May 15th, 2015

Mempopularkan profesion keguruan

SEPERTI biasa, Hari Guru akan disambut beberapa hari lagi. Sekolah-sekolah, tidak kira sekolah rendah mahupun menengah sedang bersiap-sedia menyambut hari tersebut. Malah, ketika kebanyakan sekolah sedang menjalankan peperiksaan Pertengahan Tahun sekarang, pelbagai agenda untuk sambutan hari guru dirancang kerana sambutan Hari Guru sangat pen­ting untuk guru dan pelajar.

‘Guru Membina ilmu, Menyempurnakan Akhlak’ dipilih sebagai tema sambutan Hari Guru pada tahun ini. Tema ini sangat bersesuaian dengan tuntutan perubahan zaman memandangkan tugas guru pada masa ini sangat mencabar dan di bahu merekalah terpikul amanah untuk mencorak warnakan bangsa dan negara masa depan.

Dalam bidang pendidikan, ilmu dan akhlak mestilah berjalan seiring dan sangat perlu bagi setiap pelajar. Kedua-duanya, jika lengkap dalam diri seseorang pelajar, mereka sebenarnya modal insan yang seimbang demi kesejahteraan hidup mereka kelak. Ilmu yang tidak diamalkan seperti pokok tidak berbuah, ilmu tanpa akhlak yang baik akan mencacatkan perjalanan hidup seseorang.

Kerana itulah, sekolah menjadi wadah penting menimba ilmu pengetahuan manakala guru menjadi penunjuk arah supaya anak-anak murid mereka mempunyai ilmu yang boleh diguna pakai dan akhlak yang boleh menjadi pendinding selepas mereka melangkah keluar dari alam persekolahan.

Sudah semestinya setiap pelajar yang meninggalkan bangku persekolahan akan mempunyai masa depan yang cerah jika mereka mempunyai ilmu yang sempurna dan akhlak yang mulia. Dengan ilmu mereka boleh mengetengahkan diri dalam masyarakat, memudahkan mereka memenuhi pasaran kerja. Manakala akhlak yang sempurna akan menjadikan mereka insan yang mengamalkan nilai-nilai murni dalam kehidupan.

Tugas guru pada masa ini bukanlah mudah. Di atas kertas, memang ramai yang melihat tugas mereka hanya sebagai insan yang dipertanggungjawabkan mencapai kejayaan pelajar, memperoleh pangkat A dalam pe­periksaan malah kebanyakan ibu bapa kini mengukur kejayaan itu dengan berapa jumlah pangkat A dalam subjek-subjek yang diduduki oleh anak-anak mereka dalam peperiksaan.

Tidak ramai yang mengukur kejayaan anak-anak dengan akhlak dan nilai-nilai murni yang diamalkan oleh anak-anak Malah, ada ibu bapa yang membelakangkan aktiviti kokurikulum anak-anak semata-mata mahu anak-anak mereka mencapai keputusan akademik yang cemerlang. Ada ibu bapa yang menyalahkan guru jika anak-anak mereka tidak cemerlang dalam peperiksaan.

Tugas guru pada zaman moden ini semakin mencabar kerana pelbagai masalah masih membelenggu dunia persekolahan. Anak-anak muda zaman ini mudah terpengaruh dengan pelbagai gejala negatif di luar dan dibawa ke alam persekolahan. Maka tidak hairanlah gejala buli, samseng sekolah, pergaduhan dan ponteng masih menjadi isu yang sukar hendak diselesaikan. Pengaruh dunia luar sangat kuat membelenggu fikiran pelajar dan jika matlamat asal mereka ke sekolah tidak dijadikan pegangan, maka tidak hairanlah mereka ini mudah terjebak dalam kancah tidak sihat.

Di sinilah letaknya tanggungjawab guru supaya membentuk akhlak mulia pelajar agar mereka dapat menilai mana yang baik dan mana yang buruk. Asas kukuh pembentukan akhlak anak-anak muda bukan hanya dari rumah tetapi juga di sekolah kerana setiap subjek mempunyai nilai murni tersendiri, cuma yang penting, kesemuanya harus digali dan diterjemahkan ke dalam bentuk yang lebih jelas.

Di samping itu, tidak dinafikan ba­­hawa sebagai tuntutan pembangu­nan negara, ilmu itu sangat penting bagi setiap pelajar. Peranan guru da­­lam membentuk budaya membaca dalam kalangan pelajar sangat pen­ting kerana dengan ilmu, pelajar akan menjadikan apa yang dipelajari di sekolah sebagai aset jangka panjang.

Selain apa yang ditetapkan sebagai bahan kajian dan dipelajari di sekolah, guru memainkan peranan membentuk budaya membaca dalam kalangan pelajar tidak kira sama ada semasa di sekolah atau selepas pelajar meninggalkan alam persekolahan. Guru mesti menekankan bahawa membaca bukan hanya untuk lulus peperiksaan tetapi kelangsungan membaca akan menjadikan ilmu itu tidak putus-putus ditimba sampai bila-bila.

Program NILAM yang diperkenalkan sejak tahun 1998 akan menemukan matlamatnya jika apa yang telah dirancang dan dilaksanakan itu menjadi amalan pelajar selepas mereka tamat belajar.

Profesion keguruan akan menjadi lebih popular jika semua pihak sama-sama membantu mengangkat guru sebagai pendidik. Ibu bapa, masyarakat dan pelajar itu sendiri mesti menghormati profesion ini kerana dengan cara ini, proses mencambah ilmu itu akan lebih berkesan.

Hampir setengah juta guru di negara kita dan bilangan ini merupakan kerjaya yang tinggi jumlahnya. Guru ada di mana-mana, di bandar, di pekan malah di ceruk-ceruk kampung yang masih belum dijamah kemajuan sepenuhnya. Tidak kira di mana mereka berada, mereka tetap menabur bakti kepada setiap pelajar yang mahukan pelbagai ilmu. Mereka juga terpaksa menghadapi pelbagai masalah yang perlu dipikul dan diselesaikan.

Selamat menyambut Hari Guru. - M Jasni Majed Utusan Malaysia Rencana 15 Mei 2015

Cabaran baharu kerjaya guru abad ke-21

PUTRAJAYA 14 Mei - profesion keguruan pada abad ke-21 terdedah kepada pelbagai cabaran baharu yang berbentuk kebendaan, intelek­tual, pemikiran, kerohanian, kebudayaan, ideologi baharu dan isu-isu yang berkaitan dengan masalah etika.

Ketua Pengarah Pelajaran, Datuk Seri Dr. Khair Mohamad Yusof berkata, bagi mendepani cabaran tersebut para guru perlu membina dan membentuk pelajar agar mampu bangkit dan membina kekuatan untuk menentukan masa depan yang lebih cerah.

Beliau berkata, guru juga perlu memahami bahawa penghayatan moral, nilai dan akhlak merupakan asas kepada kehidupan manusia dan asas martabat sesuatu profesion khususnya profesion keguruan yang bertanggungjawab memelihara tradisi dan budaya masyarakat Malaysia.

“Para pendidik perlu sedar bahawa dalam usaha negara menghadapi masa depan yang penuh persaingan, pendidikan adalah bersifat futuristik, maka kita hendaklah mampu menyediakan generasi muda untuk menghadapi sebarang kemungkinan.

“Kita juga perlu melahirkan ge­nerasi berilmu untuk berfikir, bertindak dan menghasilkan sesuatu yang bermanfaat berlandaskan skop yang global dan teknologi terkini serta berupaya menangani gelombang perkembangan dan perubahan masa kini,” katanya ketika ditemui baru-baru ini.

Menurut Khair, pemilihan tema sambutan hari guru tahun ini, Guru : Membina Ilmu Menyempurnakan Akhlak adalah selaras dengan hasrat kementerian melalui Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia (PPPM) 2013-2025 iaitu mengenai enam aspirasi murid.

“Kementerian mahu lahirkan murid yang mempunyai pengetahuan, kemahiran berfikir, kemahiran memimpin, kemahiran dwibahasa, etika dan kerohanian serta identiti nasional, sehubungan itu guru perlu memainkan penting dalam menjayakannya.

“Ilmu merupakan faktor terpen­ting dalam menentukan kebahagiaan individu dan kejayaan serta kekuatan sesuatu bangsa dan negara, ilmu juga membina kekuatan minda ke arah daya fikir tinggi dan daya kreatif dalam kalangan individu dan bangsa, saya percaya semua agama dan sistem sosial manusia mahukan ahlinya menguasai ilmu pengetahuan,” katanya.

Sehubungan itu katanya, para pendidik seharusnya mengorak langkah untuk melengkapkan diri sebagai pembina dan pemimpin ilmu khususnya berasaskan tek­nologi serta bersedia menjurus kepada penguasaan dan penggunaan teknologi maklumat dalam pelbagai bidang.

“Para pelajar mestilah dididik menggunakan daya fikir tinggi dan bersedia dengan minda untuk belajar sepanjang hayat dan mempu­nyai modal intelektual tinggi menghadapi era globalisasi ketika ini. Kemahiran berfikir dan pemikiran konstruktif juga perlu terarah kepada pandangan jauh dan luar biasa,” katanya.

Sejajar dengan tema itu, beliau berkata, kementerian berhasrat untuk melahirkan murid yang boleh bersaing bukan sahaja di dalam negara tetapi di peringkat glo­bal, namun dalam masa yang sama menjadi warganegara yang masih berakar umbi kukuh sebagai rakyat Malaysia bertunjangkan nilai etika dan kerohanian tinggi.

“Pendidik yang profesional dapat menangani pengajaran dan pembelajaran bagi membudayakan anak didik dengan amalan akhlak dan nilai-nilai murni, mereka perlu faham bahawa perkembangan dan kemajuan dunia boleh mempe­ngaruhi gaya hidup dan akhlak ma­syarakat.

“Perkembangan dunia dalam aspek ekonomi, sosial, politik dan tek­nologi seharusnya menjadi indikator asas kepada sistem pendidikan dan persekolahan untuk memenuhi keperluan tenaga manusia yang berteraskan keilmuan berkualiti. Oleh itu para pendidik adalah wahana yang boleh menentukan corak manusia yang mampu menghadapi alaf baharu di abad ke-21,” katanya.

Sementara itu katanya, tugas dan tanggungjawab guru dalam menyempurnakan akhlak adalah selaras dengan falsafah pendidikan kebangsaan yang menyatakan pendidikan Malaysia adalah suatu usaha berterusan ke arah memperkembangkan potensi individu secara menyeluruh dan bersepadu.

“Etika dan kerohanian masih diberikan penekanan dalam PPPM 2013-2025 sebagai salah satu dari­pada enam aspirasi murid, tanpa memasukkan elemen pendidikan nilai dalam pengajaran dan pembelajaran, cita-cita untuk melahirkan generasi cemerlang dari semua aspek tidak akan berhasil,” katanya.

Dalam pada itu, mengulas menge­nai pemilihan tarikh 16 Mei untuk menyambut hari guru, Khir berkata, tarikh tersebut dipilih bertepatan dengan 16 Mei 1956 iaitu tarikh yang sama ketika Laporan Razak diiktiraf dan dijadikan sebagai Dasar Pelajaran Kebangsaan.

“Objektif utama sambutan hari guru ialah untuk menghargai jasa dan peranan guru dalam pembangunan negara, modal insan serta perkhidmatan mereka kepada masyarakat selain memupuk perasaan perpaduan ikhtisas dan muhibah dalam kalangan guru.

“Tahun ini merupakan tahun terakhir untuk melihat keberhasilan gelombang kedua PPPM 2013-2025, oleh itu sambutan hari guru 2015 akan memfokuskan kepada elemen keberhasilan gelombang pertama PPPM khususnya inisiatif-inisiatif yang berkaitan keberhasilan murid, kualiti guru dan kepimpinan sekolah,” katanya. Hakimi Ismail Utusan Malaysia Rencana 15 Mei 2015

Pemerintah, rakyat kena amanah

Seperti saya sebut pada minggu lalu, Islam juga mempunyai prinsip kedaulatan undang-undang. Perlu ditegaskan bahawa kedaulatan undang-undang adalah juga antara prinsip asas dalam pentadbiran Islam.

Kita tidak perlu beretorik dalam konsep ini. Oleh itu, penegasan perlu dibuat bagi menjelaskan bahawa kedaulatan undang-undang ini mempunyai dasar yang jelas dalam sistem pemerintahan Islam.

Semua prinsip ini mempunyai justifikasi perundangan Islam. Walaupun terdapat hujah yang menolak peranan al-Quran dan sumber perundangan Islam lain dalam teori Perlembagaan, pendapat berkenaan adalah salah.

Pendekatan dan fahaman begini sebenarnya hanya mengambil pendekatan mudah dan simplistik mengenai al-Quran. Ia gagal memahami pengisian al-Quran dan mendorong ke arah tafsiran salah mengenai perundangan Islam.

Prinsip Perlembagaan

Prinsip faham Perlembagaan menurut prinsip Islam dapat dilihat, antara lain, dalam ayat suci al-Quran, ayat 58 dan 59 Surah al-Nisa'. Ayat ini bermaksud: "Sesungguhnya Allah menyuruh kamu supaya menyerahkan segala jenis amanah kepada ahlinya (yang berhak menerimanya), dan apabila kamu menjalankan hukum di antara manusia, (Allah menyuruh) kamu menghukum dengan adil. Sesungguhnya Allah sentiasa Mendengar, lagi sentiasa Melihat. Wahai orang beriman, taatlah kamu kepada Allah dan taatlah kamu kepada 'Ulil-'Amr' (orang yang berkuasa) dalam kalangan kamu. Kemudian jika kamu berbantah-bantah (berselisihan) dalam sesuatu perkara, maka hendaklah kamu mengembalikannya kepada (Kitab) Allah (al-Quran) dan (Sunah) Rasul-Nya - jika kamu benar beriman kepada Allah dan Hari Akhirat. Yang demikian adalah lebih bak (bagi kamu), dan lebih elok pula kesudahannya."

Dalam konteks faham Perlembagaan atau constitutionalism prinsip kedaulatan undang-undang amat jelas sekali dalam ayat suci ini. Antara konsep berkaitan ialah konsep amanah, keadilan, mentaati pemerintah dan prinsip ketinggian sumber hukum Islam. Ayat suci al-Quran ini menggunakan istilan 'al-amanat', yang merujuk kepada kepelbagaian amanah (segala jenis amanah).

Ini menjadikan aplikasi ayat ini begitu luas dan umum, termasuklah amanah yang didukung oleh pemerintah dalam menjalankan pentadbiran. Bagi maksud pelaksanaan amanah, ayat al-Quran ini bukan memberi ingatan, tetapi ia menyuruh semua pemegang amanah melaksanakan amanah kepada pemiliknya.

Kewajipan menunaikan amanah dalam maksud ayat suci al-Quran ini adalah satu perintah, ia bukan semata-mata nasihat. Lafaznya dari sudut etimologi menunjukkannya satu perintah serius, dan jelas. Ia tidak memberi atau membuka ruang tafsiran kepada ayat ini.

Dalam konteks pentadbiran negara, jika mahu disesuaikan dengan konsep kedaulatan undang-undang (seperti dipopularkan Barat itu), maksud ayat suci ini ialah pemerintah hendaklah melaksanakan amanah dengan adil kepada semua yang berhak.

Semua yang berhak dalam konteks pentadbiran negara ini merujuk kepada semua rakyat kerana merekalah yang menjadi subjek atau punca kepada lantikan pemerintah dan pentadbiran negara.

Kebebasan rakyat

Berkaitan, perkara yang sering dibawa ke hadapan dalam perbahasan kedaulatan undang-undang ialah hal berkaitan hak atau kebebasan rakyat.

Hak atau kebebasan ini perlu dijamin oleh pemerintah melalui perundangan. Hak dan kebebasan juga membentuk aspek penting dalam prinsip kedaulatan undang-undang Islam.

Hak dan kebebasan ini perlu dilaksana oleh pemerintah berdasarkan prinsip hidup Islam sebagai satu aspek dalam pelaksanaan amanah.

Prinsip kedaulatan undang-undang dalam Islam bukan sahaja meletakkan tanggungjawab ke atas pemerintah untuk melaksanakan amanah, tetapi amanah juga didukung oleh semua pihak, sesiapa sahaja, sama ada rakyat atau penjawat awam, tidak kira pangkat dan kedudukan.

Perkara ini jelas dengan sifat kepelbagaian amanah dalam perkataan yang digunakan dalam ayat al-Quran ini seperti yang disebut di atas.

Ayat suci ini juga meletakkan tanggungjawab rakyat untuk mentaati pemerintah yang melaksanakan tanggungjawabnya. Mentaati pemerintah juga amanah yang wajib dilaksana oleh rakyat.

Ayat pertama yang dipetik di atas menegaskan tanggungjawab melaksanakan amanah, ayat seterusnya meletakkan hak pemerintah untuk ditaati setelah perintah Allah dipenuhi.

Ini menunjukkan konsep kedaulatan undang-undang dalam Islam tidak berat sebelah. Ia adil kepada pemerintah dan juga kepada yang diperintah.

Keadaan ini penting kerana bukan sahaja pemerintah yang tertakluk kepada undang-undang, tetapi semua pihak memegang amanah dan seterusnya tertakluk kepada prinsip kedaulatan undang-undang.
Dr Shamrahayu A Aziz Berita Harian Kolumnis 14 Mei 2015

Nasib Pulau Penjara Pulau Pinang

MUNGKIN ramai yang sudah tahu, dan mungkin ada juga yang tidak tahu apa dan di mana terletak Pulau Jerejak iaitu pulau yang pernah dikatakan penuh misteri suatu ketika dahulu.

Pulau Jerejak merupakan satu lokasi penuh misteri, merbahaya dan popular dengan sejarah dan cerita yang menarik.

Terletak di Pulau Pinang, ancaman dan bahaya yang terdapat di ‘pulau penjara’ ini menyebabkan nelayan tidak dibenar menghampiri pulau tersebut sehingga lingkungan 200 meter dari pesisir pantai.

Dikelilingi kehijauan alam dan laut biru yang tenang, sehingga kini, keindahan pulau ini tidak luntur walau sudah dimamah usia lebih 4,000 tahun.

Pulau Jerejak dengan keluasan 362 hektar, terletak 1.5 batu nautika dari tanah besar dan ditemui oleh Francis Light pada tahun 1786 sebelum Pulau Pinang.

Pulau Jerejak sebelum sebuah pusat peranginan di bina di pulau tersebut.


Kawasan hutan di pulau ini memiliki 210 spesies dari 71 keluarga flora dan 39 spesies fauna.

Dijadikan pangkalan tentera laut British pada tahun 1797, pulau ini dibina bertujuan untuk melindungi bandar baharu Pulau Pinang ‘Jamestown’ yang kini dikenali sebagai Bayan Lepas.

Pulau ini kemudiannya dijadikan sebagai pusat kuarantin kesihatan pendatang asing yang pada masa itu membanjiri Tanah Besar dan pada akhir 1930-an, sebuah hospital kusta dibina di bahagian timur yang boleh memuatkan 150 orang pada satu-satu masa.

Pulau tersebut menjadi isu hangat apabila pihak British membina pusat kasino selepas Perang Dunia Kedua.

Pulau Jerejak dijadikan Kem Tahanan Politik British atau Penjara Pulau Jerejak, sebagai pulau buangan tahun 1948-1949 sebelum mendapat gelaran Alcatraz Malaysia berikutan pembinaan penjara dengan ciri keselamatan tertinggi.

Pada tahun 1981, berlaku rusuhan apabila 100 orang tahanan mengamuk dan memusnahkan sebahagian bangunan Pusat Pemulihan Akhlak kerana tidak berpuas hati dengan pelanjutan tempoh tahanan.

Pada tahun-tahun berikutnya, bilangan penghuni penjara bertambah sehingga mencecah 982 tahanan.

Bagaimanapun, tujuh banduan berjaya meloloskan diri iaitu empat orang pada Januari 1988 dan tiga pada Mei 1988.

Bagi mengelakkan perkara ini berulang, kerajaan memutuskan menutup pusat itu pada tahun 1990 dan tahanan dipindahkan ke Johor secara berperingkat sehingga 13 Ogos 1993.

Pulau Jerejak, yang terkenal dengan jolokan'sanatorium' dan 'penjara' ini, dijadikan sebagai Ia dijadikan pusat peranginan dengan tujuan untuk menarik kedatangan pelancong; seiring dengan Pulau Pinang yang terkenal sebagai destinasi pelancongan.

Sejarah baru ini tercipta sejak tahun 2003; di mana sebuah pusat pelancongan iaitu Jerejak Resort dan Spa dibina dan beroperasi sepenuhnya pada Januari 2004.

Apa yang menariknya, Jerejak Resort & Spa ini dikatakan dibina di atas kawasan yang dulunya merupakan pusat rawatan kusta.

In praise of moderation

Moderation does not mean acceptance of evil. Moderates have a duty to stand up for truth and justice but in a non-violent manner.

LATELY there have been several seminars on moderation and tolerance and I wish to share my views with The Star readers.

Semantics: As with most concepts, “moderation” cannot be defined precisely and objectively. Any judgment that someone is a “moderate” or an “extremist” is bound to be subjective and afflicted by the problem that words are like amoebas and change shape all the time. Whether “being a moderate” is commendable or condemnable is also a matter of subjective judgment. Note how some noble citizens who believe in tolerance and inter-racial accord are criticised by their brethren as “traitors to their race and religion”.

Attributes: Moderation is a necessary way of thought and action in a multi-hued society and a globalised world.

> Moderation is the absence of extremism in all aspects of life, whether politics, economics or religion. It is the quality of being temperate, restrained, controlled, measured, mild, gentle, fair, soft, sober and disciplined.

> It is about balance and reconciliation between conflicting interests rather than a militant, uncompromising, all-or-nothing attitude.

> It is abhorrence of violence, whether in the name of religion, politics, economics or any other ideology. The bogus Muslims of the so-called “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq, the Boko Haram in Nigeria and militant groups in Somalia are guilty of extremist and abominable practices.

> Equally culpable are the leaders of Western nations who in the name of democracy massacre millions of people in countries such as Syria and Yemen.

> Moderation requires respect for human rights – not just ours but also those of others. The first function of freedom should be to free someone else.

> Moderation entails a willingness to be objective. Dag Hammarskjold, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his book Markings, said that to be truly objective, one must be prepared to be subjective from the other person’s point of view!

> Moderation is an attitude of humility and accommodation that recognises that disagreements are natural. Truth is multiple. Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the absolute truth.

> Moderation is acceptance of the plural nature of our society and recognition of diversity as an asset. It is, as Datuk Azlina Aziz says, about engagement, listening and cutting the invisible barbed wires that separate “them” from “us”. It is about extending a hand over the divide to those who may disagree with our views but have as much a stake in the country as we do.

> It is recognition that unity does not mean sameness. It has to be a unity in diversity.

> Moderation is the fine line between racism (which is hatred for others) and community-consciousness, which is a positive desire to uplift a community, not necessarily one’s own!

> Moderation is recognition that love for God must manifest itself in kindness towards all His creations.

Caution: Moderation does not mean acceptance of evil. Moderates have a duty to stand up for truth and justice but in a non-violent manner.

A pacifist but powerful protest against tyranny like that of Mahatma Gandhi (in South Africa and India) and Martin Luther King Jr in the United States is within the borders of moderation.

Cultivating moderation: Moderation is not something we are born with. It has to be cultivated – at home, in the school, mosque, church, temple, office and neighbourhood. All of us have a role to play, big or small. For example, in February I was invited by the predominantly Malay-populated Serenia Gardens Owners and Residents Association to a Chinese New Year Dinner at their community hall. What was remarkable was that the hall rests below a surau. After isyak prayers, dinner was served; a troupe of lion dancers arrived; firecrackers lighted the firmament. The spirit of muhibbah glowed late into the night.

Education: We need to reformulate our education system. National schools must be truly national in their syllabi and in their ethnic composition of pupils and teachers. They must promote interfaith studies. Most prejudices are born out of ignorance.

Law and politics: We need a Declaration on Religious and Racial Harmony to supplement our Rukun Negara. Through a National Harmony Act, the law must provide a statutory framework for reconciling race and religious conflicts.

The Internet and social media are often abused to fan hatred. No special dispensation can apply to this form of free speech. However, what is important is that in initiating prosecution, there should be equal treatment and equal harassment.

Media: Instead of highlighting pernicious acts of bigotry and demagoguery, the media should celebrate acts of inter-communal harmony. There is heroism everywhere. Every day thousands of ordinary citizens perform extraordinary acts of love and compassion that transcend race and religion.

Religious faith: There is in every religion enough to unite as well as to divide. The choice is ours. The Bible says: “Do unto others as we wish to be done unto us.” Likewise the Prophet of Islam says: “Shall I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms and prayers? Making peace between one another: enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots.”

Let us then build bridges and dismantle walls; heal and reconcile and treat each other with mutual respect. As we walk through the meadows of our mind, let us emulate Kofi Anan’s advice to “confront ignorance with knowledge; bigotry with tolerance; and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity”.

Shad Faruqi, Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM, is a passionate student and teacher of the law who aspires to make difficult things look simple and simple things look rich. Through this column, he seeks to inspire change for the better as every political, social and economic issue ultimately has constitutional law implications. He can be reached at prof.shad.saleem.faruqi@gmail.com. The views expressed here are entirely his own. The STAR Home News Opinion Reflecting the Law 14 May 2015

An Asean tragedy that costs lives and suffering ~The modern day evil demons

The modern day evil demons

The Arakkans of Hindu mythology were evil demons. But even they will be put to shame by the evil that is being perpetrated on those who now live in what was once the kingdom of Arakan.

I HAD wanted to write about the Arakkans of Hindu mythology, the “evil demons” who were locked in constant war with the godly Devas. It is said the Arakkans left north India and moved south and south east towards what is now modern day Myanmar where they set up the kingdom of Arakan.

That has now become the place known as Rakhine. Its people, the Rohingya, are being persecuted and, fleeing the persecution, they have become a source of much worry to the entire region.

That was until I met Akbar. He told me of an evil far greater than any that could have been possibly wrought by the Arakkan of mythology, an evil driven by the greed for money and the gullibility of the poor man. This is Akbar’s story.

Akbar had a little shop in the city of Khulna in Bangladesh, one of those little lean-to sheds that sell bric-a-brac.

Life was hard. So, when an agent came promising him a new life and big money in Malaysia, he fell for it.

All he had to do was fork out RM8,000. It was RM5,000 (120,000 takas) up front and the remainder upon arriving in Malaysia, where he had a friend.

He sold his shop and business for RM5,000 and handed the money to the agent. He was off to the port city of Chittagong where he was put on a small fishing boat and taken to a bigger boat.

They waited for several days until there were about 50 people on board before sailing to the Bangladesh border. Another long wait, and another 50 people got on board.

Then it was across into Myanmar waters.

Over 17 days, about 100 Rohingyas were brought on board in little boats. For those on board, there was little water to drink and little food. And absolutely no baths.

Things just got worse from there. The boat started sailing towards Thailand and the real evil came to the fore. They took five days to get to the Thai shores.

A man had diarrhoea and wanted some medicine. He was beaten over the head with a thick piece of wood. Until he collapsed unconscious.

The reports are wrong, says Akbar. They do not throw the dead overboard.

They throw the sickly ones overboard. While they are still alive. Screaming in pain. And with their abdomens slit open. The bodies will not bloat or float.

Akbar saw nine people being thrown overboard. These human smugglers are pure evil.

The living had to clear the blood of those thrown overboard.

They were told that if they caught the same illness, they would die the same way. They cleaned up in a hurry.

In Thailand, the boat stayed off shore for seven days.

Those on board stayed unwashed. The men took them four at a time to a hill from where they could make a call home.

Akbar was told to ask his father for RM10,000. Or he would die. They said the money was to pay the Thai and Malaysian authorities.

His father sold his only piece of land to pay the agent in Bangladesh. When the payment finally came through, he was taken with 12 others to a river that he says looked little more than a monsoon drain.

It could have been Sungai Golok. They travelled for hours down the river and then had to wade across and walk for some three kilometres where a van was waiting.

There were no passenger seats in the van, just a piece of cloth at the back.

All 13 had to crouch low, with their heads not visible from outside. If their heads were raised above window level, the guard would hit them over their heads with a plank.

Akbar is short. And the journey had emaciated him. He was happy to stay below window level with his head down, he says with a smile.

How he could still smile, I will never know.

They stopped at many places to ensure there were no roadblocks ahead and after countless hours, they reached Kuala Lumpur.

Here, he was asked to call his friend. All he could say was: “I have reached KL”. The guards snatched the phone and demanded RM300 from the friend.

Finally, after more than a month of being unwashed, starved and beaten, Akbar was finally rescued by the friend in Kuala Lumpur.

Now, he wishes he had never made the journey, never fallen for the sweet promises of the agent.

He thinks his ordeal is over. He is in Kuala Lumpur. He wants to earn the RM15,000 he and his father paid and repay the RM300 to his friend. And then, earn some money and go home.

But first, he has to evade the authorities, get a job, somehow raise RM15,000 and, without any papers, find his way home. His ordeal is only just beginning.

Akbar is not alone. A Myanmar who was with him said he had been taken by boat to Thailand and trekked for days to a railway station south of the border. Dorairaj Nadason The STAR Home News Opinion Columnist May 15, 2015

An Asean tragedy that costs lives and suffering

They call it the chaos theory. An arbitrarily small change in initial conditions can cause a significant difference in the future.

The current deluge of illegal immigrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh is testimony to that.

Myanmar’s rejection of Rohingyas as valid citizens started the cycle going. Stateless, these people were ripe for exploitation by unscrupulous syndicates. The sydicates had no qualms about exploiting them, and thousands have since fallen victim.

In recent days, at least 1,000 have arrived in Langkawi in boats meant to hold a dozen people, while about 900 more have been rescued off the coast of Acheh. Many others are believed to be still at sea.

They are among the thousands who flee the difficult conditions back home in the hope of finding better lives in places like Malaysia. Part of their perilous journeys is via Thailand, but an ongoing Thai government crackdown on human trafficking, focusing on the border with Malaysia, has caused the jittery traffickers to take to the sea with the immigrants to escape detection, or worse, to abandon the immigrants.

Although already paid for their services, these heartless ring members think nothing of setting adrift vessels full of immigrants, including women and children, with a scant supply of food and water, and with little ability to navigate their way to safety. If they are lucky – the word “lucky” is used here in the loosest sense – they reach a shore or get help before they perish.

However, try as they may, some of these boat people cannot outrun misfortune. There are accounts of immigrants succumbing to illness, exhaustion or beatings by the smugglers, and their bodies tossed overboard.

The fear now is that if nothing is done soon to locate those still at at sea, all that may be found are bloated bodies washed ashore and boats laden with corpses.

There is an Asean context to this tragic chain of events. Most of these immigrants are ethnic minorities from Myanmar, mostly Rohingyas. Some may have left their country in search of jobs, but the others want refuge.

As at end February, there were more than 152,000 refugees and asylum seekers registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Malaysia. Almost 93% are from Myanmar.

The tough enforcement in Thailand seems to have shifted (and probably worsened) the problem of the smuggling of migrants. Indonesia is not accepting them, just giving them drinks and food and pointing them towards Malaysia.

Malaysia now have to deal with boatloads of illegal immigrants, like the Viet­namese boat people crisis decades ago.

This should not be Malaysia’s problem. It’s a regional one.

Thailand has called for for talks to address the region’s human trafficking trade. Malaysia and Myanmar have responded positively. That is certainly a good start, as there is an urgent need to address the issue.

Back in July 2009, the Asean Foreign Ministers asked the grouping’s secretariat to monitor the Rohingya situation. Three years later, then Asean secretary-general Dr Surin Pitsuwan said: “We will keep our eyes and ears on the plight of these unfortunate people.” Clearly, it is time to do a lot more than that. The sydnicates must be stopped. And the fleeing thousands housed. This problem has to be nipped now.

Or there will be significant repercussions in the future. There could be full-fledged chaos. The STAR Says Home News Opinion May 13, 2015

Getting titles right in the engineering field

RECENTLY, the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) received an enquiry on the usage of the title “Engr.” for members of the institution.

The title “Ir” was first introduced by IEM in the early 1970s for both the graduate and corporate members of the Institution. The amendment to the Registration of Engineers Act in 1987 provided for the use of the title “Ir” to registered professional engineers only.

With this development, IEM had to amend its constitution to disallow the use of the said title. Hence, the title “Ir” which once signified the membership of the Institution was taken away.

Since then, IEM has strongly felt that there was a need to provide an identity for the members of the Institution. Many suggestions and calls were made for the institution to look into the issue of a suitable title for its graduate and corporate members who are qualified engineers with accredited and recognised engineering degrees.

Therefore in 2006, the use of the pre-nominal “Engr” for the graduate and corporate members was introduced with the aim of not only giving due recognition and honour to the engineers, but also encouraging the younger generation to take up engineering.

However, in 2009, IEM further amended the constitution to allow only graduate members and corporate members, who are not professional engineers, to use the title “Engr” before their names. This will clearly distinguish between the title “Ir” for professional engineers and “Engr” for IEM members who are not professional engineers.

Moreover, the usage of the title “Engr” shall be used in conjunction with the post-nominal of “FIEM”, “MIEM” or “Grad IEM”, whichever is appropriate. As such, the use of pre-nominal “Engr” shall not be construed to imply that the person is a professional engineer.

With the progress of society and the Government’s aspiration for Malaysia to achieve the status of a developed nation by 2020, IEM shall always support the Government’s vision to produce more qualified engineers who will play a very important role in nation-building.

IEM graduate members can use the title “Engr” with pride and confidence as their degrees have been vetted and recognised by the Institution.

The admission as graduate members of IEM is only accorded to the holders of engineering degrees accredited under the Washington Accord. In so far as the approving authorities are concerned, the title “Engr” does not pose any confusion because all submission of plans need to have the stamp of a professional engineer (P.Eng.) with the title “Ir” as required by the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM).

“Engr” is now a title where members of the institution who are not professional engineers can be addressed.

This will give high recognition and honour to the engineers and promote the growth of the engineering profession for the progress of the nation.

Currently, there are more than 10,500 members of IEM who are entitled to use the title “Engr”

IR YAM TEONG SIAN, Secretary, Institution of Engineers, Malaysia. The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 15 May 2015

Noble profession with myriad roles ~ Teachers good role models

Noble profession with myriad roles

I FEEL it is not an exaggeration to place teaching in a list of the most elusive professions around. It is a profession that is the least understood and under appreciated by those outside the sphere.

This often over-glamorised profession has a side which not many are able to see and comprehend.

Unlimited working hours is one of the many hidden aspects of teaching, as teachers toil for a minimum of 10 hours per day! It’s not inclusive of the number of hours spent checking exercise books, planning lessons for the next day, preparing test and examination questions, keying in data online, recording information which is often redundant in nature, analysing data and a long list of many other tedious tasks which have to be done strictly outside teaching hours.

Most teachers get less than five hours of sleep at night and the number of teachers suffering from mental and psychological disorders is ever growing. Valuable family time is snatched away and depression has crept into the lives of teachers. The alarming number of depression cases among teachers is stark evidence of the issue discussed here.

How about the so-called “unlimited” holidays we assume teachers enjoy? Have we considered the days spent attending courses and the invigilation duties forced onto teachers during the holidays? Most schools are forced to conduct extra classes and camps during the school holidays.

Who do you think run the whole show? Planning, organising and conducting these camps at times consume the whole holiday and all the carefully crafted vacation plans have to take a back seat for these poor teachers.

We should also bear in mind that teachers are not paid as generously as workers in other professions.

A graduate teacher with about 10 years of teaching experience earns less than a graduate in a different field with the same work experience. The annual salary increase crawls at such a pace that it’s painful to look at, and they get only RM500 as bonus!

While some professionals are paid an amount equivalent to five to six months’ salary as their yearly bonus, teachers cheer at the announcement of half-a-month’s salary.

Teaching differs from other professions as teachers are forced to deal with human beings of various characters every minute of their time while in school.

One needs a tremendous amount of patience to keep cool throughout the day especially when dealing with unruly students. At one time, a teacher is in charge of at least 40 students with 40 kinds of characters, and in a day he handles hundreds of other students who come to school for other reasons except learning.

A teacher plays multiple roles in his career. To the administrators he is a clerk, debt collector, personal assistant, data recorder, planner, and organiser, among others. To the students, he is a teacher, educator, counsellor, sports coach, investigation officer, trainer, nurse, baby sitter and a host of other tasks which are yet to be named.

I have seen parents lament when the school holidays begin as they struggle to cope with their children who are left with them 24/7. They often complain about not having enough energy to entertain their children who, they claim, leave them exhausted.

Excuse me, we are talking about parents handling two or three of their own flesh and blood! Have we ever thought about the fate of those poor teachers who are forced to tolerate the antics of the children in a multiple of 20?

A show of appreciation is needed as a boost for all human beings and it applies to teachers too. Unfortunately, appreciation is seldom exhibited as teachers are expected to be the proverbial candle and sacrifice themselves.

Teachers constantly face assaults, threats, emotional blackmail and harassment of the worst sort in the course of their work. With advancing technology, students are becoming more creative in their attempts to execute their evil plans and teachers are expected to tolerate the intolerable.

And how about the attacks the teachers have to endure from various quarters? When a child succeeds, the credit goes straight to the child but failure of students is often associated with the inability of teachers. How unfair!

However, teachers do strive, despite all these shortcomings, thanks to the astoundingly high self-motivation and sense of sacrifice that’s unique to them. They celebrate the success of their students as their own and enjoy the occasional attention they get, and draw satisfaction from words of motivation and appreciation which are saved for special days like Teachers Day.

Let’s salute all those teachers out there who are contributing tirelessly towards nation-building. Happy Teachers Day, folks!   SR2 Tampin The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 15 May 2015

Teachers good role models

ON May 16, we will celebrate Teachers Day.

It is worth knowing that this date was chosen by the Government because it was on that day in 1956, that the Federal Legislative Council accepted the recommendations of the Education Committee Report as the education policy for the country.

The document, which is also widely known as the Razak Report, has since become the National Education Policy.

Accordingly, the objectives of celebrating Teachers Day among others is to emphasise the role of teachers in nation-building (including unity and integration) as well as to draw the attention of parents, students and the public to the important role played by teachers within our society.

It is crucial to know that teachers as well as educators form a very important part not only of our society but of almost all other societies in the world.

One of the most important responsibilities of a teacher or educator is to be a good role model for the students.

In fact, it has become a duty and responsibility for every teacher and educator to be the best role model they can be.

In multiracial Malaysia, students come from many different backgrounds and ways of life, making it hard for any teacher or educator to be the perfect role model for their students.

However, there are some basic positive qualities teachers or educators must have to become good role models.

They must demonstrate a positive attitude about themselves among their colleagues, their school, their profession, their community and their students.

They should also dress and behave in a professional manner at all times.

They also must be careful about what they say and always do what is considered appropriate.

They should always demonstrate love for their subject and be able to teach it with full dedication and enthusiasm.

More importantly, they must be the perfect role model of honesty and integrity and they must treat every student with dignity, respect, and fairness.

Having all these positive qualities would make any teacher or educator a good role model, one whom the students would aspire to follow.

Happy Teachers Day 2015 to all teachers and educators.

Muzaffar Syah Mallow, Faculty of Syariah and Law, USIM The STAR Home News Opinion Letters May 13, 2015