February 21st, 2016

Qualities a leader must cultivate

PRESENT-day politics and politicians, in many parts of the world, seem to have gone awry. In several instances, we see a serious deficit of the very qualities — sound knowledge and judgement, honesty, belief in God and standing truthful and firm in word and deed — that those who lead should be made up of.

In 1957, the year we gained independence, as a 15-year-old Fifth Former, I took part in an inter-school prefects’ oratorical contest, together with Fifth and Sixth Formers from other leading English schools in Kuala Lumpur.

Leadership qualities such as wisdom, integrity, faith and steadfastness have stood the test of time.
My English Literature “master” helped me learn and deliver a famous speech, “The Men to Make a State”, originally delivered in the mid-19th century by George Washington Doane, professor at Washington College in the United States, to a group of graduating students.

I was privileged to win the contest! The then education minister, Mohd Khir Johari (later Datuk and Tan Sri), who was our guest, said that he would provide a copy of that winning speech to his cabinet colleagues, since “it contained very good values which a real leader must have”.

A renowned American churchman and educator, Doane authored and delivered many noteworthy discourses and speeches on the essence of wisdom, integrity, faith and steadfastness, all qualities that those who lead must possess and cultivate and which have stood the test of time.

Given the strong relevance today and for all time, of that speech, I reproduce it below: “The men to make a state must be intelligent men. I do not mean that they must know that two and two make four; or that six per cent a year is half per cent a month.

The intelligence which a state demands will take a higher and a wider range. Its study will be man. It will first know itself. What else can govern men? Who else can know the men to govern men? “The right of suffrage is a serious thing. It calls for wisdom, and discretion, and intelligence of no ordinary standard. It affects the interests of all the nation. Who will exercise it blindly? Who will exercise it passionately? Who as a sycophant or a tool? How many do!

These are not the men to make a state. “The men to make a state must be honest men. I do not mean men that would never steal. I do not mean men that would scorn to cheat in making change.

I mean men with a single face. I mean men with a single eye. I mean men with a single tongue. I mean men that always consider what is right, and do it at whatever cost.

I mean men whom no king on earth can buy. Men that are in the market for the highest bidder; men that make politics their trade, and look to office for a living; men that will crawl, where they cannot climb; these are not the men to make a state.

“The men to make a state must be brave men. I do not mean men that pick a quarrel. I do not mean men that carry dirks. I mean men that walk with open face and unprotected breast. I mean the men that do, but do not talk.

“I mean the men that dare to stand alone. I mean the men that are afraid to kill, but not afraid to die. The man that calls hard names and uses threats; the man that stabs in secret, with his tongue or his pen; the man that moves a mob to deeds of violence and self-destruction; the man that freely offers his last drop of blood, but never sheds the first; these are not the men to make a state.

“The men to make a state are made by faith. A man that has no faith is so much flesh; his heart a muscle, nothing more. He lives. So does a clam. Both die. Such men can never make a state. There must be faith, which furnishes the fulcrum Archimedes could not find for the long lever that should move the world.

“There must be faith that can lay hold on heaven, and let the earth swing from beneath it, if God will. There must be faith that can afford to sink the present in the future. This is the way that men are made, to make a state.

“The men to make a state are made by self-denial. An acorn has been loosened from the oak bough some autumnal morning by a squirrel’s foot. It finds a nest in some rude cleft of an old granite rock, where there is scarcely earth to cover it. It asks no favour and gives none.

“It grapples with the rock. It crowds up toward the sun. It is an oak. It has been 70 years an oak. It will be an oak for seven times 70 years more, that old, hardy, storm-stayed, and storm strengthened oak. So are the men made that will make a state.”

To Teacher with love

Cikgu Suriati and her colleagues are amazing. They are teachers in a rural primary school. It’s not very rural, but it’s within a kampung setting.

The school has an oil palm estate as its immediate neighbour. In the background, however, is the Titiwangsa mountain range, which gives the school a rather majestic setting. It has a football field, fully utilised not just by the school, but the kampung folk as well.

I visited the school a few days ago on the invitation of Abdul Latif, the chairman of the parent-teacher association (PTA).

Cikgu Suriati teaching pupils in a rural primary school. The pupils will sit the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah in a few months.  

He and Hajah Norisah, the penolong kanan, took me on a quick tour of the school premises, which was revealing to say the least.

One interesting fact about the school concerns the teachers. It has 24 teachers, 22 of whom are women.

It has no headmaster yet, but the penolong kanan seemed to have got everyone in the school excited.

At 1.30pm, a group of pupils entered a classroom.

Upon enquiring, I was told they were Year Six pupils attending tuition. This is not extra class mind you, but tuition.

Cikgu Suriati was teaching that day. The pupils will sit the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) in a few months. A group of four teachers has volunteered to teach these children because they all want to see better results.

Echoing her penolong kanan, the teacher said: “Every one of us wants to see the school do well. We teach several subjects.

We stay back after school and teach key UPSR subjects. “The children, too, would stay back. They have some snacks in the canteen or eat whatever their parents provide.

We, too, take a short break and start teaching for one hour from 1.30pm. As teachers, it gives us a lot of satisfaction to see these children responding by attending the classes.

“We must praise these children. They want to do well in their studies. We don’t have much in terms of support, but my colleagues and I are very determined to see this thing through.”

Latif gave a short testimony of the teachers’ and pupils’ determination to do well. During the recent Chinese New Year holidays, the teachers conducted tuition every day.

Only six of the 24 pupils failed to turn up. As we all know, school was closed for more than a week. Everyone could have packed their bags and gone to the beach, balik kampung or take a short break to somewhere.

But they didn’t, and that is something worth supporting. The school is in Behrang, a village about 15km from Tanjung Malim, the town that is home to pau Yik Mun and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris.

Cikgu Suriati teaching pupils in a rural primary school. The pupils will sit the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah in a few months.

Nearby is Proton City, where Proton assembles and makes cars.

The national institute of Land and Surveys is also nearby. There is one aspect about the school that is quite puzzling.

This school has no fixed line telephone. It seems that this has been so for several years already!

How do the teachers communicate with the outside world, I asked. Hajah Norisah said: “We use our mobile phones.

The service here is erratic. Some of us have to change service providers if we want to use our mobiles.”

This is sad, indeed.

The PTA and school administration are trying to get help from the authorities.

It’s also a question of village leadership. But the new head of the school, in the form of the penolong kanan, is not about to be beaten by this setback.

Together with her band of sister-teachers, Hajah Norisah relish the challenge to get the school noticed for the right reason. If any kind readers wish to help the school, please email me.

There’s plenty that can be done to support the teachers, pupils and parents. Let’s do our part!

Single ladies unlucky in love because of mindset

WHY are single and successful women unable to find a man to marry and settle down? Love does not come easy for women because they outnumber men in Malaysia.

Since the number of men is limited, they are spoilt for choice when it comes to looking for a mate. Many women put off relation-ships and marriage, and pursue tertiary education and career advancement.

There is a season for everything and when women put off marriage and focus on their career, they may miss the marriage boat. And, when a woman has achieved her dreams of being educated, successful and independent, she may find it harder to find a partner because of her age.

It is difficult for a woman in her mid-30s to find a man.

Success, power and position mean nothing when you do not have someone to share it with.

Eligible men are usually married or taken. This is exacerbated when highly educated and successful women look for partners who are of equal status in terms of education and success.

Women who are successful and highly educated are picky.

There have been cases where women in high positions marry men lower than them in terms of their education level and earning power.

Generally, most women are not willing to lower their standards and share their life with men who are not on equal terms with them.

For most Indian women, it would be a disgrace and dishonour for them and their families.

They would happily remain successful, independent and single. Most men, too, are intimidated by women with power and success. Malaysian men may fear loss of ego and power.

When women are highly educated and earn more, men fear that women may not respect or obey them.

Successful and single women are unlucky in love because of their mindset and the limitations they impose on themselves.

Their self-inflated ego and unwillingness to compromise are key factors why they are unable to fall in love.

They should have a positive mindset and a willingness to work together for a fulfilling marriage.

Success, power and position mean nothing when you do not have someone to share it with.

A happy woman marries the man she loves, a happier woman loves the man she marries.

Real men see women's inner qualities

WOMEN who think they are unlucky in love need to realise that no one lives a perfect life. However, there is a chance for people to live a life that makes them feel complete.

It may be true that some men are intimidated by women who are intelligent, successful and attractive, but that should not make women think that they will never find love.

A newlywed holding a heart-shaped health service coupon at a marriage registry in Beijing on Valentine’s Day. Love is a wonderful feeling. EPA pic

Women need to believe that they will find true love, no matter how challenging and difficult it is.

Real men will see beyond women’s profession, educational background, looks and lifestyle.

However, the problem arises when some women think that there are no real men, when many fields are dominated by the fairer sex.

Indeed, men making the first move may be a thing of the past.

Love may be a wonderful feeling, but its sweetness may turn to bitterness.

When we are not given the opportunity to meet our soulmate, we should not feel unworthy.

Instead of worrying about a missing piece of the puzzle, we should focus on the rest of the pieces that make our lives complete.

Apabila anda mencapai usia

Artikel ini di siarkan oleh Sinar Harian Rencana Pendapat 21 Februari 2016

21 FEBRUARI 2016

SEMESTER ini saya diminta mengajar pelajar program Pensiswazahan Ijazah Sarjana Muda Pendidikan (PPISMP). Ini bermaksud saya mengajar pelajar yang berusia belasan tahun dan lepasan Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.

Saya diarah untuk mengajar mata pelajaran Pengantar Pengajian Profesional yang merangkumi subjek falsafah, sosiologi, psikologi, politik dan pendidikan asas.

Ketika menyoal pelajar, semasa Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak menjadi Menteri Pendidikan (1995-1999), berapakah usia mereka?

Jawapannya: “Satu tahun, encik”, “Satu tahun setengah, cikgu”, atau “Baru nak celik”. Saya tersenyum sendirian. Ternyata mereka rata-rata dilahirkan pada tahun 1996-1997.

Dalam tahun tersebut, saya sudah pun hampir 20 tahun berkhidmat dan mempunyai empat anak. Terus terfikir saya sudah berusia dan kini menghampiri usia perkhidmatan saya sebagai penjawat awam.

Dan apabila anda mencapai usia ini... anda cenderung untuk berfikir banyak hal. Anda sentiasa mencari makna yang lebih mendalam dalam hubungan anda, interaksi yang mudah dengan orang yang tidak dikenali, dan di dunia di sekeliling anda.

Anda menikmati suasana bersendirian dan menggunakannya untuk merenung kehidupan dan segala yang berlaku di dalam kehidupan anda. Anda akan cuba memahami dan mendalami pengertian kehidupan sebaik-baiknya.

Anda akan kelihatan jauh lebih matang daripada usia anda. Ketika masih kanak-kanak, anda biasanya dikagumi orang sekeliling dan akan kelihatan bersama dengan kumpulan dewasa.

Dan bukanlah anda tidak gemar bersama kanak-kanak seusia dengan anda tetapi anda beranggapan perbualan orang dewasa adalah jauh lebih menarik.

Anda akan lebih selesa dalam perkara mudah seperti menikmati minuman kopi atau teh dan membaca majalah yang anda minati, berkumpul dan bersarapan dengan rakan, memasak hidangan hebat, atau membaca buku yang baik.

Anda mempunyai falsafah hidup dan melihat dunia pada skala yang lebih besar berbanding orang lain. Apabila anda berhadapan dengan masalah,  anda akan melihat ia sebagai satu pengalaman pembelajaran dan mempertimbangkan masalah anda sebagai sebahagian daripada keseluruhan perjalanan kehidupan anda.

Anda tidak mementingkan untuk memiliki barangan yang mahal. Anda akan banyak memperolehnya melalui hubungan peribadi dan pengalaman daripada apa-apa yang dapat anda miliki.

Anda memberi tumpuan kepada kepuasan diri dan mencari keseronokan daripada ekspresi diri melalui penulisan, seni, muzik, atau saluran lain.

Anda akan berasa berada dalam era tertentu dan mendapati diri anda lebih berminat dalam seni, sejarah, atau budaya era tersebut. Anda akan lebih sensitif dan mencintai alam semula jadi. Anda lebih cenderung mempercayai  naluri anda kerana ia jarang salah. Anda akan terus dapat 'merasai' perkara dan boleh membaca dan mengetahui mengenai orang yang bersama anda.

Walaupun anda berada di dalam lingkungan sosial yang besar, dipenuhi rakan dan kenalan, anda akan sentiasa berasa berbeza daripada orang lain. Anda mungkin tidak memanggil diri anda sebagai ‘penyendiri’ tetapi anda pasti selesa dengan bersendirian dan memahami perbezaan antara bersendirian atau menyepi.

Tidak kira di mana anda pergi, anda seolah-olah menjadi tumpuan ramai walaupun dengan orang yang tidak dikenali. Sesuatu tentang anda membuat orang lain mahu berkongsi kisah mereka walaupun dalam masa hanya beberapa ketika bertemu anda.

Anda mempunyai tahap empati, kesediaan menerima orang lain dan memahami kepentingan memaafkan yang tinggi. Oleh kerana itu rakan anda akan pergi mendapatkan nasihat atau untuk memberitahu anda masalah mereka. Mereka tahu anda akan sedia mendengar.

Anda menikmati saat-saat yang tenang dalam kehidupan anda, yang mungkin kelihatan kuno kepada orang lain. Mungkin anda akan memandu, bersiar-siar, menziarahi atau menulis surat (surat sebenar, bukan e-mel) kepada rakan di seluruh negara.

* Penulis dari Jabatan Ilmu Pendidikan, Kampus Bahasa Antarabangsa, Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur

Terima kasih kepada Tuan Cif Inspektor Hanif Abd Hamid diatas perkongsian keratan ini .