Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Punishing Bad Neighbours

THE HAGUE: Amsterdammers guilty of really unacceptable behaviour towards their neighbours will from next year be removed from their homes and made to live together in special housing complexes, the city said on Friday.

"It happens that people are intimidated, persecuted by their neighbours and find themselves in such an unbearable situation that they decide to move," said Tahira Limon, spokeswoman for Amsterdam's Labour mayor Eberhard van der Laan.

"That's an upside-down world," she said.

"We feel that it is the people behind the intimidation who are really unacceptable, and not the victims who must leave their homes," she said.

This city has around seven cases of such extremely anti-social behaviour each year from the 13,000 complaints that police receive.

"We're talking here about really extreme cases that cannot be resolved any other way," Limon said.

The anti-social residents will be housed in shipping containers or caravans that will be placed in sparsely populated parts of town so that they can easily be monitored.

They will have to stay in the cooling off units for six months at most after which they can move into another normal home, but not in the neighbourhood they came from, said Limon.

"The aim of this project is to be able to reinsert people in society, not to isolate them for life," she said.

"The ultimate aim is for them to go and live normally in traditional housing," she said.

The so-called reception centres will consist of a maximum 10 housing units, city hall said in a document outlining the project and seen by AFP.

The city wants to set up two such centres, one for people living alone and one for extremely disruptive families with multiple problems.

While evicting someone from a rented property would apparently not pose much of a legal problem, evicting someone from a property that they own may prove problematic, the city said.

Temporary reception sites will be set up in the coming weeks and permanent sites chosen during 2013.
(source:AFP report)

Sitar Legend Ravi Shankar Dies

(AFP report)
Legendary Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar, a major influence on musicians ranging from The Beatles to violinist Yehudi Menuhin, has died at the age of 92 after surgery in the United States, his family said..

Shankar, the father of the American singer-songwriter Norah Jones, died Tuesday in a hospital in San Diego, California, where he had recently undergone heart-valve replacement surgery.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed Shankar as a national treasure and global ambassador of India's cultural heritage.

"An era has passed away... The nation joins me to pay tributes to his unsurpassable genius, his art and his humility," he said.

Shankar, who had houses in both California and India, was born into a high-caste Bengali Brahmin family in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in northern India on April 7, 1920.

He taught close friend the late Beatle George Harrison to play the sitar and collaborated with him on several projects, including the groundbreaking Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. The Beatles called him "The Godfather of World Music".

Shankar, a three-time Grammy winner, also played in front of nearly 500,000 people at the Woodstock Festival in New York state in 1969 -- one of the most iconic cultural events of the century, which also featured Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

In a statement released from New York via his official Twitter feed, Shankar's wife Sukanya and his daughter Anoushka described him as a husband, father, and musical soul.

"His health has been fragile for the past several years and (last) Thursday he underwent a surgery that could have potentially given him a new lease of life," they said.

"Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away.

"Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives."

His family and the Ravi Shankar Foundation said he had been suffering respiratory and heart problems.

The statement said that Shankar performed his last concert on November 4 in Long Beach, California, with Anoushka, also a sitar player.

Memorial plans would be announced shortly, it said.

"Mourn (the) passing of a musical genius and gentle soul," Nirupama Menon Rao, the Indian ambassador to the United States, said on her Twitter feed.

Sanjay Sharma, whose family made sitars for Shankar for more than 30 years, told AFP that their client was demanding but appreciative.

"He was the biggest innovator in music," Sharma told AFP. "He wanted to revolutionise the sitar as an instrument. It was very challenging to work with him but every moment spent with him will be god's valuable gift for our family."

A Changing Britain

 (AFP Report)

LONDON: The population of England and Wales swelled between 2001 and 2011 after an influx of 2.9 million people born abroad, while the number of Christians plunged, according to census data published Tuesday.

The figures from the March 2011 census paint a picture of a changing population, with more foreign-born residents and fewer people of faith.

The population of England and Wales was 56.1 million, an increase of 3.7 million or seven per cent since 2001.

The number of foreign-born residents rose by 63 per cent from 4.6 million in 2001 to 7.5 million a decade later. They now account for 13 per cent of the population, up from nine.

White Britons now make up 80 per cent of the population, at 45.1 million people, down from 87 per cent in 2001. Some 2.5 per cent are ethnic Indian, 2.0 per cent ethnic Pakistani.

Indians accounted for the biggest number of those born abroad, rising 52 per cent to 694,000.

The number of Poles saw a 10-fold increase from 58,000 in 2001 to 579,000 last year and they now make up one per cent of the population.

The Pakistani-born population rose by 56 per cent to 482,000. Ireland, Germany, Bangladesh, Nigeria, South Africa, the United States and Jamaica made up the rest of the top 10.

Forty per cent of all foreign-born individuals arrived since 2004, when the European Union expanded to include eastern European countries.

Foreign-born women have a higher birth rate and the percentage of total births to non-UK-born mothers rose from 18.3 per cent in 2004 to 24.3 per cent in 2011.

"These statistics paint a picture of society and help us all plan for the future using accurate information at a local level," said census director Guy Goodwin from the Office for National Statistics.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg of census statistics," he added.

The percentage who identified themselves as Christian dropped from 72 per cent to 59 per cent, while atheists rose from 15 per cent to a quarter of the population.

The fastest-growing religion was Islam, which increased by 75 per cent in 10 years to 2.7 million adherents, or 4.8 per cent of the population.

Some 1.5 per cent of the population said they were Hindus, while 0.8 per cent said they were Sikhs.

In London, white Britons are no longer the majority. They now account for 3.7 million Londoners, or 44.9 percent of the capital's population.

Other whites account for 14.8 percent of Londoners. Asians make up 16.9 per cent, while people who identified themselves as black account for 11.2 per cent.

Some 61.1 per cent of London residents were born in England, followed by 3.2 per cent born in India, 1.9 per cent in Poland and 1.6 per cent in Ireland.

Twenty-six per cent (848,000) of London households contained a resident whose main language was not English.

The percentage of married people dropped below 50 per cent, from 50.9 to 46.6, while the percentage of people divorced rose from 8.2 to 9.0 per cent.

The wealth held by the richest 10 per cent of households accounted for 44 per cent of overall wealth. The entry bar was £967,000. That held by the poorest 50 per cent of households accounted for 10 per cent.

Among the more curious statistics, around 177,000 people claimed to follow the Jedi religion from the Star Wars films. Some 6,242 identified their religion as heavy metal, while 1,893 claimed to be Satanists.

Despite having two cathedrals and more medieval churches than anywhere north of the Alps, some 42.5 per cent of people in Norwich, eastern England, said they had no religion, the highest proportion in the census.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Gaza Resistance..

"Resistance for us is a means and not an end. I am speaking to the whole world through the media.
If the world finds a means, without resistance or bloodshed, to return Palestine and Jerusalem to us, and the right of return, and to end the Zionist occupation then we welcome it.
We tried you [the world] for 64 years and you have done nothing. So if we resort to resistance do not blame us. 
If we found another way without war we would have seized it, but the history of nations shows that there is no victory or liberation without resistance, without battles, without sacrifice." - Hamas leader Khaled Meshal’

Monday, December 10, 2012

Taylor's University's Shame..

By Juana Jaafar

I was at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus a week ago for the World Universities Peace Invitational Debate (WUPID).

The four day event was proudly hosted by Taylor’s University which opened its doors to debate teams from Malaysia and abroad. Sadly, the organisers and participants witnessed a most unfortunate incident during our lunch break on the very first day of the event (Saturday, 1 December 2012).

I was dining with other debate adjudicators at around 2:15pm when, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a woman sitting alone at a nearby table. She looked quite ill. I quickly walked over to check on her and found that she was very weak and salivating from one side of her mouth. I immediately thought she must have had a stroke.

She was a worker at the campus food court, Recezz, and her uniform was drenched in sweat and saliva.

Her colleague soon came along and said the woman had collapsed in the wash room. She was carried out to the food court to rest.

When the adjudicators and I asked how long she had been in that state, and if anyone had called for an ambulance, we were told the poor woman had been sitting there since about 10:00am. We were also told that her employer promised to take her to the hospital, at some point. My colleagues and I were outraged!

Apparently it was the third time the woman collapsed on the job, and this time the right side of her body was completely paralyzed.

One of the adjudicators telephoned for an ambulance while a couple of us sought after the employer.

He was on site and aware we were tending to his worker. Not once did he check on on her, rather he watched from afar while the rest of us tried to help her.

When approached, he merely stirred his drink and nonchalantly told us he would take her to the hospital when he was not busy. He certainly was not busy at the time we confronted him and seemed quite disinterested in the commotion.

The other workers told us they had urged their employer to take the woman to hospital quickly, but he refused. With help from other sympathetic workers we tried to keep her as comfortable as possible while waiting for the ambulance. She was in fact in pain from the fall in the wash room.

Her colleague helped gather her things and prepared her documentation—she is an Indonesian citizen. What happened to her was really tragic, and I hate to think she was not given immediate help because she was a foreign worker.

The ambulance came about half an hour later. It was terribly embarrassing having to tell our Australian colleague it was common for an ambulance to take that much time to arrive. It was even more embarrassing that he, and other guests from abroad, found out that the woman had been sitting there in the food court for more than four hours without help from a single soul.

Is this who we are as Malaysians?

Are we so oblivious to the suffering of those around us? Or are we just cruel? I direct these questions particularly to the students and staff who were at the food court during the four hours the woman was sitting there. What exactly is being taught at Taylor’s University?

The management of the University has a lot to account for. What happened to that woman is a clear sign of negligence by the University; one that boasts state-of-the-art facilities but with abysmal surveillance.

The incident suggests that someone could very well drop dead on campus without anyone noticing.

The seriousness of the case above could in fact have led to death.

The woman could have died in the wash room or at the food court, in full view of everyone there.

This also raises questions about the University’s health and safety training for campus workers.

There are signages indicating a Health Service Centre that operates from 8am to 6pm but not one worker on that day thought of getting help from the Centre, or the security services.

Do they not know these services exist on campus? Why were the workers so disempowered to take action in an emergency situation? Were they not given basic training?

I note again that it was the organisers and volunteers of WUPID, an external organisation, who called and waited for the ambulance at the campus entrance; not any of the security personnel or the woman’s direct employer.

Her employer did not even escort her to the hospital.

I urge Taylor’s University to look into this case. The woman is a victim of negligence and the University must be held accountable.

 Not only should the University be responsible for her medical care and expenses at the University Malaya Medical Centre where she was taken, it must see that her employer’s contract at the food court is terminated.

 He is certainly not fit to be an employer nor a member of the Taylor’s campus community.
Or is he?

Juana Jaafar is a Taylor’s College alumnus (American Degree Programme). She was a member of the WUPID adjudicating core.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Not Compulsory For Muslim Pupils to Wear The Tudung...

This is what  Deputy Education Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi, said.
 These girls should not be forced to cover their heads in school.
 They are, however, encouraged to wear tudung and baju kurung but are still given an option to wear the pinafore.

The wearing of tudung shouldn't be an issue, Puad said.

In a circular issued by the Education Ministry in 1993, it stated that schools didn't have the authority to enforce their own uniform code on students.
Under the circular, three uniform options were given to students pinafore and blouse, baju kurung, kain sarung and tudung, baju kurung and kain sarung.
The circular also mentioned that students were required to follow the uniform code set by the ministry and that they should not be pressured into donning the tudung.

Read the rest of the Star report HERE.

It's all so nice in theory but the the truth is that some (could be many) non-religious national schools have their own interpretation of "encourage to wear".
I tell you,  some of these schools are run by religious zealots. Some principals are holier-than-thou. In some schools, the ustaz  calls the shot.

No no no..I am not talking rubbish here. Do a survey and you'll see that I'm not talking ****.

Muslim girls are not forced to wear tudung, you say?  Like I said, it depends on who runs the school.

You see,  some principals and teachers are known to shame these girls into wearing the tudung. Or they put the fear of God and religion on them.
Harassing constantly and relentlessly.
It's an unfair and one-sided battle of wit, patience and will in which the pupils usually lose.
Of course, there are some pupils who put up a strong resistance.

Many Muslims believe (citing hadith and quranic verses) that it is their responsibility and duty to remind others to be good Muslims - by pointing out sins such as not wearing tudung or not performing prayers or not fasting.

So, I suppose when you are a principal holding this belief and you are in position to make rules consistent with your beliefs, then you will "enforce" a ruling compelling Muslim girls to wear tudung.

Under such circumstances, some girls are known to wear  tudung only in school, dismissing it as part of the uniform.

The problem arises when pupils refuse to wear and are subjected to ridicule, shame and constant pressure from the school authorities as well as their own holier-than-thou peers.

That is why many Muslim parents send their daughters to private schools.

It may seem such a triviality but some girls just cannot take that kind of "torment". And in this day and age, private education is not unreachable or inaccessible.

People do have choices.

Superbikers Reply...

"Everyone of us,  Superbikers club Malaysia members are very experienced riders where we have toured many countries on our motorcycles according to the law and our slogan from the beginning has always been "SAFETY, COURTESY & HONOR" - Iskandar Zurkanain Mohamed of Superbikers Club Malaysia.

On Dec 3,  I posted "A Citizen Against Big Bikes On Highways", featuring a letter from a reader of the NST.

I got in touch with the Superbikers Club Malaysia on this and they responded.

Iskandar further said big bikers always strive to achieve zero mishaps on every trip or adventure.

"We think what Mohd Ghazali Osman wrote was totally from his opinion. Accidents happen and can occur to anyone/motorist, whether it's on 2 wheels or 4 wheels.

"We, as motorists can be as cautious as we can but there are still times that accidents cannot be avoided.

"This is a very subjective matter as we know that accidents on the road does not only happen to big motorcycles on highways only, it can happen to anyone, anywhere.

"For Mohd Ghazali Osman, I don't know why he is so upset with big bikers and why he wants us to be banned from using the highway.

"It's a pointless debate and he should at least look at the whole situation and not just big bikes.
We have seen and heard of so many accidents involving all kinds of vehicles and we never blamed any of them as accidents can happen anytime and anywhere."


Thursday, December 06, 2012

Selangor Against AES

This I totally disagree with the Selangor Government.

Tomorrow,  speed cameras that were installed at the Km6.6 of the South Klang Valley Expressway and at the Km301.6 of the North-South Expressway, will be removed.
State executive councillor in charge of local government Ronnie Liu said this yesterday.

 Read it here.

 Meanwhile, Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim said the Selangor government has decided to "cover" two Automated Enforcement System (AES) cameras in the state tomorrow.
He said the government was left with no choice as the Transport Ministry had not responded to letters sent by the respective local councils asking the ministry to follow procedure and apply for a development order to install the cameras.

"We have passed the first stage, which was to write letters. The second is to cover the cameras so that it will not function and if there is still no application by the Transport Ministry within 14 days, we will make several decisions, including the possibility of dismantling the cameras," he said after presenting appointment letters to some 400 village chiefs yesterday.


Okay, here's the want to attack the federal government over the contract and the payments made to the company, go ahead. Really. If you are convinced that there was so much abuse and so on, do what you have to do.

But let the AES run its course.

I am tired of expressing my views about why I'm okay with these cameras and catching speeding cars.

It doesn't matter whose idea it was for the AES -- if the Selangor Government was the one that had come up with it, I'd support it as well.

As I have said, it is about saving lives, stupid!

Here is what Transport Minister Kong Cho Ha said.

 It's a Provocation!!!

I say it's a cheap political gimmick and outright vandalism. Shame on you, Pakatan! 

Monday, December 03, 2012

A Citizen Against Big Bikes on Highways

Encik Mohd Ghazali Osman from Ipoh, Perak wrote to the NST calling for big bikes to be banned from our highways and for big bikers to pay toll (Dec 3 2012).

I think what Encik Mohd Ghazali is really against are convoys of big bikes on highways . He has a point there and I do agree because convoys of big bikes, no matter how well-managed they are on highways do present some nuisance to motorists although I understand that convoys are usually organized in the name of charity.

I do not, however agree that they should be banned from highways because in all those cases mentioned by Encik Mohd Ghazali,  the bikers were not at fault.

The thing is big bikers are generally careful riders and are very safety-conscious -- for themselves and other road-users..

They don't ride and make a nuisance of themselves on the highways, putting others in danger.

I understand his concern, but I don't quite agree.

Here's his letter:

Big and powerful motorcycles are not safe or suitable for Malaysians. You may think I am just making two sweeping statements in one sentence but the facts are there for all to see.

A super biker was involved in a fatal accident. About two weeks ago, another fatal accident happened in the east coast.
Over the years, there have been a number of fatalities involving big bikes. The statistics may be low but even one fatality is a loss to everybody.
Riding in a convoy is a dangerous practice. If the mistake does not occur from outside the convoy, it can happen from within the convoy.
All it takes is for one rider to be careless and a fatality can happen. Since convoys tend to travel very fast there is no way a biker can take evasive action to prevent himself from hitting the bike in front of him.
The size of the bike makes it unsuitable for the physical features of a Malaysian. Most of us have small physiques compared with Americans and Europeans. Although we look smart and macho on these mean machines, that is exactly what they are -- mean machines.
With such powerful engines these bikes can roar off to an explosive start that no ordinary person can handle.
In China, all types of motorbikes are banned from using super highways. They are allowed only on old roads which are equivalent to our old federal roads.
We should do the same, too, as this may reduce accidents among motorcyclists and we know that the highest rate of fatalities involve motorcyclists.
Besides, since they don't pay toll, why should they enjoy the same kind of facilities as those driving cars who pay high toll rates.
I believe that motorists are made to pay a small amount to toll operators for the loss of revenue from motorcyclists.
It is about time motorcyclists are made to pay if they want to use the highways. They may protest against this idea but, it is not fair they get free rides on the highways.