun bahawa kita sudah masuk Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan. Biasanya ia dijalankan sepanjang bulan Oktober setiap tahun. Tapi kini ia berlangsung selama tiga bulan - September, Oktober dan November.

Kalau diselak sejarah, program ini bermula sejak dekad 1960-an dengan panggilan Minggu Bahasa Kebangsaan dan kini Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan.

Kempen yang dipelopori oleh Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka ini telah melalui perubahan daripada segi nama seperti Gerakan Cintailah Bahasa Kita (1987-1996), Gerakan Bahasa Kebangsaan Sektor Swasta (1996-2005) dan Minggu Sastera (1987-1998). Pada tahun 1999, gerakan ini dinamakan Bulan Bahasa dan Sastera Negara. Sejak 2009, kempen ini beralih ke nama Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan - daripada program satu bulan ditambah menjadi tiga bulan.

Apakah kesan ketara daripada program Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan ini? Apakah kesan ketara daripada program melibatkan seluruh negara ini?

Fokus utama program ini adalah untuk kempen cintai bahasa Melayu. Tujuan utama pelaksanaan program ini pula adalah untuk mendidik masyarakat berbilang kaum di Malaysia supaya menyemarakkan dan seterusnya memartabatkan bahasa kebangsaan ini dalam pelbagai aspek urusan harian supaya bahasa Melayu maju sebagai bahasa kelas dunia yang praktikal dan realistik.

Selepas hampir enam dekad program Bulan Bahasa ini dijalankan, apakah kita dapat memperkukuhkan dan mempamerkan jati diri sebagai bangsa Malaysia dengan satu bahasa, satu bangsa dan satu negara?

Bolehkah kita bermegah dengan tahap penggunaan bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa kebangsaan sekarang?

Benarkah bahasa kebangsaan berjaya mengeratkan dan memperkukuhkan perpaduan antara kaum? Bagaimana kedudukan dan peranan bahasa kebangsaan sekarang sebagai tonggak pembinaan negara bangsa?

Kesan Program

Apakah kita sudah menilai semula kesan program yang mengisi Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan ini? Bagaimana dan sejauh mana pengaruh persidangan dan seminar bahasa Melayu kepada masyarakat umum?

Apakah hasil program perkampungan bahasa dan sastera dan program lain yang dijalankan selama ini mampu mencapai sasaran yang diharapkan? Pada saya ia mencapai sasaran kepada golongan yang terlibat secara langsung sahaja dan jumlah peratusannya pun kecil.

Lihatlah setiap tahun bagaimana sambutan masyarakat umum terhadap program Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan. Adakah sambutannya meriah seperti orang berduyun-duyun menyaksikan persembahan hiburan percuma dan berbayar.

Barangkali kita selalu hendak menyalahkan sikap rakyat yang tidak menyokong kempen cintai bahasa kebangsaan, sedangkan ada segelintir pemimpin Melayu sendiri tidak bersungguh-sungguh menyemarakkan dan memartabatkan penggunaan bahasa kebangsaan dalam urusan harian mereka.

Selepas perjuangan memansuhkan dasar Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik Dalam Bahasa Inggeris (PPSMI) berjaya dicapai, orang bahasa bagaikan membisu tentang kedudukan bahasa kebangsaan yang semakin hilang tempat dalam banyak urusan kerajaan dan swasta.

Tidak siapa peduli lagi tentang kesalahan bahasa pada iklan, kain rentang dan keterangan barangan. Surat rasmi jabatan kerajaan adakala ditulis dalam bahasa Inggeris, dan banyak lagi masalah lain yang 'menghina' bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa kebangsaan.

Bolehkah saya kata - tahap bahasa kebangsaan tidak jauh takuknya semasa negara ini merdeka dibandingkan dengan sekarang. Memang ada kemajuan tetapi hanya dalam sistem pendidikan, luar daripada bidang itu - bagaimana?

Fikir dan cari di mana kedudukan bahasa kebangsaan dalam mengiringi pembangunan negara ini.

Tak payah saya gariskan, buat sakit hati sahaja. Kalau kita peduli tentang bahasa kebangsaan, kita kena tegas menguatkuasakannya. Cara berlembut dan mendidik sampai bila pun tak akan menjadi.   Azman Anuar azman_selasih@yahoo.com Utusan/Rencana/20140907

Langkah halus kukuhkan kedudukan

Wang Hong-wen, seorang lagi anggota Gang of Four yang digembleng Mao Tse-tung semasa Revolusi Kebudayaan di China (1966 - 1976), lahir di Changchun, provinsi Jilin, timur laut China. Menurut penulis Jung-Halliday, sebaik-baik sahaja berjalannya Revolusi Kebudayaan, Deng Xiao-peng menjadi salah seorang pemimpin kanan Parti Komunis China (PKC) yang menerima padahnya. Dia dilucutkan daripada semua jawatan parti dan kerajaan. Selepas kematian Lin Biao pada September 1971, Deng menulis surat kepada Mao meminta dipulihkan kedudukannya. Deng berasa risau terutama selepas Chou En-lai, dalam Mei 1972, disahkan menghidap barah yang serius. Deng menganggap dirinya layak menggantikan tempat Chou dalam parti dan kerajaan bila dia (Chou) meninggal dunia (Chou mati bulan Januari 1976, lapan bulan sebelum kematian Mao Tse-tung).

Menurut Jung-Halliday lagi, "Instead, Mao promoted Wang Hong-wen, the former Rebel leader in Shanghai, one of the products of the Cultural Revolution. Wang was a faceless good-looking 37-year-old, who had been a security man in a textile factory before the purge (Cultural Revolution). He was clever, and, like a lot of Rebel leaders, had a certain flair for inspiring gang allegiance. Mao, brought him to Peking and began to train him up, and a year later, in August 1973, made him his no. 3, after Chou (En-lai) (halaman 636-637)."

Mao memulihkan kedudukan Deng Xiao-peng dan melantiknya sebagai naib perdana menteri dengan tugasnya khususnya untuk menyambut kunjungan pembesar-pembesar dari luar negara. Menurut Jung-Halliday, "Mao felt he had to have a standby, even when he was promoting the Protege (Wang Hong-wen) (halaman 637)."

Jung-Halliday mempunyai cerita menarik tentang 'anak muda' dari Shanghai ini yang mahu dibentuk Mao untuk menggantikan Chou En-lai dan kelak mungkin pengganti Mao Tse-tung juga. Kata Jung-Halliday, "But, the Protege (Wang Hong-wen) was not up to filling Chou's shoes, especially when it came to dealing with foreigners. (halaman 637)."

Daripada kupasan tersebut, nyatalah Mao memilih Wang Hong-wen menganggotai Gang of Four bukan semata-mata untuk memperkukuhkan kedudukan kumpulan itu yang nama rasminya Central Cultural Revolutions Small Group. Ia juga langkah halus Mao untuk memperkukuhkan kedudukannya sendiri dalam parti. Dia mahu menentukan dirinya tidak dicabar atau digulingkan oleh pemimpin kanan parti yang seangkatan dengannya. Sangat jelas juga, Revolusi Kebudayaan di China yang digerakkan Mao itu mempunyai dua muslihat utama iaitu menghapuskan musuh politiknya dan sesudah itu, untuk menentukan supaya penggantinya adalah 'muka baharu', yakni bukan dalam kalangan 'orang-orang lama' yang telah bersama-sama berjuang dengannya dalam parti.

Ada seorang lagi penama yang banyak terbabit dalam gerakan-gerakan Gang of Four semasa Revolusi Kebudayaan. Dia ialah Chen Bo-da. Chen lahir pada tahun 1904 di Huian, provinsi Fujian daripada keluarga petani. Pada 1925, Chen memasuki Shanghai Labour University dan PKC dua tahun selepas itu. Pada tahun 1927 juga, Chen dipilih oleh parti untuk mengikuti pengajian di Sun Yat-sen University, Moscow selama empat tahun. Sekembalinya ke China, dia menyekutukan dirinya dengan Mao Tse-tung di pangkalan PKC di Yan'an. Kesetiaannya kepada Mao tidak pernah putus sejak tarikh itu sehinggalah dia menerima hukuman penjara selama 18 tahun pada 1981 (selepas kematian Mao) kerana terlibat secara mendalam dengan kumpulan Gang of Four semasa Revolusi Kebudayaan melanda China.

Chen Bo-da memang mudah menjadi 'orang pilihan' Mao untuk Revolusi Kebudayaan. Dia seorang komunis 'luar dan dalam'. Sebaik-baik sahaja 'mengabdikan' diri di pangkalan parti di Yan'an, Chen menjadi pensyarah di Sekolah Pusat Parti di Yan'an. Di situlah dia menyerlahkan kepakarannya dalam bidang teori fahaman komunis. Dia mempercayai sepenuhnya bahawa teori dialectical materialism (yang telah saya kupas dalam coretan sebelum ini) oleh Marx adalah satu tahap kejayaan kebudayaan (cultural achievement) yang paling hebat dalam sejarah kehidupan manusia. Mao sangat tertarik dengan kebolehan Chen, bukan sahaja kerana ilmu di dadanya, malah kerana gaya penyampaian dalam syarahannya memberi kesan mendalam kepada orang yang mendengarnya. Mao segera melantik Chen sebagai pembantu khasnya semasa di Yan'an. Chen tidak menghampakan kepercayaan Mao terhadapnya. Pada tahun 1937, Chen membukukan, buat julung kalinya, himpunan pemikiran dan ajaran-ajaran Mao. Pada tahun 1945 pula, dia menghasilkan penulisan sejarah PKC.

Selepas kejayaan parti komunis pada tahun 1949, kedudukan Chen Bo-da di sisi Mao Tse-tung semakin kukuh. Dia bukan saja menjadi setiausaha peribadi Mao, malah selalu terbabit dalam penulisan dokumen-dokumen rasmi negara. Ini, khususnya, dari sudut pendirian atau tapisan parti. Pada tahun 1958, dia dilantik Mao menjadi Pengarang Utama jurnal parti 'Hongqi' (The Red Flag). Boleh dikatakan, sejak tertubuhnya negara komunis China pada 1949, Chen Bo-da, orang yang paling kerap digembleng Mao untuk menulis teks-teks ucapannya.

Dr. Li Zhisui, dalam bukunya, memberi keterangan sangat jelas tentang peranan Chen. Kata Dr. Li, "The Office of Political Secretaries … was responsible for keeping the top leadership informed of issues, and for writing reports and documents. In 1949, the Office of Political Secretaries was headed by Chen Bo-da, who was also Mao's chief political secretary. Mao had several other political secretaries as well - his wife, Jiang Qing, Hu Qiao-mu and Tian Jia-ying….. (halaman 49)."

Menurut Dr. Li lagi, pada satu ketika selepas persidangan parti komunis di Wuhan, provinsi Hebei pada Julai-Disember 1959, pemimpin-pemimpin parti yang hadir mengadakan majlis makan malam meraikan kejayaan persidangan itu. Di dalam ucapan-ucapan mereka, semuanya memuji Mao Tse-tung. Kata Dr. Li, seorang pemimpin komunis, Wang Ren-zhong, mengisytiharkan, " Only under the brilliant leadership of the Chairman can such a red sun rise in the east.' Chou En-lai rose to add to the flattery, 'Comrade Chen Bo-da has said that one day under a truly communist society equals twenty years in a non-communist one.' (halaman 282)."

Dengan terbarisnya penama-penama yang telah saya kisahkan setakat ini - Lin Biau, Kang Sheng, Gang of Four dan Chen Bo-da - Mao Tse-tung tampak telah bersedia untuk mencuci masyarakat Cina yang berselaput dengan 'kekotoran-kekotoran' yang, menurut pemikiran Mao Tse-tung yang karut dan gila itu, disebabkan 'kedegilan' masyarakat Cina di China mengamalkan cara hidup bersendikan tamadun Cina yang sudah berjalan beribu tahun lamanya itu.

Beginilah cetusan kesimpulan penulis Jung-Halliday dalam buku mereka tentang gelagat Mao Tse-tung ketika itu, "At the end of May 1966, Mao set up a new office, the Cultural Revolution Small Group to help the Purge. Madame Mao (Jiang Qing) headed it for him, with Mao's former secretary, Chen Bo-da, its nominal director, and purge expert Kang Sheng its 'adviser'. This office, in addition to Lin Biao and Chou En-lai, formed Mao's latest inner circle. Under the new cabal, the cult of Mao was escalated to fever pitch. Mao's face dominated the front page of People's Daily, which also ran a column of his quotations every day… (halaman 534)."

Pada minggu hadapan, saya akan mengisahkan lebih mendalam apakah strategi atau putar-belit politik Lin Biau apabila dia ikut sama menggerakkan Revolusi Kebudayaan itu. Jangan sesekali anda fikirkan Lin Biau ibarat melukut di tepi gantang dalam kancah rebutan kuasa dalam kalangan para pemimpin kanan Parti Komunis China ketika itu.   ABDUL RAHIM NOOR Utusan/Rencana/20140907

ISA: Selepas hampir tiga tahun dimansuhkan

Sebagai rakyat biasa yang bukan terdiri dalam kalangan penyangak, komunis, penjual manusia atau pelampau agama atau individu yang dianggap bahaya kepada negara, tarikh 16 September 2011 tidak mengubah apa-apa dalam hidup saya. Seperti majoriti rakyat biasa yang tidak termasuk dalam kategori di atas, tarikh ini tidak memberi makna yang besar. Padahal ini satu tarikh bersejarah dalam sistem perundangan negara ini apabila Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) dimansuhkan.



Sebagai orang yang tidak arif tentang undang-undang, saya melihat ISA tidak mendatangkan masalah kepada majoriti rakyat. Sebaliknya ia memberi masalah kepada golongan penyangak yang disebutkan tadi. Kalau begitu, apa masalahnya?

Tidak kurang juga yang beremosi bila ada mendesak ISA tidak dimansuhkan kerana sesetengahnya ada sanak saudara mereka yang menjadi mangsa kekejaman komunis pada zaman darurat dulu. Kalau boleh mereka mahukan ISA terus kekal menjadi pelindung rakyat.

Apabila dimansuhkan, ada yang berpendapat ia memberi keuntungan kepada segelintir yang kerjanya buat onar dalam negara ini.

Saya tidak menafikan, ada kalanya ISA kelihatan seolah-olah telah disalahgunakan terutama terhadap pemimpin politik dan aktivis sosial. Hal ini sama dengan yang dilalui oleh tokoh nasionalis Pak Sako zaman penjajahan British. Tetapi bilangannya kecil. Yang banyak ditahan di bawah ISA adalah manusia yang bawa bahaya kepada rakyat.

ISA atau dalam bahasa mudahnya dikenali sebagai tahanan tanpa bicara. Ini adalah antara undang-undang preventif yang diwujudkan untuk menjaga keselamatan rakyat. Kalau kita tengok senarai tahanan ISA sejak 1960 hingga akta ini dimansuhkan, mereka yang ditahan disabitkan dengan kesalahan yang mengancam keselamatan negara.

Beberapa negara lain terus menggunakan undang-undang yang sama dengan nama yang berbeza. Tetapi semuanya ditahan tanpa bicara. Singapura misalnya terus ada undang-undang menahan tanpa bicara.

Negara yang paling gah memperjuangkan hak asasi manusia, Amerika Syarikat (AS) tidak terkecuali. Walaupun bekas Presiden, George W. Bush pernah mengkritik ISA sebagai undang-undang yang kejam dan jahat.

Tetapi selepas peristiwa 11 September 2001, AS meminda Akta Patriot dan buktinya beribu-ribu orang dari negara-negara luar AS yang dikelaskan sebagai 'pelampau' ditahan tanpa bicara di kem Guantanamo. Penyeksaan dan kekejaman yang dilakukan oleh tentera AS di Guantanamo tidak dapat digambarkan dengan kata-kata. Ternyata AS yang lebih jahat.

Pergerakan perjuangan hak asasi di Barat menyerang negara kita kononnya mencabuli hak asasi yang diberi peluang kepada semua orang mempertahankan diri. Tetapi mereka tidak menyerang AS yang juga mengamalkan pencabulan yang sama, kalau ini boleh dianggap sebagai mencabul hak asasi manusia. Kita pun termakan asakan bertalu-talu itu dan barangkali terlupa bahawa tidak semua kejahatan atau kebaikan boleh dibuktikan di mahkamah. Misalnya kesilapan teknikal boleh membuatkan penyangak terlepas daripada hukuman.

Berkeliaran

Walaupun memansuhkan ISA dan penyangak yang paling bahaya pun berkeliaran mencari mangsa, pergerakan hak asasi tidak pernah memuji anjakan kita menambah baik undang-undang. Sebenarnya tujuan mereka bukan memperjuangkan hak majoriti tetapi kepentingan segelintir yang kononnya tidak diberi peluang mendapat pengadilan yang sepatutnya. Maka kita tidak boleh menyalahkan rakyat kalau beranggapan pemansuhan ISA untuk kepentingan penyangak berkenaan.

Persepsi mereka termasuk saya ini mungkin salah tetapi hakikatnya itulah yang berlegar dalam kalangan rakyat. Setakat ini rakyat tidak dibuktikan bahawa pemansuhan ISA memberikan banyak kebaikan kepada mereka.

Walau apa pun saya percaya untuk memansuhkan ISA bukan satu proses mudah. Ia mesti mendapat mandat daripada banyak pihak. Pada peringkat ini pemimpin-pemimpin politik terutama daripada UMNO sudah mengkaji semasak-masak buruk dan baiknya memansuhkan ISA. Semua perkara ini tentu tidak diberitahu kepada orang seperti saya dan rakyat biasa yang lain.

Untuk berlaku adil, saya menyimpulkan bahawa pemansuhan ISA adalah keputusan yang dibuat secara muafakat. Ia sudah pasti dipersetujui oleh pemimpin-pemimpin politik terutama UMNO yang menerajui kerajaan. Kalau pemimpin UMNO tidak setuju, saya pasti ISA tidak dapat dimansuhkan begitu sahaja.

Tetapi dalam perkembangan terkini, Ahli Majlis Tertinggi UMNO yang juga Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Shahidan Kassim berkata, hasil tinjauan terhadap 161 bahagian UMNO, semua bahagian dan sayap parti itu meminta kerajaan mengembalikan ISA.

Sudah tentu ada yang bertanya adakah pandangan mereka tidak diminta terlebih dahulu sebelum memansuhkan ISA?

Saya fikir saya dapat menyelami kebimbangan pemimpin UMNO ketika ini hingga mereka meminta dikembalikan ISA. Barangkali pemimpin di pelbagai lapisan ini menyedari bahawa dalam apa keadaan sekalipun hak asasi rakyat mesti didahulukan dan bukannya hak asasi penjenayah.

Saya yakin mereka yang menentang ISA hanya segelintir daripada Melayu yang liberal, buta sejarah dan tidak merasa pahit getir rusuhan kaum 13 Mei 1969. Mereka inilah yang memperjuangkan hak asasi penjenayah. Lihatlah bagaimana puak-puak ini menjatuhkan moral pasukan polis dan menjulang penjenayah yang menganggu gugat rakyat.

Dalam keadaan sekarang, akta yang menggantikan ISA perlu dimanfaatkan supaya jangan ada pihak yang mempersenda undang-undang. Kalau ada ISA sekalipun tetapi tidak dilaksanakan, tidak berguna juga. Bersandar daripada pengalaman ISA juga, jangan sama sekali menyalahgunakan untuk tujuan di luar kepentingan rakyat.     Ku Seman Ku Hussain Utusan/Rencana/20140907

Hidup atas isu, kontroversi

Banyak kebimbangan terlahir apabila 'pemaksaan' terhadap Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail untuk diangkat menjadi Menteri Besar Selangor sifatnya tidak demokratik dan menafikan potensi kalangan tokoh lain yang berwibawa. Kini Pas cuba mengambil sikap yang berbeza. Apakah ini petanda pemimpin besar Pas sedang meneliti dan memerhati supaya arah politik baharu boleh terjadi? Ikuti wawancara dengan Timbalan Presiden Pertubuhan Jalur Tiga (Jati), DATUK AIDIT GHAZALI tentang perkembangan isu politik di Selangor.

Mingguan: Sebagai anak negeri Selangor, Datuk sangat dekat dengan krisis politik-Istana yang yang sedang terjadi. Kalau isunya ialah perkenan Sultan dalam perlantikan Menteri Besar Selangor, Tuanku Sultan telah menyatakan sikap baginda sesuai dengan peruntukan undang-undang negeri Selangor. Apa latar yang Datuk lihat hal ini terjadi?

AIDIT: Saya, rakyat yang taat setia pada Sultan saya, sebab kedudukan Raja-Raja Melayu di negara kita adalah sebagai Pemayung dan Pemelihara agama Islam, hak umat serta rakyat dan penjagaan negara untuk berterusan menjadi sebuah daulat Islam, walaupun ada kelemahan di sana sini.

Saya berpegang pada wasiat Raja-Raja Melayu ketika bersetuju dengan pembentukan Perlembagaan Persekutuan Tanah Melayu pada 5 Ogos 1957, iaitu salah satunya: "Kami isytiharkan Islam ialah agama Persekutuan."

Susulan pada wasiat ini, maka Raja-Raja Melayu, termasuk Sultan Selangor wajib memilih pemimpin nombor satu negeri yang menjawat sebagai menteri besar, yang mampu, layak, beriltizam, terbukti kemampuan dan berpotensi untuk mendukung pelaksanaan wasiat ini juga.

Justeru, kemelut politik di Selangor hari ini bukan diwujudkan atas sebab campur tangan Istana tetapi atas sebab Tuanku masih belum lagi jelas siapa yang wajar diperkenan sebagai menteri besar yang mampu pikul amanah berat ini.

Kemelut yang berlaku ini terbit daripada kerakusan nafsu Anwar Ibrahim dan penyokong-penyokongnya yang termakan dengan agenda politik sempitnya. Bila berlanjutan daripada konspirasi Langkah Kajang sehingga membawa pada keadaan hari ini, di mana kita melihat sesama pemimpin pakatan pembangkang berpecah, sesama pemimpin dalam parti-parti Pakatan berpecah dan rakyat semakin kecewa dengan gelagat pimpinan tertinggi parti-parti dalam Pakatan, maka kita lagilah perlu faham mengapa Tuanku begitu teliti, prihatin dan serius dalam pemilihan menteri besar yang tak akan khianati pelaksanaan amanah berat ini.

Apabila tambah lagi dengan putar-belit yang dilontarkan oleh beberapa pemimpin Pakatan sehingga mereka bercanggah sesama sendiri, maka kita sebagai rakyat yang setia kepada Tuanku jelas memahami pendirian Istana, agar jangan nanti kegopohan kita untuk melantik menteri besar serta kenaifan kita untuk percaya pada kata-kata licik pihak-pihak tertentu nanti menggadai masa depan Islam, umat, negeri, negara dan segala yang kita telah usaha untuk bina selama ini.

Meletakkan nama satu calon Dr. Wan Azizah sebagai pengganti Khalid Ibrahim walaupun Pas selaku regu Pakatan mempunyai pendirian lain, nampaknya tidak dihormati Anwar. Apakah ini memperlihatkan gejala 'nepotisme' hasil maksud tersirat 'Langkah Kajang' yang menyebabkan krisis?

AIDIT: Krisis yang kita saksikan pada hari ini adalahi natijah daripada faktor-faktor yang lebih besar dan berbahaya daripada sekadar gejala nepotisme. Pada saya, krisis hari ini lahir daripada kerakusan nafsu serakah manusia-manusia yang berprinsipkan 'Matlamat menghalalkan sebarang cara', penghambaan beberapa pihak pada agenda kuasa-kuasa luar yang tidak menyenangi Malaysia sebagai negara yang hendak pada Islam, penganutan beberapa pihak pada ideologi pluralisme, liberalisme, sekularisme, hedonisme dan rasionalisme, dan agenda beberapa pihak yang hendak mencabar kedudukan Institusi Raja dan seterusnya mendekati penubuhan sebuah republik.

Mereka juga hendak mengganti tonggak-tonggak negara dengan alternatif mereka yang akan berlandaskan ideologi-ideologi songsang yang saya sebutkan ini. Maka tak hairanlah kita saksi mereka menyerang PDRM, ATM, SPRM, SPR, Institusi Kehakiman, Institusi Raja, aspek-aspek terpenting dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan, hak-hak bangsa Melayu dan Bumiputera, status fatwa, undang-undang Islam, agensi-agensi agama Islam, takrifan-takrifan songsang pada kefahaman hak asasi manusia dan banyak lagi.

Siapa yang makan cili, maka dialah rasa pedas. Kalau tak bersalah, maka tak perlulah risau. Namun bagi insan seperti saya, dah terang lagi disuluh siapa penyangak-penyangak yang saya maksudkan.

Satu sebab mengapa krisis ini juga boleh berlaku adalah kerana pihak-pihak yang sepatutnya boleh buat kerja masih lesu dan lembab dalam melaksanakan tugasan secara pintar dan tuntas. Ini termasuklah parti-parti politik, agensi-agensi kerajaan, GLC, NGO dan sebagainya. Kelemahan kita telah menonjolkan musuh-musuh kita seolah-olah mereka cerdik dan kuat.

Walhal, jika kita ikuti portal berita dan blog-blog yang satu ketika mendukung gila-gila gejala pihak anti-establishment, kini mereka mengkritik tahap bangat puak-puak yang sama.

Malah, saya juga dapat kesan sebahagian daripada kenalan saya yang satu ketika begitu taksub dengan pejuang-pejuang liberalis ini, kini dah malu alah dengan keghairahan mereka. Tetapi saya mengambil sikap, biar lambat asalkan selamat daripada dimurkai Allah SWT kelak.

Sebagai ahli ekonomi dan konsultan berpengalaman di Malaysia, apakah ini sebahagian dari teori konflik yang diamalkan oleh Anwar dalam strategi politiknya supaya isu tetap hidup dan sifatnya kontroversi?

AIDIT: Manusia seperti Anwar Ibrahim hidup atas isu. Jika tidak ada isu, maka isu baru akan direka. Jika kita naif dan tidak arif dengan permainan liciknya, maka kita akan terperangkap dengan emosi kita yang membuak, langkah-langkah kita yang sekadar sentuh masalah di permukaan sahaja, mudah puas hati dengan sekadar demonstrasi spontan dan laporan polis serta berbicara seperti juara kalangan kenalan kita sahaja.

Kita mesti faham bahawa jika khazanah ilmu Barat mengenalkan 80 kaedah mencari penyelesaian, khazanah Islam ada 250 sekurang-kurangnya. Jika dunia Barat ada 35 kaedah perang saraf, Islam ada 60 kaedah perang saraf. Jika negara China ada seni peperangan SunTzu, Rasulullah ada berpuluh seni peperangan Baginda yang kita dapat garap daripada 28 peperangan (ghazwah) di mana Baginda terlibat.

Apa yang saya ingin majukan ialah kerakusan politik Anwar dan kuncu-kuncunya bukan sangat disebabkan mereka ini lebih bijak daripada kita. Tetapi kita yang ada kudrat, kuasa, jawatan, pengaruh, sumber dan peluang tidak ghairah untuk menguasai kepakaran yang sedia ada dalam Islam. Malah ada antara kita ini mempunyai sindrom sempit bahawa apa yang datang daripada Barat pasti lebih hebat daripada apa yang bangsa kita sendiri mampu lakukan.

Justeru, krisis di Selangor hari ini mesti sama-sama dipertanggungjawabkan oleh semua pihak dan bukan sahaja main players seperti Istana, parti politik dan sebagainya.

Sebagai anak Selangor, ia memerlukan kepemimpinan yang berwibawa dan mempunyai integriti tinggi kerana Selangor ialah pusat pembangunan ekonomi negara. Tumpuan adalah pada membangunkan hartanah dan menggubal dasar perumahan, penyelesaian bekalan air bersih dan juga kemajuan industri. Tidakkah tanpa integriti, maka kesan demografik (taburan penduduk) boleh membawa kesan terhadap pertumbuhan dan upaya politik umat Melayu pada masa depan?

AIDIT: Memang benar kita mesti dipimpin oleh mereka yang memiliki dan membuktikan bahawa diri mereka mempunyai tahap integriti yang tinggi. Namun, saya juga sabitkan soal integriti ini dengan soal iman, ketakwaan, iltizam kita terhadap mempertahankan syiar Islam serta soal hidayat.

Apabila saya berpegang sedemikian, maka saya tidak nampak bagaimana kita hendak katakan seseorang itu mempunyai integriti jika kefahaman agama Islamnya itu dinodai dengan kefahaman pluralisme, liberalisme, simpati pada keselamatan negara haram Israel, biadab pada Institusi Raja dan sebagainya.

Integriti bukan boleh dibeli, dipindah, disewa, diperakui sendiri atau dilabel. Bak kata-kata dalam Bahasa Inggeris, "you have to earn it and not take it for granted." Saya tidak perlu memberi ulasan tentang soal akhlak seseorang untuk menolaknya tetapi jika dalam hal akidah Islam seseorang itu goyah, kabur dan sesat, maka saya yakin kita tidak perlu mencari ruang sangka baik dengan orang seperti ini.

Apakah Datuk melihat kemungkinan Tuanku Sultan atas nasihat perundangan menyerahkan mandat itu kepada rakyat semula?

AIDIT: Membubar Dewan Undangan Negeri bukan sesuatu keputusan yang mudah diambil oleh Tuanku sebab baginda juga amat peka dengan soal perbelanjaan yang besar, soal menyusahkan rakyat tanpa sebab kukuh, soal tidak mengguna saluran-saluran seperti hak baginda dalam Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri dan soal mengambil jalan mudah, sedangkan krisis ini bukan disebabkan tindakan Istana.

Krisis ini wujud disebabkan kerakusan agenda politik Anwar, kebiadaban pihak-pihak politik terhadap kuasa dan hak Sultan, krisis politik dalaman parti-parti dalam Pakatan serta kedegilan mereka yang taksub pada manusia sehingga sanggup menggadai masa depan Islam, umat, negara dan generasi akan datang.

Namun, pembubaran DUN tidak dapat dinafikan boleh berlaku tetapi tidaklah semudah itu. Saya amat meyakini kebijaksanaan Sultan Selangor. Dalam sesi-sesi perbincangan saya dengan Tuanku, ketajaman soalan dan pandangan baginda serta tahap kemaslahatan di sebalik perkenan baginda sering menuntut saya untuk datang mengadap well prepared. Saya amat simpati dengan sesiapa yang berfikir bahawa Tuanku mudah dipinggirkan, lebih-lebih lagi apabila baginda tidak lekang daripada terus menjunjung tinggi wasiat Raja-raja Melayu.   Utusan/Rencana/20140907

Analisis Mingguan: Bisik-Bisik Awang Selamat

Anwar vs Hadi

Memandangkan sudah terlalu banyak analisis dan tulisan berkaitan kemelut Menteri Besar Selangor yang masih berlarutan, Awang sekadar mahu merafak sembah ke atas Sultan Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah kerana kebijaksanaan baginda menangani isu tersebut.

Biarpun menghadapi tekanan dan adakalanya ugutan dan penghinaan daripada para pemimpin PKR dan DAP, baginda tidak goyah apalagi untuk tunduk. Awang ingin menzahirkan kesyukuran dan penghargaan yang tidak terhingga atas ketegasan Sultan Selangor. Rata-rata masyarakat menyokong baginda dalam isu tersebut sambil menolak perbuatan menghina Raja yang disifatkan sudah keterlaluan. Teruskanlah Tuanku mempertahankan kepentingan rakyat dan negeri Selangor daripada angkara percaturan peribadi pemimpin politik gila kuasa yang mahu beraja di mata dan bertakhta di hati.

Dalam pada itu, Awang teruja apabila Pas menghantar tiga nama untuk dipersembahkan sebagai calon menteri besar yang baharu. Lebih banyak pilihan lebih baik. Apa salahnya jika calon Pas menjadi menteri besar. Beri pula peluang kepada parti itu yang mempunyai hak dan merit dalam konteks politik Selangor.

Lagipun Awang lebih percaya pemimpin Pas untuk mengurus rezab RM5 bilion berbanding calon boneka Penasihat PKR, Anwar Ibrahim. Namun terganggu dengan perbalahan terbuka sesama pemimpin Pas. Kelompok Anwarinas telah bertindak balas terhadap golongan ulama, termasuk menubuhkan Pertubuhan Ummah Sejahtera Malaysia (PasMa). Pendirian Hadi tidak diikuti sebaliknya diperlekehkan. Timbalan Presiden Pas, Mohamad Sabu pula mempersoalkan keputusan Majlis Syura Ulama yang mencadangkan ADUN Pas sebagai calon menteri besar. Inilah perpecahan paling buruk dalam sejarah Pas, yang pujian harus diberi kepada Anwar atas kejayaannya itu. DAP menjadi komponen pakatan paling untung dan puas.

Apa pun Awang tabik Presiden Pas, Hadi Awang dan barisan ulama kerana tidak tunduk kepada PKR dan DAP. Walaupun Hadi menghadapi tentangan hebat daripada kelompok Anwarinas atau Anwariuun (memetik rujukan Uztaz Ismail Mina), majoriti ahli akar umbi masih bersama beliau. Semalam, Hadi bersuara sekali lagi menolak Wan Azizah Ismail yang disifatkannya tidak berkebolehan. Begitu juga amaran beliau kepada pemimpin Pas supaya keluar parti jika tidak lagi sehaluan dengan Pas. Awang percaya itu baru permulaan. Adalah silap bagi Anwar mahu mengambil mudah Hadi. Kita lihat nanti.

Akta Hasutan

Ahli Majlis Tertinggi UMNO, Shahidan Kassim menyatakan semua bahagian dan sayap UMNO meminta kerajaan mengekalkan Akta Hasutan 1948. Ini antara lain berdasarkan maklum balas daripada persidangan bahagian-bahagian UMNO sekarang. Sentimen tersebut menyamai pendirian banyak badan bukan kerajaan termasuk yang diputuskan oleh Badan Perpaduan Nasional yang turut mahukan akta itu ditambah baik. Nampaknya setakat ini, suara yang mahukan Akta Hasutan dikekalkan semakin kuat, yang sudah tentu akan diambil kira oleh kerajaan.

Sementara itu, Awang dikirimkan kenyataan bekas Ketua Hakim Negara, Abdul Hamid Mohamad yang dikeluarkan semalam. Berikut antara sedutannya: "Singapura masih mempunyai Akta Hasutan (Sedition Act). Singapura tidak teragak-agak untuk mengambil tindakan mahkamah terhadap seseorang. Daripada kes-kes yang saya temui, semua orang yang dituduh dan dihukum adalah orang bukan Islam kerana kesalahan terhadap orang Islam. Sebagai misalan, sepasang suami isteri Cina beragama Kristian dihukum empat minggu kerana mengedar bahan cetak dan menghasut kepada dua orang wanita Islam. Seorang lagi dituduh kerana membuat kenyataan yang mengandungi kata-kata yang lucah dan menghina terhadap orang Melayu dan agama mereka, Islam. Dia dikenakan sebulan penjara. Semasa menjatuhkan hukuman bagi kedua-dua kes itu pada 7 Oktober 2005 Hakim Kanan Mahkamah Daerah Richard Magnus berkata adalah penting untuk menjatuhkan hukuman yang mencegah (deterrent) supaya perbuatan yang menyakitkan hati (offending) itu boleh ditangani daripada awal dan dikawal.

Beliau mengingatkan peristiwa rusuhan kaum pada tahun 1994 di Singapura dan bahawa kenyataan yang tidak bertanggungjawab terhadap bangsa dan agama boleh menggugat kententearam awam. Tindakan itu diambil walaupun perlembaagan Republik Singapura tidak mempunyai peruntukan bahawa Islam adalah agama Republik itu dan tidak ada peruntukan yang membolehkan undang-undang dibuat untuk melarang orang bukan Islam daripada menyebar agama bukan Islam kepada orang Islam.

Tindakan itu diambil atas alasan kerana ia boleh menggugat ketenteraman awam. Malaysia patut belajar daripada Singapura." Awang paparkan dalam ruangan ini, untuk renungan bersama.

Harapan kepada Gani

Awang ucapkan tahniah kepada Peguam Negara, Gani Patail kerana responsif kepada suara majoriti rakyat negara ini yang mahukan isu-isu hasutan selain penghinaan antara agama dan kaum, ditangani dengan tegas.

Buktinya, banyak pendakwaan dilakukan kebelakangan ini. Inilah yang sebenarnya dimahukan iaitu bertindak tegas dan cepat ke atas mana-mana individu yang menghasut sebagaimana menjadi amalan di Singapura. Ia memberi isyarat yang jelas kepada rakyat lalu membentuk budaya penguatkuasaan undang-undang yang lebih digeruni. Cuma harapan Awang dalam membawa pendekatan lebih agresif, Pejabat Peguam Negara perlu kemas dan teliti terutama bagi memastikan pertuduhan mengikut akta yang sesuai supaya dilihat lebih berpeluang untuk menang sesuatu kes.

Dalam hal ini, Awang tertanya-tanya, selain pertuduhan Akta Hasutan 1948 ke atas Ahli Parlimen Padang Serai, N. Surendran, mengapa beliau tidak didakwa di bawah pertuduhan menghina mahkamah berkaitan kenyataannya dalam kes rayuan liwat Anwar Ibrahim? Sedangkan apa yang dinyatakan Surendan, seorang peguam adalah jelas mencemar institusi kehakiman, yang berat kesalahannya. Apakah beliau ada imuniti daripada sebarang pertuduhan menghina mahkamah, entahlah...

Misteri sebenar

Sama ada suka atau tidak, Mahkamah Rayuan telah membuat keputusan berhubung kes kematian Teoh Beng Hock iaitu setiausaha politik Exco Kerajaan Negeri Selangor, Ean Yong Hian (DAP).

Antara lain ia merumuskan Mahkamah koroner terkhilaf ketika memutuskan bahawa kematian Beng Hock adalah akibat bunuh diri. Mahkamah Rayuan turut mengarahkan Peguam Negara dan Ketua Polis Negara menjalankan semula siasatan bagi mengheret pihak yang bertanggungjawab ke muka pengadilan.

Atas semangat yang sama, Awang berharap polis dan Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) turut memberi tumpuan kepada isu sebenar iaitu dakwaan beberapa exco Selangor menyalahgunakan peruntukan awam, yang Beng Hock merupakan salah seorang saksi bagi siasatan. Juga dakwaan yang pernah dilaporkan tentang kaitan exco tertentu dengan kegiatan kongsi gelap. Salah laku dan penyelewengan itu tidak boleh dikompromi.

Siasat habis-habisan supaya isu pokok pada awal siasatan kes Beng Hock tidak ditenggelamkan oleh mana-mana pihak. Awang berharap polis dan SPRM tidak gagal kali ini. Rakyat mahu tahu perihal sebenar supaya ia tidak terus menjadi misteri. Jangan biarkan mereka yang terbabit terlepas dengan hilai ketawa.

UDA abai Melayu?

Beberapa aktivis badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) terus melahirkan keluh kesah terhadap prestasi UDA dalam melaksanakan agenda asal penubuhannya. Salah seorang aktivis tersebut yang menjalankan penyelidikan meminta Awang tolong tanyakan apakah benar projek-projek mega UDA dianugerahkan kepada syarikat bukan bumiputera sepenuhnya dan syarikat bumiputera yang dikuasai oleh bukan bumiputera? Antaranya pembangunan usahasama di tapak Penjara Pudu dan projek komersil bercampur di Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

Khabarnya, projek pembangunan Pulau Jerjak juga telah dijual kepada syarikat bukan bumiputera walaupun ada syarikat bumiputera mengemukakan permohonan. Syarikat Melayu tidak langsung diberi peluang untuk menyertai usahasama dalam projek di Pulau Pinang itu. Awang percaya pengurusan UDA termasuk ahli lembaga pengarahnya sedia memberikan penjelasan menyeluruh dan meyakinkan. Jika perlu senaraikan syarikat yang memperoleh projek-projek utama di bawah UDA untuk pengetahuan umum. Ia juga suatu kaedah bagi UDA menangkis jika terdapat sebarang dakwaan liar atau salah faham. Tetapi jika benar, syarikat bumiputera hanya dapat serdak dan tulang, lebih baik bubarkan sahaja UDA, kata aktivis itu. Awang tiada jawapan, sekadar senyum.

UiTM Diraja

Memandangkan DAP yang menggunakan beberapa aktivis Melayunya terus mengasak agar Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) dibuka kepada kaum lain, Awang melihat ia sebagai kesempatan terbaik untuk memperharui iltizam memperkasakan universiti tersebut. Lagi ditekan lagi membara sepatutnya usaha mengekalkan jati diri UiTM. Semua orang tahu bahawa universiti tersebut merupakan salah satu keistimewaan orang Melayu dan bumiputera yang telah termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan melalui Perkara 153.

Dalam satu perbincangan yang Awang sertai, seorang Ahli Parlimen mencadangkan UiTM diberi taraf diraja atas keunikannya. Awang setuju. Jangan tunggu lama-lama, laksanakan sahaja. Utusan/Rencana/20140907

The truly educated and ‘compounded ignorant’

THE recognition of Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Mohd Rashdan Baba as Tokoh Akademik Negara 2013 is indeed very appropriate. It is no small task to be a founding vice-chancellor of two public universities at a time when higher education was just finding its feet in the country

Mohd Rashdan is a role model for the current university leaders, particularly amidst reports of an embarrassing impasse of late.

In conjunction with the award presentation, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak mooted four main tasks for local tertiary institutions to fulfil as Malaysia moves towards becoming a high income nation. These include creating “a knowledge-generating centre” which is indeed the core task of any reputable university. Knowledge generation would assume a vibrant and conducive research and development ecosystem that is optimally funded. This, however, does not end there because the outcome must be made relevant through knowledge transfer and assimilation. The aim is to promote knowledge democracy where, like all democracies, knowledge is shared or co-created with the community in an atmosphere of academic autonomy, with the society being the major beneficiary. This takes away the snobbish ivory tower image that has lost its lustre as higher education becomes more accessible and is responsible for the social well-being of the community at large.

Najib is right in saying that universities should be able to produce not just an academic person but also a “truly educated” one as well. At another event, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, illustrated this when he said: “Having a first-class degree is impressive but it is pointless if they (the graduates) are not able to deliver or communicate effectively.” This is where knowledge transfer and assimilation become the final end point as a measure of success which is often confused with the jargon “graduate employability”.

This point of contention was well taken up by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf in a public lecture at Shah Alam held in parallel to the prestigious National Academic Award event. Interestingly, he spoke on The Crisis of Knowledge— something that Malaysians seem to be oblivious to. Our discourse (or rather complaint) is more about a world-class education which is substantially a different issue altogether. The world-class cliche follows a hegemonic materialist tradition derived from a very distinct market philosophy and assumptions. Universities are made part of an industrial-education complex where producing “human capital” is the main business, literally.

It is because of this that Shaykh Hamza likened those who “graduated” from such a system to “compounded ignorance” (akin to bodoh sombong)instead of being educated in the true meaning of the word — seeking the truth. Universities have failed to nurture the human consciousness as part of the human essence and spirituality infused with intellectual prowess. Or if they did, it is so siloed and fragmented that another breed of “ignoramus” is being compounded, pursuing more of the needs of the ego and self-interest. In doing so, the search for meaning is relegated to the individual, drawing him away from the collective truth as manifested in the intellectual and spiritual crises of the time.

The remedy to this ongoing crises that leads to other global chaos is to seek a new and different world view that upholds, first and foremost, the essence of being human in the divine image where knowledge is about the arriving of the soul at meaning, and arriving meaning at the soul. This world view is a far cry from the failing reductionist world view of mechanistic human capital (also known as an education without soul).

In his other lecture aptly titled Higher Education for Higher Purpose, Shaykh Hamza emphasised that higher education should not be an exercise in making a living but rather to make a life and articulate the higher purpose of being.

The goal is, therefore, more civilisational in nature that delivers mercy and guidance for all humanity and preserves humanity dignity. It is collaborative instead of competitive. However, for this to happen, the so-called non-marketable disciplines of philosophy, ethics, logic, rhetoric and civilisational studies must be given their rightful place in the mainstream learning processes.

In light of this deeper wisdom of the definition of education, local tertiary institutions must figure out a way to create a “truly educated” person. This cannot be fulfilled without first deconstructing the assembly line that produces the “compounded ignorant”.

As Shaykh Hamza reminded us, there is a need to take cognisant of our own context and learning traditions of serving others instead of being served. This hinges on intellectual humility of the learned so well embraced by the Malay tradition of ikut resmi padi, lagi berisi lagi tunduk. DZULKIFLI ABDUL RAZAK - NST Learning Curve 7 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:02 AM

Go beyond conversational English

THE call for a new policy to make English a compulsory subject, in addition to Bahasa Malaysia, for students to pass at Malaysia's public universities by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, will be received with mixed reactions.

Those who have been bemoaning the state of English language proficiency among graduates from Malaysian universities will welcome it while others who will be involved in implementing this policy could be sceptical, even cynical.

There are many implications on both students and university administrators if this policy is to be implemented effectively and there is a political will to see it through and not waver as has been the case in other policies related to English language education in the country.

DECIDING WHO NEEDS TO TAKE THE ENGLISH COURSE

One of the main issues on implementing this policy will be on deciding who will be required to undergo this course. Will all students be expected to undergo this course? Will MUET (Malaysian University English Test) scores be used as the basis as it is the highest English language test students would have taken? The current concern for the poor language ability seems to suggest that those who had received high scores for MUET are also unable to communicate effectively in the English language.

ENGLISH ENTRY POINT INTO MALAYSIAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES

Students enter the various programmes with different levels of MUET scores depending on the entry requirements set by the respective universities. Therefore, we already have a major concern on what is the level of English proficiency we expect from students when we say that students must have a pass in English before they graduate.

What will be the realistic expectation for students with MUET Band 2 grade to achieve within a three to four-year period of further English language education? After at least 11 years of English language education, the students have only managed this level of proficiency.

A PASS THAT IS WORTHY

The notion of passing an examination is being ridiculed as seen in the present state of English language proficiency among our school-leavers and university graduates. A distinction grade serves no purpose when students and graduates cannot communicate in the workplace. Our examinations must be reliable and valid, and must carry worth and recognition.

WORKPLACE COMMUNICATION

The question then is, what English language skills and competencies are students expected to have to pass the new English language examination? The main concern is to have the graduates ready for the workplace. Many students are already struggling with academic English courses and they will now be expected to develop language skills required in the workplace.

The Education Minister accurately states that basic English is insufficient and that students must be able to communicate in English. Communicating in English would include expressing ideas, holding an argument and being creative in the English language. These skills take time to be mastered.

Expecting our students to be employable and global players in English does seem a tall order. There is little in the current school and university English language curricula that prepare students for communication in the workplace.

And there is realistically only so much that can be achieved during university study when again English is just one course among the many that students will be studying.

EMPHASIS ON ORAL COMMUNICATION

The emphasis on reading and writing in schools, driven by the various public examinations, has resulted in the neglect of developing speaking and listening skills. Upon graduating from tertiary institutions, many students have neither the confidence nor the ability to hold a conversation in formal English to get through their job interviews.

In view of this, not only should the teaching focus shift towards oral communication, it must be assessed in an appropriate manner to ensure that when students are said to have passed this new university English test, they will clearly exhibit communicative competencies in the four language skills.

The focus should be beyond conversational English to using formal English that can be understood in both local and international contexts.

IMPLICATION ON GRADUATION

Will universities be willing to hold students’ graduation based on this criterion? My past experience suggests that the pressure from parents and other sponsors might be too great to bear and the administrators might buckle.

If at all this new policy is to succeed, it must be carefully thought through from the point of curriculum development, teaching methodologies to be employed, implementation of the course in universities and the follow-up monitoring of the implementation. DR MALACHI EDWIN VETHAMANI is a professor at the School of Education, Taylor's University - NST Learning Curve 7 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 10:51 AM

Overloaded curriculum may lead to underperformance

INCREASING DEMANDS: The importance of focus, consistency and attention to basics can be lost in an overloaded curriculum and constantly changing educational environment

ONE of the salient and conspicuous aspects of contemporary education and schooling is the constant push for change and reform in curriculum, methods of teaching and the applications of new technologies to learning and teaching.

One thing appears constant, and this appears to be change. Teachers are constantly reminded that the way to keep up with all of these demands is through constantly updating their professional development and applying the results of this to their teaching. Schools are pressured to add this or that new and “important” issue or concern to their curriculum. Much of this is taken for granted as the necessary characteristics of an educational system seeking to improve itself and adapt to change and the needs of “modern” society. There are many interests behind the calls to constantly update and change, and much of the motivation for this stems from good intentions. However, are all the results of this constant change and additions what we expect from teachers and what we expect to be learnt in schools always positive?

Economist and philosopher Amartya Sen has pointed out one issue which deserves attention and which may get lost among all the reforms (Banish Homework in Primary Schools, The Hindu, 2009). He points out the problems of curriculum overload. We are increasing the demands on the curriculum and on teachers and students to such a degree that either we fail to teach the basics and essentials in our schools or we offload a lot of this to outside of school time. The curriculum becomes overloaded and education is the first casualty. Not only do we now have to contend with the problem of an overloaded curriculum, the constant demands to change teaching practices and adaptation to new and apparently improved forms of pedagogy and so forth mean that there is a growing sense of frustration with constant change in many schools.

With excellent resources, high levels of staffing and an environment without the hindrance of social problems and disadvantage, you may be able to handle all of these demands and changes; although I think this problem of overload and reform fatigue affect us all in varying degrees. However, in school environments that are disadvantaged, poorly resourced and poorly staffed, the effects of an overloaded curriculum and the desire to keep up with this or that latest technique in pedagogy or technology may lead to genuine crisis.

Part of properly engaging the problems of social justice and advancing educational opportunity for marginalised students in disadvantaged communities necessitate understanding the importance of focus, clarity, consistency and attention to basics which can be lost in an overloaded and constantly changing educational environment. The seductions of this or that latest educational doctrine, pedagogical change or new demand on the curriculum must not get in the way of clear focus and an ability to follow through and be consistent in our approaches to education.

Modern societies are suffering from the effects of constant acceleration, increasing complexity and never ending claims that this or that new reform, technology or technique is the best thing since the last best thing before it (Social Acceleration: Ethical and Political Consequences of a Desynchronised High-Speed Society by Hartmut Rosa). Most of us barely have time to even grasp last week’s reform before this week’s change demands our attention. However, proper education rests on our capacity to slow things down, focus and pay attention to what is important. This is why schools must not always respond to or follow the latest fad or trend since slavish following of this or that “new” idea and constant addition to the curriculum can lead to confusion and anxiety, and this can diminish the educational experience of the child.

Curriculum overload and constant demands for change in schools can have significant negative consequences for both teachers and students. This is an issue which is relevant across the schooling sector, but may play out with particularly damaging consequences in schools that suffer the effects of disadvantage. We ought to consider this when we think about the next change or addition that we make to schools and the demands on both teachers and students.

While many of the reforms and changes that we make to education may be inspired by good intentions and in many cases provide real benefits to teachers and students alike, we ought to also consider the unintended consequences of some of our reforms and changes, especially on those who are disadvantaged. Context is critical. The issue of curriculum reform as always involves balance and good judgement. Amartya Sen is on to something in his critique of curriculum overload, we ought to look at this issue very closely. NST Learning Curve 7 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 3:26 PM

Tips to passing varsity English paper


DEAR Malaysian would-be undergraduates, did your blood freeze momentarily or did you hyperventilate when you read in your all-action social media app — in your lingua franca — that the Education Ministry will make it mandatory for undergraduates to pass the English subject as a pre-condition to secure a degree in public universities?

You scour the vernacular media and stumbled on what the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin articulated: a pass is obligatory because you will “communicate confidently” in English with prospective employers, thus boosting your employability.



Read as many English books, magazines and newspapers as you can. One way to improve your command of English language. Pix by Shiraz Yasmine Ali
What happens if you flunk? Would your pending degree wallow in purgatory?

Must you resit in the next semester when you should be job hunting? Will there be an exemption to flunking English provided your Grade Point Average stimulates the Richter scale?

But before you faint in anxiety, ask yourselves: what does it take to pass English, a language formally learnt in primary and secondary schools but barely practised with friends, family and peers, so verbalising and writing it is practically as cumbersome as discoursing Javanese?

Regretfully, you ignored English although it girdled you like breathable air.

You’d have to be blind or an ignoramus to miss it — billboards, business signs, newspapers and magazines, radio and TV news, info and commercials, and movies, TV series and cartoons, watched with subtitles, of course.

You survived for years on a smattering of practical English words like:

“FRUST” to depict frustration, “member” to connote a good friend, “confirm” when you endorse a gossip;

“KONFIUS” when you are, well, confused, “okay” when you sound an acknowledgement; “I” and “you” in addressing yourself or your better half; “can or cannot” when issuing a friendly ultimatum; and,

“BLUR” to describe a naïve person, “die” when failure beckons and hoary expletives imitated from movies and hip-hop songs.

You also survived on tacky sentences like “I love you”, condensed and simplified for the greatest intimate expression and “where got!” to generically dismiss inane accusations.

You force yourself to absorb, not consummate, English when you surf the World Wide Web or operate your PC and smartphone by picking up frequently-used jargons and terminologies but this by itself does not constitute real learning.

Imagine this: you have to pass an entire subject instructed on the essentials of constructing written or verbal sentences without tripping on mystifying spelling and bewildering grammar, “terrifying” for the blurred students or “staggering” for those resigned to learn.

Then there’s the idea of expanding the English vocabulary, which is a drag because it implies READING and defining, understanding definitions and more reading and defining.

And that’s just the works of Enid Blyton.

As a general concern, youngsters’ command of English is dismal, particularly those who slipped through the cracks before they could codify their grasp while in school.

There are variables to invest blame for this mediocrity: lack of formal and informal opportunity to write and speak, diminishing instructions in En glish, peer pressure that learning English encouraged western yellow culture so it must be unpatriotic. You get the drift.

For non-English learning youngsters usually scattered in non-urban areas, to pass public university English will be tricky when culturally, you are bereft of its organic foundations and deprived of its natural exposure.

But it’s not too late to learn English better than the English themselves.

Formal classroom lessons are fine but they can cramp your style.

Here is how you ingratiate yourselves into decent English — the pop culture way:

WATCH American/English movies, TV series, documentaries or reality shows by immersing the way they enunciate, phrase, exclaim, berate, pontificate and humiliate;

INSTALL translation dictionary apps in your smartphone or computer. Your pinnacle in English preoccupation is when you install the Oxford English Dictionary with pride; and,

NO getting around this: read as many English books, magazines and newspapers as you can. Start easy with comics and steadily accentuate to the New Straits Times before you dive into Rolling Stone, Economist andTime.

These are basic starters but if you put in the hours, don’t be shocked if you develop a weird American or British clip.

Bully for you if you can natter like Kim Kardashian, rant like Wayne Rooney, yak like Chef Wan and elucidate like our politicians.

That English pass needed to secure your degree will be a doodle and you are a sure thing towards gainful employment in that big multinational craving for Malaysians to illuminate in the international stage. AZMI ANSHAR - NST Columnist 7 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:04 AM

‘I wish the good old days were back’

WHAT can explain some people’s bond with things which are old, their love for the grey soul who still sings? How they go on and on about the virtues of that which once was, that which is now changed?

I, at a relatively young age, may be one of these people, which goes to show that not only your Pa and Ma, and Grandpa and Grandma, speak in that manner.

For I like to consider a lot, and speak quite freely, about that which is old, that which has a storied past and a serene present. And, perhaps, a future long and bright.

Who are these old ones? Well, my church, Kajang Assembly of God, celebrated its jubilee yesterday. Our nation is 57 years old this year. My mother turns 79 in six months. My alma mater, Kajang High, is 95. NST is 169 years old. And the nearby forest which I dearly love goes back even deeper in the wells of time.

It seems most of the earthly things closest to my heart, my companion being the exception, are, in human terms, well advanced in years. Yes, they are but an infinitesimal dot in the galactic clock, but they are a part of me, being like muscle is to bone, blood to life. I am, then, deeply rooted in the past.

A preacher, well into his 50s but still incredibly nifty with words, says this of people who are fond of speaking of the past: “The past cannot change, and so is a source of certainty and comfort for many. But the future is always terrifying, surprises and changes lurk around every corner.”

And, he continues, “you will hear people tell of how things were better in the ‘old days’. How so and so was a saint when he was in charge”. (This translates into, “the person in charge today is the devil”.)

The preacher stops there. But I shall continue on his behalf and tell you of what some others speak from their hearts quite often.

“Years ago we gave our all to the country. Young people nowadays take all they can from the country.”

Quite excruciatingly common is this jab: “People could speak and write excellent English those days.” Um.

“The teachers in the 1960s and 1970s were wholly committed to their profession.”

“The newspaper writers then were much better.” I like this best.

Solomon, in deep wisdom, cautioned against such exclamations: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.”

Why so? Well, a revealing interpretation of the monarch’s words, found in a voluminous text from Tyndale House Publishers, says: “The ‘good old days’ are easy to talk about, but they may never have existed. Sometimes, we remember only the good things about the past, forgetting that those days also had problems.”

Ah yes, that’s something useful for writers to keep in mind before the commanded hand shifts the pen. And for speakers to weigh on their tongues before meaningless words slip out into the air.

What then, shall the careful historian, social commentator and people like you and I say about Malaysia’s past 57 years, about the ‘black’ and the ‘white’ and the ‘grey’ in between?

What shall I say about NST, about my church?

The answer lies in an ocean of memories which sit unstirred in a cavernous chamber, which shall come alive with swells and storms and sweetness, only when we choose to be honest with ourselves.

On the occasions when I make such a choice, words such as these may wash ashore from pure and crystalline ‘waters’, and glitter in the birth of the morning sun:

Dear Malaysia, Kajang Assembly and Mummy,

And to Kajang High, NST and trees on the valley’s lip,

You have ‘wounded’ me, you have reshaped me,

I shall not forget you till I sleep the unending sleep.

Really, there are no good old days. And this the heart that sings to the grey soul knows very well.   davidchristy@nst.com.my DAVID CHRISTY - NST Columnist 7 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:05 AM

Life’s scrapbook through storytelling

NOTHING IS RANDOM: We are part of a bigger plan and second chances.I PICKED up scrapbooking as a hobby not too long ago when a good friend showed me how to put memories together on paper. If anything, I get to create pages that tell stories. Stories of celebrations and milestones achieved. Stories of my life intertwined with that of others.

Ireland is famed for the art of storytelling. The seancaithe and scéalaí, (the tradition bearers and storytellers), passed the old stories down through the generations.

Ancient Celtic culture also had its own form of scrapbooking. The history and laws of the people were not written down but memorised in long lyric poems, which were recited by bards.




Any ideas ?

When Michael and I received complimentary tickets to The River, we were all thrilled to bits. Not only do we like plays but the fact that it was staged on board a 90-foot Dutch Barge in Custom House Quay, located at the back of The Hunt Museum in Limerick, gave it an added charm.

We were there on time. We were among strangers and friends as the performer entertained us with stories and memories of real people, about the River Shannon as it flowed through Limerick.

It was not any ordinary storyteller but award-winning playwright Helena Enright, who wrote and performed this multi-sensory theatrical experience using verbatim first-hand testimony.

The River Shannon plays an integral part in the folklore and literature of Ireland, and Helena collected stories about how much it featured in the lives of the people in Limerick — stories of life, death and hope. Directed by Ciarda Tobin, this was performed in conjunction with the Limerick City of Culture 2014 celebrations.

I thought she was very brave to stage a play on a barge. With such a venue, there were safety regulations to be adhered to. Having to don life-jackets before entering the barge added to the excitement.

We do it all the time. When we hear a good story, we will tell someone about it. For those who cannot live without Facebook, we click share and make a good story public fodder. Well and good if the story is about someone else, fiction or non-fiction, home or abroad.

This time round, however, one of the stories in The River is ours. (Michael and myself)

When the call for stories for the event was published, I put a small fraction of our lives on paper and submitted it. The next thing I knew, it was selected and Helena came to our house to interview me.

For me, it was a total reversal of roles. In the process of interviewing other people for my articles. I was usually the one holding up the microphone to someone else and then transcribing the recording. So, it was quite an experience hearing my own voice being recorded.

Having told our story and seeing it being performed was something else. There was this nagging anxiety: How would my friends and relatives react to the performance?

I need not have worried because in the hands of a professional, the stories were woven together seamlessly like an intricate tapestry. Helena captured the essence of the stories by giving them a voice rich in nuances and complete with local flavour.

There were sights and sounds that accompanied the narration of stories as well. When it came to the part where I wrote “As I watched the ducks waddling on the river bank making webbed imprints in the mud, I knew that Michael had made imprints on my heart”… there were computer-generated images of webbed prints projected on the “wall” of the barge. I thought that was very well done.

To me, it is a privilege and an honour. It is a reminder of how things do not happen randomly but that we are part of a bigger plan and second chances. Memories fill our personal scrapbooks and The River is our cherished keepsake.   DR KOH SOO LING kohslhoward@gmail.com  - NST Columnist 7 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:06 AM

Be connected but cautious on FB

ASK the modern-age kid how they connect with others and it would be no surprise if he or she said, Facebook! With 1.2 billion users today, the site cannot be shrugged off as mass hysteria. Such has been its impact that people would rather communicate with each other on Facebook, or FB, than through emails or even meeting in person.

But, just as not all relationships are successful or healthy, having a lot of social-media friends and interactions can lull us into complacency; that we’re doing just great and we could throw caution to the wind. And for anyone hooked on social media, just like an addiction, when deprived for any reason, such as an FB outage as we have had on occasion, one can fall into depression.

Those who are always stuck on FB to see how many “friends” or “likes” they have, or are constantly texting, are most likely distracting themselves to crowd out that little voice inside that tries to guide them in a cautious, healthy direction.

Without a doubt, FB transcends physical boundaries and lets us connect with long-lost friends and distant family members and make a host of new like-minded acquaintances, some of whom might even become close friends.

On the contra side, one of its greatest risks is security. Although a lot has been done to improve the site’s security, it still has loopholes. Privacy is a concern for FB users and we need to take care with whom we share our social feeds.

We can be bombarded with updates, some even malicious, about acquaintances, individuals in public life, or on matters that can be sensitive or seditious. Our connectedness can draw us into such an exchange that could land us into trouble.

We need to be aware that the freedom of expression on FB is at times misused by unscrupulous people to promote their agenda.

There is also the possibility of identity theft, with fake and bogus accounts on the site and people looking to steal our personal information. And, even with all the security settings in place, our images can still be misused.

Having pointed out some concerns, if one chooses to stay connected but cautious, Facebook is a fantastic invention that has brought the world closer. At the same time, we should make informed choices to govern our lives not allow our interests to overwhelm us. Rueben Dudley, Petaling Jaya, Selangor NST Letters 7 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:04 AM

When first impressions matter

THE article “Looking good comes with a price” (New Sunday Times, Aug 3) was indeed interesting. I had done research on a similar topic during my postgraduate days and it generated a lot of positive feedback in terms of opinions and ideas during the presentation.

My research topic was “Does physical appearance matter?” Although it was an academic work, I had included opinions of individuals gathered through interviews.

How do we define beauty?

Kalokagathia is a Greek word to describe “the beautiful and good”, uniting the outward appearance with inner qualities. So, one who possesses both qualities (good looks and decency) is considered beautiful.

Beauty is also a harmony of physical features, facial expressions, stature and behaviour of a person, coupled with a balance of emotions, mental abilities and a pleasing appearance.



Physical appearance and likeability are important factors that affect our communication. AFP pic

Academicians use specific terms for the study of physical appearances:

PHYSIOGNOMY: Drawing connections between physical appearance and moral character. For example, high foreheads denote intelligence, big eyes (innocence), firm chins (determination), sharp noses (upward mobility), etc.

PHRENOLOGY: The science of reading heads. For example, bumps and ridges are indicators of psychological tendencies.

What are our attitudes towards physical appearance? Often, the outside appearance is viewed as a measure of character, e.g. pretty girls are treated more favourably on account of their physical attractiveness. Going by appearance seems to be a natural weakness. Wouldn’t it be nice to know, with a glance, whom to trust, love, fear, etc.?

Forming impressions is another natural tendency. We form impressions of others when we interact with them. These can be favourable or otherwise. We attribute positive characteristics to people who are physically attractive and negative ones to those who are not.

Forming impressions is influenced by the following factors:

OUR own culture, educational and personal background;

OUR needs, desire and emotional states; and,

THE method of self-presentation used by the other person.

Studies show that labelling people according to first impressions is part of perception and the communication process. The positive effects of inner beauty becomes obvious in how and what we communicate, and our actions.

We generally become active and develop meaningful lives based on hard work and love. Life’s experiences educate and develop our character and personality towards maturity.

Religious individuals and saints belong to a different category and are described as “beautiful”, mainly because they are good and pious.

Outer beauty has its negative effects, too. It is transient, fleeting and momentary. It could be powerful and destructive.

Besides life’s experiences, attractiveness and likeability are factors that influence our communication patterns. Relationships fulfil our social and psychological needs and attractiveness affects whether we continue communicating with a person. Attractiveness also affects the strength of a relationship. A listener is not only concerned with what is said and how it is said, but also, who said it.

What are the determinants of attractiveness and likeability? Some interesting points are:

ATTRACTIVENESS; SIMILARITY of attitudes and beliefs; REINFORCEMENTS; PERSONAL rewards from the other person; and COMPLIMENTARY;

Next, how do we classify an individual as attractive? This, again, depends on how we look at others. Some may be attracted to those who fit into a circle of friends, others may be inclined towards physical attraction and others may be attracted to those who are knowledgeable, talented and skillful.

In conclusion, physical appearance and likeability are important factors that affect communication and persuasion.

Physical appearance does influence perception and is important in making a good first impression. Outer beauty is a plus factor in communication. However, perceptions can change during and after the communication process. Thus, inner beauty could be the determining factor that is attractive. An individual’s body type and facial features can impose limitations, but all of us have the ability to control attractiveness through grooming, clothing, accessories and style to modify our general appearance.

As Oscar Wilde said: “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.” Abel Raj, Klang, Selangor NST Letters 7 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:05 AM

Get A life: No presence, no engagement

YOU are responsible for your own experience.

Whatever you feel or think about another person is a mirror of where you are.

If someone does something that upsets you, you are responsible for your feelings of being upset.

This applies to most things save perhaps acts of violence.

Likewise,when you feel satisfied with something someone did, you are responsible for that too.

The other person does not “make” you happy.

Likewise, he or she does not “make” you upset.

Presence is the prize.

The on ly t ime a relationship really works is when both people are in the here and now.

If your mind is on something else, you cannot make authentic contact.

Presence is a prerequisite for great passion.

It was an employee engagement programme and I was talking about “passion.” Very quickly someone in the audience asked, “What does the management want from us now? Are our jobs at stake if we don’t perform? Only awhile ago the management was threatening to cut jobs and now we are talking about passion?” I’m guessing you feel suspicious and insecure here, I said, addressing this particular manager directly.

What does your job mean to you? How does it benefit you? The more meaning you give it, the more engaged you’d be — because one is naturally more passionate about things that are important to them, aren’t they? (Notice my emphasis on Self).

“My job is fine but what the boss says, we must do,” the manager replied.

He crossed his hands over his chest.

It sounds like there’s no choice.

Nobody likes feeling trapped.

Nobody likes feeling forced.

Who’sforcingyou,Iasked the room.

Who have you chosentogiveyourpower away to? Silence.

Now t h a t we’ ve been talking, what do you realise about engagement ? I t ’ s personal, isn’t it? Whose choice is it—to engage, or not? Every time I include you, reach out and connect with you, listen to you—especially about something that means something to you, we engage more and more.

I can see it in many of you — your eyes light up and dance with mine.

I feel your willingness; I can sense an eagerness to receive what I say.

In many ways we are communicating at an energetic level; no words need be spoken for us to know where we are with each other.

And yet you know, don’t you, what needs to be said so that we can fully BE with each other here and now — no games, no ulterior motives, no masks? And it’s not always what “the management” wants, but what we will allow for ourselves? We are responsible for co-creating our moment-to-moment experiences.

How much joy do you want to let into your lives? (Yes right now).

How much play and discovery? It also appears as though some important things need to be handled before engagement and passion can flow.

Things like checking for understanding and acceptance (for the subject being spoken and the outcomes expected).

Things like being complete about past breakdowns and letting go of old grudges.

Otherwise disappointment, anger, and un-forgiveness just get in theway.Assumingeveryoneonboard could be interpreted as discounting what’s important.

No presence, no engagement.

No engagement, forget passion.

If we can’t be present enough to share deep meaning, connect and commit, I daresay what we’re left with would be fake and phony.

How to fuel an organisation’s progress with that kind of impotence? We couldn’t even start the ignition leave alone drive the vision and mission.

When we know that wisdom, passion, inspiration, creativity, and happiness are by-products, that is they are the result of a few things fusing together, it’s a no-brainer that the fundamentals need to be organised before peak performance can take place.

A close relative is motivation.

How much can we motivate others? At best we can influence.

Like teaching a man to fish, wouldn’t it be more empowering if we enabled them to develop and recognise these gifts within themselves? Then at least there’d be ownership.

“Mine.

MY passion.

MY creativity.

MY motives.” So much more powerful than, “The management made me do it.” In the grand scheme of things, what’s this all about anyway? Why bother? There you are.

Here am I.

Now what? So what? Then what? Something deep inside of us is driving us to be our best.

And so we are doing just that—one conversation at a time.

PROBLEMS WITH ‘EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE’

Q: My boss just won’t look at details.

What’s good about him is that he thinks positively and in broad strokes.

Everything is possible — until we have the details in front of us, and then the picture doesn’t look so good afterall. As is right hand I know the mis-use of resources.Howd o I tell him that we’ve been in the red for a while now?

A: Okay, there are severa l assumptions in your brief: (1) Your boss acknowledges there’s a problem with over-use / overspending (2) The definition of mis-use (as there are stages in business i.e. R&D where no income is generated).

I hear you when you say your boss won’t look at details.

When especially, would looking at the details really be helpful for him - all the time, or at certain times? Your boss has been nurtured to think in broad strokes — that’s his style of thinking and it’s probably working for him in many ways.

A leader is expected to be a conceptual thinker, someone with a vision, and the ability to enrol his people into his ideas.

Not all of us can perform at both ends of the continuum, vision and detail,andperhapsthat’swhereyou come in.

This is where you can add value — by providing the content, procedure, and consequences.

You asked the question, “How do I tell him,” which suggests you haven’t.

What’s your real question? As you’re asking me, what comes up for you? I am hearing (1) Your boss may not like to hear it (2) It may not be appropriate to raise the question in the first place.

Back to basics: What do you want from this? What’s in it for you? What’s important about that? Knowing that, what will you commit to?

BOSSY FRIENDS

Q: I belong to a group of women and we get together now and then and especially when one of us has an important occasion.

It’s like a supportgroupandI’mgratefulfor the friendship among the two to three dozen odd girls.

Several in the group consider themselves leaders and try to boss us around.

Does my resisting them mean I’m arrogant and stubborn?

A: Where is this question coming from? How do you feel about those in the group “trying to boss you around?” I hear you’re resisting.

And now you’re asking if resisting means you’re arrogant and stubborn.

What else could it mean? There is a request or expectation somewhere.

There is a preference.

You’d rather these women not be bossy.

You’d prefer equality but somehow this isn’t the case.

There you are imagining a situation where everyone is on par; lo and behold, someone out there is directing the show!And this triggers the emotion of ___________ in you.

Not comfortable.

Oh no.

Now I’m wondering whether you’re more uncomfortable with them being bossy or that it might mean you’re arrogant and stubborn.

Where’s your emphasis? That people behave a certain way — it’s their stuff.

They behave from how they believe.

And there’s alwaysagoodintentionbehindthere somewhere.

When their beliefs don’t align with our own, that’s when there’s friction.

That’s when there’s pain.

How do we overcome? By accepting that people are different.

That people are entitled to their beliefs and principles.

By celebrating our differences.

By practising tolerance.

By being curious and playful — being open to fun and adventure — wondering where the  journey will take us! Byremembering we are the magician and the magic; we can create anything we want. TESSIE LIM -  NST Lifestyle 7 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 12:57 PM

Open to discussion

If we pride ourselves as a democracy and believe that civil society is an essential part of it, then surely a dissenting view should be tolerated, even encouraged.

I WOULD not regard law lecturer Azmi Shahrom as my buddy, but he is someone I have engaged with regularly on a professional level.

The Universiti Malaya don isn’t your conventional academic. He keeps a long ponytail and is usually dressed casually in T-shirt and jeans. That’s a pretty cool image for a lecturer in a campus.

He is articulate, clever, open-minded and certainly opinionated. And now he is in trouble with the law.



Dr Azmi Shahrom

Last week, Azmi, a long-time columnist of The Star (his column, “A Brave New World”, is published fortnightly on Wednesday), was charged with sedition.

All he said was that the way the Perak crisis back in 2009 was resolved was legally wrong. That was enough to be deemed seditious by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Azmi was charged under Section 4(1)(b) and Section 4(1)(c) of the Act for the comments which had appeared in a report in an online portal titled, “Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told” on Aug 14.

Now, the last time I checked, having an opinion, even if it runs contrary to the official view, is not a crime.

If we pride ourselves as a democracy and believe that civil society is an essential part of it, then surely a dissenting view should be tolerated, even encouraged.

Or have we come to a point where we have to succumb to the intimidation of the right-wingers, who cannot carry out a discourse intelligently and intellectually without rudely breaking into name-calling, with their favourite “anti this and that” labels?

For the record, I disagree with Azmi’s interpretation of that particular case in relation to what is going on in Selangor.

I am not a law graduate, nor am I a journalist specialising in legal matters, but I am still entitled to my opinion.

As a matter of fact, even lawyers cannot agree on the interpretation of any set of laws. That’s why they are in business. Furthermore, our judicial process is such that what is decided by one court can be overruled by another, so differing opinions will continue to flourish.

In my opinion, the law is pretty clear in the ongoing controversy over the position of the Mentri Besar in Selangor.

Under Articles LI (1), LIII (2)(a), (4) and LV (2)(a) of the Selangor State Constitution 1959, the Sultan of Selangor is given absolute discretionary power to appoint a Mentri Besar for the Selangor state government who, in the Ruler’s opinion, has the majority support of the State Legislative Assembly.

The keywords here are “absolute discretionary power” and “in the Ruler’s ­opinion”.

But Azmi is a law professor. He would probably disagree with me and ask that I read these provisions alongside other laws and precedents.

He is entitled to give his views in the lecture halls, forums and even at the campus canteen, but the moment he speaks to the press, he opens himself up to being slapped with these sedition charges.

Many of us are probably unaware of the Sedition Act, a law that was promulgated back in 1948 during the Emergency.

It has undergone revisions but broadly speaking, any act, speech, words or publication are seditious if they have a tendency towards any of the following:

> To bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or government.

> To excite subjects to seek alteration other than by lawful means of any matter by law established.

> To bring into hatred or contempt the administration of justice in the country.

> To raise discontent or disaffection among the subjects.

> To promote ill will and hostility between races or classes.

> To question the provisions dealing with language, citizenship, the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the sovereignty of the Rulers.

Seriously, most of us would find it difficult to accept that Azmi’s two sen’s worth of comments would cause Malaysians to tear one another apart, plunging the country into chaos. Most of what Azmi has written, in many publications and portals, may irritate some quarters, but it is Mickey Mouse stuff compared to the poison being spewed by some individuals who seem to have lost their sense of self-restraint.

In the Selangor saga, for example, some of the remarks made in the heat of the politicking may well fall within the ambit of “To bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or government”.

For sure, those individuals who criticise the Rulers and call for the setting up of a republic are open to being charged with sedition.

Let me put on record here also that this writer believes the use of the Sedition Act is necessary to stop the avalanche of hate comments that have flooded our social media by people of all races and religions, who do not seem to care that their careless comments can hurt the feelings of others.

We are not talking about glory-seeking politicians who know the consequences of their actions, but even ordinary Malaysians who think they can say anything they like in cyberspace. And now we even have those in Sabah and Sarawak who have called for secession, with little inkling that their remarks are seditious. In fact, the law regards it as treason.

Those are clear-cut cases, but certainly in the case of Azmi, the authorities should seriously reconsider their position to charge him with sedition.

He was making a comment in an area where he has the expertise, whether we agree with him or not. We know that in the most vibrant law classes, students are encouraged to argue against each other, and also against the professor. Open discussion in the media about legal issues is also one way to educate the public about the laws we live under.

Some of the best columnists in the world are professors of world-renowned law schools. In the United States, every decision of the Supreme Court is openly discussed in the media.

In The Star, we are proud that apart from Azmi, we also have Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi whose “Reflecting on The Law” column on Thursdays sheds light on many of the legal issues of the day.

I am an optimist. I like to believe that Malaysia still embraces divergent views, more so in our universities. The world has changed and, yes, Malaysia has changed.

In the course of my work, I have been praised as well as heavily criticised.

I appreciate the views of those who have made me better informed. But some of the views laced with outrageous and personal remarks had me in stitches. I guess it is better to laugh it off than to get angry with these individuals.

Yes, we understand realistically that in a complex country like Malaysia, there can never be uncontrolled open expression, like in the West. But we pray that those empowered to investigate and prosecute cases of sedition will be rational and allow common sense to prevail. WONG CHUN WAI The STAR Home > Opinion > Columnists On The Beat Sunday September 7, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Stand up and speak up

Moderate Malaysians have the right to tell our politicians that we want the liberal, secular and plural ways.

SOME of our politicians seriously need to have their heads examined. They need psychiatric treatment and the sooner they get it, the better it will be for Malaysia because they are a danger to all of us.

The unruly behaviour of some these political aspirants, and luckily for us they are only at the lowest level of their party echelon, does not augur well for the future of our democracy which is premised on proper practices, in words and in deeds.

No matter how much the politicians may disagree with one another, there is a code of gentlemanly conduct that cannot be breached, lest we descend into the kind of chaos that makes a mockery of our system.



The large crowd gathered outside Penang State Assembly building last week to protest against Seri Delima DAP assemblyman R. S. N. Rayer.

If they aspire to be honourable members of any House, then they had better learn the meaning of honourable behaviour. To most Malaysians, they acted more like thugs and gangsters who were seemingly unable to control their emotions.

Our political landscape is changing. And many of the protagonists, from all sides of the divide, seem unable to argue on any issue in a convincing manner due to their poor intellectual and language skills.

And they now have to address an electorate that is more sophisticated and better-informed, one that will not tolerate the low-level antics that they employ.

You do not win votes by shouting down or threatening your opponents, especially with a religious or racial slant, whether via the social media, protest gatherings or at press conferences. Politicians and their supporters simply have to be clear about that.

I am talking about the group of protesters comprising members of Umno and non-governmental organisations who stormed into the Penang State Assembly last week, which led to 12 persons being arrested by the police.

They were part of a larger group who had gathered outside the assembly to demand an apology from DAP assemblyman R. S. N. Rayer.

They had angrily entered the building after violently shaking the gate open. They entered the chambers, stood in front of the Speaker’s rostrum, and looked for Rayer who was not around at that time.

This is pure intimidation. If it isn’t, try telling us level-headed Malaysians what it is.

Mob behaviour should be condemned, and these trespassers must be charged in court soon. We must show that there is justice in this country and that we do not condone gangsterism and thuggery.

It is right that the Penang Umno chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman has expressed regret over the incident and put on record his disagreement with the act of the demonstrators.

The party should take disciplinary action against these protesters in the wider interest of the Barisan Nasional coalition. At a time when the component parties are working hard to restore voter confidence – with the Gerakan candidate fighting hard to win back Teluk Intan – such actions by one party will surely have negative ramifications.

At the same time, the DAP leadership should also give Rayer and other rabble-rousers within its ranks a dressing down.

Words like “celaka”, which loosely translated means damn, should not be simply bandied around with racial and religious connotations as they can be offensive, insensitive and hurtful.

The DAP is already the Penang state government but, unfortunately, some of its leaders are acting as if they are in the opposition.

For God’s sake, get out of the ceramah mode and act and talk like leaders, not mere macai (low level) politicians.

The most pathetic DAP leader has to be former publicity chief Hew Kuan Yau who is fond of using lewd remarks at his ceramah. He is nicknamed “Superman” because he loves to wear T-shirts sporting the Superman insignia.

This Taiwanese graduate, who actually has a doctorate degree, has essentially imported the worst political behaviour from Taiwan to Malaysia, especially the no-holds-barred and rude political culture.

Supporters may love him but the party probably knew he might be a Super Liability should he be chosen to stand in Teluk Intan.

The crude and brash Superman should be sent to Westminster to learn the meaning of good parliamentary practices. But we are not quite sure if he is capable of following the debates in English.

Last week, we read about how the Independent candidate in the Bukit Gelugor by-election, Abu Backer Sidek Mohamad Zan, tried to stop the official car of the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng by “fainting” in front of the vehicle.

An ambulance arrived to ferry the lawyer to the hospital but he reportedly regained consciousness on the way there.

This man has entered the wrong contest. He should be running for the Raja Lawak (King of Comedians) contest on TV. Someone has to tell him, without hurting his pride and over-inflated ego, that he is making a fool of himself. If he doesn’t believe us, let’s wait for the by-election results.

We are seeing more of such personalities because they seem to get generous space in the media, especially on online news portals.

Like it or not, this is part of democracy and if we want different opinions to be heard, including outlandish ones by the most colourful of characters, we cannot shut them down.

But moderate Malaysians must also stand up and speak their minds. Many of us cherish the moderate, liberal, secular and plural ways, and we have the right to tell our politicians that is the only way forward. We need to keep Malaysia sane! The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. WONG CHUN WAI Home > Opinion > Columnists On The Beat Sunday May 25, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

It is not easy to find the right balance

THE Sedition Act came into being as far back as 1948, yes, even before we achieved Merdeka.

Despite its colonial heritage, there have been subsequent, and substantial, revisions to the Act that have had far-reaching implications on life in the country.

Not many are aware of the catch-all provisions of Section 2 and 3(1) of the Act which state that any act, speech, words or publication are seditious if they have a tendency towards any of the following:

• To bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or government.

• To excite subjects to seek alteration other than by lawful means of any matter by law established.

• To bring into hatred or contempt the administration of justice in the country.

• To raise discontent or disaffection among the subjects.

• To promote ill will and hostility between races or classes.

• To question the provisions dealing with language, citizenship, the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the sovereignty of the Rulers.

As part of ongoing reforms to promote a more open society, the Government is in the process of replacing this Act with the National Harmony Act. But the Bill is still a work in progress and will only be tabled in Parliament by the end of next year.

The Sedition Act has come under the spotlight because a number of individuals, the latest being Universiti Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom (who incidentally is a regular columnist with this newspaper), have been charged with sedition.

We are mindful that with the cases before the courts, it would not be right for us to make comments on the merits or demerits of each case in a way that can be construed as seeking to influence the outcome of the proceedings.

But the reality is that there is already a vigorous debate going on, especially in the social media, which go beyond the legal arguments. The court of law and the court of public opinion can oftentimes be totally divergent from each other.

While there will be the emotionally-charged views, we must also listen to the voices that are balanced and rational.

If we look at the provisions of the Act again, we can see that in the real world, the Act is being breached daily, and if enforcement is carried out, there won’t be enough room in the courts to charge the people.

Even legal scholars have difficulty in drawing the line between what is seditious and what is not.

Context and circumstances will obviously play a major role in determining the verdicts. The courts will have to consider issues with regard opinion, historical context and a vibrant social media that make it almost impossible to control what can or cannot be said.

The process to replace the Sedition Act with the National Harmony Bill is ongoing and the fact that there has been feedback and much debate on the Bill before it is presented to Parliament is a good sign that we want to get it right on all counts.

A recent statement from the PMO said: “The Bill is intended to be a comprehensive, fair and lasting piece of legislation that promotes national harmony while protecting Malaysian citizens from racial or religious hatred.

“The drafting of the National Harmony Bill is taking time because it is being done in consultation with civil society and the public.”

In Malaysia, finding the balance between freedom of speech and national harmony in the age of social media, is not easy. This is the thin line that we are still struggling to define, and not just us, but also the more mature democracies. It is a fallacy to assume that everything is totally free and open even in countries that proclaim themselves as proponents of free speech.

The Act seems to have suddenly gained national prominence in the twilight of its existence.

And we have to ask if this is the result of people not really understanding what sedition is all about, or if the authorities appear to have become sensitive as to what constitutes sedition.

But we should let the law, as it stands now, take its course, for we are still a society premised on the rule of law.

We need to educate the people about sedition, including even the parameters that are not legislated in black and white, but which are useful in maintaining peace and harmony in our society.

At the end of the day, let justice be done, and seen to be done. Home > Opinion > Columnists The Star Says Wednesday September 3, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Open more doors with English proficiency

THE Government’s proposal to make a pass in the English language compulsory for all public university graduates has generated much interest. And rightly so.

But it is also telling that the Government has not set an implementation date, other than to state that the policy has been approved in principle and that the matter would be discussed at length soon.

We can expect the debate to be vigorous because there will be the usual parties who believe that any attempt to put English on a higher plane, even for very essential and practical reasons, can run counter to national interests.

The fact of the matter is that the English language has taken a back seat for too long ever since English-medium schools were abolished in the early 1970s.

Which is why the standard of English, both spoken and written, has gone down progressively through these years.

There was a time when Malaysians were deemed to be automatically proficient in the language but we have now reached a stage where even our best students have to take English proficiency tests to gain admittance into foreign universities.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the Education Minister, is correct to point out that the employability of graduates is linked to their ability to communicate in English.

This is an issue that not only affects the private sector, including the multinationals, but also the public sector.

Our civil servants, especially those who serve in the diplomatic and international trade arenas, know all too well that the world out there is English-centric.

We can look at China as an example where English was once a valuable commodity reserved for the privileged few.

Today, all over China, schools and universities offer English courses, alongside the thousands of training centres that specialise in teaching English to children and adults.

The business of learning and teaching English in China is huge, with one estimate putting the number of its citizens studying English at more than 300 million.

In the case of Malaysia, our numbers are only a small fraction of that, yet we seem to be struggling with piece-meal efforts to boost our proficiency in the language.

We know all too well that even those who get a distinction in English at the SPM level are not really proficient unless they come from an environment where there is regular use of the language, at home or among their friends.

Some may ask whether getting students to gain a compulsory pass in the English language at the university stage before they can get their degrees may be a little too late.

Well, it is always better to be late than never – which is why this policy deserves our fullest support.

The late William Raspberry was a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for TheWashington Post with fiercely independent views on education, poverty, crime and race.

He was the first black journalist to make inroads into the mainstream media and was most aware of how proficiency in English was the passport to a better life.

He said, “Good English, well spoken and well written will open more doors than a college degree ... Bad English will slam doors you don’t even know exist.” Home > Opinion > Columnists The Star Says Sunday September 7, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

A historical black hole for Sabah

There is still debate about whether North Borneo was a country, a state or a self-government in transition during the first couple of weeks of independence.

THE last few days, I pretended to be an alien who only had four news clippings from 1963 to understand Malaysia Day (Sept 16, 1963).

I received the Sabah Times clippings dated Aug 31, Sept 3, Sept 19, and Sept 20 from Danny Wong, my classmate from La Salle Secondary School, Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu.

Professor Dr Danny Wong Tze Ken is a historian who is the director of Universiti Malaya’s Global Planning and Strategy Centre.

I telephoned him a few days before Merdeka Day as I was writing an article on the formation of Malaysia.

“Do you know whether at the time the Union Jack was lowered in Kota Kinabalu on Aug 31, 1963, a Sabah flag was raised?” I asked.

“I don’t have the information off hand. Let me do some research and I’ll email you,” said the historian.

A few hours later, Wong wrote: “Just some pages from four issues of Sabah Times for your perusal. There’s mention of the Sabah flag, but no Union Jack.”

I then pored through four news clippings from the Sabah newspaper now called the New Sabah Times.

There’s a historical black hole on the status of Sabah from Aug31, 1963 (the day the British granted self-government to North Borneo, which Sabah was then called) to Sept 16, 1963 (when Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya formed the Federation of Malaysia). I’ve had endless debates with historians, politicians and laymen on the subject.

Some think that Sabah was a country. Some think it was a state. Some think it was a self-government in transition to form Malaysia.

The romantic in me would like to think that my state was a country before it became part of Malaysia. But let me answer that question as an alien (who read four pages of Sabah Times).

The front page on Aug 31, 1963 was: “Sabah’s Historic Day”.

“Self-government means more responsibility,” said Donald Stephens, Sabah’s first Chief Minister who later became Tun Fuad Stephens.

“To me, as it must be to all people in Sabah, today is significant as the day on which we gain self-government,” he said.

Stephens also said: “Sabah Day will be remembered by our sons and daughters and their children’s children as the day on which we were handed over the reins of government of our own country.”

On the left of the article was a story with a headline “Give Your Full Support To Your New Govt – Governor.” The North Borneo Governor Sir William Goode’s Sabah Day greeting was: “Today is a historic day for Sabah. It marks the beginning of self-government and independence and the end of Colonial government.”

In the centre of the front page was an article “UN Team Receives Same Answer at Papar, Jesselton – ‘Malaysia Malaysia’.

“PAPAR: At Papar, the UN Team was first greeted by three posters by the side of the railway station. They read: “No Interference to the formation Malaysia on Aug 31 (1963)”, “Don’t waste time, Referendum Not Necessary” and “Go Home, Don’t Waste Time”.

The United Nations team was at Papar, a town about 30 minutes from Jesselton (as Kota Kinabalu was once called), for a hearing on Sabahans’ views about Malaysia.

Chan Chin On, who represented the Papar Branch of Sabah Alliance said, “after studying the pros and cons for the past two years, The Alliance had come to the conclusion that Malaysia was best for them as it would bring stability, economic development and prosperity.”

He said, “In Malaysia the people of the territories shared many things in common such as education, customs, language, religion and culture.”

Also on the front page was the headline: “Nasution gets tougher.” “JAKARTA: The Indonesian Defence Minister and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Nasution, said that Indonesian people fully support the struggle of the North Kalimantan (North Borneo) people for their rights of self-determination.”

I, the alien (from outer space and not southern Philippines), was clueless as to why Nasution got tougher. The answer was on page 2 of the Sept 19, 1963 clipping.

In an editorial, Sabah Times wrote: “The strained relations between Malaysia and Indonesia have reached saturation point. Now it is either going to be a shooting hostility or eternal peace between the Malaysian region and Indonesia. The cards are down and the latter looks most impossible.”

“Latest reports indicated that Indonesians have decided upon the issue by burning the British Embassy building in Jakarta,” it continued.

“This could mean a retaliation against the angry demonstration held by more than 1,000 Malaysians in Kuala Lumpur yesterday when they smashed the Indonesian Embassy building in the Federal Capital and tore down the Indonesian flag and crest.”

The page 7 clipping dated Sept 3, 1963 was deja vu for most Sabahans. The headline was “Filipino launch seized”.

“LAHAD DATU: A motor launch named MANILA with 127 persons on board and a cargo of household appliances was captured by a Marine Police patrol boat here. According to reliable sources the launch was first seen at Tanjong Labian.”

The report revealed that Sabah’s PTI (Pendatang Tanpa Izin or illegal immigrant) problem had been there since 1963. It just got bigger in the 1990s and 2000s so that in some districts in Sabah, the illegal immigrants outnumber the locals.

Interestingly, if you fast forward to 2013, Tanjung Labian was the gunbattle scene in the Sulu invasion.

Page 6 and Page 7 of the Sept 20, 1963 Sabah Times revealed that my state was sexually liberal in the 1960s. The headlines screamed: “Jesselton goes gay on Malaysia Day” and “Beaufort goes gay”. Home > Opinion > Columnists One Man's Meat Saturday September 6, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Contributing in simple ways

Many ordinary Malaysians work hard to be good citizens of this land, earning an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work, while helping to shape the nation in unassuming ways.

SOME years ago, it was a weekly ritual for me to make my way to one particular roadside stall in Bangsar for breakfast.

Here, my wife and our two very young sons would eagerly wait for our weekly treat – piping hot poori served with a special potato curry. The taste was unlike the fare I’ve had anywhere else.

One cannot but be impressed by the passion shown by this hawker and his wife – running the stall six days a week, offering breakfast and lunch, providing excellent and affordable food to the office workers nearby.

This man not only gave us food for our stomach, but plenty of food for the soul as well.

He would regale us with tales of his humble beginnings and his perspective on the current issues of the day.

We are of different faiths, he and I, but we find much common ground in our many conversations about the virtues of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

If I could describe him in one sentence, it would be, “He is a friend to all, an enemy to none.”

And often in the early hours of the morning while the parents were hard at work, the children (who were about the age as mine) would still be sleeping in their van.

Over the years, I followed the progress of the children and was always happy to see the joy in his face as they crossed one milestone after another.

When they did well in their examinations, he would be beaming with pride. When his son became a prefect, he called me to announce the good news.

Today, the son has graduated with a law degree and the picture of the family in England for the convocation really spoke a thousand words.

Ever the sociable person, he would open his house to all of us for every special event. I try not to miss his Deepavali open house because it is truly a muhibbah gathering.

Today, I am very happy for him because he will officially become a father-in-law to the man who has won his daughter’s heart.

News like this won’t make it into the newspapers because he is just an ordinary person, not some titled personality who can afford a lavish wedding dinner at a top-notch hotel where the Who’s Who will be on parade.

I know I will be all choked up at the wedding dinner tomorrow because this man of such humble beginnings has reached a milestone where he now hands over his daughter to another man to love and to cherish.

And I believe he too will be teary because unlike many busy fathers who only have time to provide material needs for their children, he has walked alongside his daughter all the way, nurturing and teaching her the way few fathers do.

Yes, we love to read about those who came to our shores with only the clothes on their backs to become prominent tycoons.

Yet the reality is that many of those with humble beginnings do not move up the ladder in that spectacular manner.

Many continue to labour on to provide a good life for their children, especially their educational needs.

They work hard to be good citizens of this land, earning an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work, while helping to shape the nation in unassuming ways. I am proud that my friend, like many ordinary Malaysians, is one of them. Executive editor Soo Ewe Jin (ewejin@thestar.com.my) dedicates today’s column to his good friend Panir and his wife Kala, son Methulan and the daughter Narmatha, and looks forward to savouring his famous poori again. Home > Opinion > Columnists Sunday Starters Sunday September 7, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Master English through practice

FINALLY, the Education Minister has announced and acknowledged the importance of the English language and its role in producing quality and capable graduates. Thank you.

However, I am puzzled why it is done at university level and not at entry level, which is the primary level.

We had a wonderful policy in place which would have shown great results by now. It was brought to a halt before it could even complete a cycle of its implementation.

English, just like any other language, cannot be mastered if there is only one subject. It also cannot be mastered if it is not practised.

Let Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) be reinstated. It is still not too late.

Let the co-curricular activities be conducted in English. This will help students to be confident in their communication and also improve in their interaction skills.

I hope the Government will do what is right for the future of our country. The right decision will be not making a U-turn on this English Language decision due to political pressure or by some groups who thinks that patriotism is via the language.

It saddens me to see all the other countries who were once behind us in education have moved forward and we are left lagging behind.

It also saddens me that we have the manpower in our country but we are unable to employ them because of their inability to speak English. Thus, the high unemployment rate.

We have heard all the reasons. We lack quality English teachers, children master Maths and Science better in their mother tongue, we have to protect the national language and so on.

We also had a group saying Maths and Science taught in mother-tongue languages can and have produced students with a good Maths aptitude.

I feel the real reason is ego. The inability to master the language should not be a reason to deny others the ability to master English.

We are lucky in Malaysia. We have so many avenues to practise and learn English and we have taken it for granted. English is widely used, yet it is not widely picked up.

Let us discard our third world mentality. Let us not associate patriotism with language.

Let us discard the so-called Unesco report. That report is for third world countries. We should think like a developed country to achieve a developed country’s result.

Once again, patriotism is not about the language you speak. It is all about the country and her well-being.

Her well-being is all about how strong her people are, how well they are able to handle the domestic and global community in terms of economy and their forward thinking.   Sarala Poobalan Kuala Lumpur The STAR Home > Opinion > Letters Saturday September 6, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM