August 4th, 2015

Jangan dipatuk ular di lubang yang sama

PAKATAN pembangkang baharu yang bakal dilancarkan pada 14 September nanti adalah gabungan komponen yang dalam sejarahnya tidak sekata. Terdapat komponen yang mendukung imej Syiah dan republikan di dalamnya dan terdapat komponen gerakan Islam, iaitu Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia (Ikram) dan Angkatan Belia Malaysia (ABIM) yang saling bercanggah pendekatan jamaahnya.

Sejarah Ikram adalah sejarah parasit atau dedalu yang pernah menyusup ke dalam UMNO, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) dan Pas dan akhirnya tertendang keluar kerana baiah dan taahnya bukan kepada parti yang disusupinya. Mereka ada agenda tersendiri untuk menguasai politik.

ABIM sangat partisan kepada Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Orang ABIM ada dalam UMNO, dalam PKR dan dalam Pas. Jika ABIM menjadi salah satu komponen yang komited mendukung pakatan pembangkang baharu seperti yang disebut oleh Anwar, ini adalah kerana partisan kepada Anwar yang dibuat oleh pemimpin ABIM dan Wadah terkini dan dalam masa yang sama ramai orang ABIM mendukung PKR.

Antara faktor yang menyebabkan DAP menolak Pas ialah kerana pelaksanaan Syariah (takzir Kelantan). DAP hanya boleh menerima Islam dalam batas individu bukan Islam yang sifatnya bernegara. Bila Pas menerusi jalan tengah Anwar berjaya menukar hala perjuangan Pas dari negara Islam ke negara berkebajikan, DAP boleh bersetuju. Tetapi Pas akhirnya menyedari negara berkebajikan tanpa syariat boleh menjadikan Pas parti liberal dan humanis .

Mohamad Sabu pengasas pakatan pembangkang baharu menyatakan parti baharu ini akan memperjuangkan Islam yang progresif tanpa meninggalkan hudud. Kerana takzir Pas , DAP menolak. Apa pula corak perjuangan Islam dan hudud yang ingin dibawa oleh Mohamad Sabu dan kawan-kawannya yang boleh diterima oleh DAP?

Komponen Ikram dan ABIM dalam pakatan pembangkang baharu sekian lama memperjuangkan sistem Islam dan pelaksanaan syariah. Apakah mereka akan jadi liberal pragmatik kerana ingin menyesuaikan diri dengan DAP atau menjadikan Islam sistem bernegara dan pelaksanaan syariah sebagai yang utama? DAP kena faham kelompok Ikram dan ABIM ini sudah ditarbiah bertahun-tahun dan terkait dengan pengaruh Ikhwan Muslimin iaitu gerakan dakwah antarabangsa. DAP yang terkait dengan fahaman agnostik dan evangelis sudah tentu tidak akan selesa dengan mereka. Sekali lagi ungkapan tidur sebantal, igau lain-lain akan berlaku.

Mereka bergabung kerana mahu menjatuhkan UMNO, Barisan Nasional dan kerajaan yang ada. Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13 (PRU-13) mereka terangsang menyakini dukungan popular berada bersama mereka. Mereka ingin menegakkan negara baharu dan bakal menukar struktur bernegara di mana kekuatan Melayu-Islam bakal tumbangkan dan digantikan dengan apa yang dimahukan DAP iaitu impian Malaysia yang memperjuangkan pendekatan Malaysian Malaysia.

DAP mempunyai strategi jangka panjang untuk memerintah Malaysia. Di tahap ini, mereka memerlukan sokongan orang Melayu supaya gerak kerja politiknya berjalan lancar. DAP tahu menguasai Malaysia, orang Melayu kena dipecahkan.

Kebimbangan pakatan pembangkang baharu nanti ialah cita-cita DAP bakal terjadi dan melahirkan sistem Islam dan pelaksanaan syariah akan terhalang lagi dan usia perjuangan terbuang dengan mengulangi kesilapan yang sama ibarat dipatuk ular untuk kali keduanya di lubang yang sama.

Pendukung Ikram dan ABIM adalah orang dakwah. Pendekatan dakwahnya tidak akan mampu melakukan islah kepada DAP kerana orang DAP tetap menganggap isu agama adalah isu peribadi. Negara Islam dan pelaksanaan syariah tidak ada dalam kamus perjuangan mereka. Sosialis demokratik yang diperjuangkan bakal menjadikan Malaysia negara sekular dan liberal pragmatik. Apakah kelompok Islam mahu ini terjadi?

Apabila mengurus kemenangan nanti pasti masalah utama akan berbangkit. Apakah Perkara 3(1) mengenai Islam sebagai agama Persekutuan akan diberi makna yang sekular atau Islam terhubung dengan pembangunan sistem. Apakah isu bahasa (Perkara 152) akan kekal dimartabatkan atau akan jadi seperti apa yang berlaku di Singapura.

Apakah Hak Istimewa Orang Melayu (Perkara 153) akan lupus dan bakal mendedahkan umat Melayu kepada cengkaman kapitalis dalam sistem ekonomi yang tidak adil dan seimbang. Kata pepatah, “Menyesal dulu pendapatan, menyesal kemudian tidak berguna”. Lantaran “orang Melayu mudah lupa” ia bakal menjebak diri dalam gelanggang politik yang memerangkap. - Jendela To Ki Utusan Malaysia Rencana 04 Ogos 2015 12:16 AM

Jangan kecam Muhyiddin, Mohd. Shafie

SELEPAS digugurkan daripada Jemaah Menteri dalam satu pengumuman rombakan Ka­binet oleh Perdana Menteri, Da­tuk Seri Najib Tun Razak pada 28 Julai lalu, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin serta Datuk Seri Mohd. Shafie Apdal dilihat seolah-olah cuba disisihkan daripada arena politik negara.

Masakan tidak, terdapat UMNO bahagian yang telah menjemput mereka untuk merasmikan per­sidangan perwakilan telah me­narik balik jemputan tersebut.

Berkemungkinan besar tindakan beberapa UMNO bahagian terbabit ada kaitannya dengan pengguguran kedua-dua pemimpin UMNO itu daripada barisan Kabinet.



Muhyiddin Yassin

Agak menghairankan juga lang­kah yang diambil beberapa UMNO bahagian itu kerana kedua-dua mereka masih kekal sebagai Timbalan Presiden UMNO dan Naib Presiden UMNO yang dipilih dalam satu pemilihan parti dua tahun lalu.

Jawatan mereka dalam parti bukan calang-calang, seharusnya kedudukan itu dihormati oleh semua Ketua UMNO bahagian kerana Muhyiddin dan Mohd. Shafie masih pemimpin utama UMNO dalam hierarki parti ketika ini.

Mereka hanya digugurkan dalam barisan pentadbiran kerajaan na­mun posisi dalam parti masih tinggi.

Jika berlaku Perhimpunan Agung UMNO dijangka beberapa bulan lagi, Muhyiddin dan Mohd. Shafie akan berada di atas pentas utama dan akan membuat ucapan penggulungan pada akhir perhimpunan, bahkan Muhyiddin sebagai Timbalan Presiden UMNO seperti lazimnya akan dipertang­gungjawabkan merasmikan per­sidangan perwakilan sayap Wanita, Pemuda dan Puteri.



Mohd. Shafie Apdal

Tambahan, tiada pula ke­de­ngaran Muhyiddin dan Mohd. Shafie mahu bertindak me­mecah­belahkan parti ma­lah kedua-dua pe­mimpin Melayu itu berikrar untuk mem­bantu Najib yang juga Presiden UMNO untuk me­ngembalikan sokongan orang Melayu dan rakyat kepada Barisan Nasional (BN) serta kerajaan.

Kedua-duanya ialah pemimpin berjiwa besar. Muhyiddin sendiri menegaskan bahawa mustahil beliau yang telah berada dalam UMNO selama 41 tahun dan 37 tahun dalam kerajaan mahu melakukan sesuatu yang boleh menggugat kestabilan negara.

Begitu juga Mohd. Shafie selaku Naib Presiden UMNO memberi jaminan akan terus berbakti kepada parti itu demi rakyat dan negara walaupun tidak lagi menyandang jawatan dalam Kabinet.

Kedua-dua kenyataan mereka ini terpapar di dada-dada akhbar dan sudah tentu dibaca oleh ratusan ribu dan mungkin jutaan orang selepas masing-masing merasmikan Per­sidangan Perwakilan UMNO Ba­hagian Kluang dan perasmian se­rentak Persidangan Perwakilan Pergerakan Wanita, Pemuda dan Puteri UMNO Bahagian Hulu Selangor.

Ini janji mereka dan seperti mana peribahasa Melayu yang cukup terkenal ‘kerbau dipegang pada talinya, manusia berpegang pada janjinya’.

Berhubung pembatalan jem­putan UMNO Bahagian terhadap Muhyiddin dan Mohd. Shafie sebagai perasmi persidangan, se­wajarnya perkara itu tidak lagi berlaku kerana urusan tersebut berkaitan dengan perjalanan parti manakala kedua-duanya masih pemimpin utama parti.

Penulis tertarik dengan kenyataan Menteri Besar Negeri Sembilan, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan seperti dilaporkan oleh portal-portal berita ketika mengulas tindakan beberapa UMNO bahagian membatalkan jemputan Muhyiddin bagi merasmikan Persidangan Perwakilan UMNO Bahagian.

Mesej Mohamad cukup jelas apabila beliau menyatakan; “Kita semua orang Melayu. UMNO ini parti Melayu dan untuk membatalkan jemputan itu, orang Melayu ini susah untuk membatalkan, tetapi terpulang kepada masing-masing. Kita jangan hilang budi bahasa.”

Dalam isu sama Ahli Majlis Tertinggi (MT), Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan turut menyifatkan tindakan beberapa UMNO bahagian membatalkan jemputan Muhyiddin dan Mohd. Shafie untuk merasmikan perwakilan bahagian sebagai tidak wajar.

Apatah lagi katanya, jemputan itu dibuat sebelum kedua-dua pemimpin itu digugurkan daripada Kabinet. Lebih malang lagi terdapat pula pemimpin yang dalam ucapan mereka membuat kecaman terutama kepada Muhyiddin yang sepatutnya tidak berlaku kerana bekas Timbalan Perdana Menteri itu masih ketua mereka dalam UMNO.

Ini bukannya cerita rekaan sebaliknya ini yang telah berlaku dan penulis sendiri pernah mendengar ucapan seperti itu dalam satu majlis hari raya anjuran satu kementerian, baru-baru ini.

Sepatutnya kata-kata seumpama itu tidak wajar diucapkan oleh mana-mana pemimpin khususnya pemimpin UMNO kerana Mu­h­yiddin mahupun Mohd. Sha­fie bukannya pemecah belah UMNO sebaliknya mereka hanya digugurkan dalam pentadbiran kerajaan. Jasa dan pengorbanan me­reka kepada UMNO dan kerajaan sememangnya tidak boleh dipertikaikan.

Ketua UMNO Bahagian Pasir Salak dan juga ahli MT, Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman dalam isu tersebut mengingatkan pemimpin-pemimpin muda dalam parti agar tidak mengeluarkan kenyataan se­wenang-wenangnya terhadap Muhyiddin yang banyak menabur jasa terhadap parti.

Timbalan Menteri Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani itu berkata, mereka tidak sepatutnya me­ngeluarkan kenyataan melulu ter­masuk menggesa tindakan diambil terhadap Timbalan Presiden UMNO tersebut semata-mata kerana mahu dilihat sebagai jaguh.

“Muhyiddin telah menabur jasa besar terhadap UMNO sejak beliau menjadi Ketua Pemuda pada 1980-an sehingga dipilih sebagai Timbalan Presiden parti. Ini lebih 30 tahun, takkan kita hendak lupakan itu semua,” ujarnya.

Jelas Tajuddin lagi, semasa UMNO diharamkan dan UMNO baharu ditubuhkan pada 1987, UMNO begitu goyang dan Mu­hyiddin telah bersilat menjadi ‘panglima’ untuk memulihkan kembali UMNO terutama di Johor.

Justeru, penulis amat meng­harapkan mesej ketiga-tiga pe­mim­pin tersebut sama ada Mohamad, Abdul Rahman mahupun Tajuddin diambil perhatian sewajarnya terutama dalam kalangan pe­mimpin UMNO pelbagai peringkat dan paling utama di peringkat UMNO bahagian serta pemimpin-pemimpin muda.

Jangan disebabkan mahu menjadi juara dalam isu pengguguran dua pemimpin itu daripada Kabinet, ada daripada pemimpin UMNO mengambil kesempatan cuba me­ngetepikan mereka dengan mem­batalkan jemputan sebagai pe­rasmi.

Lebih malang lagi bertindak mencemuh kedua-dua pemimpin itu dalam ucapan masing-masing demi kelangsungan dalam politik. Jika itu yang berlaku, pasti perpecahan dalam UMNO akan terus berlaku kerana Muhyiddin serta Mohd. Shafie yang merupakan pemimpin lama UMNO sudah pasti mempunyai pengaruh serta penyokong masing-masing.

Tangani kebanjiran wartawan ekspres

SALAH satu kesan besar fenomena media sosial adalah munculnya satu kelompok pengguna media sosial yang layak digelar sebagai ‘wartawan ekspres’. Kebanjiran wartawan ekspres ini umpama cendawan yang tumbuh selepas hujan.

Secara umumnya, istilah wartawan ekspres boleh dirujuk kepada kelompok individu atau pengguna media sosial yang sering memuat naik, menghebahkan mahupun menyebarkan sesuatu gambar, penulisan atau berita sama ada sahih ataupun tidak dengan segera menggunakan pelbagai aplikasi dan laman sosial. Antara aplikasi dan laman sosial yang sering digunakan ialah, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter, Instagram dan WeChat.



WARTAWAN ekspres ialah kelompok individu yang sering memuat naik sesuatu gambar, penulisan atau berita sama ada sahih ataupun tidak dengan segera menggunakan pelbagai aplikasi dan laman sosial. GAMBAR HIASAN

Modus operandi kelompok wartawan ekspres yang sentiasa bertindak sebagai keyboard warrior ini ialah masing-masing seolah-olah bersaing menyebarkan sesuatu maklumat sepantas kilat untuk menarik perhatian masyarakat. Ukuran kehebatan, pengaruh, kejayaan dan kepuasan mereka banyak bergantung kepada berapa banyak like yang mereka peroleh serta berapa ramai pengguna laman sosial share ataupun kongsikan berita terbabit.

Demi kepuasan ini wartawan ekspres sanggup menghebahkan apa jua maklumat mahupun berita tanpa diperiksa asal usulnya terlebih dahulu sama ada sahih ataupun tidak. Lebih merisaukan apabila mereka juga tidak pedulikan isi kandungan berita dan maklumat terbabit sama ada menyentuh isu sensitif, berbaur hasutan, fitnah, menghina mahupun boleh mencetuskan provokasi.

Hakikatnya kebanyakan daripada wartawan ekspres ini boleh dikatakan tidak pernah mendapat pendidikan, pendedahan mahupun pengalaman formal sebagai seorang wartawan yang profesional maka jelas sekali mereka tidak mampu menghayati etika kewartawanan yang sewajarnya.

Tambahan pula kejahilan mereka cukup terserlah apabila dibaca gaya penulisan mereka yang boleh disifatkan cukup tidak beretika yang sekali gus boleh dipertikai dari segi ketelusan, keadilan, keseimbangan dan fakta yang disebarkan kepada khalayak.

Penelitian penulis mendapati kebanyakan wartawan ekspres ini menggunakan laman sosial dan pelbagai aplikasi lain untuk beberapa tujuan seperti menulis untuk kepuasan diri sendiri, meluahkan perasaan tidak puas hati, mencemuh atau menyebarkan berita palsu secara suka-suka, menyebarkan gambar untuk mengaibkan orang lain serta ada juga yang menggunakan medium ini untuk mengenakan atau mensabotaj mana-mana individu terpilih untuk tujuan tertentu seperti ‘pembunuhan watak’ di samping mencetuskan provokasi dalam kalangan kelompok masyarakat tertentu.

Jelas ini bukan saja budaya kita malah satu budaya yang tidak sihat dalam masyarakat kita. Walaupun ledakan teknologi maklumat dan digital tidak boleh dikekang mahupun dibendung namun kita tidak boleh membiarkan budaya tidak sihat ini terus berleluasa kerana dikhuatiri boleh mencetuskan pelbagai masalah dalam kalangan masyarakat kita.

Masakan tidak dengan hanya berbekalkan telefon pintar mahupun tablet setiap seorang daripada kita boleh menjadi wartawan ekspres dengan menulis mahupun memuat naik apa jua gambar mahupun berita yang ak­hirnya boleh menjadi viral di seluruh negara.

Hakikatnya kebanyakan daripada mereka ini tidak sedar kesan daripada perbuatan tidak beretika ini. Kita akui media sosial banyak kebaikan dan kelebihannya. Misalnya, sesuatu maklumat itu dapat disebarkan, dihebahkan dan dikongsi kepada kumpulan sasaran dengan mudah, cepat dan dengan kos yang sangat minimum ataupun percuma.

Namun perbuatan segelintir pengguna media sosial yang menyalahgunakan kemudahan ini menyebabkan ada kalanya kita terpaksa terlalu berhati-hati dan prejudis dengan sesuatu maklumat yang disebarkan oleh wartawan ekspres ini. Baru-baru ini masyarakat panik sekejap apabila ada menyebarkan berita bahawa harga petrol untuk bulan ini dinaikkan oleh pihak kerajaan dan lebih malang lagi ia dikatakan datangnya daripada seorang pegawai kanan kerajaan.

Akibatnya pengguna mula panik, marah dan berpusu-pusu menyerang stesen minyak pada malam 31 Julai untuk mengisi minyak. Malah tindakan wartawan ekspres ini yang mendahului pengumuman rasmi pihak kerajaan menyebabkan berlaku perbalahan dan perdebatan dalam media sosial. Boleh dikatakan media sosial seperti Facebook dan Twitter bertukar menjadi medan peperangan.

Hakikatnya berita tersebut jelas palsu dan fitnah semata-mata di mana pengumuman rasmi pihak kerajaan menunjukkan harga petrol diturunkan dan bukan seperti yang telah disebarkan oleh wartawan ekspres ini.

Jelas penyebaran berita palsu dan fitnah semakin berleluasa dan mula menjadi virus yang begitu sukar untuk dikawal. Kita risau ini juga bakal menjejaskan kerukunan hidup masyarakat majmuk negara kita. Misalnya, sebelum ini isu jual beli telefon serta pergaduhan di Plaza Low Yat juga menjadi isu besar dalam media sosial. Kelompok wartawan ekspres mula menyebarkan pelbagai berita dan versi cerita tentang kejadian di plaza terbabit.

Ada yang kata ia hanya membabitkan kes penipuan jual beli telefon, ada pula menghebahkan ia sebagai kes jenayah pencurian dan lebih dahsyat lagi apabila ada yang menyebarkan provokasi bahawa ini adalah kes perkauman dan pergaduhan antara orang Melayu dan juga orang Cina. Akibatnya negara kita dikejutkan dengan peristiwa dan tragedi berdarah pada 13 Julai 2015 lalu.

Percaya ataupun tidak, kejadian pergaduhan pada 13 Julai sebenarnya banyak dipengaruhi oleh tindak tanduk wartawan ekspres yang mengapi-apikan keadaan dengan pelbagai berita yang berbentuk provokasi.

Oleh kerana wartawan ekspres seperti ini sudah mula mencetuskan pelbagai provokasi dan ketegangan dalam kalangan masyarakat maka adalah wajar untuk pihak berkuasa bertindak lebih tegas terutamanya menambahbaik hukuman sedia ada supaya mampu mengekang perbuatan tidak bertanggungjawab dan tidak beretika seperti ini.

Dalam konteks ini penulis menyokong penuh cadangan yang pernah dikemukakan oleh Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) sebelum ini agar pesalah siber dikenakan hukuman penjara mandatori sekurang-kurangnya tiga tahun dan sebatan bagi menangani kes fitnah alam maya yang dilihat semakin membimbangkan.

Menurut SKMM cadangan ini sudah dikemukakan kepada Jabatan Peguam Negara selepas suruhanjaya mendapati hukuman sedia ada iaitu setahun penjara atau denda RM50,000 ke atas mereka yang disabit kesalahan mengikut Seksyen 211 dan Seksyen 233 Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 masih tidak memadai.

Seksyen 211 adalah mengenai larangan terhadap pemberian kandungan jelik di Internet manakala Seksyen 233 pula adalah mengenai penggunaan tidak wajar kemudahan rangkaian.

Dalam pada itu, kita juga perlu sedar betapa semuanya bermula daripada peribadi dan akhlak individu itu sendiri. Oleh kerana kita tidak mungkin mampu menyekat sepenuhnya kebanjiran wartawan ekspres ini maka apa yang kita harapkan ialah agar mereka lebih berdisiplin, bertanggungjawab dan beretika dalam menggunakan media sosial.

Akhir perjalanan yang penuh risiko

“KAMI travel jauh... 41 kilometer (km) pergi, 41 km balik. Perjalanan kami begitu terdedah dengan risiko kemalangan.” Itu antara yang pernah diluahkan dan menjadi kebimbangan Zuarida Mohyin, Pengarang Meja Agama Utusan Malaysia.

Topik itulah juga yang selalu dibincangkan dengan rakan baiknya, Ketua Meja Kota, Roslah Othman. Sekali-sekala penulis tumpang sekaki mendengar keluh-kesah mereka, rakan sepejabat yang sama-sama menghadapi masalah terpaksa melalui perjalanan jauh untuk ke tempat kerja.

Zuarida dan Roslah tinggal berjiran tetapi berlainan taman perumahan di Bukit Beruntung, Selangor. Kadang-kala Zuarida menumpang kereta Roslah balik ke rumah. Namun kelazimannya beliau membonceng motosikal suaminya ke tempat kerja.

Rutin mereka setiap hari ialah bertolak dari rumah di Bukit Beruntung ke Sungai Besi iaitu kira-kira 41 km. Suami Zuarida kemudiannya sambung bermotosikal sejauh 20km lagi ke tempat kerjanya di Damansara. Selepas habis kerja, dia kembali ke Sungai Besi mengambil isteri sebelum bertolak balik ke rumah mereka di Bukit Beruntung.

Begitulah rutinnya setiap hari bekerja. Lima kali seminggu.



Gambar terakhir arwah Zuarida Mohyin dengan anak-anak pada 1 Syawal yang baru lalu.

Dijumlahkan perjalanan mereka setiap hari sejauh 61 km pergi dan 61 km balik atau 122 km setiap hari.

Bayangkan betapa penatnya.

Mungkin sebab itu Zuarida pernah meluahkan betapa be­risikonya perjalanan yang perlu dilaluinya dan suami hanya untuk ke tempat kerja, tempat mencari rezeki halal di tengah-tengah ibu kota ini.

Dan malam Jumaat lalu, kebimbangan beliau menjadi kenyataan.

Zuarida dan suami menemui ajal apabila terlibat kemalangan dengan sebuah lori ketika dalam perjalanan pulang dari tempat kerja ke rumah mereka di Bukit Beruntung, Hulu Selangor.

Arwah meninggalkan empat anak perempuan - yang sulung bakal menduduki peperiksaan Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) tahun ini dan yang bongsu baru berumur empat tahun. Anak-anak mereka menjadi yatim piatu sekelip mata.

Zuarida dan suaminya adalah antara ribuan warga kota yang terpaksa melalui perjalanan berisiko ketika pergi balik dari rumah ke tempat kerja setiap hari.

Kebanyakan mereka sebagaimana arwah, bukan tidak ada kereta namun memilih motosikal sebagai kenderaan untuk bergerak.

Mungkin untuk menjimatkan kos petrol, tol dan belanja sara hidup di tengah-tengah ibu kota yang cukup mendesak dengan pelbagai tuntutan bil untuk dibayar. Atau mungkin sahaja untuk mengelakkan tersangkut di dalam kesesakan lalu lintas jika berkereta.

Realiti inilah yang dilalui oleh kebanyakan rakyat marhaen seperti penulis yang bekerja di kota metropolitan ini.

Nama sahaja warga kota. Bekerja di ibu kota Kuala Lumpur namun kebanyakan kami tinggal di pinggir bandar atau bandar lain yang jauh dari Kuala Lumpur, tempat kami mencari rezeki.

Kenapa? Kerana rumah yang elok sedikit yang mampu dibeli dengan gaji yang ada, terletak nun jauh di hujung kota. Bukan di Kuala Lumpur.

Kami yang kononnya kumpulan kelas menengah atau berpendapatan sederhana ialah golongan miskin bandar jika mahu terus ‘berlagak’ tinggal di tengah-tengah ibu negara.

Penulis sendiri berulang alik sejauh 70 km pergi dan balik dari pejabat ke rumah setiap hari. Itu belum kira perlu menempuh kesesakan lalu lintas.

Ramai lagi rakan sepejabat yang terpaksa menempuh perjalanan pergi balik yang lebih jauh dan panjang. Ada yang berulang alik dari Kuala Lumpur sehingga ke Seremban, Negeri Sembilan malah ada yang sampai ke Melaka dan Temerloh, Pahang.

Kalau ada pilihan yang lebih baik, penulis percaya tidak ada siapa akan memilih membuang masa lama di atas jalan raya. Namun apakan daya, itulah pilihan yang ada untuk golongan marhaen seperti kami.

Bagi mengelak kesesakan jalan raya pada waktu puncak iaitu pada sebelah pagi ketika orang ramai berpusu-pusu ke tempat kerja, ramai yang keluar lebih awal hatta sebelum subuh dari rumah. Bagi mengelak kesesakan jalan raya pada waktu puncak pada sebelah petang pula, iaitu ketika warga kota berasak-asak meninggalkan ibu kota untuk pulang ke rumah masing-masing di luar Kuala Lumpur, ramai yang menangguhkan waktu pulang walaupun sudah habis bekerja.

Jika tidak, hanya merugikan masa dan minyak kereta kerana tidak ada beza antara keluar awal atau tangguhkan sejam dua kerana tetap akan tiba di rumah lebih kurang masa yang sama.

Namun hidup perlu diteruskan. Dan perjalanan yang sama perlu juga dilalui. Sebabnya sehingga kini belum nampak ada penyelesaian kepada permasalahan ini.

Harga rumah di ibu kota tetap terlalu mahal untuk dibeli. Pengangkutan awam yang boleh diharapkan seperti kereta api laju atau setidak-tidaknya MRT masih belum nampak bayangnya lagi. Kalau ada bayang pun laluannya bukan ke kawasan pinggir bandar seperti Bukit Beruntung, Hulu Selangor atau Rawang yang menjadi tempat tinggal golongan marhaen seperti kami.

Sementara menunggu pihak berwajib terpandang masalah kami, perjalanan berisiko ini terpaksa diteruskan jua.

Allahyarham Zuarida dan suami adalah korban perjalanan berisiko dan berbahaya yang ditempuh oleh warga kota saban hari.

Bagi kedua-duanya, perjalanan berisiko mereka terhenti di sini. Al-Fatihah.

Act for greater good

“LIES of the devils” (NST, Aug 11, 2006). Few people may remember former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s appeal to Malaysians in August 2006 to be cautious of unsubstantiated “opinions” and “ideas” concerning national affairs.

But many can recall the consequence. In that turbulent year, not only did Barisan Nasional component parties turn against each other, but Umno tore itself apart from infighting, and survived only because Abdullah chose nobly to fall on his sword.

The recent call by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for his supporters to remain loyal to the party indicates a recollection of these events from 2006.

Two general elections later to the present day, social media disseminates every sceptical view of reality without being questioned as to its scruple or credulity.

This is because this scurrilous “public opinion” can be seen, on the one hand, to serve political ends, and, on the other, to obscure the individual’s experience of the past.

If there are few people who remember the events from 2006, there are probably fewer who can understand the events from 1987-88. In 2006, Najib and Muhyiddin evoked these events to warn against self-destruction.

For the same reasons, recalling them tries to remedy the misconceptions of the present day. The Umno rupture of 1987 between the Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah-Tun Musa Hitam and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad-Tun Ghafar Baba groups is often represented by analysts as a conflict of personalities.

Yet there lies a fundamental difference of political approach between them. In the wake of 1969, there had emerged two philosophies about the future of the Malay individual.

One looked to corporatise finance, consolidate natural resources and nationalise primary industry. This initiative achieved a measure of success in the 1970s through Petronas, Bank Bumiputra, Sime Darby and Felda.

Tun Dr Mahathir correctly saw bureaucratism and gradualism set into this approach, and in the 1980s, his system of privatisation and industrialisation introduced a dynamic thrust to national development.

Unfortunately, both developmental philosophies diverged sufficiently to set up a clash in 1987. The arguments against government-led privatisation pointed to income disparity and the unsustainable scale of debt-financing that the system entailed.

Both were demonstrated when our government-linked companies floundered during the 1997 Asian Crisis, and the subsequent expulsion of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as deputy prime minister instigated the largest expression of Malay dissent in Malaysian history.

The lesson is not that one mode of governance is superior to the other, but that each had, in its time, been appropriate for the nation.

In 2006, Abdullah appeared to try to maintain both systems in the Ninth Malaysia Plan. The fallout, which followed, shows its impracticability.

Just as the 1980-90s reformed the faults of the 1960-70s, so in the present day we should look to a system that reforms the faults of the 1980-90s.

That is the task of the present administration. In their appeals to their party to unite and raise themselves above jealousy and rumour, Najib and Muhyiddin refer to this larger picture, this greater good.

Government cannot begin to execute policy if the party is not whole. Malays (and, by virtue of Malays, non-Malays) need to remember that the story of nation-building, in which they are central, is not a concluded story.

No opinion is self-evident; there is no right or wrong approach as to how nation-building must proceed.

But if the truth of the Malay dilemma of the post-colonial era is forgotten, then no approach whatsoever will ever be adequate in comparison to colonial governments. Ng Tze Shiung Petaling Jaya, Selangor NST Letters 3 August 2015

Instil moral values in civil servants

ETHICS and moral values are essential if we are to have a clean, efficient and trustworthy administration. Civil servants must develop a culture that paves the way for the emergence of not only a dedicated, efficient and ethical civil service but also one that emphasises management integrity.

To achieve this goal it is necessary to have a work culture that incorporates honesty, trust, discipline, responsibility and transparency. While we welcome the incorporation of noble values in the civil service, what is really important,

in the final analysis, is to ensure that civil servants practise these values.

Slogans and lip service are not going to help. Corruption has been with us since the beginning of human organisation.

Yet we cannot be unconcerned and complacent about corruption because it attacks, not only the economic and social fabric of society, but also the moral foundations of order.

Above all, we must never allow corruption to be institutionalised. Corruption is pervasive and affects almost every aspect of life. From the person who wants his business application to be processed speedily to others who want to expedite their applications for low-cost housing, bribery can take place.

It manifests itself in so many forms when the public interacts with the authorities. It has been proven in many instances that an individual takes bribes mainly because he is greedy and is presented with opportunities to commit corrupt practices.

It is indisputable to state that greed is the motivating factor behind most, if not all, corrupt practices.

Officers involved in corrupt practices are mostly those in charge of law enforcement. To eradicate such practices, law enforcement agencies should have an internal audit system to detect irregularities.

Efforts should be made continuously to instil integrity and ethical values in law enforcement officers because persons of high integrity are not likely to commit corrupt practices.

Public administrators and civil servants must discharge their duties with integrity and honesty, besides being ethical and transparent.

I believe that the inculcation of noble and ethical values, accompanied by adherence to the oath of good governance, are the most effective ways to fight corruption in the civil service.

We need to build strong mechanisms that subject corrupt practices to public scrutiny. The information age is providing citizens and non-governmental organisations with tools and information to combat corruption.

Likewise, the global economy puts tremendous pressure on local governments to rid themselves of factors that reduce their competitiveness.

Corruption is a factor that can and does reduce the attractiveness of one community over another. The movement towards decentralisation, accountability and transparency at the local government level is gathering momentum.

In this context, the enormous cost of corruption is being recognised explicitly as there is an urgent need to correct governmental malfeasance.

Corruption is an entrenched symptom of misgovernance often reflected in patronage, red tape, ineffective revenue-generating agencies, large-scale bribery in procurement and failure to deliver services to city dwellers.

But when local officials in charge of public resources are accountable to the public, decision-making can become participatory. In turn, a participatory process can be the cornerstone of a national strategy to reform “sick” institutions and improve the welfare of city dwellers.

The challenge facing local governments is to develop ways of building effective, accountable and transparent systems.

Cities implementing and sustaining accountable and transparent systems as well as good governance reform programmes benefiting urban dwellers can expect to attract financial and human resources and become exemplary practices to be emulated nationwide.

In the final analysis, preventing corruption raises city revenues, improves service delivery, stimulates public confidence and participation, and wins public support. In line with the creation of transparent local authorities, steps must be taken to instil moral and ethical values in their staff.

This is essential as honesty, sincerity and discipline are important elements every civil servant must possess when discharging his duties to the public.

Morals and ethics are not only important to the civil service but also to all sectors of society. This is because graft and other forms of malpractice are evident in the corporate world, non-governmental organisations and voluntary organisations.

The answer lies in every Malaysian as to whether he is prepared to make honesty and integrity a way of life. Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye NST Letters 2 August 2015

Agresif sekat bacaan perosak akidah, moral

Sungguhpun bahan bacaan dan tontonan menerusi peranti digital makin popular, peranan buku belum boleh diketepikan. Memang peranti moden digital mudah dibawa ke mana-mana.

Perisiannya juga banyak. Tetapi buku masih mengekalkan peranan sebagai pemberi pengetahuan, informasi dan hiburan. Pengusaha menerbitkan buku dan perisian digital kerana beberapa sebab.

Dari aspek komersial, penerbitan terbabit diharap menjana keuntungan. Tujuan ini menjadi matlamat pengusaha yang ingin berniaga mencari keuntungan.

Akan tetapi, ada juga penerbitan yang dikeluarkan atas sebab lain. Umpamanya untuk menyebarkan sesuatu fahaman atau ideologi.

Bagi tujuan ini, keuntungan dalam bentuk wang mungkin kurang penting. Yang utama ialah menyebarkan ideologi terbabit. Tidak kiralah sama ada fahaman atau ideologi terbabit akan merosakkan atau menggegar fahaman yang sudah mantap dalam masyarakat.

Penerbitan berunsur lucah juga diusahakan untuk meraih keuntungan. Ia menarik minat masyarakat, terutama generasi muda. Penerbitan lucah dikeluarkan dalam bentuk buku novel, majalah, cakera padat, klip video dan sebagainya.

Peniaga oportunis, penguat kuasa

Dalam pasaran yang terbuka, selalu terjadi pertembungan antara peniaga oportunis dengan pihak penguat kuasa. Yang dimaksudkan peniaga oportunis itu termasuk mereka yang menjual barang tiruan, menaikkan harga sesuka hati, mengelak cukai serta menjual bahan terlarang.

Penguat kuasa pula terbahagi kepada dua.

Pertama yang tertakluk di bawah peruntukan perdagangan komersial. Penguat kuasa ini memantau dan mengambil tindakan jika ada salah laku yang membabitkan perkara seperti menjual barang tiruan, menaikkan harga sesuka hati, tidak meletak tanda harga, menjual barang luput tarikh, mengelak cukai dan sebagainya.

Penguat kuasa kedua terdiri daripada pihak memantau aspek keselamatan awam, akidah dan moral. Pemantauan lebih menjurus kepada isi kandungan sesebuah penerbitan.

Masalah utama pemantauan penguat kuasa golongan kedua ini ialah penerbitan yang sensitif sudah beredar dalam masyarakat. Tidak ada peraturan khusus yang mewajibkan setiap penerbit mesti menghantar salinan kepada pihak Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) dahulu untuk disemak dan diluluskan.

Peraturan seperti ini hanya melengahkan proses penerbitan, yang tidak disukai oleh usahawan yang ingin bekerja dengan pantas. Selepas penerbitan itu beredar dalam pasaran, barulah disedari ada kandungan yang sensitif di dalamnya.

Mengenai pemantauan yang dilakukan oleh KDN terhadap akhbar harian, pada setiap hari bekerja, pihak KDN akan mengambil akhbar tempatan dalam semua bahasa seawal jam 5 pagi.

Jika ada unsur sensitif di dalamnya, tindakan yang dikenakan adalah secara berperingkat, iaitu membuat panggilan kepada syarikat penerbitan berkenaan, menegur, memberi peringatan, amaran dan akhir sekali surat tunjuk sebab.

Pembanterasan berterusan

Baru-baru ini, KDN mengumumkan pengharaman tiga buah buku, berkuat kuasa mulai 23 Jun yang lalu. Ini membabitkan perintah larangan terhadap pencetakan, penerbitan dan pengedaran dua buku berunsur keagamaan dan sebuah buku berunsur lucah yang boleh memudaratkan ketenteraman awam dan moral.

Dua buku agama itu berbahasa Indonesia bertajuk Doa Jausyan Shaghir diterbitkan oleh Zahra Publishing House, dan Doa Nudbah, Doa Ahd, Doa Faraj (Keluasan), Doa Ziarah dan Doa untuk Kegaiban Imam Mahdi juga diterbitkan oleh Zahra Publishing House.

Sebuah lagi novel berbahasa Mandarin, To Love Ru Darkness terbitan Tongli Publishing Co yang berunsur lucah. Masyarakat kita sedang dilanda pelbagai kemelut politik, ekonomi, sosial dan sebagainya. Setiap kemelut diharap akan ditemui penawarnya oleh mereka yang pakar dalam bidang terbabit.

Dan tidak kurang bahayanya adalah kemelut akidah serta moral. Semua kemelut itu terjadi kerana sebahagian kita sudah tergelincir dari landasan akidah dan moral.

Sehubungan itu, wajar sekali usaha membanteras penerbitan yang bertentangan dengan akidah dan moral terus dilaksanakan.

Dalam sebuah negara yang mudah bergolak ini, kita memerlukan warga yang jernih akidah dan bersih moralnya untuk berganding bahu membangunkan negara serta kemaslahatan umat. Anwar Ridhwan Berita Harian Kolumnis 4 Ogos 2015

Language use misuse and abuse

The correct and incorrect application of words, whether spoken or written, can sometimes get us into difficult or hilarious situations.

WARREN G. Harding in the 1920 American Presidential Election used “Return to normalcy” to indicate a return to the way of life before World War I.

He mistakenly used “normalcy” instead of “normality”. Despite being wrongly used, the word caught on. It now refers to business or economic environment or situation prior to turbulence.

Though many believed that the word, rather than the more accepted “normality”, was coined by Harding who eventually became the 29th American President, there was evidence that “normalcy” had been listed in dictionaries as far back as 1857.

If that was so, it was hardly heard of until Harding used it. Most learned English linguists oppose its usage, preferring “normality” or just plain “normal”.

To them “normalcy” is absolutely American and started from an error. If normalcy is used, would the opposite be “abnormalcy?”

Wrong usage of words, terms and definitions are common but are seldom noticed.

Sloppy use of a word is more insidious than just a figure of speech. It means one simply can’t be bothered to apply it correctly. If not corrected, a wrong word becomes a norm and carries over into conversation, writing and report.

A word should not be accepted just because it has been used incorrectly for generations.

English is the most universal language on the planet. So why settle for a simplistic version? It’s merely a sign that people are indifferent and don’t care to actually educate themselves on the proper usage of words.

An example is the use of “dateline” instead of “deadline” to indicate the final date set.

The Americans may have a simple approach to using proper English. It is their style of writing and expressing.

Their use of words may seem to be absurd, such as “back to back” to mean “in succession”. They sometimes use “gotten” instead of “got”.

At times, the Americans simplicity does make sense. In football (or soccer as they call it) they use “yellow carded” for a player being cautioned and “red carded” for a player being sent off.

These words are simple and appropriate for football commentators and correspondents. But more often than not, American simplicity invites confusion especially to students.

They include “program” instead of “programme” and the noun and verb for “advice” are the same, instead of the latter being “advise”.

Americans also tend to complicate certain words with elaborate spelling. They use “transportation” instead of plain “transport” and “differential” instead of just the simple word “difference”.

Perhaps we should leave the Americans to use or modify words as they please as long as they suit them and are used within their shores. But can we really ignore them since they have a strong control and influence over media and writings?

If wrong words are used repeatedly and no effort is made to correct them, such words will be applied without question. These are not limited to only the Americans. Our local media tends to follow the American style without referring to its suitability to local culture, custom and environment.

In Malaysia, a “bungalow” refers to a detached house. Strictly speaking in the British context, a bungalow is a single storey house with a porch. Its origin can be traced to Bangalore (a city in India) during the reign of the British Raj.

Of winners and champions

In sport, we always declare winners as champions. “Champions” are only for tournament victors of certain categories or groups.

In England, for example, only the winners of the Premier League are called “champions”.

“Winners” of the FA Cup and the League Cup are simply called “winners” and not “champions”.

I can’t think of another country that has an FA Cup other than England. The English Football Association is simply known as The Football Association (FA).

The reason being the English were the first to set up a football association. As such they just use “FA” instead of “FA of England”.

Other institutions pioneered by them are used without referring to the country or nationality.

The British call their air force as the Royal Air Force (not Royal British Air force); and their navy as The Royal Navy (not Royal British Navy). Guess why? They were the first to use those terms.

In England, the FA cup is a competition open to all affiliations of the FA. For FAM to use the FA Cup is like using the word “Oscar” for the local movie awards.

Oscar has been patented as a trademark for an award presented by the (American) Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for excellence in the creation and production of movies.

The English FA has never patented the FA Cup. Perhaps officials at FAM may rethink and rename Malaysia’s version of FA Cup.

And perhaps reserve champions for winners of the Super League, and winners of other competitions be recognised as winners and not champions. The wrong usage in the media is not confined to English dailies.

I once came across this headline in a Malay daily: Malaysia ingin menjadi syurga pelabur asing. What the Malay daily meant was “haven” and not “heaven”.

These two words are different. Haven refers to a secured place such as port, harbour, or any sheltered place of safety or sanctuary while heaven refers to the hereafter place for the blessed after the mortal life. Perhaps the writer concerned thought haven was the American style of spelling heaven!

The transition of the same language from one country to another and one culture to another is often bumpy.

The manner in which words are applied are at times done carelessly, and with no reference to the context of a particular society, culture and custom.

The confusion of words used in a language should be studied so that they can be applied correctly.

Perhaps the Education Ministry should come out with a policy of using standardised words and spelling.

Dr Arzmi Yaacob The STAR Home News Education August 2, 2015

On the right track

With improvements evident in several key areas, the nation’s education system is heading in the right direction.

PRODUCING world-class students – that is the ultimate goal of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

And if the blueprint’s 2014 Annual Report is anything to go by, the country is definitely on the right track to creating top-notch human capital who will drive the country towards further progress.

The report, which former Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin launched in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, detailed the changes which took place in our national education system last year.

Some of the remarkable achievements he highlighted include 1,273 new preschool classes being opened and a higher enrolment rate in preschools nationwide.

Thirst for knowledge: SJK (C) Keng Chee students using their Chromebooks at the computer lab.
Thirst for knowledge: SJK (C) Keng Chee students using their Chromebooks at the computer lab.

The number of schools ranked as Bands 6 and 7 – the worst-performing in the nation – had gone down from 1.39% to 0.96% last year.

And, the number of schools listed as Bands 1 and 2 schools under the Education Ministry’s ranking system had gone up from 31.0% in 2013 to 36.8% last year.

Also, five Form Six centres were established last year – one each in Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Kedah, Selangor and Sabah – with 1,236 students studying there now.

To improve the nation’s performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss), the ministry came up with 62 intervention modules.

Ultimately, Muhyiddin emphasised that the yearly report was “not just a document to refer to”.

“The report was published to give a clear and concise explanation to the rakyat on the government’s efforts in raising the quality of our national education,” he said in his speech.

Here are more highlights from the blueprint’s 2014 Annual Report.

Literacy

> Over 1.3 million pupils were tested in the Literacy and Numeracy test (LINUS) 2.0 programme.

> For Year Three pupils: 98.7% have basic literacy in Bahasa Melayu, while 98.9% have basic numeracy skills.

> English literacy was first introduced as part of the LINUS component two years ago.

For the first cohort (who were in Year Two last year), their literacy improved from 63.3% to 78.3%.

> Also, more Year One pupils (70.2%) boasted basic English literacy last year.

The game plan: (from left) Nur Izzati Akmal, Elena Goh Ling Yin and Kirthana Ramasamy looking at the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2012-2025’ book during the launch at KL Convetion Centre two years ago. -- AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star
Into the future: (from left) Nur Izzati Akmal, Elena Goh Ling Yin and Kirthana Ramasamy looking at the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 during the launch at the KL Convention Centre two years ago.

Quality of teachers

> Only the top 30% of students, or those with a minimum of 5As in SPM, were eligible to enrol into the Bachelor of Education programmes at Teacher Education Institutes (IPGs) nationwide.

> Potential candidates for principals and school heads are being identified under the National Professional Qualification for Educational Leaders (NPQEL) programme.

Last year, 1,020 teachers obtained the NPQEL certificate, with 63% scoring a CGPA of 3.75 and above.

> There were were 82,848 teachers who were given training on applying Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

> Public Skills Training Institutes sponsored 2,579 students while 1,300 students were sponsored by Private Skills Training Institutes last year.

> There were 90 companies which signed on to be industry partners with the ministry last year, bringing the total number of companies to 208.

These partners make sure vocational programmes remain relevant and help students secure attachements in industries after graduation.

A helping hand: Literacy levels among primary school pupils are promising, and it is thanks to the tireless efforts of teachers like SK Tasik Chini teacher Nor Aishah Abu Samah, who takes on a hands-on approach with her class. -- AZLINA ABDULLAH/The Star
A helping hand: Literacy levels among primary school pupils are promising, and it is thanks to the tireless efforts of teachers like SK Tasik Chini teacher Nor Aishah Abu Samah, who takes on a hands-on approach with her class.

Special needs education

> The number of special education needs students in vocational schools went up from 518 students to 775 students last year.

> Enrolment of special needs students in the Inclusive Education Programme (PPI) doubled from 9.6% to 18.4% last year.

Now, 10,700 students out of 58,006 special needs students are studying in mainstream schools.

> The PPI is now offered in 2,798 schools, an increase of 61% in two years.

Enhancing efficiency

> Over 3,000 upgrading and repair projects were completed in 2,410 schools nationwide.

> There are now 6,623 schools with high speed wireless 4G Internet connection.

> Out of five million students nationwide, 1.6 million students are logged into Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) platforms.

Of this, 47% use VLE for more than 30 minutes a week, exceeding the 30% target.

Unity in diversity: The government is making more efforts to encourage integration among pupils and students of all races in schools through the RIMUP programme. -- K.K SHAM/The Star
Unity in diversity: The government is making more efforts to encourage integration among pupils and students of all races in schools through the Rancangan Integrasi Murid Untuk Perpaduan (RIMUP) programme.

Increasing English proficiency

> Of the 1,191 “hotspot” schools – those with low passing rates for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) English Language paper – 140 scored the national average or more for English in SPM last year.

> To create fun and exciting language learning experiences for students, the Education Ministry in collaboration with the United States (US) Embassy and Enfiniti Academy, organised two camps.

It benefited 224 students from 45 schools in Terengganu, Pahang and Kuala Lumpur.

> For the Form Three Assessment or PT3, the English Language assessment expanded to include listening and speaking skills.

It was developed with reference to the Common European Framework of References for Languages, with guidance from the Cambridge International Examination to benchmark students’ English proficiency levels with international standards.

> To build the teachers’ language proficiencies, 360 native speakers from the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand were sent as mentors to 1,800 primary schools in remote areas.

> The Professional Upskilling of English Language Teachers programme benefited 10,502 teachers. It saw 2,244 teachers improving by one proficiency level, while another 166 improved by two proficiency levels.


Game on: Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (in blue shirts) conducting an English language camp
at SMK Kepong Baru, Kuala Lumpur. -- AZMAN GHANI / The Star

An improving education system

I am blessed. My job enabled me to work with teachers, students and parents.

I've met many great principals who are inspiring, teachers who do not hesitate to go beyond the call of duty and students whose lives have improved because of them.

It gives me joy to give hope. More importantly, I am proud to have been part of the process to make our nation's education system great.

The Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB) has been around for nearly two years. And the execution of this grand plan has been rigorously monitored and tracked.



Recently, the 2014 Annual Report was published, and I want to share snippets of the outcomes today.

Naysayers stay away! The horror stories are the exception and not the norm.

This is about the positives.

Teacher intake.

99.98% of new teacher trainees in 2014 had obtained at least 5As in SPM. 51% obtained at least 7As while 22% at least 9As. Only the top 30% of SPM leavers are accepted. In reality, the bar is much higher. Here's to fantastic teachers in the near future.

Higher Order Thinking Skills.

The education system is no longer about memorizing-and-regurgitating or learning for exams. Students need to apply Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) in order to succeed. 31,891 Maths and science teachers (and 50,957 from other subjects) have been trained to incorporate HOTS in the pedagogy. Scientific inquiry, reasoning and application are key to our education system. 20% of public examination questions are HOTS based. Some complained because they didn't get A for their exams, but many see this as the way to go.

English

The Education Ministry now screens and tests language proficiency for all students aged 7, 8, 9 as part of the Literacy and Numeracy Screening (LINUS) initiative. The 2013 cohort achieved 63.3% in English literacy in Year 1 (age 7) and improved by 24% to 78.3% in Year 2. Year 1 students in the 2014 cohort achieved 70.2% in English literacy.

The Professional English Language Training (ProELT) Programme has seen the upskilling and pedagogical improvement of English language teachers. 2014 saw 10,502 teachers participate, with 87.8% improving one band level from B1 to B2 and 43.1% improving from B2 to C1 according to the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR). To note, to qualify for a teaching position in Europe the minimum is C1. C2 is the highest on the scale.

Also in 2014, 360 native English speakers mentored about 5,000 teachers from 1,800 schools nationwide. Since 2012, up to 225 English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) consisting of Fulbright Scholars have taught in 101 of our local schools.

The above aside, there are many other initiatives to improve English proficiency in schools. These include English drama camps, a more robust literature component, intervention lessons for weak students, choral speaking and more.

The key point here is that English is taken seriously. Command of the language requires effective teaching and a strong curriculum - and not just teaching other subjects in English.

Technical and vocational education and training.

This will be a big area of growth for Malaysia (I wrote about this in a separate article). 1.6 million jobs in this sector is expected to be created by 2020.

TVET is for the skills-inclined student. The emphasis on TVET is recognition that different children have different interests and talents.

Currently, there are 81 secondary schools that offer Basic Vocational Education (PAV) for 13 to 15 year old students. This includes classes on food preparation, electrical wiring and furniture making.

Further up, there are 80 vocational colleges (KVs) offering the Malaysia Vocational Diploma (DVM) and Malaysia Skills Certificate (SKM). In 2014, 5.2% or 22,096 post lower secondary students were enrolled in vocational programmed. The target is 20% by end 2020.

90 Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were signed between the Education Ministry and industries to provide training opportunities to vocational students in 2014 bringing the total to 208 (including companies like Proton, Continental Tyres, and even Shell- which has been involved for more than 20 years).

Enrollment Rates

Lower secondary enrollment rates are at 92.5% (comparatively in Vietnam it is about 63%).

Preschool enrollment rates have increased from 81.7% to 84.2%. This is contributed by 1,273 new preschool classes available (with199 public, 1074 private). Awareness for quality early childhood education is on the rise and becoming more accessible.

Education Equity

Under the District Transformation Programme, carried out in 5 priority states, the urban-rural performance gap narrowed by 10%.

10,700 Special Education Needs (SEN) students are enrolled into 2,798 schools which offer Inclusive Education Programmes (IEPs). Under this Programme, SEN students are taught in the same classes as non-SEN students with teachers in the schools specially trained to manage all the students.

41,207 Orang Asli children are in schools. There are four Orang Asli cluster schools, one of them high performance.

Infrastructure

3,070 upgrading or repair projects in 2,410 schools were completed in 2014. This included physical infrastructure, classroom, toilets and electricity.

All 10,000+ schools will have its walls. It's a mammoth effort but an effort to be carried nonetheless.

My conclusion? Our education system is improving.

Many good men and women have worked and continue to work hard to make the Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB)'s implementation successful.

I know these people. Their drive, passion and dedication are unparalleled, and they are as much vested in our education as the next person.

To them I say good job on the achievements so far and thanks for giving your all.

There is still quite a lot to be done. Keep it up. I expect to see real continued improvements in the years to come.

With a new minister in place, I wish the Education Ministry all the best.

May you continue soaring upwards.

Beneath the surface

CLEARLY, there have been some marked improvements in our education system based on the Malaysia Education Blueprint’s 2014 Annual Report. As we move towards the next implementation wave, StarEducate hears from experts and stakeholders to find out what else can be done to achieve the blueprint’s goals.

Improvements in English

The Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) commends the on-going effort by the Education Ministry to upskill English language teachers, said its president Prof Dr Ganakumaran Subramaniam.

“But, one-off professional upskilling is often insufficient to produce sustainable improvements in a teacher’s performance and competence,” he said.


Aye for English: Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh who was former Second Education Minister, participating in a lesson
with Year One pupils together with native English language speaker Kathleen Eljeddi during an earlier visit to SK Jenderam, Selangor.

Prof Ganakumaran suggested that there should be a “systematic and structured continuous professional development programme” for teachers who have been trained as well as those already deemed competent in the language.

“Also, teachers need to be encouraged to regularly test their English language competence. For example, by taking the MUET (Malaysian University English Test).

“This will ensure that teachers continuously check that their competence in the language is not faltering,” he said.

On another matter, Prof Ganakumaran said Melta applauded the improvements in SPM English in the 140 hotspot schools.

“But, SPM which has been used as a norm-referenced assessment may not be the most accurate marker of the state and competence of Malaysian learners in the English language,” he said.

He also pointed out that the SPM English national average “may become invalid” when the format changes to include Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) assessments.

So, there is a need to come up with “a clear criterion that is aligned to globally accepted and recognised standards to benchmark Malaysian students,” he said.

Involving more parents

Being a single parent, Emilda Rita Sjahrial wanted to be on the pulse of the goings- on of her daughter’s education.

As an architect and developer who spends a lot of time at work, getting involved in the school’s Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) was “just another channel for me to be a mum”, she said.

“I find it therapeutic, even though it can be stressful. Besides, I don’t have a lot of money. But the time and effort put in, I consider as an investment of love.”

So, it wasn’t a complete surprise when she found herself selected as head of SMK Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya’s Parents Support Group (KSIB) earlier this year.

“The KSIB was something that parents have been doing, it’s just that there’s now an official name for it,” said Emilda.

But, as her daughter, Rania, was just in Form One, Emilda admitted that she did not know much about her daughter’s friends’ parents.

It was at a school anniversary dinner where she first got in touch with two women who added her into a WhatsApp group for mothers of the Form One students.

The rest was history.

“We went from 15 members to 60 in two months.

“The chat group is just such a powerful tool for us to stay in touch and be aware of what’s happening in the school,” she said.

The group is now focused on making the school environment more conducive for studying.

Her advice for parents out there who want to get more involved with schools?

“Every parent has a different background and skillset.

“If you can’t donate money, there are ways for you to help out at school,” she said.

“If you can do something to make a difference in your child’s schools, ask yourself why not?”

Emilda is just one of the many parents nationwide who are actively involved in their children’s schools.

Education director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof said the ministry “has begun to recognise the active role of parents” through the KSIB or PTA.

“There is now a firm foundation of cooperation built between the school, PTAs and community.

“As we approach the Wave 2 of the blueprint next year, the PTAs will play a bigger role in supporting the school and encouraging wider community involvement at school level,” he said.

Hands-on education

The government has been investing more and more into making vocational education a top choice for students.

And students interested in these subjects, like Rufina Reana Anak Nahar, 18, definitely welcome the move.

Rufina Reana, who has always been interested in the culinary arts, only found out about the vocational education pathway during a Form Three school trip to the Batu Lintang Vocational College in Kuching.

“I didn’t even know that the college existed,” she said.

“I favour the educational structure of vocational colleges because it provides a more hands-on style of teaching.”

And for the bubbly Sarawakian, who has completed her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia Vokasional (SPMV) and is now working towards a diploma, it has truly been an eye-opening experience.

“People often assume that there is only one aspect to a field. Like in culinary arts, I used to think it was all about cooking.

“But, my classes range from baking to carving, kitchen operation to finance management, and even business entrepreneurship in the food industry,” shared Rufina Reana.

Her coursemate, Naezhatul Shazreen Nazarudin, said being in a vocational college has given her industry experience.

“This is where we can improve our skills and know our potential in whatever we course we’re in.”

As such, she would advise other students to give TVET a try.

“I would encourage more students to join a vocational college.

“What’s important is not just academics,” said Naezhatul Shazreen, also 18.

Transforming districts

In May this year, we featured the rise of SK Tasik Chini, a school in Pahang which was once one of the worst-performing schools in the nation.

Before 2009, it was common for students to skip classes. Teachers even had to help bathe students and cut their nails for them.

But, in just five years, they went from being ranked at 6,910 out of 7,617 schools to 237 out of 7,695 schools nationwide.

Their success story is just one of the many under the District Transformation Programme, formerly the Assuring Quality Education (EDU) National Key Result Area (NKRA).

Schools identified under the programme such as SK Tasik Chini received significant assistance in transforming its overall learning environment.

According to the 2014 Government Transformation Programme Report, School Improvement Specialist Coaches (SISC) and School Improvement Partners (SIPartners) were sent to the school to coach and mentor the school’s teachers and administrators.

These SISC and SIPartners are specialists who have been specially trained to identify and recommend solutions to obstacles that obstruct learning.

As a result of this coaching and the school’s other initiatives, SK Tasik Chini headmaster Akit Huat said pupils now have a better attitude towards school. Teachers too are inspired to work harder and parents have become more involved in school.

Also, there have been remarkable changes in the students’ academic performance, such as 100% pass rates for the UPSR exams in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Lessons from ‘Sivaji: The Boss’

SIVAJI: THE BOSS is a Tamil language film which first came out in 2007. It stars Indian megastar “Superstar” Rajnikanth, along with Shriya Saran in the lead actress role, Vivek in a supporting role and Suman as the primary antagonist.

I did not manage to catch the movie in the cinemas when it came out, but I did watch it when it was subsequently released on DVD.

Recently, on a long distance flight, I watched the movie again. It’s still very enjoyable even after all these years. Yes, the plot is predicable and does not stray from the winning formula of such movies. But one does not watch Rajnikanth movies for their plotlines.

One watches them for the Superstar!

The film revolves around a well-established software systems architect, Sivaji, who returns home to India after years of working in the United States. On his return, he dreams of giving back to society by building a hospital and university for his community that will give free medical treatment and education to the people.

But the India he comes home to is rife with corruption. Sivaji had to bribe government officials in order to obtain the necessary approvals.

Despite this, he still could not stop businessman Adiseshan, played with villainous aplomb by Suman, from using his money and influence to ensure that politicians stop Sivaji’s projects, pushing our hero to the edge of ruin.

But Sivaji comes back from the brink. He flipped a coin and took “the path of the lion”. He decided to fight the system in his own way. He bent and sometimes broke the law in order to bring justice and do good for his people, since the system and the law hampered instead of facilitated justice and good.

Through his efforts, he managed to transform his state and improved the lives of the many poor and downtrodden citizens.

Yet the system finally caught up with him. The government found evidence that he had used black money to finance his endeavours.

They arrested Sivaji and imprisoned him. He was tortured in the lockup and almost lost his life his life in a nefarious plot to kill him while in police custody. Thankfully, the scheme was uncovered by another police officer who felt indebted to Sivaji.

But this is, at the end of the day, a Rajnikanth movie. And the Superstar will have the last laugh. Always. The movie ends with Adiseshan vanquished, and presumably, Sivaji continuing with his struggles for the common people.

In one memorable scene at the start of the movie, Sivaji was asked by his cellmate the crime which he committed to land him in lockup. He laughed and answered, “I did good for the people”.

Sivaji: The Boss is a fiction. But I do think that there are still things we can learn from the movie.

What will happen when the rule of law breaks down and becomes rule by law? What will happen when the organs of the State, when the institutions of government fail to carry out their duties independently, impartially and properly? What will happen when the system becomes so corrupted and broken, just like Sivaji’s India?

In Sivaji’s India, doing good will land you behind bars. In Sivaji’s India, good men and women are enemies of the law. In Sivaji’s India, one would need to walk outside the law to dispense justice and do good. In Sivaji’s India, it is not the State that fights for the people, but individuals like Sivaji and his friends.

In Sivaji’s India, people who want to change things and make things better must be willing to face the law and go to prison.

This is why citizens of any and every nation must strive to ensure that their country does not turn into a failed State like Sivaji’s India. And citizens must not let the state of affairs be such that we have to look for heroes such as Sivaji.

Teachers are a committed lot

ALBERT Einstein once said “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”. This saying is the embodiment of a teacher’s role in making a difference in every student’s life.

Sadly, do teachers really get compliments from the public?

Teachers are bombarded by many people who do not know what we are going through in life.

Of late, I have been reading comments about English teachers. Some claim that English teachers nowadays are not proficient in the language. I beg to differ.

I believe that there are rotten apples in every profession. Not all of us are incompetent with regards to English language competency.

After all, we are also the products of our education system. Some teachers do their best to give the best to the students in class.

For example, some young teachers constantly seeking my help and guidance when they encounter some problems in the language.

It shows that they are committed and willing to go the extra mile to learn in order to give their best.

Don’t be too harsh on us. As an educator for a decade now, I have seen teachers who sacrifice their time and energy just to touch the lives of their students. Some did and are still doing it, and do it at the expense of their personal lives.

In school, we teachers have our own KPI’s to achieve. I teach an exam class every year and I have to make sure my students in Year 6 get a pass or score well in their exam. With God’s blessings and a little struggle, I make sure my pupils get at least a pass.

The question is, if teachers do not put in great effort in their work, how do their students pass with flying colours. Evidently, there are teachers who have the passion and are also competent. I say this from my experience.

Nevertheless, we are open to the criticism as a way to reflect on ourselves. Don’t we deserve a pat on our shoulder for the job we do?

I feel we too need to rejuvenate ourselves rather than face perpetual negative remarks. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Our Government’s concerted effort to uplift the standard of English is very laudable. Programmes like “Native Speaker”, Professional up-skilling course (ProELT), Linus 2.0 are designed to help the English teachers to upgrade their competency.

Apart from that, we have various short courses. Suffice to say, teachers are being trained constantly.

Some teachers myself included have taken part in English conferences and presented papers. Do these efforts show that we take things for granted? Absolutely not. I am overwhelmed by these “real” teachers. But then, how many write about them?

As an educator, I would say that we teachers are in the profession for its outcome and not the income.

“A teacher affects eternity; one can never tell where his influence stops”, is a famous quote by Henry Adams.

Short lines with a million dollar meaning: “I am a teacher: It’s not who I am, it’s my passion, my calling and my world.” Sumati Muniandy Johor baru The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 4 August 2015

Cultivate reading habit

I AM one of those lucky few to have pursued a tertiary education in a foreign land, courtesy of a scholarship award by the Education Ministry.

I recall with fondness the reading habits of the people living in Dunedin, New Zealand during the mid-90s.

At home, parents led by example. Most of the parents I knew were avid readers. They played a pivotal role in developing the early interest in reading among children, starting from infancy.

Stories were read at any available time, but almost always before bedtime. A bedtime story was one which was much awaited, however short, as it was deemed a deserving reward for good behaviour or for a good deed.

Most parents bought books as gifts for their children’s birthday, took their children to book fairs and took them diligently to the libraries. This parental effort and sacrifice contributed positively to the desire and need to read, filling the minds of the young ones with adventures and fantasies, besides instilling noble values in the young hearts and minds.

In schools, the reading habit was cultivated healthily. Books were made available in the classroom, in strategic locations around the school and of course in the libraries.

In the classroom, reading skills were developed systematically and consistently through various strategies like Intensive Reading and the Big Book Approach. My children are testimony to this development. In short, reading was both fun and educational.

The teachers’ commitment and dedication in promoting reading deserves praise. I recall once when my son was unwell at school, I received a phone call requesting me to take him home.

When I arrived at the classroom, my son was draped in a blanket, seated very comfortably on the lap of the teacher, listening very attentively to a story being read by the teacher.

Upon seeing me, the teacher said: “Give me a minute. I’m about to finish the story”. I stood there watching in amazement the great job the teacher was doing. I definitely learnt a lesson or two on parenting that day.

The support from the city authorities and its people was overwhelming. The public library in the city was a massive building with lots of books from all over the world, catering for the different international communities that lived, worked or studied there.

Besides books, one could easily get hold of magazines, journals, newspapers and other publications.

Anyone could borrow a book irrespective of whether you are a local or not. Membership was free. And most interestingly, one could borrow up to 50 books at any one time!

I know it’s hard to imagine the transportation of these books but the joy of seeing your children actually competing among them in a healthy rivalry to read makes it an immense investment in moulding and nurturing the future generation to become good readers.

It was normal to see people reading books or magazines while waiting for a bus or a train, or waiting to be attended to at a service counter or waiting to be seen by the dentist.

While travelling using the public transport, the person seated next to you would greet you politely with “Good Morning” and “How are you?”, and perhaps “Where are you heading to?”.

Very often, the conversation was a short but respectful one. Then, the person would proceed to open up a book and start reading. This was especially so for long hours of travelling.

Initially, I found this rather strange as I was used to engaging people in a conversation for long hours when travelling in Malaysia. Over the two years I spent there, I adapted, or rather had to adapt, to this new habit.

I do not know how much of this holds water today but I’m sure we can learn a thing or two from such a good practice abroad.

It is through reading that we become more knowledgeable and better thinkers, become more aware and tolerant of our surroundings, thus helping us expand our potential and scale heights beyond our imagination. Jaginder SIngh The STAR Home News Opinion Letters August 4, 2015