September 26th, 2015

PT3 needs to reflect learning, not grading

IN line with the global development of education, the Education Ministry has implemented a new system of assessment as part of its educational reforms.

The new assessment is known as School-Based Assessment (SBA) or Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah, in the shape of PT3 (Penilaian Tingkatan 3), to replace the Penilaian Menengah Rendah at the lower secondary level.

The new assessment system has been implemented since 2011 and aims to improve the way we assess students’ academic progress and personal development.

Aside from academic assessment, the new system also assesses students on their sports and co-curricular activities, as well as psychometric assessment (SBA comprises four major components — central assessment, school assessment, assessment of physical, sports and co-curricular activities and psychometric assessment).

According to the ministry, the new assessment will produce students with better thinking skills as the assessment is more comprehensive, holistic, low stake and integrated.

Another aim of implementing the new system is to lessen the focus on examinations as practised in the traditional assessment. The school-based assessment has been implemented with varying degrees of success in Finland, South Africa, Hong Kong and Australia.

According to ministry officials, the new assessment system would combine both the centralised and school assessments. However, since the introduction of PT3, it has resulted in a mixed bag of reactions from students, parents and teachers.

Despite the ministry’s good intention to decentralise the assessment and focus on assessment for learning rather than of learning, the measures that it has implemented have not shown the intended results.

The new assessment system remains centralised because of the perceived importance by students, teachers as well as parents, of the centralised assessment system that is controlled by the Examinations Syndicate.

It is disheartening to note that preliminary results published by my doctoral candidate, Alla Bakash (2015), showed the school-based assessment is not working as intended.

Teachers, parents, students and school administrators still place much emphasis to the central assessment, in which the questions and marking schemes are provided by the Examinations Syndicate.

Sadly, most of these stakeholders play down the importance of school assessments. The attempt by the ministry to decentralise the assessment and make it truly a school-based assessment with focus on learning has not worked according to the intended plan.

Despite the adoption of school-based assessment in our schools, the new assessment system remains traditional in perspective and practice.

It raises a number of questions about the effectiveness of the school-based assessment as defined by the ministry, which combines both the centralised and school-based assessments.

Do teachers and administrators exercise with care their newly-acquired authority according to their new roles and functions? Do parents truly understand the ultimate aim and goal of school-based assessment?

Contrary to the intended outcome, the new assessment system initiatives have not relaxed the ministry’s tight grip over the provision and delivery of education and assessment at all levels in the country.

I believe the ministry should learn to let go and allow the schools and teachers to have the major say in the assessment as PT3 is not a certification exam. What is most important is the learning, rather than grading, at this level of education.

Professor Dr Mohd Sallehhudin Abd Aziz, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia NST Opinions You Write 25 September 2015

Don’t give up on being a lawyer

There are other cheaper options for those who cannot afford RM300,000.

IN our country, being a lawyer is governed by the Legal Profession Act 1976 in Peninsular Malaysia, the Advocates Ordinance of Sabah Cap 2 in Sabah, and the Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak Cap 110 in Sarawak.

In Peninsular Malaysia, such a person would be referred as advocate and solicitor and in Sabah and Sarawak as advocate.

How much money do you need to become a lawyer? A reader, having done a foundation course in a local institution, was told that he needed to do the third year in Britain. Not only that, he would not be eligible to enrol for the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) but would also have to do the Bar Examinations there.

This means another two years abroad and RM250,000 at least, with possibly more to be paid what with the higher pound sterling or lower ringgit. In the meantime, RM70,000 or more will have to be paid for the foundation course for the two years study which is done locally. Thus the reader faces a situation where he either finds the money or gives up the idea of becoming a lawyer.

At a time of the year, when Form 5 students are heading for the end-of-year examinations and will need to make career choices.

It would be useful for such people and the parents to understand the scenario so that they can avoid the plight of the reader.

One does not need RM300,000 or more to embark upon or complete their law studies and to become a lawyer. What should you do?

After having passed the Form 5 examination with the appropriate grades, ensure that any pre-university course enrolled for is widely recognised. This is because foundation courses, with rare exceptions, restrict the choice of a university where the degree course can be pursued.

To start with, enrol for Form 6 in the national school system to obtain your STPM. You can stay at home and need only a very modest sum to pay certain fees or contributions which would, in most cases, amount to a few hundred ringgit. It may delay moving to university level a little, but what is the hurry when you consider the money that you can save.

This is because the A Level course and foundation programme may set you back RM15,000 or so. Many students are also inclined to bypass Form 6 because other friends are doing so.

However, losing a few months or a year is no big deal. If you have done Form 6, your pre-university studies would almost be for a song and with wider acceptance.

Next, you can choose to do a recognised law degree from a foreign university which will cost you in the region of RM45,000 to RM70,000. All this, which is being done locally would also save on living costs. This is especially when one lives in or near a large town.

With such a degree in hand, preceded either by a Form 6 Qualification or A Levels, the person would be entitled to enrol for and work towards obtaining the CLP conducted by the Legal Profession Qualification Board where fees and related expenses to complete the entire process would come to between RM4,000 and RM5,000.

What I have described is the route through obtaining a qualification from British universities or Australian and New Zealand universities, whether all the studies are done locally or part of the studies are done locally and part are done in a foreign country.

However, there is another route that one could take, by enrolling for the course which is made available by the University of Malaya Faculty of Law through the external degree programme of Bachelor of Jurisprudence.

This course can be done over a minimum period of three years, but must be completed within seven years. Just like the degree conferred by a foreign university where all the studies are being done locally or partly locally or partly aboard, it confers a qualification which enables the student to register for and pursue the CLP until successful completion and become a lawyer.

This is not in any way to deprecate those who have chosen to spend time overseas.

Some people say that this makes a better person and, some say, even a better lawyer. However, this is all a matter of perception and the character of the person involved.

When all the student’s studies are done locally there is also the added advantage of minimal or lower living costs for the duration of the studies.

Of course if one is supported by a full-fledged scholarship or parents or benefactors with deep pockets, money is of little or no importance. But not everyone will find himself in such a situation in our country.

If the cost is indeed RM300,000 or RM400,000, those who want to become lawyers may just give up the idea. That would be a pity.

Thus what has been set out above is to show the path to becoming a lawyer for those who may not have big money. They need not give up on doing law.

For those with less money, the ambition could still be achieved with a combination of family savings, available loan facilities and also a little help from friends and relatives. Bhag Singah The STAR Columnist 24 September 2015

Think of the Chinese Muslims

WHEN factions within Umno plot strategies against their opposition, they have to be thoughtful about the reputation of their party and the dignity of Islam and its ummah.

The branding of Islam as a faith that allows racism to suit their political agenda insults Islam’s global multiracial ummah that comprises among its diverse races 30 million Chinese Muslims in Malaysia, Indonesia, China and around the world who turn towards Mecca when praying.

Herding the Malay mindset down the egotistical path of extremism, race supremacy and segregation by fiddling with the ethical context of Islam for political gain is haram.

Enlightened Malays know that race cannot have monopoly over the Muslim faith as Islam was born in the Middle East and has since been adopted by our multiracial world.

Claiming that racism is in line with Islamic teachings is a terrible act of treachery against the religion.

It scares other races in Malaysia from adopting the faith, thereby stunting the growth of Islam.

Instigating doubt is the ultimate treason against faith.

As a Chinese Muslim, I understand well the anguish of Chinese Muslim converts who marry Malay partners, and their multiracial families who will feel very conflicted over insensitive racist remarks that have wounded both Malay and Chinese families.

If race intimidation is in our constitution as alleged by a chameleon within Umno, then we have to change the constitution so that Malaysia’s unity cannot be sabotaged.

It was like a balm to the soul when the Johor royal family and Johor Umno came forth to defend the harmony of our multiracial society to ease the bitterness which could easily turn into senseless blood feuds.

As correctly observed by many scholars and researchers, the Malay race is more a geographical and cultural construct rather than a genotypic one. South-East Asia, being a vigorous maritime trading nation, is a melting pot of inter-marriages and assimilation of cultures over the centuries.

More accurately, we are a sophisticated Malay society rather than a simplistic Malay race.

Malay Sultanates may find traces of Chinese ancestry somewhere along their bloodline, as Sultan Ibrahim Ismail of Johor has graciously shared from his own genealogy.

According to Tun Sri Lanang in Sulalatus Salatin, at the height of the Malacca Sultanate, Sultan Mansur Shah married Hang Li Po from the nobility of Ming China, and their son Paduka Mimat and his royal descendants resided in Jeram (either Selangor or Perak). And it is highly probable they could have inter-married with royal members of other states.

Also, 500 attendants accompanied Hang Li Po and were married to Malacca court officials.

History recorded that migrants from China had already settled in South-East Asia as far back as the seventh century during the Tang Dynasty when Islam reached China through Arab and Persian traders via the Silk Road.

In the 15th century when Admiral Zheng He, who was Chinese Muslim, led his fleet to Malacca, there were already Chinese Muslims in Malacca whom he called the Tang people.

Kedah was the first state in the peninsula to embrace Islam in the 12th century. As Malays before the 12th century were either Hindus or Buddhists, Malay-Chinese inter-marriages were even easier.

It won’t be surprising that many Malays today will have Chinese ancestors, as well as Indian, Arab, Persian, Caucasian, and the other bygone traders in South-East Asia.

Looking at the face of that very fair-skinned Malay woman who called the Chinese “babi”, she could be one herself. Indigenous Malays are very famous for their golden brown skin and straight black hair, as registered by early historians and anthropologists.

So, fair-skinned Malays, when their DNA is tested, could find that they have either Chinese or orang putih or Arab blood in them.

The nose and eyes are usually the determinants: if it isn’t the typical high and prominent nose and large, long-lashed eyes of an Arab or Caucasian, then probably that Malay woman insulting the Chinese is also insulting her own Chinese ancestors.

Don’t forget that the children of Malay and Chinese Muslim couples are Malays, and they have bi-racial families who will suffer if the harmony and unity of Islam is sacrificed to racism and the worship of political ambitions.

Umno’s leaders have to earn their legitimacy to rule by demonstrating that they have the moral fibre to lead Malaysia honourably according to good moderate Islamic values.Kain kafan has no pockets – every one of us will meet our Maker on the Day of Judgment. Nikole Mikhael Abdullah The STAR Letters 24 September 2015

Fear of homeless generation

THE National House Buyers Association (HBA) has been warning the Government for many years that prices of property have risen beyond the reach of the majority of Malaysians and that unless it takes serious measures to tackle this issue, a “homeless generation” will emerge.

Putrajaya’s housing programmes, including giving subsidies to Malaysians to own a home, are not holistic solutions to this country’s housing woes. The Government must move away from the mentality of “giving fish” to teaching people “how to fish” – in other words, empowering the public.

The Government has been providing subsidies and social housing to the poor for generations. But has that improved their lot? These subsidies/incentives come from taxpayers’ pocket. Invariably, a taxpayer who cannot afford to buy a house will be financing a house buyer through these subsidies.

Rehda’s comment on the Khazanah Research Institute’s (KRI) statement that the Malaysian housing market is “seriously unaffordable” seems to be off tangent.

KRI’s conclusion that houses in Malaysia are seriously unaffordable is derived from facts and figures. It is based on a formula of household income vis-à-vis the prevailing prices of houses at various locations.

Why and how the prices came to be so high is another subject for debate and, yes, there are many factors to be considered.

Rehda’s assertion that cost of construction materials has gone up is true to a certain extent. The basic question that begs to be answered is the percentage of cost in construction material.

Do not subscribe to the “teh tarik” syndrome where, when the price of sugar goes up by 10 sen, the price of a glass of the brew also goes up by 10 sen! In other words, any price increase in materials becomes an excuse to hike the selling price.

On the fall in the value of the ringgit in recent months, the same question needs to be addressed – what percentage of building materials are imported and can these be replaced with local sources?

On the push to build “affordable houses” costing between RM500,000 and RM1mil, one must also look at the size, location and other considerations and not just the selling price.

Are buyers getting their money’s worth in these purchases? Yes, one can still buy a residential property in certain hotspots but we are most likely looking at studio-style shoe-boxes that are totally unsuitable for a family with even just one child.

The unbridled escalation in cost happened well before the value of the ringgit went down, so using this excuse to justify the hike in prices over the last three years does not make sense.

Allowing foreigners to buy high-end houses will have a countereffect in that developers will then focus on high-end properties, with detrimental effects.

We feel that the Government should implement a price control mechanism to cap the profit margin allowable. After all, we are very serious in controlling the prices of other daily essentials like rice, sugar, cooking oil, etc.

Isn’t a roof over one’s head equally, if not more, important than, say, sugar? And yet we allow a laissez faire situation to persist, with industry players calling the shots.

It is impossible to police morality but we can control house prices for the affordable category. The price escalation must be according to the increase in the annual income of an individual.

The Government could also control profit margins in the sale of property, noting that there were other industries where companies’ profit margins were regulated. If the Government places great control and regulation over the oil and gas industry in this country, why can’t the same be done for the housing industry where individual purchasers face the highest risk both financially and emotionally compared to the other players?

This control on the profit margin should also be cascaded downwards to all the sub-contractors, suppliers, vendors, and others. Our proposal is strictly with regards to houses in the “affordable” category. For the high-end market, developers can be given freedom to manoeuvre and build as they like.

The formula is simple. The prices of building components like cement, steel per square foot and sand are regulated by the Government. In addition, professional fees (architects, lawyers, engineers and surveyors, etc.) are also regulated, with processing fees to the local authorities having been standardised.

Compliance costs are also pre-determined. Even land prices can be identified by the Finance Ministry’s Property and Valuation Department (JPPH). For example, if one wants to identify the land price per square foot in Taman Tun or Cheras, JPPH will be able to offer the answer with a click of the button. Say the Government should give a 20% profit for housing developers who currently take a 15% profit. Even with the 5% increase, the total amount of the final price will be significantly lower than what is charged today. Even those often alleged “hidden costs” or “grease money” that developers always complain of would be eradicated.

The price of houses has become ridiculous. A terrace house in Cheras priced around RM750,000 would be difficult for middle class Malaysian families to afford without a back-breaking loan. With the proposed formula, the price will go down significantly to about RM350,000 to RM400,000. Ask those intelligent quantity surveyors who know the housing industry very well. Chang Kim Loong Hon Secretary General National House Buyers Association (HBA) The STAR Letters 25 September 2015

MeMalaysiakan sekolah utuh bahasa Melayu

Laporan muka depan BH mengenai peminggiran bahasa Melayu jelas memaparkan realiti bernegara yang tidak manis. Pada saat Hari Kebangsaan baharu saja disambut, pendedahan Ketua Pengarah Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) mengenai kekecewaan tahap penggunaan bahasa Melayu yang masih tidak mencerminkan kemuliaannya sebagai status 'bahasa negara' bagi Malaysia memerlukan keprihatinan semua peringkat masyarakat.

Adalah perlu kita sedari kedudukan bahasa sebagai perantara komunikasi manusia adalah terpenting. Setiap kaum dan juga negara mesti mempunyai bahasa khusus yang menjadi pengantara komunikasi negara dan rakyat. Bahasa Melayu adalah bahasa kebangsaan yakni boleh diertikan lebih mudah sebagai 'bahasa negara'.

Bahasa Melayu menjadi bahasa negara telah digagaskan dengan tegas dalam perundangan negara ini. Peruntukan yang hakiki dicatat menerusi Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Bahasa Melayu dan hak bahasa ini sebagai bahasa negara telah terkanun dengan jelas. Kedudukan ini termeterai dengan perkiraan janji yang dibuat ketika penggabungan matlamat antara tokoh utama peneraju tiga kaum utama negara ini bagi menyedia landasan asas pengisian negara merdeka.

Perjanjian yang memeterai warisan wasiat pejuang merdeka disebut secara ilmiah sejarah sebagai kontrak sosial atau juga boleh disebutkan sebagai 'janji murni', nilai bahasa Melayu dipersetujui, sebagai terpenting dan dikanunkan dalam Perlembagaan di bawah Perkara 152.

Bahasa Melayu 'bahasa perlembagaan'

Impak perundangan secara khusus memaktubkan Perkara 152 bahawa Bahasa Kebangsaan ialah bahasa Melayu dan hendaklah ditulis dalam apa apa tulisan sebagaimana yang diperuntukkan dengan undang-undang oleh Parlimen.

Maka sekali gus kedudukan bahasa Melayu terus diangkat sebagai 'bahasa perlembagaan' yakni bahasa yang dilindungi secara undang-undang. Harus juga dipertahan dan diperkembangkan.

Bahkan pengamal undang-undang juga harus faham jika wujud percanggahan ayat atau fakta dalam perlembagaan versi bahasa Inggeris dengan bahasa Melayu, maka perlembagaan versi bahasa Melayu itu dikira sahih dan tepat mengatasi cetakan versi bahasa asing.

Peruntukan sebegini secara langsung menjadikan bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa berdarjat tinggi di negara ini. Ia adalah bahasa yang didahului dari segala bahasa yang ada dalam negara.

Maka seharusnya semua pihak bukan sahaja perlu memahami bahawa memartabatkan bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa bersifat kaum atau bangsa tetapi ia adalah bahasa negara yakni bahasa yang dikanunkan taraf kedudukannya dan menjadi bahasa yang dilindungi khusus oleh undang-undang negara.

Kerajaan tidak boleh lagi membiarkan masalah rakyat yang 'kurang upaya' dalam penguasaan bahasa Melayu ini terus berlaku.

Kewujudan sekolah berasaskan kaum Cina dan India dengan mengutamakan bahasa ibunda mereka dalam pengajaran subjek di kelas boleh dilihat sebagai antara faktor utama pengancam pengukuhan bahasa Melayu yang juga bahasa kebangsaan untuk dipupuk seawal usia kanak-kanak dalam agenda penyatuan nasional.

Masalah politik berteraskan agenda kaum yang diamalkan oleh parti politik kaum Cina dan India termasuk juga di dalam komponen parti pemerintah telah membawa kepada pengukuhan dasar pecah dan perintah berasaskan kaum di sektor pendidikan Malaysia.

Keaslian ciri kaum perlu kekal

Bagi mereka untuk menjadi Malaysia yang tulen, maka keaslian ciri kaum itu perlu kekal dan menafikan agenda meMalaysiakan sektor pendidikan secara teras kebangsaan. Ini antara punca berlakunya keciciran dalam kalangan remaja dan belia kaum Cina termasuk kaum India dalam menguasai bahasa Melayu secara fasih termasuk pandai membaca dan berkomunikasi dengan kefahaman minda yang jelas akan maklumat yang disampaikan dalam bahasa Melayu.

Kesedaran padah yang dibawa politik kaum dalam soal pendidikan sekolah hingga boleh membinasakan teras utama membina bangsa mungkin telah membuatkan beberapa negara serantau bertindak tegas.

Thailand, Indonesia dan juga Singapura secara langsung lebih kuat mengamalkan konsep asimilasi kenegaraan kepada semua warganegara mereka kerana percaya jika elemen teras negara dapat dikecualikan dari pengamalan di sesetengah tempat dan keadaan, ia boleh menjadi pencetus kepada perpecahan masyarakat pada masa hadapan.

Tidak terlewat bagi kerajaan sedia ada untuk bertindak meMalaysiakan semua sekolah yang ada dan diserapkan dengan nilai teras negara seperti yang terpupuk dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Jika ini masih terabai, maka akan wujud seolah autonomi kepada kaum tertentu dengan penguasaan di wilayah tertentu yang tidak memerlukan penguasaan bahasa Melayu secara total dalam kehidupan. Istilah 'jenis' dan kaum seperti 'Cina' atau 'India' harus dimansuhkan penggunaannya dan kekalkan nama sekolah berkenaan kepada Sekolah Kebangsaan sahaja.

Contohnya jika sebuah sekolah itu kini bernama Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Cina) Ah Loi, maka tukarkan kepada Sekolah Kebangsaan Ah Loi. Ia lebih bersifat kebangsaan dari segi istilah digunakan.

Jika model negara maju ingin diterapkan, maka Amerika Syarikat dan Australia serta Britain juga menolak model sekolah perkauman seperti yang ada kini di negara kita. Untuk maju, maka SJK kaum ini perlu kali ini diubah.

Md Shukri Shuib  Berita Harian Kolumnis 25 September 2015

Keakraban antara pelbagai kaum semakin terhakis

Awal 1970-an, di tengah-tengah pekan Kulim, Kedah, ada Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (SJK) Tamil dan di sebelah bangunan kayu yang dicat hijau gelap itu turut dibina sebuah rumah guru dengan reka bentuk dan cat warna yang sama.

Di alamat 24, Jalan Tunku Asaad inilah pasangan guru muda berketurunan India, Rajagopal Kuppusamy bersama Veerama Muniandy memulakan kehidupan dan menjadi tempat lahir penulis, yang menghabiskan sebahagian besar zaman kanak-kanak di sebalik pembangunan pekan Kulim hingga menjadi antara kawasan paling pesat membangun di Kedah.

Betul-betul di belakang rumah terletak Tokong Cina Kwong Hock Keong, di tepi pasar dan perhentian bas serta teksi, sekali gus menjadikannya kawasan tumpuan masyarakat Melayu, Cina dan India setempat.

MENARA jam mercu tanda pekan Kulim, SJK Tamil dan pasar Kulim, Kedah.
Seperti kelaziman di kebanyakan tempat di Kedah, bahasa Melayu menjadi bahasa perantaraan utama di kalangan kami.

Difahamkan, pekan kecil mengambil nama sempena sejenis pokok (Scorodocarpus borneensis Becc) ini diasaskan kira-kira 100 Melayu Patani pada abad ke-18 sebelum disertai masyarakat Cina yang terbabit dengan perlombongan bijih timah pada pertengahan abad ke-19, disusuli buruh India yang dibawa bekerja di ladang getah milik British.

Saling membantu

Suasana era 1970-an jauh berbeza berbanding sekarang. Jam 10 malam pekan sudah lengang dan hanya perkhidmatan bas tertentu sahaja berterusan sehingga tengah malam dan tidak kurang juga yang terkandas di perhentian bas Kulim.

Pengangkutan untuk ke kampung masing-masing di daerah berhampiran seperti Junjung, Mahang, Baling, Padang Serai dan Serdang, selain ladang-ladang getah di pedalaman, hanya bermula jam 6 pagi berikutnya.

Bagi mereka, rumah Cikgu Gopal, yang kebetulan mempunyai serambi agak luas, menjadi tempat menumpang tidur dan seingat penulis, ratusan singgah tidur di sini, tidak kira apa bangsa mereka dan perkara itu diambil mudah oleh ibu bapa penulis kerana bagi mereka, harus saling membantu sesama manusia.

Malah, jika ada yang masih sempat bersua muka dengan kami, akan diajak bersarapan bersama sebelum masing-masing membawa haluan sendiri meskipun boleh dikatakan hampir semua mereka tidak kami kenali tetapi ramai yang menjadi kawan selepas itu.

Rumah Cikgu Gopal juga menjadi tempat penduduk setempat menyaksikan peninju, Muhammad Ali menewaskan Joe Bugner di Kuala Lumpur pada tahun 1975, yang disiarkan secara langsung oleh RTM.

Begitu juga apabila ada aksi pasukan bola sepak negara beraksi pada peringkat antarabangsa. Pada era 1970-an hingga awal 1980-an itu, tidak kurang 50 hingga 70 orang akan bersorak setiap kali menyaksikan aksi 'Tauke' Soh Chin Aun (kini Datuk), Mokhtar Dahari, Santokh Singh, 'Spiderman' R Arumugam, Jamal Nasir, James Wong, Abdullah Ali, Hassan Sani, Shukor Salleh, Bakri Ibni dan ramai lagi. Sama ada pertandingan kelayakan Sukan Olimpik 1971 di Seoul, Korea Selatan; Sukan Olimpik Munich 1972; pusingan kelayakan Sukan Olimpik Moscow 1980 atau mana-mana perlawanan bola sepak Pestabola Merdeka, semua akan bersorak menyaksikan televisyen yang dipindahkan ke ruang dapur bagi memuatkan lebih ramai orang.

Perpaduan terserlah

Kulim ketika itu turut menjadi perintis pembangunan pendidikan di Kedah dan terdapat lebih 25 sekolah termasuk Sekolah Kebangsaan, Sekolah Cina, Sekolah Tamil, Sekolah Agama, dan Sekolah Mubaligh, baik rendah atau menengah. Ini menyaksikan peningkatan guru bermastautin di Kulim, sama seperti ibu bapa penulis, sekali gus menjadikan pekan itu tumpuan masyarakat pelbagai kaum.

Namun ia tidak pernah menjadi isu meskipun bangsa dan agama yang dianuti adalah berbeza. Perpaduan juga jelas terserlah setiap kali sambutan Hari Kebangsaan atau hari perayaan utama lain kerana pelajar sekolah bertuah akan mendapat tiket menonton wayang percuma di Panggung Coronation, Cathay atau Capitol.

Apa yang menghairankan penulis, pada zaman yang menyaksikan banyak interaksi antara kaum itu, tidak pula ada yang memikirkan mengenai bangsa, warna kulit atau agama, sebaliknya persamaan yang ada menjadi ikatan yang memperkukuhkan lagi perpaduan dan semangat saling membantu.

Kini, perkara yang sepatutnya wujud secara alami ini terpaksa pula dibuktikan oleh kaum atau kumpulan tertentu supaya tidak dilabel bersikap perkauman, seolah-olah ada paksaan bagi menghebahkan cerita sesuatu kaum menolong kaum lain semata-mata bagi membuktikan perpaduan dan keharmonian masih subur dalam kalangan kita.

Kita mungkin berjaya keluar daripada belenggu kemiskinan dan menuju ke arah kehidupan lebih selesa tetapi sifat bertimbang rasa, harmoni, perpaduan, ramah mesra, setia kawan, keakraban dan keserasian antara pelbagai kaum, kian lama kian terhakis.

Begitu mahal harga yang terpaksa kita bayar untuk mengecapi kemajuan ini.