October 20th, 2015

Bahan bacaan dan minda masyarakat

KITA sering tertanya mengenai keadaan penduduk di sesuatu tempat atau bandar. Gambaran susah senang dapat ditanggapi secara luaran melalui kediaman, kenderaan dan gaya hidup mereka. Namun kita juga ingin tahu tentang pemikiran dan pandangan semesta mereka. Tahap pendidikan sering dijadikan petunjuk dalam banyak keadaan. Gambaran lebih sempurna mungkin dapat diperoleh melalui analisis psikologi kumpulan menggunakan alat psiko diagnostik atau didalami lagi melalui pelbagai bacaan neoro scan.

Tetapi yang diperlukan hanya suatu petunjuk kasar untuk memberi gambaran umum dalam membantu kita memahami sesuatu masyarakat. Seeloknya ia bersifat ringkas dan pantas bagaikan ujian PCR (Polimerase Chain Reaction) dalam mengesan penyakit berjangkit.

Bahan bacaan seorang boleh dijadikan tingkap minda untuk mengenali pemikiran seorang. Maka analisis bandingan pinjaman buku antara perpustakaan boleh menjadi petunjuk sebahagian gambaran minat bacaan. Malangnya, perpustakaan kita belum lagi mencapai tahap destinasi biasa masyarakat sebagaimana negara maju.

Sebaliknya, kedai buku lebih sering dilawati pelbagai lapisan masyarakat. Buku yang dipamer dalam kedai buku adalah tawaran yang dibuat penerbit dan pengedar berasas kepada permintaan pelanggan. Pemilik kedai akan mengelak daripada menyimpan buku yang dijangka tidak laku. Sedangkan buku perpustakaan lebih untuk memenuhi misinya yang dipengaruhi peruntukan diterima mereka.

Malah bilangan dan taburan kedai buku sendiri juga dapat memberi gambaran permintaan penduduk setempat. Taburan rangkaian Kedai Buku Popular dengan 78 cawangannya atau MPH dengan 27 cawangan misalnya dibuat mengikut keperluan pasaran mereka.

Bagi Kedai Buku Popular, mereka menawarkan banyak buku bahasa Cina yang diimport dari China dan Taiwan. Sementara itu, terdapat sejumlah 23 syarikat pengedar buku Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Sebahagian bandar kecil kita tidak memiliki kedai buku langsung. Bekalan majalah, kartun dan akhbar diedar melalui kedai runcit. Malah kita tidak boleh mengharap buku akademik keluaran ahli Majlis Penerbitan Ilmiah Malaysia untuk dijual di kedai biasa. Demikian juga dengan jenis buku yang ditawarkan melalui Kinokuniya, Borders, Times atau Skoob.

Namun begitu sekiranya kita sering menjadikan kedai buku dalam sesuatu bandar sebagai destinasi persinggahan, maka dengan pantas kita boleh mengimbas minda masyarakat setempat. Dengan membuat satu pusingan dalam kedai buku, kita dapat menanggapi bacaan masyarakat di situ.

Dalam setengah bandar didapati hanya murid sekolah ke kedai buku. Tawarannya tertumpu kepada buku sekolah, buku tadika, panduan menjawab soalan serta pelbagai buku latihan untuk mengukuhkan kefahaman pelajaran. Novel remaja pula mendominasi rak fiksyen bersama dengan majalah hiburan.

Buku agama yang memiliki ramai penulis dan mendapat dokongan penerbit banyak ditawarkan bagi memenuhi permintaan pembaca. Permintaan ini disokong pula oleh pembelian pukal untuk tujuan bahan bacaan dalam perpustakaan masjid.

Gambaran dari kedai buku jelas menunjukkan minat masyarakat kepada agama kian meningkat. Kadangkala bandar yang ada IPTA dan IPTS juga memiliki kedai buku yang tidak menggambar tahap minda masyarakatnya.

Pendidikan tinggi demikian gagal mendidik penuntutnya untuk mencintai buku. Mereka merujuk kepada nota kuliah sahaja dengan tujuan lulus peperiksaan dan akhirnya mendapat kerja. Lebih malang lagi masih terdapat bandar kita yang belum lagi memiliki kedai buku sempurna. Permintaan yang ada lebih untuk bekalan alat tulis murid sekolah.

Mungkin minat dan tahap pendapatan setempat belum lagi mampu menampung pembukaan sebuah kedai buku. Sementara itu, Internet pula telah meratakan peluang capaian kepada ilmu untuk semua.

Perjalanan kita untuk membina rakyat berminda kelas pertama masih jauh. Lawatan kedai buku mungkin boleh dijadikan kaedah mudah dan ringkas mengimbasi minda masyarakat kerana bahan bacaan adalah tingkap minda kepada pemikiran masyarakat.

- Datuk Dr Mohamad Azmie Zakaria Utusan Malaysia Rencan 19 Oktober 2015 6:34 PM

Don’t destroy what has been built

I REFER to Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim’s article “Where is Dr M the nation-builder?” (NST, Oct 19). Having read the article, I feel sad that Dr Mahathir’s credibility as the architect and builder of modern Malaysia is now being questioned by all sides.

Since he has done so much good for this country, and one whole generation of Melayu Baru was born under his administration, he deserves nothing less than a pat on the back. Instead of retiring gracefully and reading books or writing his biography, he chose to be the de facto opposition leader and openly attacked his protege, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

When the first salvo was fired, many were caught by surprise. When the firing continued, many asked what Dr Mahathir’s agenda was. He is now like a man possessed. He must have his way.

Once he has set his mind that Najib must go, there are no two ways about it. It is as if the nation belongs to him and he decides the fate of anyone who takes over from him.

The fact that Najib was voted in by the people is irrelevant to Dr Mahathir. One mistake as PM, then you must go.

To Tunku Aziz, Dr Mahathir is a Machiavellian, where he is “... driven by a personal agenda, his actions only serve to harm the country more”.

A Machiavellian does not look at the bigger picture, although he thinks he does. To a Machiavellian, the tree must be separated from the forest at all cost, even though the tree has done much good to the forest.

Where will all this end? Will the next candidate who replaces Najib please Dr Mahathir?

Given what happened to Pak Lah and Najib, both who became PM with the strong support of Dr Mahathir, it makes me wonder whether the next candidate can go on having teh tarik sessions with Dr Mahathir.

It only goes to show that Dr Mahathir, unlike Singapore’s late PM, Lee Kuan Yew, has failed to have a solid succession plan.

Dr Mahathir admitted his failure when he addressed students at Universiti Petronas by apologising for having given his support to Najib.

By implication, Dr Mahathir is not a good leader then, for he has failed to prepare a good successor. When he was PM, Dr Mahathir was not an easy man to work with.

That was why he kept changing his No. 2, one after another.

Instead of nurturing and building the No. 2, Dr Mahathir chose instead to see the No. 2 as a nuisance and a threat.

At the same time, we cannot fault the No. 1, for the No. 2 is impatient to be the No. 1!

As an elder statesman, it is best for Dr Mahathir to let Najib run the show.

I am sure Najib has taken note of what Dr Mahathir has said, and has tried his best to improve on any shortcoming in his administration.

Dr Mahathir should stop haranguing Najib, for, as the architect and builder of modern Malaysia, he should not destroy what he has built, but instead help Najib make this nation a model for all others to see and emulate. Hassan Talib,Gombak, Selangor NST Home News Opinion You Write  20 October 2015

Community shouldn’t be denied quality education

THE most feared posting for a young trainee teacher from the Kota Baru Teacher Training College in the 1970s and ’80s was Gua Musang in Kelantan and Ulu Tembeling in Pahang.

These two areas were considered the most backward and underdeveloped in the peninsula. Trainee teachers had to get there by Land Rover because of the muddy tracks and then cross swollen rivers on rickety boats.

The journey itself would take days and the frequency of travel was limited to one per day. If the trainee missed the boat, he had to put up at the camp and take the boat the next day.

Trainee teachers who were posted to these remote places rarely returned home during the short- term breaks because of the exhaustive and costly journey. They usually return home during the November-December holidays.

And when they returned to their schools, they would bring with them their supplies of foodstuff, cigarettes and other essentials. Those days, there was neither electricity nor water supply in these remote areas.

They had to rely on generators for electricity and rivers for water. The schools were ramshackle with makeshift classrooms in a cleared jungle block.

They were built to cater for the Orang Asli children living in the nearby settlements. Teachers who were posted there rarely got posted out because no one would apply to teach in these feared and dreaded places.

Yet, young teachers were posted and served in these schools for many years. Though these young trainee teachers faced numerous challenges and problems in the Orang Asli schools in the beginning, over the years, many of them grew to love the school, the place and the children.

Many of these teachers were feted by the Orang Asli. The grateful members of the community would bring produce from crops they had planted, and fish and animals they had caught in the river and jungle.

This was the scenario and fate of the teachers in the schools of the indigenous children of Gua Musang and Ulu Tembeling some 35 years ago.

Many would have thought that the government would have since developed and built better schools and infrastructure, provided better accessibility and improved the quality of education of the indigenous children.

The tragic case of the missing Orang Asli children from SK Pos Tohoi in Gua Musang has highlighted that not much has changed over the years.

Maybe the school structure has improved, with a building and basic amenities. The infrastructure and accessibility to these areas, however, are still reliant on the dirt tracks of logging lorries and the rivers.

After over 35 years, there are still indigenous people in the peninsula living in jungles and remote interior areas, cut off from civilisation and progress.

The government needs to develop these areas and encourage the indigenous people to move and live with the mainstream community.

Schools for indigenous children should be built near their homes with proper amenities. Schools in these remote areas are still devoid of quality education. Specially trained teachers to handle Orang Asli children should be sent to these schools.

The Orang Asli community should not be deprived of quality education. This is because education is pivotal to improving and raising the social and economic status of the indigenous community in our country. Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Home News Opinion You Write 20 October 2015

Unfair to put blame entirely on teachers

THE tragedy involving seven Orang Asli students and their families in Gua Musang, Kelantan, recently has rocked the nation in the midst of economic uncertainties and hazy skies.

There have been mixed emotions. The nation rejoiced when two of the children were found alive after 46 days in the wild, while there was gloom and anger when the remains of the others were found. Who is to be blamed for the tragedy?

This will require a thorough investigation by the authorities and, until the truth is established, we should stop speculating. It is premature, sad and disheartening that some quarters are laying the blame squarely on teachers.

Teachers reprimand students to instil discipline in them. Teachers offer advice and stern warnings, and also provide counselling to educate the students on the importance of following the school rules.

Punishment is meted out only when necessary and as a last resort or to serve as a deterrent. Isn’t this something that parents do all the time and expect the same from the teachers?

Teachers are guardians of the students in schools and, more so, if they are wardens of the school hostel.



Teachers are the students’ guardians in schools, more so, if they are wardens of the school hostel.
Children are under the full supervision and guidance of these teachers.

There are rules to be followed at the school and hostel.

There are standard operating procedures to be adhered to when carrying out their professional duties.

Teachers will be held responsible and accountable if found negligent in executing their duties.

When I was a warden in a residential school in Teluk Intan, Perak, besides my teaching duties, I had to care for my students’ well-being and welfare.

I did my rounds, including night patrols, diligently around the hostel area to ensure their safety and compliance to hostel rules.

Sometimes, students with abdominal pains, severe headaches or high fever would knock on my door late at night or early in the morning. I had to drive them to the hospital, 16km away, for treatment.

Often, these were not serious cases and I was rebuked by the doctors who claimed these were not emergencies. But I am not a doctor. How would I know?

I was merely carrying out my responsibility towards my students. Imagine if I made a judgment that it was not a serious case and something bad happened to the student on that day, I would be judged as having failed to discharge my duties.

I could also end up being sued by parents for negligence!

Having served in a remote school in Sarawak in the early 1980s, in the absence of electricity, piped water and telecommunication services,

I truly understand the plight of teachers serving in remote areas. There are simply too many challenges and just as many expectations.

The teachers are teachers, plumbers, electricians, hospital assistants, clerks, typists, office boys, gardeners and security guards. Most importantly, they are also parents at school to these kids.

These unsung heroes carry out their duties diligently, far away from home and loved ones. They do it out of love for their noble profession and they take pride in executing their duties towards their students.

All teachers want the best out of their students, and to see them grow to be successful and useful citizens. The plight of the seven orang Asli children and their families will remain etched in our minds for a long time.

It is a tragedy that should never have happened and stringent measures must be taken to avert such tragedies in the future. I am sure that no one, least of all the teachers, wish for the tragedy to happen.

The teachers meant well. Attempts to point fingers at them will only demoralise and prevent them from discharging their duties professionally.

To all the teachers nationwide, always uphold the honour and dignity of the teaching profession. Carry out your duty with integrity and continue your good work. Your effort, struggle and sacrifice will never be in vain. 

Returning to 18th century Kedah

Penang to be returned to Kedah? The question keeps cropping up, but after more than 225 years, it is now least likely to happen. There’s too much water under the bridge. Besides, it is not easy to get past the Federal Constitution roadblock.

The chairman of the Kedah branch of the Malaysian History Society, Datuk Dr Wan Shamsuddin Mohd Yusof, was quoted by Bernama on Friday as saying that the return of Penang island and Seberang Prai, leased to the British East India Company towards the end of the 18th century, was no longer the question.

The issue, he stressed, was “when”. The lease agreements have to be reviewed, or Penang and Seberang Prai must be returned to Kedah, he added. Like Hong Kong and Kowloon being returned to China in 1997?


Mitchell Pier in the 1960s. The history of Penang is closely related to the history of Kedah. Penang was previously part of the sultanate of Kedah until it became a British possession in the late 18th century.


That would be appealing and most interesting. Local geopolitics would be significantly altered. We could be looking at a one state, two-system rule.

As a Kedah-born myself, and despite very close connections with Penang, I, too, would like to see a return to the status quo and the rightful owner getting back its territory.

But, look at the Federal Constitution, the supreme law of the land. Article 1(2) expressly mentions Penang as one of the 13 states in Malaysia. And Article 2(b) states that Parliament may, by law, alter the boundaries to any state, but this shall not be passed without the consent of the affected state through the state assembly.

And this is deemed to include Penang’s consent as well. In true Malaysian-speak, let’s now ask: so, how?

The most appropriate thing left is to bring the terms of the lease up to date and reinforce them, as the RM10,000 annual payment being made to Kedah (if ever the payments have indeed been made) is pittance and surely cannot be equivalent to the 10,000 Spanish dollars the state was paid then.

Even a mid-range condominium in Tanjung Bungah now fetches RM800 per sq ft. History books say the Kedah sultan resorted to leasing the island in 1791 in exchange for British protection from the Siamese.

Though he did not get the security he wanted, he went on to cede Seberang Prai (then known as Province Wellesley, predominantly a swampland) nine years later, and Penang became a free port.

According to History of Malaya by J. Kennedy, “in 1788, the population of Penang was about 1,000 and it increased to 12,000 in 1804.

The main racial group was Malay, but there were large Chinese and Indian communities and a mixture of many other races together with a European minority, mainly British, in trade and administration”.

Actually, until some years ago, most Kedahans regarded Penang as part of their state.

The lingo is very similar, though the islanders prefer to call toilets pancoq. George Town was and is still called Tanjung, where Kedahans would flock to on Fridays (the weekend in Kedah) and especially on and before festive holidays to shop, catch the latest movies and eat.

The people living on the island had all sorts of derogatory names for Kedahans, but that didn’t seem to deter them, probably regarding such vilification as nothing but a family rivalry.

Before there were bridge connections, the only access was by the ferry service connecting Mitchell Pier in Butterworth (called Bagan) and Church Street Pier on the island.

The vehicle queue for the ferries would stretch for miles on certain days. Penang’s free port status was a pull factor as there was a wide selection of goods, especially clothing, not available in Kedah.

They also didn’t mind the Customs checkpoint at Mitchell Pier on the way home, always pleading with Customs officers that the clothes they had brought back with them were merely “for their own use”.

Province Wellesley, where originally car number plates started with W, was similarly non-distant to Kedah, even though the only big town there, apart from Butterworth, was Bukit Mertajam.

Butterworth had the best satay in the north, while Bukit Mertajam was a railway town.

Apart from that, Kedahans had grown very familiar with Pajak Song, Permatang Tok Dik, Sungai Lembu, Macang Bubuk, Ekor Kuching and many other fringe villages with peculiar names.

All this showed the affinity and the close cultural as well as people-to-people connection between Kedah and Penang all those years.

So, going by history, it would not be far-fetched to have Penang and Seberang Prai back into the Kedah fold as its 13th and 14th districts.

Then, it will be a formidable state indeed, with two international airports, a prosperous industrial zone and a rich hinterland. Otherwise, convert the 10,000 Spanish dollars to today’s value.