Sunday August 7, 2011
Let’s fight to keep Malaysia moderate
On The Beat
By Wong Chun Wai
We must strive to be progressive enough to appreciate that it is good to learn the religions of fellow Malaysians.
IT is unprecedented. The operation by the Selangor state religious department (Jais) on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church on Wednesday is shameful and a blot on our history.
The church has claimed that they were having a goodwill dinner with a non-governmental organisation while the state exco member in charge of religious affairs, Datuk Hasan Ali, has backed Jais, claiming that they had evidence of proselytisation among Muslims.
His statement came just hours after his boss, Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, had expressed regret and asked for a report from Jais.
Instead of passing the buck and being defensive, Khalid asked for a dialogue and admitted that Jais came under the state government and that they reported to the Selangor Islamic Council headed by PAS’ Hasan.
The operation was conducted by Jais, with police personnel present, after it purportedly received complaints that Muslims were present at the event.
We can expect the church and the Muslims present to maintain that there was no attempt to convert anyone while Jais would stick to its stand to justify its intrusion into the church.
Although the manner of the intrusion is not clear, the fact remains that Jais officials entered the premises without a search warrant. Furthermore, any place of worship is holy ground and such lack of respect and sensitivity does not augur well for the nation. It smacks of over-zealousness.
The Jais officials could have exercised restraint by waiting for the function to be over and then politely informing the church pastor of the complaint and the need for them to interview the Muslim guests present. No one, I believe, was going to run away.
We need to be more open-minded. Many of us attended Catholic missionary schools but never became Christians.
Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has openly admitted that he studied Bible Knowledge during his school days, his family donated money to churches and, more recently, he even opened a church.
Our Royal Couple attended the church wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April, as did many other Muslim heads of states and governments, mostly from the Commonwealth.
Our Prime Ministers have visited churches, sometimes entering the premises but not going inside the sanctuary, and they showed their respect for Malaysia’s pluralism by their presence.
A day after the operation, AIDS activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir tweeted that she has given talks about HIV/AIDS in churches and members have had no problem listening to her.
There seems to be this suspicion, whether imagined or otherwise, that there is an attempt by churches to convert Muslims.
Church leaders are fully aware that while the Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, there is also a clause which clearly states that there should be no attempt to propagate to Muslims. If any church refuses to respect this law, then it should be prepared to face the legal consequences.
At the same time, we must strive to be progressive enough to appreciate that it is good to learn the religions of fellow Malaysians. We can argue about the superiority of one’s religion but it is good to be religious and God-fearing regardless of one’s belief.
If Malaysians claim to be so religiously sensitive themselves, upholding and defending their religions so passionately, we wouldn’t have to grapple with corruption, racism, hypocrisy and discrimination because no religion tolerates such immoral practices.
We also need to be more realistic. I have served in a Christian-run soup kitchen in Kuala Lumpur and seen that those in need include Muslims, many of whom are homeless, destitute, drug addicts and HIV-positive or have full-blown AIDS. They are looking for a place to clean themselves so they can maintain their dignity. And they look forward to a plate of hot curry and rice served by volunteers who welcome them. They enjoy having the volunteers listen to them, never mind that sometimes the helpers can’t do much.
The soup kitchen is a weekly event that lasts about an hour. Yes, there is a prayer, which Christians do before any meal, but the needy Muslims do not join in. They just wait for the food to be served and to be in good company where they are treated with respect.
Going by the logic – or illogic – of Hasan the PAS hardliner, will these poor Muslims have to be turned away by the soup kitchen helpers for fear that they would be accused of proselytisation?
Does it mean the St Nicholas Home for the Blind in Penang will have to reject Muslim students because it is Christian-based?
I studied Malay literature and Islamic History in Form Six and went on to enrol in the Malay Letters Department of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia where Islamic Civilisation was a compulsory subject. Some non-Muslim students grumbled about this requirement, citing subtle conversion, but I took it in stride and felt proud as I got to understand and appreciate Islam better. I didn’t convert.
Mosques, temples and churches are an integral part of Malaysia. We proudly promote them in our tourist brochures, so why are some people so fearful of these places of worship?
We know many Malaysian Muslims visit Rome and pop over to the Vatican when they do so, but they don’t become Christians.
Let’s fight to keep Malaysia moderate.
Monday, 8 August 2011
Thursday, 28 July 2011
Some sample photos :
Monday, 11 July 2011
For those suddenly who has turned yellow, answer me these same questions that the police asked of the rioters! ''apakah 8 tuntutan yang dikemukakan BERSIH?' and ''Dah habis baca dan faham ke AKTA PILIHAN RAYA 1958 sebelum keluar behimpun tadi?". Ever thought why when the Royal Audience was granted the so-called demands was not handed over by your angelic leaders and why ignoring the Royal Decree not to rally makes you yellows the thugs and degil kepalas of the story? Think about it and then we can talk!
And joining a riot and not expecting to be gassed and sprayed really brings your level of intelligence to your kneecaps to me. Frankly.
This old man of the street displays far more intelligence than all you 'intelligent' people summed up together.
He quotes from JFK but do you know what he is quoting and what it means.
Without Fear Or Favour.
Your Friend who dares tell you the truth of the story.
Thursday, 14 April 2011
SEREMBAN: Eight pupils who were abruptly barred from SJKT Ladang Linsum in February for not having birth certificates are to resume classes today.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and Cabinet Committee on the Indian Community in the Prime Minister's Department consultant Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam stepped in to resolve the issue yesterday, following a report in The Star which highlighted the pupils' plight.
Dr Wee said the ministry had issued a circular in March 2009 clarifying that as long as one parent was a citizen, children without birth certificates could attend school.
Expressing regret over the episode, Siva Subramaniam said he met officials from the school and the state education department yesterday and it was decided that the pupils would be allowed to return to school.
He explained that under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, even if the parents were non-Malaysians, the child should be allowed to attend school after filling up the necessary documents.
He said there were many children without proper documentation in the country but all had the right to be in school.
“We managed to register some 14,000 people without proper documents in the recent MyDaftar campaign. Under Phase Two of the programme, we will extend this to schools nationwide,” Siva Subramaniam said, adding that several thousand children were said to be in the same predicament.
The eight are siblings L. Nisha, 10, Pavitra, nine, and Teeban, eight, orphaned cousins S. Meganathan, 11, and Mahaletchumy, seven, another orphan C. Jayasutha 12, K. Tamilarasi, nine, and G. Arvind, eight.
K. Tamilarasi could not be located after she was stopped from attending school.
The school had barred the pupils from attending classes after being told by the state Education Department that headmasters who allowed such pupils in their schools would be fined RM1,000 for each student.
MIC Information chief Datuk V.S. Mogan said parents with such children should get letters from their respective village heads, community leaders or elected representatives to clarify their status.
Meanwhile, eight-year-old orphan K. Jeganathan was also wearing a big smile yesterday.
He can now attend classes at the SJKT Lobak after being turned away on the first day of school last year because his parents did not register his birth.
Jeganathan and his seven-year-old brother Nagulan were issued a letter by the National Registration Department confirming their birth certificates were being processed to enable them to go to school.
Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Tuesday April 12, 2011SEREMBAN: A sign at the entrance to SJKT Ladang Linsum near here reads: “At this gate, we begin our journey to excellence”.
But 12-year-old C. Jayasutha, who is due to sit for her UPSR exam in five months, will beg to differ.
The orphan and seven other pupils face a bleak future as they have been abruptly stopped from attending classes since Feb 24 for not having birth certificates.
This despite the fact that their parents are all citizens.
“I am only an average pupil and I need to attend school to be able to do well in the UPSR. I cannot afford tuition,'' she said in between sobs outside the school.
Approached by The Star, headmistress A. Gracy said the action was due to a directive from the state Education Department that school heads who allowed such pupils in their schools would be fined RM1,000 for each pupil, which must be paid out of their own pockets.
The other pupils who have been forced to stop school are siblings L. Nisha, 10, Pavitra, nine, and Teeban, eight, orphaned cousins S. Meganathan, 11, and Mahaletchumy, seven, and K. Tamilarasi, nine, and G. Arvind, eight.
B. Muniammah, 50, who has been taking care of Jayasutha since she was two and who is also Meganathan's and Mahaletchumy's grandmother, said the school notified her of the matter just after Chinese New Year.
“Meganathan and Mahaletchumy were both born at Kuala Lumpur Hospital and their parents died when they were young.
“Jayasutha's parents have also passed away and all I have are hospital cards of their mothers going for their pre-natal check-ups,” she said.
R. Mageswary, 34, the mother of the three siblings, said she submitted applications for her children's birth certificates early last month but there was no news yet.
Malaysian Public Service Society president Andrew Raju said the pupils should not be penalised for their parents' oversight.
“I have submitted their applications to the National Registration Department and we don't know how long it is going to take before they are given their birth certificates.
“Whichever way you look at it, the children are the ones who are going to pay the price for this,” he said.
State Education director Abdul Halim Abdul Razak could not be reached for comment.
Friday, 25 March 2011
With a simple check you may only find the Malay translation is the naturalised komited seeming to confirm such a Malay word does not exist. I can assure you it does, and as I responded being "komited sungguh" in my pursuit of my wife 'wink' meant that I was doubly committed to achieving success.
So is this a subtle put down by a prejudiced and bigoted speaker on a whole race? You decide.
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Thursday, 17 March 2011
The Star Online > NationPublished: Thursday March 17, 2011 MYT 10:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday March 17, 2011 MYT 2:27:47 PM
Non-Muslim's bid to challenge Syarie lawyer ruling quashed
BY M. MAGESWARI
KUALA LUMPUR: In a test case, a non-Muslim counsel has failed in her bid to challenge the requirement that a Syarie lawyer in Kuala Lumpur must be a Muslim.
High Court judge Justice Rohana Yusuf dismissed the application by Victoria Jayaseelee Martin, 49 to challenge the ruling, Thursday.
Justice Rohana also dismissed a preliminary objection by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council against Victoria's judicial review application.
Victoria was granted leave on May 14 last year to get the High Court to hear her case to compel the council to admit her as a Syarie lawyer.
In her affidavit, Victoria said she applied to be admitted as a Syarie lawyer in Kuala Lumpur in February 2006 but was rejected.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Sunday March 13, 2011
On The Beat
Wong Chun Wai
There’s no two ways about it – universities have to give importance to English if they want to produce employable graduates.
IT’S preposterous, really. Most Malaysians must be horrified upon reading that some Universiti Malaya students are angry with the Higher Education Ministry’s call for universities to give importance to English to enhance their graduates’ employment prospects.
The call is timely and certainly appropriate but students at the Academy of Malay Studies (AMS) are regarding it as a move to sideline Bahasa Malaysia. The students have submitted a memorandum to the university’s vice-chancellor, Prof Datuk Dr Ghauth Jasmon, demanding an apology.
The controversy began when Dr Ghauth told a gathering of 2,000 students that the ministry wanted all public universities to improve their students’ skills in English to increase their graduate employability rate.
He delivered the message because the AMS students had the lowest graduate employability rate in comparison to all other faculties six months after they completed their studies.
He made the call based on statistics provided by the ministry out of concern. But rather than accept the fact, the students have instead demanded that Dr Ghauth state his stand on the national language. Some individuals have even left nasty comments on YouTube, calling him biadap (recalcitrant) and khianat (traitor) for delivering the message.
But the good professor is sticking to his guns: he is prepared to clarify the matter with the unhappy students but he will not apologise to them.
Good for him. The demand is unreasonable. In fact, the students should be appreciative of the call by the ministry as it tells them what most employers already know – that the standard of English among many of our graduates is so poor it has become an alarming situation.
Many employers have adopted a pessimistic approach, accepting the situation as beyond repair because many school leavers and graduates are unable to construct a decent sentence in English. Many have no grounding in English grammar and are unable to even tell the difference between present and past tenses.
It is not just school leavers and graduates who are in this situation, as poor command of English can also be detected among university lecturers and teachers through their conversations and written work.
In fact, one deputy minister’s English is so bad, his writing has been circulated on the Internet as an example to show how bad the situation is.
He purportedly wrote a review of a play in English and posted it on his blog. With cyberspace being the open domain that it is, his weakness, unfortunately, was widely exposed. The horrifying part is that his portfolio is related to education and it does not help that he is also known for his anti-English stand.
The pattern seems to be that those who are the most vocal against the use of English are generally weak in this language. In their attempts to cover their weakness, they try to project themselves as nationalists and defenders of the sacredness of the national language. Denial syndrome, one may say.
There are, of course, those who speak impeccable English and would gladly trade our iconic teh tarik for English afternoon tea and scones but they project themselves in a similar fashion in the most hypocritical way for political expediency.
Most of us are sure that the problem is not confined to graduates of AMS alone. I dare say the problem of poor command of English has affected all faculties in all public universities. And, let’s be frank, it’s in private universities too.
It would also be most unfair to say that the poor standard of English is confined to Malay students. It is a problem among Chinese and Indians too because of our education policy, which has clearly abandoned English.
Young Chinese seem to have become almost monolingual. Walk into a shopping mall and, if you are Chinese, you will be approached by salesmen speaking in Mandarin or Cantonese. When you reply in English, they will struggle to converse with you.
Dr Ghauth has taken the right approach. He could have gained popularity by playing the racial card and told the AMS students how great they are and that they would be future leaders of the country. But he would be leading them down a false path.
When they remain jobless, like the thousands who already are, they will conveniently blame the government. They will also blame the private sector, claiming that they are showing preference for certain sectors of applicants. They will hope to be employed by the public sector which is increasingly bloated.
Many of our graduates have never been motivated to become entrepreneurs. Rather, the aspiration is to become civil servants. This is one serious area of concern if we wish to compete effectively with other countries. But this is another story.
In China, they are putting emphasis on the teaching of English. The young are being taught to pronounce English words correctly, whether the American or English way.
In India, English is still given priority even as nationalists there are trying to push Hindi.
Malaysians with a poor command of English are entering universities. There they find that the academic books are in English but the medium of teaching is in Bahasa Malaysia.
Many struggle to understand what they read and to help themselves, some turn to similar books in Bahasa Indonesia, which they again struggle to comprehend. Most of the contents in the Internet are in English and are therefore of no help to these students.
In cases where students are required to take an English course because their command of the language is so pathetic, these students try to memorise essays, hoping that the same topics would be in their tests. That’s how low we have sunk in our standard of English.
Unfortunately, most of our politicians are not brave enough to grab the bull by the horns to tackle the problem. Many of them, of course, would have sent their children to schools overseas to ensure they have a strong grounding in English.
Monday, 14 March 2011
The problem with the first hotel is that after their media blitz in the media and what they promised in their website, I can say that Cherengin Hills definitely fall far short. I have never been to a hotel that could not serve lunch to the guests checking in just because their restaurant is serving buffet to a convention group, and due to the same they offered a so-called dinner buffet of less than ten items at Ringgit Malaysia thirty five, and like me I can say I found those guests with family drove out for dinner in droves for both lunch and dinner that day. And that was not the only reason we had to drive out, because such a big hotel did not even have a single newspaper for guests to read in the morning. Come on man, if you can't afford to give individual newspapers, at least have some public newspaper in the lobby. And the rooms, if you can get past the paint smell, you are surprised that there is no fridge to cool your drinks and the view you get is actually the roof of the next building instead of the supposed "Courtyard/Hill/Pool" view that they promised. I don't want to say much more on this but what I can say is that you may meet the "Convention" needs in your name, but you fail miserably in the non existent "Spa" portion and also to meet family guests need.
Well at least the trips out for meals managed to introduce us to great meals be it at Saufiville for excellent and affordable western meals that definitely meets our expectations as shown in their website, with a great view to boot, or rest house reminiscent meals prepared by young chaps at Andak's Place Jungle Cafe, or a simple yet great tasting malay fried meal at a kampung warung where the son of the owner emphatically said that they do not do Siamese style food when I mistakenly asked for my favourite Nasi Goreng Daging Merah.
And what is the baik or good in this, well we manage to snatch a stay in the sought after connecting rooms at Suria Hills Country House, which is all they claim and more. As the adventure is not over yet, I will blog further on this later but let me leave you with the photo of the river in their backyard, and yes my friends that are fishes in the clear river water.
Saturday, 12 February 2011
“We used to wake up at 4am to start making the kuih (a term derived from the Hokkien dialect referring to bite-sized snacks),” relates Mook Hian Beng, 56, whose father started the business at the site almost 70 years ago.
“At that time, a lot of people got their kuih from Indian sellers who rode on motorcycles or moved about on foot carrying baskets or trays of the snacks.”........
“(Coming into the new millennium), there were no more Indian traders out and about,” explains Mook who took over the business when he turned 18.
“The ones who used to go around passed away or were very old and no one stepped into their places. At around 2004, things in the shop became very quiet.”
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Yesterday evening after an unsuccessful search for ghee "timbang" at the local Little Indias and cancelled sojourn to the National Monument due to rain and I could not make the right turn to the location, we found ourselves at Bangsar Village. This is an upmarket mall that usually I will have no intention of visiting due to horrendous traffic conditions but I heard good things about their supermarket the Village Grocer so I thought what the heck let's make a quick stop.
The Village Grocer lived up to its reputation of stocking hard to find foreign foodstuff that seems to have vanished from the other supermarkets, the caveat being that the prices reflects the strong foreign currency of the country of origins. For example Kraft Thousand Island sauce from Australia costs 16 Ringgit when it used to cost around 9 ringgit before. Nonetheless we loaded up on some of stuff as a one off treat as I don't think I would be making a return trip and some like the 0ne litre Italian extra virgin olive oil came with a premium of a litre of sunflower oil. (You know the cooking oil situation nowadays right ha!ha!ha!) But the most pleasant surprise I have is that Tucker Box has an outlet within the premises, and as I promised I want to highlight that it is alive and kicking still. Too bad I still have a box of their meat pies in the freezer still, otherwise I would have loaded up myself yesterday.
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
It has been awhile since I have blogged about my food experiences but what occurred over the past few days has compelled me to come out of hibernation. Firstly I just wanted to note down that despite their usually well deserved reputation nowadays of being price gougers, there are still some who adhere to what their forefathers exercised in times of yore. I was reminded of this when my family had breakfast at this mamak stall located at the end of a row of shop houses near my home, who serves a decent piece of roti chanai but with a killer dhall gravy or curry to accompany it. The fact that despite making their own delicious nasi lemak bungkus, they still offer ones made by outsiders to supplement that household’s income is already a plus in my book, the fact that when tallying up my bill that came to 10 ringgit and a bit he rounded up the bill was a pleasant experience. That only happens in rural shops that I have visited, and to find such practices still exist in big old Kuala Lumpur not only here but certain other mamak establishments reaffirms that not all businesses are profiteers.
That day was followed by lunch at KLCC where since rain cancelled our plans to have it at Ozeki , this gave us a chance to try the newly opened Yuzu within Suria KLCC itself. Walking in we saw some familiar faces that I finally blurted out was this part of the Nippon Tei chain, and to our delight it was an upgraded version of the restaurant that had closed down to our disappointment before. But here upgraded means just that, even though the menu is now offering some upscale food they have maintained reasonable pricing for some of the old favourites. The best thing they have introduced the grilled salmon belly they used to have at their Times square outlet, and my daughters was in Ikura heaven as they were generous with this salmon roe delicacy that seems to be disappearing from other Japanese joints. Another plus was that they are able to offer wagyu beef at very reasonable prices where you can get a grilled wagyu bento at only sixty three ringgit, but I stuck with Wagyu beef don as I knew I had to help my daughters’ finish their large unagi bento since they had ikura temaki on the side. And all this for a meal of three bento sets, 1 grilled salmon belly, two temakis and my wagyu don with drinks only came to around 220 ringgit.
So now let’s come to the pretentious bit where after noticing banner advertisements of the opening of a Sekinchan Ikan Bakar outlet near my place and checking the place out which surprisingly was located in the industrial part of the area and quite inaccessible the day before, we had dinner there last night as Sekinchan had a good reputation amongst food bloggers. Nonetheless warning bells started ringing when I saw the same price per 100 grams for all the types of fishes they had and they were charging the crustaceans at per unit basis. This made my scrooge mode kick in and I picked the most expensive fish available though my wife picked Tilapia to be brought back for her parents who stayed back. I can safely say the food is nice enough but when a meal cost me 78 ringgit because you charged me 32 ringgit for the small garoupa and 25 ringgit for the tilapia and 10 ringgit for a crab, I expect a grand meal but it is not to be. Especially when at that price I can get a kilo of the same at the nearby Sungei Besi market as my wife mentioned. Well I must say good luck to the restaurant for trying to charge upscale prices at the boondocks as I for one will not make a return trip and I do not expect others to make the trip too as Bellamy and other Ikan bakar outlets are as easily accessible, because if they think they can do the same as per their other upscale branches I am afraid this time their market research is definitely off the mark.