July 26th, 2015

Menanti cerita September 2.0

Tanggal 16 September 2008 diingati dalam sejarah politik Malaysia sebagai hari penuh drama dan harapan palsu yang dicetuskan oleh Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Pada tarikh itu, sejarah mengingati temberang Anwar yang mengetuai pakatan pembangkang telah gagal menunaikan janjinya sendiri untuk membentuk kerajaan.

Barangkali kerana bulan September terus dimanipulasi, 16 September boleh diingati sebagai Hari Pembohongan Pakatan Pembangkang. Kali ini, timbul pula tarikh 14 September, hari pembentukan parti baharu yang dicetuskan oleh pemimpin 'terbuang’ Pas yang kini bergabung di bawah Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB). Parti baharu itu diuar-uarkan bakal mengadakan konvensyen pada 16 September.


Mungkin satu kebetulan, mungkin juga tidak. GHB memilih 14 September untuk membuat perisytiharan kononnya bagi memberi waktu kepada kepemimpinan baharu Pas yang genap 100 hari memimpin parti itu untuk membuat perubahan mengikut kemahuan DAP dan PKR. Begitu sekali amuk asmara kumpulan kecewa GHB ini menggilai bayang bekas rakan sekutu yang telah diceraikan itu.

Tarikh 16 September rupa-rupanya diidam-idamkan banyak politikus. Tarikh yang membawa penyatuan Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara berdaulat. Tarikh yang menyatukan Sabah dan Sarawak, dua negeri yang kini menjadi rebutan parti politik untuk menggapai kekuasaan Putrajaya.

Selepas 16 September Anwar yang palsu dan mengecewakan, September muncul lagi menjadi bulan yang digunakan oleh politikus untuk menjanjikan harapan. Seperti dirasuk jembalang September, GHB begitu yakin bakal mendapat sokongan rakyat sedangkan sejarah nasib serpihan Pas berkata sebaliknya.

Seperti sudah ada skrip yang disediakan, Anwar, banduan di Penjara Sungai Buloh itu tiba-tiba mengeluarkan kenyataan melalui peguam beliau. Media propembangkang pun berebut-rebut menyiarkan ‘perutusan’ itu dengan tajuk ‘Anwar umum rancangan gabungan baharu pembangkang’.

GHB turut disebut dalam pakatan baharu pembangkang yang akan ditubuhkan tidak lama lagi yang kata Anwar bagi menyelamatkan negara. Kini jelaslah pakatan baharu yang dijelmakan semula sebagai Pakatan Rakyat 2.0 itu hanya melibatkan PKR, DAP, GHB dan beberapa NGO lain.

“Semuanya tanpa Pas,” tegas supremo DAP, Lim Kit Siang dalam reaksi segera susulan perutusan Anwar. DAP dan PKR menyingkirkan Pas dan kemudian menghukumnya atas alasan “gagal untuk mengotakan janji dan tidak boleh dipercayai”.

Janji apa yang tidak dikota dan siapa yang tidak boleh dipercayai? September 2008 telah bercerita. Mungkin saja cerita September kali ini juga sama - hanya harapan palsu.

Dalam penjara

Hiruk-pikuk pakatan pembang­kang ini mudah djangka. Hari Isnin, Ahli Jawatankuasa GHB, Khalid Samad umumkan GHB bakal di­lancar 14 September kemudian pa­da Rabu, Anwar keluar perutusan da­ri dalam penjara yang terus men­dapat reaksi pantas Kit Siang.

Lengkaplah aliran skrip GHB yang kini sedang menjelajah ke se­luruh negara. Jelajah GHB ini pun tidak ubah seperti gegak-gem­pita yang direka-reka sema­sa September 2008 dahulu. Dikha­barkan GHB mendapat sambutan di luar jangkaan. Pendek kata, GHB ini penuh luar biasa. Benarkah, atau sekadar gempak pak lawak?

Daripada reaksi kepemimpinan baharu Pas yang nampak cool dan seperti tidak mahu berbuat apa-apa, kewujudan GHB ini dipandang remeh oleh mereka. Hanya ada satu dua suara keras memprotes, yang lainnya bersikap budiman mendepani kemarahan rakan-rakan bekas pemimpin Pas itu.

Ahli-ahli Pas tidak dilarang meng­hadiri program jelajah GHB. Para pimpinan peringkat negeri dan kawasan diberi kebebasan un­tuk menyertai GHB. Pas tetap tersenyum menghadapi provokasi dan arogansi sebahagian mereka yang terikut-ikut dengan rentak DAP,

Alasan Pas, ahli-ahli mereka cerdik menilai yang mana permata dan yang mana kaca. Yang mana pengkhianat, yang mana pejuang dasar Islam.

Struktur parti yang bertunjangkan ulama sudah be­gitu kuat untuk menangkis ancaman adu domba dan perpecahan. Pimpinan Pas yang menyertai GHB bahkan di­alu-alukan menyertai semula Pas apabila kelak mereka muak dengan parti baharu yang akan ditubuhkan itu.

Begitu sekali sikap bersahabat Pas ini. Mungkin sahaja ini strategi Pas untuk membersihkan parti Islam ini daripada anasir jahat - parasit, liberal dan pengaruh Syiah - yang selama ini telah menggelincirkan Pas daripada landasan asas perjuangannya.

Mereka mahu lakukan secara bergaya. Tak perlu susah payah dan ribut-ribut menghukum pengkhianat parti. Biarkan mereka mereput secara semula jadi, mengikut hukum alam.

Pas sepertinya cukup berkeyakinan parti baharu bawaan GHB itu tidak akan dapat memuaskan syahwat tinggi DAP dan PKR untuk menguasai Putrajaya. Kelak, setelah masanya tiba, Pas juga yang akan dicari, Pas masak dengan kelemahan DAP dan PKR ini.

Memang, yang terlihat sekarang ini geng GHB yang jahat, Geng GHB yang merosakkan Pas. Geng GHB yang pula terkesan ekstrem dan tidak progresif. Dengan sikap Pas yang sebegitu, parti ini telah meletakkan dirinya di pihak yang sedang dianiaya dan ditindas. Secara tidak langsung, simpati jatuh kepada Pas.

Yang lebih ketara, pimpinan baharu Pas seperti dapat melihat GHB tidak lebih hanya temberang 16 September 2008. Yang umum nampak pakatan baharu tidak akan ke mana, seperti juga Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah, Barisan Alternatif dan Pakatan Rakyat kerana sifatnya yang rapuh dan prinsip berbeza. Mereka membina gabungan hanya atas rasa benci kepada pihak lain.

Pada pihak satu lagi ada yang sudah bermimpikan jawatan bahkan tak kurang yang ragu-ragu dengan kemampuan sebenar GHB. Masanya masih panjang, jadi sama-samalah kita tunggu apa sudahnya cerita September 2.0 ini.

Wibawa pemberi maklumat bernama Deep Throat

Kepada yang pernah membaca buku All The President's Men (1974) atau filem All The President's Men (1976), pasti akan menemui satu watak misteri yang dirujuk sebagai ‘Deep Throat’. Ini adalah nama samaran yang diberikan kepada individu penting yang memberi maklumat hingga tumbangnya Presiden Richard Nixon dalam skandal Watergate yang menggegarkan Amerika Syarikat (AS) pada awal 1970-an.

Saya menonton filem All The President's Men tahun 1984 ketika baru bekerja di Utusan Melayu sebagai wartawan. Ketua Pengarang Kumpulan ketika itu, Zainuddin Maidin (ZAM) mengarahkan saya menonton filem yang diadaptasi daripada buku yang ditulis oleh dua wartawan akhbar The Washington Post, Bob Woodward dan Carl Bernstein.

Kata ZAM, semua wartawan patut menonton filem yang memaparkan galur cabaran kewartawanan penyiasatan yang mendedahkan penyelewengan dan skandal kewangan yang melibatkan Nixon. Selepas menonton, kedua-dua wartawan itu menjadi idola saya dan terlupa bahawa watak-watak itu digerakkan dengan begitu realistik oleh pelakon Dustin Hoffman dan Robert Redford. Secara umumnya kedua-duanya adalah penggerak filem berkenaan. Tetapi di sebalik kelicikan mendapatkan maklumat-maklumat sulit, watak Deep Throat ternyata lebih penting. Dia yang memberikan maklumat sulit yang berwibawa mengenai skandal Watergate dan seterusnya didedahkan oleh The Washington Post.

Tersingkir

Deep Throat adalah watak utama dalam drama sebenar skandal Watergate hingga Nixon yang begitu hebat dasar luar negaranya dan antara presiden yang paling popular boleh tersingkir daripada kerusi presiden. Selepas disingkirkan, Nixon menjadi bahan ejekan dalam banyak filem yang diterbitkan di AS antaranya menggambarkan dia sebagai kaki perempuan dan penyangak. Sudah tentu tanpa keputusan sukar Deep Throat untuk memperjudikan kerjaya, masa depan dan nyawanya, sisi hitam Nixon akan terus terlindung daripada pengetahuan umum.

Selepas kejatuhan Nixon, Deep Throat boleh sahaja muncul di media, setidak-tidaknya membuat pendedahan eksklusif di akhbar The Washington Post bahawa dialah yang menyalurkan maklumat sulit kepada media hingga menjatuhkan presiden. Tetapi Deep Throat tidak berbuat demikian dan tidak memilih untuk menjadi pemberi maklumat murahan yang gila publisiti. Maklumat yang diberikan terbukti berwibawa dan walaupun dia tidak beretorik kononnya mahu menyelamatkan negara, insaf dan macam-macam lagi.

Saya berulang kali menonton filem All The President's Men selepas muncul dalam format cakera video digital (DVD). Tetapi masih bungkam kerana watak Deep Throat tidak dapat dirungkai. Difahamkan semasa perjanjian antara dua wartawan The Washington Post itu dengan pengarah Alan J. Pakula, identiti Deep Throat tidak akan didedahkan.

Bagaimanapun majalahVanity Fair pada edisi 31 Mei 2005 menyiarkan pengakuan Pengarah Bersekutu FBI era Nixon, W. Mark Felt berusia 91 tahun bahawa dia adalah Deep Throat. Pengakuan menggemparkan itu tidak dinafikan oleh kedua-dua wartawan The Washington Post sekali gus menamatkan misteri yang berlegar lebih tiga dekad dalam politik dan kewartawanan di AS. Oleh yang demikian tidak hairanlah kalau The Washington Post dikatakan berjaya mengembalikan kepercayaan rakyat kepada akhbar dengan pendedahan skandal Watergate kerana mempunyai wartawan yang berwibawa, berpegang kepada janji sekalipun tidak disukai oleh Nixon.

Yang tragisnya banyak individu berpengaruh disyaki sebagai Deep Throat dan meninggal dunia sebelum Mark Felt mendedahkan penyamarannya. Antara mereka ialah Penasihat Nixon, John Ehrlichman meninggal dunia pada 1999, Setiausaha Akhbar Nixon, Ron Ziegler meninggal dunia pada 2003, Ketua CIA, William E. Colby meninggal dunia pada 1996 dan Pemangku Pengarah FBI, L. Patrick Gray yang tinggal hanya empat blok dari tempat tinggal Woodward meninggal dunia pada 2005. Mereka dan Nixon yang meninggal dunia pada 22 April 1994 tidak tahu siapa sebenarnya Deep Throat.

Penulis J. Anthony Lukas dalam bukunya Nightmare: The Underside of Nixon Years (1976) mengesyaki bahawa Deep Throat ialah Mark Felt. Bagaimanapun Mark Felt bertindak bijak, dia tidak memberikan apa-apa reaksi seolah-olah andaian Lukas itu tidak ada kena mengena dengan dirinya. Ini membuatkan pembaca menganggap itu tidak lebih andaian liar pengarang semata-mata. Itulah yang membezakan antara pemberi maklumat yang gila publisiti dengan yang berwibawa.

Budak Melayu sudah didakwa, yang lain bagaimana?

Berikutan tragedi rusuhan di Plaza Low Yat pada 13 Julai lalu, seorang remaja Melayu telah ditahan dan seterusnya didakwa di Mahkamah Jalan Duta Kuala Lumpur pada 14 Julai lalu. Remaja yang dituduh mencuri telefon itu mengaku tidak bersalah dan dibebaskan dengan ikan jamin RM3,000. Pihak polis mengkelaskan rusuhan itu sebagai ‘kes curi telefon’ tetapi beberapa pihak lain termasuk pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) mendesak siasatan dibuat dari pelbagai sudut termasuk kegiatan peniaga penipu pelanggan dan gengsterisme.

Tanpa mempertikaikan tindakan pantas polis mendakwa tertuduh, tetapi banyak pihak juga bertanya apakah tindakan polis kepada ‘berbelas-belas’ yang lain yang khabarnya telah ditahan ekoran rusuhan itu? Mereka bertanyakan tindakan ke atas kumpulan yang memukul tertuduh. Adakah mereka dilepaskan atau apa?

Ketangkasan polis mengambil tindakan wajar diberi pujian. Tetapi isunya sehingga kini hanya seorang remaja Melayu sahaja yang dilihat sebagai punca. Macam ada yang tidak kena. Sebenarnya inilah yang memberikan gambaran tidak tepat seolah-olah wujud tindakan pilih bulu. Persepsinya banyak yang ditahan tetapi hanya seorang remaja Melayu sahaja yang didakwa. Yang lain macam mana?

Adalah diharapkan tidak ada pihak dijadikan dikambinghitamkan semata-mata untuk menunjukkan ketegasan pihak berkuasa menangani rusuhan yang boleh membawa kepada sentimen kaum. Tetapi membiarkan rakyat tertanya-tanya akan membuka ruang kepada pelbagai persepsi liar bukan satu pendekatan bijak mengekang menularnya sentimen perkauman.

Oleh kerana itu adalah sukar untuk mengekang pertanyaan nakal, sampai bila orang Melayu harus dipergunakan untuk menyedapkan hati pihak tertentu? Kalau tidak, kata mereka, segeralah tunjukkan tindakan ke atas ‘berbelas-belas’ lagi. Kalau remaja Melayu itu seorang sahaja, itu bukan rusuhan namanya. Kerana faktanya berlaku rusuhan dan melibatkan jumlah yang besar. Tidak ada salahnya pihak berkuasa mahu meredakan ketegangan tetapi janganlah ada yang jadi kambing putih dan ada yang jadi kambing hitam. Satu lagi berpada-padalah mengugut dengan Akta Hasutan, nanti kurang bisanya.

- Ku Seman Ku Hussain Utusan Malaysia Rencana Anekdot Ahad 26 Julai 2015

Cabaran enam PM Malaysia

PADA malam Jumaat lalu (malam 23 Julai), Pengerusi Badan Perhubungan UMNO Negeri Melaka, Datuk Seri Idris Haron baru meninggalkan Seri Perdana setelah menghadiri majlis kesyukuran hari jadi ke-62 Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Bagi Idris yang sempat ditemui penulis di Putrajaya pada malam berkenaan berkata, pendirian Najib yang bertegas tidak akan melepaskan jawatan Perdana Menteri menjadi pil kekuatan kepada UMNO, Barisan Nasional (BN) dan pentadbirannya.

“Itulah ubat mujarab kepada kekuatan kepimpinan hari ini apabila PM menyatakan beliau tidak akan mengalah kepada mana-mana pihak.

“Kekhuatiran utama kita ialah apabila PM kata, 'I surrender’, itu yang kita bimbangkan kerana kita (BN dan Malaysia) berada dalam satu kedudukan yang cukup yakin bahawa 'PM is on the right track’.

“40 tahun beliau berada dalam struktur politik ini (sejak umur 22 tahun) dan berjaya melepasinya, kenapa pula pada waktu ini pelbagai pihak menuduh beliau begitu, begini,” kata beliau.

Kepada Idris, Najib bukan 'pemimpin yang turun dari helikopter’ seperti si polan yang masuk UMNO, terus menjadi timbalan menteri, kemudian melompat tinggi ke jawatan Timbalan Perdana Menteri’.

“Sebaliknya Datuk Seri Najib bermula daripada Ahli Parlimen kosong (biasa). Tuduhan yang dilemparkan kepada beliau itu, lebih selesa untuk saya katakan bahawa ada pihak yang mungkin tidak dapat lagi menikmati keselesaan yang selama ini dikecapi disebabkan oleh kelemahan polisi-polisi terdahulu,” kata beliau, sambil menjelaskan Badan Perhubungan UMNO Melaka secara prinsipnya akan membawa usul sokongan penuh enam bahagian UMNO negeri dalam siri mesyuarat bahagian Ogos depan, kepada kepimpinan Najib.

Dalam pertemuan 'santai’ sejam itu, Idris, 49, akur bahawa setiap Perdana Menteri termasuk Najib, waima Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad sendiri pun yang waktu ini begitu agresif mengkritik kepimpinan sedia ada, mempunyai set cabaran masing-masing dalam era pentadbiran mereka.

Berikut pandangan Idris:

1. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj

- Pernah difitnah dituduh bermacam-macam. Tetapi Tunku tidak mengalah dengan mudah. Bahkan dilaporkan Tunku hanya menjawab secara selamba apabila dituduh membazir wang kerana membina lapangan terbang. “Saya senang nak balik Kedah dengan kapal terbang.”

Pernah juga Tunku dituduh membazir wang kerana membina Stadium Merdeka. Namun beliau sekadar menjawab: “Saya suka tengok bola.”

Beliau dituduh macam-macam tetapi mungkin kerana liputan media yang terhad, tekanan dihadapinya kurang berbanding hari ini. Ketika itu surat khabar pun dicetak dua hari sekali, justeru tidak mendatangkan tekanan yang hebat.

2. Tun Razak Hussain

- Pernah dianggap terlalu liberal apabila berurusan dengan kaum bukan Melayu sehingga mendesak Ketua Pemuda UMNO yang disanjungi orang Melayu ketika itu, Datuk Harun Idris untuk menentang beliau secara terbuka.

Idris diberitahu, Harun pernah ditawarkan jawatan Duta ke Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) hanya untuk 'menenangkannya’ daripada menentang Razak. Hal ini disahkan kepada Idris oleh anak Harun sendiri, Tan Sri Azman Shah. Tun Razak ketika itu didakwa sebagai 'lemah dan tidak agresif apabila berkaitan dengan isu perkauman’ dan janjinya adalah jika berlaku sesuatu terhadapnya (Razak), Harun boleh pulang (dari PBB) dan mengambil alih peranan Tun Razak. Maknanya, Harun boleh menduduki jawatan Perdana Menteri jika 'apa-apa’ berlaku kepada Razak.

Malangnya, Harun tidak ambil jawatan itu (duta ke PBB) dan dia kekal sebagai Ketua Pemuda. Selepas itu kerana takdir-Nya, Tun Razak meninggal dunia. Bayangkan jika Harun menerima tawaran itu yang kemungkinan beliau telah menjalankan tanggungjawab presiden parti.

3. Tun Hussein Onn

- Ketika baru mengambil alih jawatan Perdana Menteri, Hussein berhadapan dengan isu Bank Rakyat dengan Harun dipenjarakan. Waktu itu kelihatan Harun sepatutnya menjadi Presiden UMNO tetapi apabila Hussein mengambil alih pentadbiran pada tahun 1970-an, Harun masuk penjara. Inilah cabaran yang diharungi Hussein yang mana seorang Ketua Pemuda UMNO Malaysia dipenjarakan.

Tidak cukup dengan itu, timbul desakan daripada kumpulan tertentu yang mahukan timbalannya, iaitu Dr. Mahathir Mohamad segera diangkat menjadi Perdana Menteri. Dan bagaimana Hussein diberikan kata dua jika beliau tidak memilih kalangan tiga Naib Presiden parti sebagai timbalannya. Ini kerana Hussein lebih cenderung untuk memilih seseorang yang mempunyai kepakaran dalam dan luar negara, yakni Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie atau 'King Ghaz’.

Tiga Naib Presiden UMNO semasa itu – Tun Ghafar Baba, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah dan Dr. Mahathir menegaskan bahawa Timbalan Perdana Menteri mestilah datangnya tidak boleh selain dari tiga Naib Presiden UMNO. Akhirnya, Dr. Mahathir yang dalam kedudukan Naib Presiden tangga ketiga, dipilih. Itulah dilema 'memilih timbalan’ dihadapi Hussein dan akhirnya Hussein menjadi Perdana Menteri yang paling singkat tempohnya sebagai presiden parti.

Tempoh pentadbiran Tunku Abdul Rahman ialah 12 tahun, Tun Razak (tujuh), Hussein (lima), Dr. Mahathir (22), Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (enam). Mengapa tempoh jawatan dipegang Hussein singkat?

Hussein waktu itu dikatakan masih ada kekuatan untuk mentadbir dan memimpin negara. Ini lebih-lebih lagi dengan ilham beliau memperkenalkan Amanah Saham Nasional yang sehingga hari ini telah terbukti mengangkat martabat pegangan ekuiti orang Melayu di seluruh negara. Namun, selepas itu beliau berhenti pula. Mengapa?

4. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

- Beliau mengambil alih negara dalam keadaan yang sukar diterima oleh rakyat Malaysia apabila menukar waktu yang diawalkan 30 minit mengikut waktu Malaysia Timur, Sabah dan Sarawak.

Hal ini menimbulkan rasa kurang senang sehinggakan masyarakat Melayu beranggapan Perdana Menteri baharu ini cuba menukar waktu sembahyang. Persepsi itu agak diterima disebabkan pengetahuan yang cetek berasaskan waktu sembahyang kepada peredaran bulan dan matahari. Apabila Dr. Mahathir mengubah 'Buy British Last’ kepada Dasar Pandang Ke Timur, ada pihak menyoal 'kenapa tidak kepada al-Quran dan hadis’? Kenapa perlu melihat negara sekular seperti Jepun, sedangkan al-Quran dan hadis mempunyai segala-galanya? Itu cabaran awal ditempuh Dr. Mahathir. Begitu juga dengan gaya kepimpinan Dr. Mahathir dalam parti yang cuba melakukan pelbagai perubahan sehingga sukar diterima parti. Beliau turut dicabar oleh Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (Ku Li) selepas lima tahun menyandang jawatan presiden parti yang pernah dianggap sebagai 'Clash of the Titans’.

Hasil perebutan jawatan Presiden UMNO pada 1987, Dr. Mahathir dikenali sebagai 'one bus load prime minister’ (bas bermuatan 43 penumpang) kerana hanya menang ke atas Ku Li dengan 43 undi.

Banyak cabaran diharungi Dr. Mahathir, antaranya 'Peristiwa Memali sehingga beliau dikatakan sebagai diktator. Juga, dari isu kekebalan (imuniti) Raja-raja Melayu sehingga kepada pemecatan timbalan perdana menteri dalam belum terjadi dalam sejarah negara. Demikian juga ramai memperkatakan tentang 'pentadbiran 2M -Mahathir-Musa (Tun Musa Hitam) yang hanya Musa sahaja tahu cerita sebenar di sebaliknya.

5. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

- Tempoh singkat Abdullah menjadi Perdana Menteri akibat diasak oleh Dr. Mahathir juga. Apa yang dilalui oleh Abdullah yang mesra dengan panggilan Pak Lah juga termasuk antara cabaran yang ditempuh Dr. Mahathir.

Dr. Mahathir melepaskan jawatan Perdana Menteri pada 2003 dan dalam hal ini antara alasan beliau berbuat demikian kerana sudah tiba masanya. Dan beliau juga merasakan ada banyak perkara yang tidak dapat dilaksanakan, dengan dipersembahkan dalam bentuk sajak 'Melayu mudah lupa’, dalam bentuk deklamasi seloka 'Perjuangan belum selesai’ serta doa.

Ini membayangkan siri cabaran yang dilalui Dr. Mahathir juga bukan sesuatu yang boleh dipandang mudah dan akhirnya menyedari kekurangan itu dengan melepaskan jawatan kepada Abdullah. Walaupun Abdullah mencipta rekod dalam sejarah pentadbirannya dengan menundukkan teruk pembangkang yang hanya meraih 20 daripada 222 kerusi Parlimen pada pilihan raya umum 2004 (BN meraih 90 peratus kekuatan di Parlimen), namun tekanan hebat dihadapinya dengan 'disebut sebagai kelemahan kepimpinan yang membawa kepada ketidakupayaan negara melaksanakan dasar kerajaan’ termasuklah Jambatan Bengkok.

Dan akhirnya, cabaran paling besar Abdullah adalah apabila Dr. Mahathir sendiri keluar parti selepas menyaksikan kekalahan BN di beberapa negeri dan juga kehilangan dua pertiga majoriti di Parlimen. Pak Lah turut terpalit dengan tuduhan 'kaum kerabat dan saudara mara PM menjadi pembuat keputusan kepada dasar-dasar kerajaan’ yang akhirnya mendorong Pak Lah melepaskan jawatan kepada Najib.

6. Najib Tun Razak

- Najib mendapat sokongan daripada segenap masyarakat termasuk daripada Dr. Mahathir sendiri. Ini sehinggakan Najib dikatakan berada di kemuncak keupayaan beliau sebagai pemimpin negara apabila dapat meletakkan Dr. Mahathir dan Pak Lah sebelah menyebelah dengan Najib berada di tengah. Mereka ketika itu dikatakan sedang bertelagah dan Najib berjaya menyatukan mereka.

Akhirnya, Dr. Mahathir kembali ke pangkuan UMNO dan itulah ketikanya ahli UMNO merasakan semangat solidariti yang paling tinggi dalam kalangan kepimpinan parti. Tetapi sayangnya hari ini keadaan sudah berubah. Najib sendiri berdepan asakan kemuncak 'media baharu’.

Apa pun, ketika ini tuduhan yang dilemparkan terhadap Najib dianggap sebagai fitnah yang dilakukan secara sistematik dengan satu tujuan untuk mendesak beliau melepaskan jawatan Perdana Menteri. Sedangkan hakikatnya - Najib mempunyai sokongan kuat daripada struktur parti pemerintah UMNO itu sendiri.

Dalam hal ini, Idris menitipkan rasa syukur kerana UMNO telah mendengar sendiri daripada Najib bahawa beliau akan terus berhadapan dengan cabaran yang mendatang. Iaitu dengan misi hanya untuk membela rakyat dan mengangkat nama negara di persada dunia. -  Zulkifli Jalil Utusan Malaysia Rencana 26 Julai 2015

Bisik Awang Selamat ~ Khianat, Politik, YNWA, PAC, Rasuah, SPRM

Pengkhianatan?
Satu demi satu fakta muncul yang menjelaskan lagi hakikat bahawa wujud konspirasi mahu menggulingkan Perdana Menteri, Najib Tun Razak di luar proses demokrasi.

Beberapa pengakuan bekas eksekutif PetroSaudi, Xavier Andre Justo tentang dokumen 1MDB yang diubah suai dan ditawarkan AS$2 juta bagi curi data oleh taikun dan pemilik akhbar The Edge, Tong Kooi Ong - mengejutkan.

Malah ada lagi. Terdapat pengakuan individu yang bertemu Justo mahu menggunakan dokumen yang diubah suai bagi menjatuhkan kerajaan. Ia turut terdedah menerusi wawancara akhbar The Straits Times Singapura selain hasil daripada siasatan awal pihak berkuasa Thailand ekoran penahanan Justo.

Banyak perkembangan dalam tempoh dua minggu ini termasuk pengakuan bekas Editor Sarawak Report (SR) Lester Melanyi yang mempunyai bukti apa yang ditulis oleh pengasas SR, Claire Rewcastle Brown adalah rekaan semata-mata.

Kini reputasi Brown dan Kooi Ong semakin buruk. Kedua-dua pihak cuba nafi tetapi bangkai gajah tidak boleh ditutup dengan nyiru. Sebelum ini, Kooi Ong pernah menggemparkan negara atas dakwaan cuba mensabotaj ekonomi Malaysia.

Brown pula sudah tidak asing dengan melakukan serangan peribadi ke atas Abdul Taib Mahmud bagi menjatuhkan kerajaan negeri Sarawak dengan kerjasama parti pembangkang tertentu. Biarpun gagal selepas tidak disokong oleh rakyat Sarawak, sasarannya bertukar kepada Najib.

Selain Kooi Ong dan editor The Edge, Ho Kay Tat, pemimpin DAP, Tony Pua juga terpalit kerana ada bukti beliau menemui Brown di luar negara berkaitan dokumen 1MDB.

Pada Awang semuanya berbaur - konspirasi, jenayah pengubahan wang haram dan pengkhianatan. Jika tidak disebabkan konspirasi ini terbongkar lebih awal, negara pasti sudah menerima padahnya. Bayangkan berapa ramai sudah tertipu dan mudaratnya kepada kestabilan dan ekonomi Malaysia. Maka jelaslah bahawa kenyataan Ketua Polis Negara, Khalid Abu Bakar bahawa polis tidak menolak wujudnya konspirasi untuk menggulingkan Perdana Menteri - adalah benar. Yang kabur dan kelam makin terang. Skandal Justogate (ekoran pengakuan Justo) ini menuntut siasatan dan tindakan pihak berkuasa. Di China, pengkhianatan seperti ini pasti dikenakan hukuman paling berat. Dalam konteks konspirasi menjatuhkan kerajaan dan Najib, Awang lihat cabarannya apa lagi yang kita tidak tahu kerana konspirator tidak akan berdiam dan menyerah begitu sahaja.

Tony Pua, PAC

Dengan perkembangan terbaharu termasuk pengakuan pemimpin DAP, Tony Pua menemui Clare Rewcaste Brown berhubung dokumen 1MDB, apakah beliau layak duduk dalam Jawatankuasa Kira-Kira Wang Negara (PAC) bagi menjalankan siasatan ke atas syarikat pelaburan tersebut?

Dengan kata lain, dakwaan pembabitan beliau dilihat serius. Sepatutnya Tony Pua dengan rela hati atas nama integriti dan demi menjaga reputasi PAC, perlu berundur.

Malah DAP sewajarnya mengambil pendirian yang budiman mengarahkan Tony Pua mengecualikan diri bagi mengelakkan cacat cela kepada PAC. Orang yang sudah tercemar nama dan mencetuskan keraguan besar serta mempunyai motif tertentu tidak layak terlibat soal siasat PAC. Beliau adalah wakil DAP dalam jawatankuasa itu. Tolong jangan bagi malu parti itu seolah-olah tidak faham definisi integriti. Dalam pada itu, masyarakat masih menunggu kenyataan rasmi penasihat DAP Lim Kit Siang dan anaknya, Setiausaha Agung DAP, Lim Guan Eng. Apakah DAP terbabit dalam gerakan menggulingkan kerajaan di luar proses demokrasi melalui kerjasama dengan individu dan media asing? Awang sekadar bertanya.

Musang berbulu...

Penubuhan parti politik baharu biasanya mendapat sambutan tetapi berlainan dengan Gerakan Harapan Baharu (GHB) yang menerima gelombang negatif daripada umat Islam dan orang Melayu.

GHB adalah parti serpihan yang digerakkan oleh sekumpulan pemimpin Pas yang kecewa selepas tewas pada pemilihan parti itu dan tidak mahu menerima hakikat akar umbi menolak mereka.

Ramai melihat GHB yang diketuai oleh bekas Timbalan Presiden Pas, Mohamad Sabu sebagai pro DAP selain PKR. Pada Awang, lebih daripada itu, ia tidak ubah sayap Melayu dalam DAP.

Tahniah kepada DAP kerana berjaya memecahkan perpaduan Pas. Namun mujur kepimpinan Pas bertindak pantas menangani isu itu sebelum anasir DAP meresap lebih jauh ke dalam memusnahkan parti tersebut sebagaimana yang berjaya dilakukan oleh PKR.

Awang percaya GHB yang akan menyertai pakatan baharu pembangkang bersama DAP dan PKR akan dikhianati dan dikecewakan akhirnya. Hubungan DAP dan Parti Semangat 46 terkubur dan terbaharu Pas jadi mangsa.

Bukan itu sahaja, sudah puluhan pemimpin Melayu dalam DAP meninggalkan parti itu dengan penyesalan. Bagi menjayakan agendanya, pemimpin DAP sanggup lakukan apa sahaja - bersongkok, masuk surau, menangis dan merayu. Tetapi apabila impian tercapai, etnik lain terutama Melayu tiada nilai lalu disisih dan dibiar lemah. Agenda agungnya hanya untuk satu kaum. Betul kata Presiden Pas, Hadi Awang tentang bahaya parti cauvinis seperti DAP. Pengalaman Pas membuktikan.

Awang sudah lama berwaspada dengan musang berbulu ayam.

Tahniah SPRM, MKN

Antara kes mahkamah yang begitu signifikan minggu ini ialah hukuman denda RM50,000 terhadap seorang petani, Pang Lian Por, 47, kerana didapati bersalah melakukan aktiviti pertanian tanpa kebenaran di Cameron Highlands.

Ia merupakan kes pertama pencerobohan di kawasan peranginan itu yang dijatuhi hukuman. Bukan itu sahaja, jumlah denda tersebut adalah maksimum memandangkan implikasi perbuatan tertuduh terhadap alam sekitar dan masyarakat.

Berikutan pendedahan beberapa siri laporan Utusan Malaysia, Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) menahan 21 individu. Isu penerokaan haram dan pemerkosaan alam sekitar di Cameron Highlands menggemparkan negara apabila mencetuskan bantahan orang ramai dan aktivis alam sekitar, memaksa campur tangan kerajaan dan agensi-agensi berkenaan.

Persoalannya kini siapa lagi akan didakwa? Apakah penjawat awam yang menyalahgunakan kuasa turut dikenakan tindakan? Apa pun, Awang bersyukur kerana kebenaran akhirnya terzahir. Tindakan tegas SPRM dan Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN) membuktikan bahawa gejala tersebut adalah benar-benar berlaku dan serius. Ia juga dengan sendirinya menolak sindrom penafian oleh pemimpin tertentu, yang enggan menerap prinsip akauntabiliti. Maka Awang ingin ucapkan tahniah sambil bersyukur kerana SPRM dan MKN meletakkan kepentingan negara, awam dan alam sekitar jauh lebih tinggi biar apa pun cabarannya. Bayangkan, tanpa ketegasan tersebut, Cameron Highlands tidak mampu diselamatkan. Malah permasalahannya akan lebih parah, yang terus menjadi cerita duka buat rakyat dan negara.

YNWA

Minggu ini, Malaysia dilanda demam Liverpool sempena kunjungan pasukan itu ke negara ini. Kemuncaknya kelmarin, apabila berlangsungnya perlawanan persahabatan yang mencuri perhatian peminat sukan terutama penyokong Liverpool. Tahniah kepada pilihan Malaysia kerana prestasi yang tidak mengecewakan.

Pada Awang, ia bukan semata-mata soal kemampuan skuad negara di bawah bimbingan jurulatih Dollah Salleh mengekang Liverpool dengan keputusan seri 1-1. Lebih daripada itu ialah pengaruh Liverpool di negara ini, ternyata terus subur. Biarpun prestasi pasukan itu dalam Liga Perdana Inggeris (EPL) merudum pada musim lalu, para peminat tidak kisah. Stadium Bukit Jalil dibanjiri para peminat sebagaimana sambutan hangat pada perlawanan persahabatan 2011. Kempen untuk memboikot perlawanan itu oleh pihak tertentu yang marahkan Persatuan Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM) juga bukan penghalang. Ternyata kesetiaan peminat kepada pasukan atau kelab tetap teguh, termasuklah Liverpool. Lebih-lebih lagi pasukan berkenaan mempunyai tradisi kecemerlangan bola sepak yang disegani.

Paling menarik ia mempunyai slogan yang Awang anggap hebat, You'll Never Walk Alone (YNWA). Jatuh, bangun, menang atau kalah, anda tidak bersendirian. Juga biarpun tanpa legenda atau tonggak seperti Steven Gerrard. Semangat kekitaan dan kebersamaan adalah tinggi. Pasukan lain juga ada budaya sebegitu tetapi tidak mampu menyaingi Liverpool. Mengapa? ...YNWA sentiasa menyala di hati.

Terima kasih Dr.

Doktor pakar biasanya tidak selesa diberi pujian dan penghargaan menerusi media, bimbang boleh disalah ertikan.

Tapi Awang tetap mahu merakamkan terima kasih kepada kardiologis Institut Jantung Negara (IJN), Dr. Emily Tan Lay Koon.

Ini berdasarkan maklum balas beberapa kenalan dan pesakit yang menerima rawatan serta kaunseling daripada beliau. Sikapnya yang menghormati pesakit, sabar melayani kerenah terutama warga emas, khidmat yang memuaskan dan penerangan yang mudah difahami antara komen ramai terhadap Dr. Emily.

Dalam pada sebahagian kita mudah merungut dan komplen terhadap khidmat doktor dan petugas hospital yang tidak memuaskan maka apabila mendapat layanan yang baik, ia terasa istimewa.

Inilah yang Awang mahu zahirkan.   - Awang Selamat Utusan Malaysia Rencana 26 Julai 2015

Hapus sentimen kenegerian melampau

Pada jam 12.30 tengah hari, Ahad, 15 September 1963, Gabenor British terakhir Sarawak Sir Alexander Waddell dan isteri meninggalkan Astana Negeri. Mereka mengucapkan selamat tinggal kepada rakan dan rakyat Sarawak. Sebanyak 17 das tembakan dilepaskan.

Di atas bukit di Kubu Margherita, pancaragam polis Sarawak memainkan lagu Auld Lang Syne ketika kapal Loch Killisport yang dinaiki Wad- dell, lalu. Sesuatu yang amat menyentuh perasaan, apabila ramai yang melambai-lambai dengan sapu tangan putih di kedua-dua tebing Sungai Sarawak.

Kini, ada tuntutan supaya tarikh itu diraikan sebagai Hari Sarawak dan diisytiharkan cuti umum. Jika tarikh 22 Julai diisytiharkan cuti umum, maka Sarawak akan meraikan tiga cuti umum, termasuk 31 Ogos hari kemerdekaan dan 16 September, Hari Malaysia.

Persoalannya, perlukah satu lagi cuti umum? Yang mana lebih penting, 22 Julai atau 16 September? Atau kedua-duanya sama penting?

Hakikatnya, tarikh 22 Julai itu tidak mungkin ada jika rancangan pembentukan Malaysia tidak digagaskan. Maksudnya, tanpa Gagasan Malaysia yang diumumkan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Sarawak tentu masih dicengkam penjajah British.

Tarikh itu sebagai persediaan pemerintahan sendiri yang diberi oleh pihak British, apatah lagi sebahagian daripada kuasa masih dalam genggaman British pada ketika itu.

Kuasa itu masih dalam tangan Gabenor British dan Baginda Ratu.


Implikasinya, Sarawak belum lagi mendapat kuasa mutlak untuk mentadbir negeri ini. Ketika menulis tiga biografi bekas Gabenor Sarawak, iaitu Tun Abang Haji Openg, Tun Abang Salahuddin, dan Tun Abdul Rahman Ya'akub, selain biografi pengasas Parti Negara Sarawak (PANAS), Datu Bandar Abang Mustapha, saya meneliti ribuan dokumen di Public Record Office di London, serta halaman akhbar tempatan mengenai bagaimana proses pembebasan Sarawak dan pembentukan Malaysia.

Tarikh 22 Julai adalah tarikh Gabenor British mengisytiharkan pelantikan Ketua Menteri Sarawak pertama, Stephen Kalong Ningkan serta pelantikan ahli Majlis Tertinggi yang merupakan Kabinet pertama Sarawak.

Tun Abang Haji Openg dilantik sebagai Gabenor pada 16 September, di sebalik teka-teki dan tarik tali, ada tuntutan terutama di pihak British dan Kalong Ningkan untuk melantik Temenggong Jugah Barieng.

Mahu tarikh penting diiktiraf

Sebenarnya, 22 Julai adalah satu permulaan ke arah kemerdekaan sebagai persediaan bagi pemerintahan sendiri, kerana Sarawak sebenarnya hanya merdeka sepenuhnya pada 15 September 1963 sesudah Gabenor terakhir British Alexander Waddell meninggalkan Astana Negeri dan balik ke Britain.

Bagi gerakan Sarawak untuk Orang Sarawak, tarikh itu perlu diiktiraf sebagai tarikh penting pembebasan Sarawak daripada cengkaman penjajahan British. Bagi mereka, dengan turunnya bendera Union Jack, maka berakhirlah penjajahan.

Tuntutan terhadap perlunya tarikh itu diiktiraf dan diraikan berlaku terutama selepas perubahan landskap politik tahun 2008.

Sebelum itu meskipun ada tuntutan khususnya daripada pembangkang, namun diabaikan oleh pemimpin negeri. Tetapi perubahan sosiopolitik mengubah pendirian mereka.

Mereka tidak lagi dapat berdiam diri, sebaliknya kelihatan perlu mengikut arus dan wacana yang diperjuangkan oleh gerakan tertentu.

Apa pun alasan supaya tarikh itu diarusperdanakan dan ditonjolkan, bagaimana mengisi kemerdekaan itu adalah jauh lebih penting. Kini, tuntutan mendapatkan autonomi yang lebih banyak semakin lantang disuarakan.

Pemimpin mahu Sarawak diberi hak seperti termaktub dalam Perlembagaan dan Perjanjian 18 Perkara.

Tuntutan supaya Sarawak dilayan dengan adil agar kemajuannya setaraf negeri maju lain, memang tidak salah. Yang salah ialah menyemarakkan semangat nasionalisme kenegerian dan sentimen kewilayahan yang melampau, apatah lagi menuntut supaya Sarawak keluar dari Malaysia.

Itu pendekatan yang tidak masuk akal, malah pendek akal. Jangan kerana marahkan nyamuk, kelambu dibakar. Sarawak dalam Malaysia banyak memperoleh manfaat meskipun masih banyak yang perlu diperbaiki.

Akui kesilapan

Tugas dan tanggungjawab itu bukan hanya terletak di tangan Kerajaan Pusat, tetapi juga kerajaan negeri, sesuai dengan sistem fede- ralisme yang diamalkan.

Jika ada kesilapan dan kelemahan sehingga berlaku kekurangan seperti didakwa, kesilapan itu tidak harus hanya diletakkan di bahu pemimpin Pusat.

Pemimpin negeri juga turut bertanggungjawab dan perlu mengakui kesilapan itu. Dan inilah masanya bagi Ketua Menteri untuk memperbetulkannya.

Menyemarakkan sentimen anti-Semenanjung memang tidak wajar. Menganggap Sarawak hanya untuk orang Sarawak, juga melampau.

Bagaimana jika negeri di Semenanjung, bertindak balas, dengan turut kemukakan slogan masing-masing ala Sarawak untuk orang Sarawak?

Seyogia diingat, kita hidup di bawah sistem federalisme. Pemahaman mengenai sejarah dan sistem politik amat penting, tetapi buku berkaitan sejarah Sarawak, khususnya dalam bahasa Melayu tidak banyak ditulis dan diterbitkan.

Generasi muda perlu didedahkan kepada fakta sejarah yang sebenarnya. Menyedari pentingnya pemahaman sejarah yang betul, persatuan sejarah dan sejarawan yang berminat terhadap sejarah pembentukan Malaysia dan kemerdekaan Sarawak perlu membuat penyelidikan yang serius.

Kita perlu bercakap berdasarkan fakta, bukan sentimen melulu bagi memastikan kita dapat bergerak ke hadapan sebagai sebuah negara bangsa.

Importance of English here is in really dire straits, Poor English goes all the way to university

Poor English goes all the way to university

REFERRING to the reports “Atrocious English in workbooks” and “Make English our top priority, says CIMB chairman” (The Star, July 22), I truly share the concern of our Deputy Prime Minister and top corporate figures like the CIMB chairman on the poor English of our youth and the effect this will have on Malaysia’s global competitiveness.

The poor English of schoolchildren is reinforced all the way up to university. Sometimes it is difficult to decipher what the student is trying to say as syntactic, lexical and conceptual errors are found in the sentences.

Here are some examples of atrocious English found in graduating Law students in a local university:

1. The study of negotiation strategy became significant provides many benefits which could not be derives from bringing suit to the court.

2. However, this is rather exclusively not very exhaustively.

3. In other classes as well they learnt how to give attention when another person was talking in front.

4. Living in this business-like world of economics, politics, industries and transactions, one cannot escapes the fact that often deals with dealings in our everyday lives.

5. There was evidences deduced by them show accurate information regarding you, Mr. Joshua.

Concerned English Teacher Kuala Lumpur The STAR Home News Opinion Letters July 24, 2015

English here is in really dire straits

THE report “Atrocious English in workbooks” (The Star, July 22) says it all about the dire straits of English in our country. Included in the report were examples reproduced from “actual questions from last year’s Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 test papers”, for each of which the corrected version was given.

However, some of the corrected versions themselves could do with further correction, as in the following:

(1) “Why can’t the dropper draw the water?” It is inappropriate for a conversational contraction, herein can’t, to be used in formal script. The said version could be amended to “Why can the dropper not draw up water?”

(2) “A solution can be classified as acid, alkali, or neutral”. The sentence construction is unbalanced – acid and alkali are nouns, and neutral is an adjective. The said version could be amended to “The solution can be classified as acidic, alkaline and neutral”.

(3) “Based on your opinion” sounds grandiose for a mere opinion to form the basis of something. The said version could be amended to “In your opinion”.

Besides the test questions, even the report itself needs some tweaking. The quoted speech, “Sometimes, the publishers just cut and paste from the exam papers and do not check thoroughly”, is an example of jumbled tenses.

Granted the quote could be a result of misquoting. In any case, the quote could be amended to: “Sometimes, the publishers just cut and pasted from the exam papers and did not check thoroughly.”

In turn, I now stand to be corrected.

LIM CHIN LAM  Lim Chin Lam Penang The STAR Home News Opinion Letters July 24, 2015
:
No doubt on importance of English

I REFER to your report “Atrocious English in workbooks” (The Star, July 22). As a father, I am very disappointed with the answer of both the publication manager and the Deputy Education Minister.

The publication manager should know the competencies of his employees. It is not enough to say “there shouldn’t be any (errors) because the questions were exact copies of those that appeared in the 2014 test papers.” Based on the sample given, some of the errors were simple grammatical mistakes.

The Deputy Minister’s response, where he tried to shift the responsibility to teachers and parents, was also not satisfactory. He should have realised that the issue was not only about the workbooks but also the PT3 questions and talked about what the Ministry would do to solve the matter.

There is no doubt about the importance of English education. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad introduced the teaching/ learning of mathematics and science in English (PPSMI) but the policy was abolished at the insistence of certain parties.

It is true that in the early stages, it caused confusion among some pupils. Parents also started to complain because they were worried about their children’s examination result. They were then supported by individuals or bodies with political interests that claimed the policy was against the Constitution and would affect the nationalistic spirit of the youths.

I hope all the parties involved in abolishing PPSMI will compile a report on the benefits of the abolishment. I will be happy if our Sasterawan Negara can be a member of the panel.

Nizam Selayang The STAR Home News Opinion  Letters to the Editor July 23, 2015

Atrocious English in workbooks

PETALING JAYA: Several Science and Mathematics workbooks for students preparing for public examinations are littered with bad grammar.

One glaring example is a Science reference book for Form Three students.

Ironically, the cover noted that the contents included actual questions from last year’s Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 test papers, which were used with the permission of the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate.

The workbooks were also plagued by jumbled tenses and wrong prepositions, raising questions about quality checks done on these publications.

Manager Mohd Sharizan Walat at the workbooks’ publication house confirmed that the questions were taken directly from the exam papers.

“We took them 100% from the actual papers. We just arranged them for our workbooks before publishing,” he said.

Asked about the many errors, he said there should not be any because the questions were exact copies of those that appeared in the 2014 test papers.

“We checked several times. The questions and the suggested answers are duplicated exactly from the test scripts by the examinations syndicate. There shouldn’t be errors,” he said.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said these private publications did not come under the ministry.



He said the ministry did not give a licence to private publications for reference books.

If there were errors in the original exam questions, the parents of students who took the tests would have complained about them, he said.

“Sometimes, the publishers just cut and paste from the exam papers and do not check thoroughly,” Kamalanathan said.

He said the ministry could not check on private publishers, and teachers, parents and students were free to choose the workbooks they wanted to use.

An editor at a local publishing company said there was a rigorous process before the workbooks were put on the shelves at retail stores.

“We get the manuscripts from the authors, who are teachers.

“Our responsibility is to ensure clarity and brevity,” she said, adding that the language used must be appropriate for the target students’ level.

The editor, who majored in English, said she only oversaw ­reference books for that subject and pointed out that “editing” the language was only a small part of the process.

She said editors were hired for both proficiency in language as well as knowledge in particular subjects.

“For example, our Bahasa Melayu editors are graduates in Malay literature from local universities,” she said.

She added that a common fault of local authors was their tendency to ramble and the use of colloquialisms.

Driving GLCs to greater heights

KUALA LUMPUR: GOVERNMENT-linked companies (GLCs) have played a significant role in nation building and supporting the country’s economic growth with a total of RM63.5 billion taxes paid by the top 20 GLCs known as G20, from 2004 to 2014.

During the period, the leading GLCs also returned a staggering RM108.3 billion in dividends to shareholders, including the government, with the ultimate beneficiary being the rakyat.

The G20 companies are controlled by five government-linked investment companies (GLICs), namely Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT), Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH) and Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB). Its original list comprised of 20 GLCs but current list stands at 16 due to various mergers, demergers and other corporate exercises over the years.



High-performing entities: Government-linked firms significantly support the nation’s ambition of becoming a developed nation
On May 14 2004, the government announced the GLC Transformation (GLCT) initiative in a bid to transform the G20 into high-performing entities and push them to greater heights. Following this, the Putrajaya Committee for GLC High Performance (PCG) chaired by the Prime Minister was established in January 2005 to drive the delivery of the GLCT programme, which now in its final year.

The G20 are expected to graduate from the programme next Wednesday, as it marks the completion of the decade-long journey since its official launch on July 29 2005.

The G20 includes CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, Axiata Group Bhd, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM), Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), UEM Group Bhd, UMW Holdings Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd. Other G20 companies are Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB), Chemical Company of Malaysia Bhd (CCM), BIMB Holdings Bhd, TH Plantations Bhd, Affin Holdings Bhd, Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) and Boustead Holdings Bhd.

These public-listed companies have recorded a threefold increase in combined market capitalisation on Bursa Malaysia, surging to RM425 billion over a 10-year period from May 14 2004. Upon graduation from the GLCT programme, the GLCs are expected to be at par with competitors in the country, with several companies emerging as regional champions.

At the GLIC level, Khazanah, with seven companies within its stable, said it continuously collaborates with its investee companies to drive greater performance. Its executive director Mohd Izani Ashari said, this is being done through Khazanah’s Five-Point Engagement Framework that guides the collaborative investment approach with its investee companies.

“As an active shareholder, we help to ensure that there is strong and capable leadership within each investee company that will execute the appropriate business strategies. “

We work with them to implement key systems and controls such as governance and risk management frameworks and talent and performance management system,” said Izani.

Khazanah, in its capacity as the PCG secretariat, pointed that on an aggregate basis, the G20 are continuing their upward trajectory in delivering high performance.

Izani said the transformation of the GLCs into high-performing entities will significantly support the nation’s ambition of becoming a developed nation with high-income, sustainable and inclusive economy.

“To date, the GLCs have achieved wide-ranging results, strengthened financial capacity and contributed significantly to the national economy and all stakeholders,” he added.

In 2013, the G20 achieved an economic profit of RM2.6 billion, up RM8.4 billion from an economic loss of RM5.8 billion in 2005. G20’s combined net profit grew at a compound annual growth rate of 11.1 per cent, from 2004 to 2013, moderating to RM25.6 billion in 2013, from the all-time high of RM26.1 billion in 2012.

The G20 are currently generating revenue from operations and assets in 55 countries with their share of assets (as a percentage total assets) having grown to 28.7 per cent, from 11.6 per cent, between 2004 and 2013.

Over the same period, the G20 non-bank overseas share of revenue grew from 30.3 per cent to 33.8 per cent while G20 bank overseas share of net interest income also surged to 20.8 per cent from 15.2 per cent. Several GLCs within the G20 which are already regional champions include Axiata, CIMB, Maybank and Sime Darby. Other GLCs which have successfully extended their footprints overseas are CCM, MAHB, UEM and UMW.

On the domestic front, the GLCs have benefited all stakeholders, including the average Malaysian citizens through the companies’ award-winning quality products and services which have created a positive impact on consumers.

PNB for example, has been mobilising people’s savings to encourage equity ownership by the rakyat and consequently their participation in the nation’s corporate wealth since its establishment in 1978.

Its president and group chief executive Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman said through the innovative products offered by PNB, even those with limited capacity and even those with no capacity to save have been able to invest.

“To date, PNB has mobilised more than RM200 billion of savings and channeled them into equity holdings in various corporations in Malaysia, which is equivalent to more than 15 per cent of Bursa’s market capitalisation,” he said.

Hamad Kama Piah said PNB’s assets under management have grown tremendously from RM52.1 million at its inception to RM276 billion to date, while more than RM130.5 billion of dividends and bonuses had been distributed to its unit holders. Lembaga Tabung Haji chief executive officer Tan Sri Ismee Ismail on what is next upon the GLIC graduation, expressed his utmost confidence that graduation is just the beginning.

“Graduation is just the beginning. I believe for the GLICs, the challenges upon us will be that we have to spread our wings beyond what we have already achieved and start giving back to the people. “

Transformations need to be coupled with giving back, at least the business communities, as well as to the country’s socio-economic environment.

“One of the good things we have developed in GLICs is the CSR initiatives and this need to be emulated by other sectors. I think the private entities that are listed and are non-GLCs need to find their CSR role,” said Ismee.

Championing the corporate governance as the thrust of G20 transformations, the Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) chief executive officer Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said EPF, in being a big investor to about 200 companies, tries to ensure that the companies adopt the corporate governance put in place.

“Not all GLCs are the same as they have different histories and backgrounds. Most of the transformations and challenges are also different, depending on the routes and directions they were taking. Therefore, they all have different challenges to address.

“Our role is to support the development of common principles with the understanding that every business is different. There are certain principles that need to be understood such as corporate governance, integrity and performing business in an ethical manner.

“Our stance has always been to never impose a single standard on everybody. But the actual process, we leave it to the respective companies as they have to find a balance that makes sense to them, depending on the nature of businesses,” he said.

Shahril said the EPF believes that there have been improvements in corporate governance, not only in the 20 GLCs, but also the wider corporate companies as well. “

Now that we have gone passed the ‘teaching’ phase, it is time for us to move forward and evolve.”

Besides customers, the G20 also benefited employees, with a total of RM513 million spent on human resource training and development in 2013, involving nearly 130,000 non-executive personnel.

This includes upward mobility schemes designed to provide opportunities for the non-executives to grow professionally. The GLCs continued to execute various vendor development programmes, benefitting suppliers, besides being actively involved in numerous corporate responsibility (CR) initiatives which largely contributed to the society.

There were 60,666 suppliers registered with the G20 in 2013 with RM75.1 billion worth of business opportunities awarded to them, according to the GLCT programme report card for June 2014.

In giving back to the community, the G20 had spent some RM4 billion for their CR initiatives from 2004 to 2013. A total of 5,892 hard-core poor families have also benefited from the GLCs’ support through Yayasan Sejahtera set up under the PCG and Khazanah.

Moving forward, Izani who heads the PCG secretariat, expressed his hope for GLCs to continue the spirit of the programme and continue to leverage on the collective strength of the network for collaboration, knowledge sharing and synergy.

He said the secretariat is currently finalising a stock-take exercise to assess programme performance to-date and to propose recommendations for the future.

Meanwhile, commenting on the 10-year transformation programme and beyond, LTAT chief executive Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin said the armed forces fund will continue its journey to take the GLCs to a new level of performance.

“We will continue the journey, moving the companies from average to excellence, to glory, and then to distinction, thereby creating more and more global champions and best-in-class companies in Malaysia. “

By doing that, we should be able to better realise our dreams and aspirations and join the league of developed nations in 2020, for the benefit of the current and future generations of Malaysians, especially the members of the armed forces,” he added.

To mark the completion of the GLCT programme, GLCs are scheduled to showcase their activities and achievements via a GLC Open Day event in August, to engage the public and report on the programme’s final outcomes.

Vital to boost human capital development

MANY of us are familiar with the Government’s Vision 2020 aspiration to see Malaysia achieve a national per capita income of at least US$15,000, which allows us to be classified as an advanced economy.

But we must not forget that there are targets in several other areas that together form the platform on which the country stands as it rises to that income level.

Human capital development is one of these areas. People with the necessary knowledge, skills, ethics and morality are required to drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the last leg of the journey towards realising Vision 2020.

It is therefore fitting that one of the six strategic thrusts of the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) is the accele­ration of human capital development over the next five years.

Within that thrust is the emphasis on expanding the country’s skilled workforce, comprising mana­gers, professionals, and technicians and associate professionals.

For years, we have known that Malaysia does not have enough skilled workers, experiences lethargic productivity growth because its workforce lacks creativity and innovation, and relies too much on unskilled and low-wage migrant workers.

Such conditions stand in the way of us becoming a high-income nation.

The 11MP aim is to push the proportion of skilled jobs from the current 28% of employment to 35% by 2020.

Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is a cornerstone of these efforts. In fact, enabling industry-led TVET is one of the five-year plan’s six game chan­gers – innovative approaches to development that can “fundamentally change the trajectory of the country’s growth”.

Of the 1.5 million jobs that are expected to be created under the five-year plan, 60% will hinge upon TVET-related skills. This involves increasing the annual intake of TVET students from 164,000 in 2013 to 225,000 in 2020.

It is not just about filling seats in schools. The TVET graduates must have the knowledge, skills and attitudes that employers look for.

As such, the Government is stepping up its collaboration with the industry to increase intake in TVET, improve the quality of programmes and institutions, and enhance the sector’s overall branding and profile.

Making TVET a more attractive pathway may well be the biggest challenge. The typical student turns to TVET only as a last resort. There is a perception and awareness problem here.

Few people see such education and training as a springboard to entrepreneurship and high-growth sectors where skilled workers are much sought after.

This is where parents can play an instrumental role. After all, most children rely on their parents’ gui­dance (and money) when deciding what and where to study after lea­ving school. And it is the parents who usually understand which careers best suit their kids.

Therefore, a key step in transforming TVET is to get the parents to appreciate the opportunities it offers. They must see that TVET is capable of helping people fulfil their potential, which is what all parents want for their children.

The STAR Home News Columnist 26 July 2015

A blend of fact and fiction

The 1MDB story has morphed into a complex tableau involving top opposition party figures, media tycoons, the London-based Sarawak Report and, of course, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad was a no-show at the Prime Minister’s open house on Friday. But it did not dampen Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s mood.

Moreover, Najib had the company of another former Prime Minister, namely, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Pak Lah has shown up a few times at Najib’s open house but he would leave before Dr Mahathir arrived. This time around, Pak Lah stayed on to enjoy the occasion.

There is no love lost between the two elder men and the same can now be said for Najib and Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir’s quest to unseat Najib has found him on the same page as the very opposition politicians who had tried to topple him during his 22 years at the top.

Politics is full of ironies and for Dr Mahathir, it has been a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

To complicate things, some of those closely associated with the former premier have been implicated in the alleged conspiracy against Najib.

Everyday, there is something in the Bangkok newspapers about it.

Former PetroSaudi executive and alleged blackmailer Xavier Andre Justo, now under arrest in Thailand, has been singing like a canary.

The Thai media has been going to town with Justo’s accounts of meeting up with a total of 10 Malaysian politicians and media bigwigs who may or may not be part of the conspiracy.

The 1MDB story has mutated into a complicated tableau involving the London-based website known as Sarawak Report, top opposition party figures and media tycoons.

According to Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Rahman Dahlan, all these people have a common agenda and that is to discredit Najib and to bring down his government.

Rahman has been at the head of a campaign to expose the modus operandi and motives of Sarawak Report. What he did was an eye-opener for many people but for the media fraternity in Sarawak, it was hardly new.

The Sarawak media was first introduced to Sarawak Report in the run-up to the 2011 Sarawak election. Sarawak Report’s target then was Tun Taib Mahmud, his family and their wealth empire.

The articles published by Sarawak Report caused a sensation but its reports were basically about writing an exaggerated story out of known facts. The end result is not wrong but it is not right either.

In fact, some of the Sarawak Report stories were sheer fabrication, such as the one claiming that the Swiss President had ordered an investigation into Taib’s assets in Switzerland. It caused a stir but it disappeared the moment the general election was over.

After its success with Taib, Sarawak Report went after Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, alleging that Hong Kong’s anti-corruption body was investigating him. This story began shortly before the last general election and disappeared into thin air once the polls were over.

The group eased off on Sarawak after Taib retired. Anyway, it has bigger fish to fry now.

Rahman’s campaign the last few days has provided a glimpse into the agenda andmodus operandi of Sarawak Report as a foreign NGO whose agenda is closely tied up with that of the Malaysian opposition which is out to topple Najib.

A Kuching-based journalist with an established newspaper said that Sarawak Report founder Clare Rewcastle-Brown had tried to recruit him and his colleague back in 2012.

“We know many of those people who are working for Sarawak Report. It is ideal for those who have an axe to grind with the government,” said the journalist.

The journalist recalled how Sarawak Report began as a sensational website, carrying gossipy stuff about Taib, his family and even his nieces and their partying lifestyle. It was not taken seriously until it went mainstream with more serious stories of corruption and abuse of power.

Taib was easy to smear because he had overstayed, his family was too deep into business and financial dealings and, well, they were too rich and powerful.

Umno politicians and supporters see it as a group with an “evil agenda” and which systematically “distorts the truth”. They are also appalled that a “Mat Salleh group” from outside is trying to determine the politics of the country.

But Sarawak Report, which seems to have a bottomless pit of funds, basically sees itself as some sort of self-appointed agent of change. It wants to be the catalyst to an Arab Spring uprising in Malaysia.

It is also like a second generation Malaysia Today, the website that belongs to Raja Petra Kamaruddin. Both are experts at taking the facts and turning it into a story that is a skilful blend of fact and fiction. Whereas Raja Petra’s style is like telling grandmother stories, Sarawak Report takes a more businesslike approach.

The other thing both have in common is that they do not let the facts get in the way. The more sensational and outrageous, the better because that is what sells. For them, the ends justify the means.

The 1MDB’s complexity means that it is very much an urban west coast type of issue and Sarawak Report’s credibility has been punctured by events of the last few months. But that does not make the issue any less serious.

“The lesson here is that we have to be serious about issues of good governance, corruption and transparency if we don’t want to be the victim of smear campaigns and if we want the rakyat to support us,” said Terengganu Umno veterans deputy chairman Datuk Wan Albakri Mohd Noor.

According to a Penang lawyer, this high-stakes perception war will escalate.

“The Chinese call it poisoning the wells. Both sides want to dominate the public opinion space ahead of the general election. It will ultimately be resolved at the ballot box,” said the lawyer. Jocelin Tan The STAR Home News Columnist July 19 , 2015

Don’t forget to remember

Unlike those of the past generation who tend to remember things better as they need to commit everything to memory, we rely a lot on modern gadgets to do our remembering for us. In a way, we have forgotten to make use of our most important tool – our brain.

IT has taken me a while to finally watch the movie Still Alice, a 2014 drama about a linguistics professor at Columbia University who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s ­disease.

Award-winning actress Julianne Moore plays the role of Dr Alice Howland whose fight with the disease began soon after she celebrated her 50th birthday.

She began to suffer memory lapses of words which she wanted to use at her lectures and, at one point, she even got lost while taking a jog around the campus.

That was the early onset of Alzheimer’s and her condition would deteriorate and take its toll on her and her family. At one stage, she could not even remember where the washroom in her home was located.

Alice could not even remember appointments or names of people she had just met a few minutes ago.

Her eldest daughter tested positive for the Alzheimer’s gene but fortunately her unborn twins tested negative. As the story goes, Alice’s son, a doctor, also did the test and it was negative. Her youngest daughter, an aspiring actress, decided not to be tested.

It is an incredible and amazing story and while Hollywood may sometimes use its crea­tive licence to dramatise the situation, I believe that many families with an Alzheimer’s patient in their homes can identify with this movie.

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia and as it progressively worsens, patients sometimes cannot even carry out a conversation.

There are reported cases of patients who cannot perform even the most basic activities of daily living like brushing one’s teeth and putting on clothes.

In Malaysia, it has been reported that there are 50,000 people who are suffering from this disease which has no cure.

Famous figures diagnosed with Alzheimer’s included former US president Ronald Reagan, singer Glen Campbell, actors Charles Bronson, Charlton Heston, Burgess Meredith and singer Ray Robinson.

Peter Falk, who was the star of 1980s TV series Columbo, reportedly could not remember the famous role he played towards the end. Closer home, we have just read reports of the legendary Malaysian musical maestro Ooi Eow Jin who is also suffering from Alzheimer’s.

I don’t usually have time to watch movies at the cinemas but I finally managed to watchStill Alice on a long haul flight on a recent overseas trip.

By the time the movie ended, I was already sobbing quietly. It was that emotional. I walked into the toilet of the plane and had a good cry. I just had to let it out.

I kept thinking of my 90-year-old father throughout the entire movie. He does not suffer from Alzheimer’s but his old age is causing him to lose his memory fast.

My Langkawi-born dad is still remarkably healthy for his age. He has no problem with any kind of food and his early years of ­physical hard work have helped him to be strong.

He has no sins like smoking, drinking or gambling, insisting that people should sleep early – as early as 8.30pm – if they wish to live long.

But the lapses in his memory are beginning to show. Many times he cannot remember what he just ate and recently, my mum, who is 84 years old, narrated how he ate the shells of the mussels instead of the flesh.

He also has to be reminded to take his bath and sometimes does so with great reluctance, claiming the cold water could kill him.

There have been times during my trips home to visit my parents when he would ask if I had just returned home, when I had actual­ly been back for three days.

Once, he spoke to my well-tanned daughter in Malay because he mistook her for my Indonesian maid, whom he has met only a few times.

Thank God, he never fails to remember me, his youngest son. My brothers and ­nieces who stay next door are still not a problem for him.

His long-term memory is intact. He can remember clearly he was born in Kuah, Langkawi, in 1925 and speaks fondly of his childhood days in Kedah.

I have made it a point to see my ageing parents at least once a month, no matter how busy I am with my packed schedule in Kuala Lumpur because I know time is running short.

There is no way we can fight against the biological clock and it will be a shame that I cannot spend time with them when they are still alive.

I do think a lot about them, especially in my moments of solitude. I think about how my dad or mum would cope if one of them were to depart first. It is a reality that we all have to face as much as we hate to think of such unpleasant moments.

I am 54 but think of myself as still being in my 40s, with songs from the 80s playing away in my head. But lapses of memory have begun to surface.

I would jokingly tell my family and friends that the brain cells have burnt out, a classic case of overwork and stress.

I have to jot down the things I need to do in case I forget, which is probable, as my colleagues can testify.

At my age, I have accepted that such physio­logical changes can cause glitches in brain functions, as one medical report aptly describes my predicament.

I have been reminded that the slowing down of mental processes should not be regarded as true memory loss.

The fortunate part is I also usually cannot remember the foul-ups of my colleagues that caused me to lose my temper in the first place. My assistants are the ones who have to remind me to issue follow-up memos.

I think we don’t use our brain cells that much to remember things these days because of the convenience of modern facilities. My parents, and people from their ­generation, have amazing abilities in committing telephone numbers to memory.

For us, we just add the numbers to our contacts function and just press a button when we need to call anyone.

I am travelling in Europe as you read this, and despite the different time zones and the holiday mood I am in, I am sticking to my schedule of filing this column. Nope, I ­haven’t forgotten.

The time to act is now

FOR a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation like Malaysia, peace, harmony, political stability and economic progress with social justice can only be achieved if there is racial harmony, tolerance, understanding and cooperation among the various communities.

The Government, civil service, administrators in schools and other educational institutions, members of the various communities and the Malaysian public each have an important role to play in promoting, advocating and enhancing racial harmony, tolerance, understanding and cooperation.

Education, starting from primary school all the way to college and university, is the basis and foundation for building a tolerant society guided by the principles enshrined in the Federal Constitution, a Social Contract suited for a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation, and the Rukun Negara.

In addition, it is important to have continuing discussions and cooperative efforts by the Government, politicians, religious leaders, civil society organisations, communities and individuals to nurture and promote the culture of racial harmony, tolerance, understanding and cooperation.

The 1 Malaysia Concept and Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF) together with the Transformation policies and the creation of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) raised hopes for Malaysia to be the model for a democratic, tolerant, harmonious and progressive multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

Unfortunately, ethnic relations are not getting any better for various reasons, including divisions beginning from the school system, continuing divisive race-based politics with heightened tensions nearer the general elections, speeches and actions questioning the fundamental provisions of the Federal Constitution, and extremist hate speeches and actions by certain groups who do so with impunity despite the Sedition Act, Penal Code and other powers of the law.

The recent incident at Low Yat Plaza, which was a simple and clear-cut case of theft of a mobile phone that led to an ugly fracas that could easily have flared into a much bigger and serious racial conflict, is a wake-up call for Malaysia.

We in the G25 would like to compliment the police for taking decisive action and to quickly clarify and calm down the situation.

All of us in Malaysia must play our part to address and reverse the deteriorating state of inter-ethnic relations.

Above all, the Government and political leaders have to take a clear and unequivocal stand that Malaysia must remain a moderate and tolerant nation and all the powers of the law must be brought to bear on those who promote hatred and intolerance on the basis of race and religion.

Following the scare over the Low Yat Plaza incident, there have been statements by political and other prominent figures, including former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, calling for racial harmony. In particular, we in the G25 would like to support the call by Datuk Seri Nazir Razak for the Government to enact a law banning racism and anti-hate speech. This is indeed necessary and urgent.

At the same time, the timing and circumstances are right for the Government to seriously consider and adopt the recommendations made in the recent report by the NUCC after 20 months of deliberations, including its nine-point key outcomes and the proposal to enact a National Harmony Law and to establish a Reconciliation Commission.

In the context of the follow-up on the report of the NUCC, the G25 makes the following recommendations. There is a need to incorporate the recommendations made in the NUCC report into the curriculum in schools, colleges and universities.

A serious review on the controversial Biro Tata Negara (BTN) must be conducted with the purpose of either revamping it in line with the recommendations of the NUCC report or else to close it down altogether. In its place, the G25 recommends that the Government should introduce compulsory community action service in the secondary school curriculum with mandatory number of hours required for each student to pass the SPM.

The time is opportune for the Government to revive and expand the vision school initiative, and encourage interracial interaction by striving to have a better mix of students as well as teachers of all races in national schools. At the same time, symbols as well as contents in school books that contain notions of racial or religious supremacy should not be allowed.

The Low Yat fracas and the more recent Berjaya Times Square incident should also be seen as symptoms of a more serious underlying social and economic problem, including a widening income gap between the affluent middle class and the urban poor amid the rising cost of living. The unemployment rate among the young (including graduates) has been rising with the majority of the unemployed coming from the Malay community. The lethal combination of desperation, ignorance and frustration has led to the culture of mat rempit, restlessness and violence, and susceptibility to manipulation by undesirable elements using social media. The Government, political leaders and civil society organisations must cooperate and work together to address these dangerous underlying problems. In addressing these underlying problems, the G25 calls on the leadership to:

> Revive the observance of the Rukun Negara principles in schools, the workplace and anywhere relevant in order to influence the overall conduct and behaviour of all Malaysians. The fifth principle of the Rukun Negara, “Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan” (Courtesy and Morality) is particularly relevant to fostering racial harmony. In this context, there is a need to promote intercultural understanding and literacy of ethnic-based values of all Malaysians as reflected in their everyday life, languages, religions and rituals. Banning the use of words insulting to the different races (for examplependatang, pariah) would be a good start to encourage Malaysians to observe “Kesopanan” and respect for our multicultural sensitivities at all times.

> To make attitudes which spell of racism unacceptable in schools, the civil service and other government institutions. These attitudes, as seen at service counters of government departments, of overzealous bureaucrats under the guise of application of Islam, must be corrected with new norms which promote respect for values of the different races. It is critical that government administration of public services is not undertaken with undertones of condoning racism and according preferences to certain races based on personal values of public sector officials. There should be sanctions against such behaviour.

> To sanction and impose penalties on teachers and school administrators who practise racist acts in their schools or during student activities. At the same time, to encourage schools to instil a culture of racial harmony, awards or other forms of recognition, including higher budgetary allocations, should be given to schools which introduce innovative programmes that actually result in a favourable environment of cultural and religious understanding and tolerance in the school environment and among its students.

Teachers and school administrators have a significant influence on student attitudes on racism, student capacity to develop cultural literacy and overall good behaviour (kesopanan). As such, it is important that teachers are given personal accountability of their behaviour on this aspect of student development. School Heads have an important leadership role in developing a culture of racial harmony and religious tolerance by improving the intercultural understanding and ethnic-based literacy in their schools. An appropriate incentive system can help foster an environment favourable to promoting racial harmony among students at a young age.

The G25 calls on the people of Malaysia and the Government to stand together in promoting and pro-actively advocating racial harmony, tolerance, understanding and cooperation among all the races and to take a firm stand, and decisive and quick action against those extremist and divisive groups and individuals. Lack of firm, decisive and quick action by the authorities against the intolerant, extremist and hate groups is a major disappointment and a cause for concern for many Malaysians. The time to act is now. G25 Group of Concerned Muslim Citizens Kuala Lumpur

Not ready to age

Malaysia’s racing against time to become a developed nation but with a growing population of singles, couples having fewer kids and people living longer, there’s a high chance we’ll be an aged country before then. And, we are far from ready to grow old.

MALAYSIA is fast becoming an aged nation. And it isn’t ready.

In 2006, we hit the ageing status and by 2030, we’ll be aged.

Lack of care centres for the aged, infrastructure and money are why we’re struggling.

Deputy CEO (strategy) Emoloyees Provident Fund Malaysia, Tunku Alizakri Raja Muhammah Alias.AZHAR MAHFOF/The star

Describing the situation as “dire if we do nothing”, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) deputy chief executive officer (strategy) Tunku Alizakri Alias (pic) says we’re ageing before we can reach developed nation status.

The number of youngsters are dropping as the number of seniors soar, he points out.

“Other countries are becoming aged too but they’ve already developed. Our window period for planning is much shorter.

“Making policies and implementing them takes time. And, you can’t save money overnight,” he warns, stressing that not enough retirement savings and low financial literacy are big challenges.

Sixty-eight percent of members aged 54 have savings lower than RM50,000 which can only last five years assuming they spend RM820 per month. The full EPF withdrawal age is 55 but the average life expectancy is 75.

Malaysians must face facts. We’re living longer so we must work longer, he says.

“The new poverty line income is RM930. So, how long do you think RM50,000 will last now with rising healthcare costs?” he asks, adding that the price of surgery spiked by about 14% from 2006 to 2013.

He cautioned against withdrawing the EPF early for expenses that don’t build assets.

In the old days, investing in your child’s education brings returns. Nowadays, it’s not a sure thing that they will take care of you, he says, matter of fact.

“Withdrawing money for investment is also risky because one in 10 new businesses fail.”

He believes that financial literacy is the key to facing the challenges of an aged nation.

That’s why the EPF launched our Retirement Advisory Service last year.

“We also need a holistic social security master plan. The critical illness insurance penetration is too low here. There must be better coverage for those in the informal sectors.

“We need to get moving now.”

He says the lack of retirement products for those in the active ageing (55-70), passive ageing (65-80) and frail (over 80) categories are a major challenge.

Carol Yip of Abacus for Money. Local Caption Carol Yip ... We want to be financially independent after retirement. 20100904 StarBizweek Pg20

Being retirement-ready means having financial security, remaining healthy and leading a happy and meaningful life, he adds. Financial coach Carol Yip (pic), who’s pursuing a doctorate in aged care, agrees.

Ready or not, we’re ageing fast and in urgent need of care centres, Yip, who’s also the Aged Care Group chief executive officer, says.

Aged Care is an organisation providing daycare centres, retirement villages, and nursing homes.

The aged care problem has always been there but has intensified now because of rising costs, changing values, urban migration and smaller families, she says.

“Don’t talk about 2020 - we aren’t even meeting today’s aged care needs!

“In a lot of hospitals, you see seniors occupying the beds because it’s cheaper to pay RM80 for 24-hour nursing care plus three hot meals daily than to take them home.

“It’s a problem.”

The lack of specialised services, care givers and geriatric doctors are challenges needing attention. Also urgent are a legal framework, standard operating procedures and enforcement to manage abuse cases and prevent centres from becoming a dumping ground for abandoned seniors, and aged-friendly infrastructure.”We’ve progressed but not fast enough,” she says.

Yip who organised Malaysia’s Retirement Transformation Conference in 2010 and Private Pension and Healthcare Conference in 2011, suggests a fourth account be set up by the EPF for aged care.

Allow members to withdraw only at age 65 or 70 because that’s usually when you need a high level of care as diseases like dementia or Parkinson set in, she offers.

Explaining why forced saving is a must, she says people still don’t know what they need in their old age and can only plan for their first 10 years of retirement.

She also called for the retirement age to be raised to “65 or higher”.

She suggests that unit trust and insurance providers be part of the solution.

“Create managed care platforms. Extend medical coverage.

“Have a clause that says: ‘If you choose not to do anything, your money will be kept for your aged care needs’.

A system that allows property-owners to sell their place and move into a home easily will facilitate the ‘age-in-your-own-township’ concept where seniors are integrated into society, she feels.

“Developers must build nursing homes in every township. If there are 1,000 homes, easily 10% of the residents will need aged care.”

Here, she says, the thousands of centres offering home care, daycare and long-term stay, are unlicensed.

She said such centres must be purpose built like hospitals and schools.

Most of these homes are converted from bungalows and aren’t suitable, she said, adding that average monthly charges range between RM1,800 and RM3,000.

Inappropriate placement like sending an independent senior to a home that caters to those who are bedridden or suffering from dementia, often results in consumers paying much more than necessary, she says.

And, it’s the middle income, she stresses, who need aged home-care services the most because “we have to go to work and can’t afford maids.”

If such centres are legalised and run efficiently, competition among operators will bring down prices, she opines.

The Government should give NGOs and the private sector more incentives to get into the aged care business, she thinks.

“It takes at least three years to build a proper home and get everything in place.

“The Government can help by working with universities and nursing schools to encourage more caregivers to enter the market so that it’s easier for us to hire qualified staff.”

She feels that having personal data including insurance coverage, assets and savings in a comprehensive online system would allow aged care providers to better assist seniors especially those suffering from dementia.

She said there’s an urgent need for the proposed Aged Healthcare Act to regulate private institutions and community care providers for those above 60.

Now, operators claim they are unlicensed because they are confused whether to follow the Care Centre Act 1993 or Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.

The aged care industry needs a regulated, integrated framework, because ageing is a social issue. The Government must support the NGOS and private sector, she says.

“And, you and me, must make sure we have saved enough money to afford aged care.”