Friday, March 30, 2012

A Common Language To Bind Us All

By Farish A Noor

ONCE again vernacular education has become an issue in Malaysian politics, though with much speculation about the date of the election going around at the moment, one cannot help but feel that the issue has been raised by some parties for the sake of gaining the popular vote above all.

It would be difficult not to draw an association between the proponents of vernacular schooling and the opposition parties after what happened at the rally for Chinese schools that took place last week.

ONCE again vernacular education has become an issue in Malaysian politics, though with much speculation about the date of the election going around at the moment, one cannot help but feel that the issue has been raised by some parties for the sake of gaining the popular vote above all. It would be difficult not to draw an association between the proponents of vernacular schooling and the opposition parties after what happened at the rally for Chinese schools that took place last week.

But the question remains unanswered by all: Can we seriously expect there to be some semblance of a Malaysian nation as long as young Malaysian children are taught separately, in different language streams? And are we naïve enough to think that nations invent themselves, without there having to be some form of intervention and direction by the state?

I have written about this so many times that I am close to giving up altogether, for fear that any more articles would simply amount to a waste of paper.

But for the umpteenth time, let me repeat some of the things I have said before: If we were to look at the major developed countries of the world such as Britain, France and Germany, we will see that historically these countries used to be far more linguistically diverse than they are today. In France alone hundreds of dialects were spoken, as was the case in Germany, where each region had a dialect unique to itself.

As Robert Bartlett has argued in his work The Making Of Europe, the coming together of these small principalities and feudal states was only possible through the centralisation of power and the streamlining of language, giving birth to the national languages we know today: French, German and English. Bartlett notes, of course, that this did not happen without some degree of discomfort, but in the long run the sacrifices of the past seem to have paid off. Disparate communities (that may not have even been able to speak to each other) are now part of larger nations.

Malaysia is likewise at a stage of its history where it has to decide firmly and decisively if it wishes to be one nation or a number of nations living side-by-side but never really communicating or understanding one another. As elections draw close, my worry is that the political parties of the country will pander to the most exclusive of communitarian voices, calling for linguistic isolationism as if it was the only benchmark of identity.

Surely, in the midst of the economically troubling times we live in, there are other matters that ought to gain our attention, such as protecting Malaysia from capital flight, securing our human resources and talent, and so on.
This also means having to create the opportunity structures whereby minorities feel that they can succeed by remaining in the mainstream, and working upwards in society by using the same common national language that is the language of one and all. For more than two decades now, I have lived as a member of the minority, first in Britain, then in France, Holland, Germany and now in Singapore.

In all these countries, I found myself struggling to get into the mainstream in order to succeed and to be the best I could be; proud enough to say that at least one Malaysian managed to teach in some of the best universities of the world. In places like France and Germany it also meant trying to master at least some basic French and German. And in all these instances my struggle was for and in the mainstream of society.

My concern about what is happening in Malaysia today is that the continued existence of separate language schools means that we do not know where the mainstream is any longer. It beggars belief that in a plural society like ours, young children may spend their entire childhood in the company of other children of the same cultural-linguistic background, and need not meet or even shake hands with another Malaysian child of a different culture or religion.

Worse still, this trend towards linguistic-cultural exclusivism seems to be on the rise among all the communities of the country. So we are back to the original question: How can we build a Malaysian nation if Malaysian children don't even go to the same schools, together?

As the tone and tenor of political contestation heats up in Malaysia in the lead-up to the elections, I also hope that the parties in the country will not jump on the language bandwagon to further aggravate things and to drive a wedge between Malaysians. In other developed countries, even parties that are bitterly hostile to each other conduct themselves with one eye on the national interest, and put national interest first.

In any plural society there are bound to be both centrifugal forces and centripetal forces, at times working against each other. To build a Malaysian nation means necessarily seeking those positive centripetal forces that want there to be a Malaysian nation that we can all call home. Parties should actively seek these forces, and lend their support to Malaysians who want there to be a national language, a national educational system and a national culture that everyone can identify with.

These forces, I believe, are there and have always been there; but what baffles me is why the political parties of the country have not reached out to them in an effective manner.

The aim, surely, has to be the creation of a common, inclusive mainstream; and then the expansion of that mainstream to make it even more inclusive and empowering for all.

Surely that is what education is for, and what smart politics is all about.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Labourer Charged With Nurul Nadirah's Murder

A labourer was charged with the murder of five-year-old Nurul Nadirah Abdullah at the Magistrates Court in Johor Baru (March 26) today.

Muidin Maidin, 24, allegedly murdered Nurul Nadirah at an oil palm plantation in Bandar Seri Alam, Masai, here between 11 am and 7 pm on March 1.

He faces the mandatory death sentence upon conviction under Section 302 of the Penal Code.

Muidin who was unrepresented merely nodded when the charge was read out to him. No plea was recorded however.

Magistrate Mohd Isa Mohamed fixed May 4 for remention.

Meanwhile, in the same court, a man who was detained with Muidin for the murder, was sentenced to a month in prison and two years supervision after he pleaded guilty to taking drugs.

Razmin Mosum, 34, also a labourer, took methamphetamine at the Narcotics Crimes Investigation department of the Seri Alam police headquarters about 8.40 pm on March 2.

Mohd Iza ordered the sentence to take effect from the date of his arrest on March 2. Razmin was not represented as well.

DPP M.Vinodharan prosecuted. -- Bernama

Friday, March 16, 2012

Baby On Board

Are you one of those who get irritated with bawling babies on flight? Are you among parents with baby-on-board who have had bad experience with fellow passengers?

Baby-on-board has become a pretty heated issue of late. Only recently, a two year-old child was "kicked off" an American aircraft for throwing tantrums.

It's a huge debate out there.

Read this ARTICLE

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nurul's Alleged Killer(s) Nabbed

Four people - two of whom were Nurul Nadirah's neighbours have been nabbed.

Johor police chief Mokhtar Shariff said three of them were drug addicts and two have previous records on drug offences and kidnapping.
The three drug addicts - aged between 30 and 40 -- were found positive of methamphetamine and ice.

Police are still awaiting the chemist's report.
The New Straits Times learnt that the couple who were Nurul's neighbours was9* staying in a unit across her home.

They had held a grudge against Nurul's family since they moved into the unit last December.

The source said a feud had become a motive which led to the kidnapping and murder.
"Even the flat they occupied is actually being put on an auction by a bank. They just broke into the doors and moved in as squatters back in December. A family member of the victim often scolded them, telling them to move out and to stop stealing things."

Nurul Nadirah - may you rest in peace. Al Fatehah.

Is There A Manhunt for Nurul's Killer/Killers?

Nurul Nadirah Abdullah is gone. Murdered and her little body burnt beyond recognition. DNA tests of bone fragments match with that of her mother, Roselyn Alan. They proved that the remains were hers.

Is there nothing we can do now?

You and I can hope and pray that what happened to the five year-old will never happen to our children or those dear to us.

And you and I can hope and pray that Nurul's killer or killers will be caught and dealt with severely by the law.

But the police can do a lot more...they can start looking for the killer(s).

The police have now classified the case as "murder".

I am hopeful that Nurul's killer(s) will be caught.

We were not able to save Nurul. Let's hope that the perpetrators will pay for their crime.

I do not want to believe that in this country there is no hope for kids who go missing..

Either they are gone never to be found, or they are found dead.

And their killers are never caught.

*Nurul was reported missing by her parents after she went to a grocery store to buy instant noodles near her home at Seri Delima flats in Bandar Seri Alam, Johor on March 1.

Four people, including her biological father, are still in custody to assist police in investigations.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nurul Nadirah Was Murdered: Was NUR Alert Activated?

Farewell, sweet Nurul.
It is a sad day for us all. We have failed another child.
Little Nurul Nadirah Abdullah who went missing after she left her Seri Delima Flats in Seri Alam (Johor) is dead.

The charred remains that police found last week have been confirmed to be that of the 5 year-old

Here's the NST online report

Could we have prevented her brutal murder? I don't know. But I do know that as a community, we would have helped to look for her in whatever way we could. I'm sure the people of Johor were in one way or another involved in the search for Nurul.

An alert system to locate missing children called NUR (National Urgent Response) Alert is in place.

It was originally called NURIN (Nationwide Urgent Response Information Network) Alert after 8 year-old Nurin Jazlin Jazimin whose brutalized and crumpled body was found in a sports bag in front of a shoplot in PJS 1/48, Petaling Jaya, on Sept 17, nearly a month after, and far from where she had gone missing near her home in Section 1, Wangsa Maju on Aug 20.

NURIN Alert was an initiative (modelled on the highly successful AMBER Alert in the US) of a small group of bloggers after the rape/murder of Nurin.
Remember how Nurin's murder shocked the nation? Shocking too was the initial apathy of the police when Nurin's father, Jazimin Abdul Jalil appealed for help (after he had lodged a report).

So desperate was he that he approached the newspapers and television stations. That got the publicity for Nurin's case.

The idea to have NURIN Alert was for the swift mobilization of assistance from the community including the police and the media, in locating a missing child.

So that no parent would be rendered helpless in face of such an ordeal.

Anyway, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil finally submitted the proposal for an alert system for missing children to the cabinet which approved it in January last year.

It was renamed NUR Alert, in line with the ministry's brand and because, according to Shahrizat, Nurin's parents might feel offended (not true, at all) or other parents of missing children might feel slighted (oh well, what can I say?).

No matter, what's important is that an alert system and mechanism is now in place to save the lives of missing or abducted children.

According to experts, there is only one reason a child is abducted -- sexual, and if a child is not found within 48 hours, the chances are that he or she may not be alive after that. These days, there is also another reason -- human trafficking.

That is why NUR Alert can go a long way in helping to locate missing children.

But are the police fully utilizing the system?

I don't know. As in little Nurul's case, I was told that the police had sent out mmses. But I don't know whether the NUR Alert was activated and to what extent it was utilised.

Was the media swiftly alerted after it was confirmed that Nurul's disappearance was a bona fide misisng child case? Because that is the first thing they should do. Were the electronic screens and billboards used to disseminate Nurul's picture and details?

I do know that Nurul's parents put up and distributed posters of her. This is effective, to an extent but we have modern electronic and information systems to make things work faster.

It's the same with 7 year-0ld Wan Hazim Mohd Khadir who went missing from his home in Subang Indah last Friday. His parents put up and distributed posters of Hazim.

But the media was not alerted.

Thankfully, Hazim is now safely returned to his family.

My point is - I hope the police nationwide are aware of the NUR Alert and what it is for and how it should be fully utilized.

AMBER Alert has helped saved the lives of hundreds of missing children in the US. Similar mechanisms/systems have been adopted and adapted in other countries.

I'm sure cases of missing children are top priority for the police.

The NUR Alert works on the basis that we are all the eyes and ears as a community to help in cases of missing children.

We have failed Nurin. God knows where Sharlinie and Nisha are.

And now Nurul Nadirah. We hope her killer is caught.

God help our children, if we cannot....

I have said this many times. Take care of your children... Nurin's killer is still at large.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Water Cut In the Klang Valley Next Week

From 8am on March 14 to 8pm March 15, residents in 153 areas in the Klang Valley will be without water supply due to maintenance work at the Sungai Selangor Phase 1 water treatment plant.

The areas are
In Hulu Selangor -- Kuang, Kundang and Bandar Tasik Puteri, while in Petaling, the areas are from SS1 to SS6, Kelana Jaya, SS8 free trade zone, Sungai Way, Damansara Kim, Damansara Utama, Damansara Jaya, Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara, Taman Megah, Taman Mayang Mas and Taman Mayang.

Also affected are Bukit Mayang Mas, Kampung Cempaka, Sungai Mas, Aman Suria, Damansara Idaman, Sunway Damansara, Mutiara Tropicana, Kampung Kayu Ara, Mutiara Damansara, Damansara Perdana, Bukit Lanjan, Taman Megah Mas, Bandar Utama, Tropicana Golf and Country Resort, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Sungai Pencala, Kota Damansara, Monteres, Kayangan Height, Subang Sejahtera, Kampung Melayu Subang, Subang Perdana, Mah Sing and Subang Bestari.

In Kuala Lumpur: the National Civil Administration Institute (Intan) Bukit Kiara, Royal Selangor Club, Bukit Kiara Resort, Bukit Kiara Sports Centre, National Science Centre, Securities Commission, Sime Darby Convention Centre, Jalan Segambir, Jalan Belimbing, Jalan Setia Bistari, Jalan Setia Murni 1 to 12, Jalan Setia Budi, Jalan Setia Rasa, Jalan Setia Raya, Jalan Setia Jaya, Jalan Medan Setia, Jalan Setia Bakti, Jalan Setia Kasih, Plaza Damansara and Taman Seri Beringin.

In Klang and Shah Alam: Sunway Kayangan, Subang Impian, Sunway Suria, Puncak Perdana, Sungai Kapar Indah, Meru, Bukit Kerayong, Kampung Budiman, Felda Bukit Cerakah, Cerakah Jaya, Bukit Kapar, the whole areas of Kampung Delik, Kampung Sungai Udang, Jalan Sungai Bertik, Jalan Yadi, Jalan Batu Unjur, Jalan Kim Chuan, Taman Kim Chuan, Taman Bayu Perdana, Sri Angkasa flats, Vista Indah Apartment, Bandar Puteri, Bandar Ambang Botanic and Taman Kota Permai.

Also affected are Bandar Botani, Bandar Bukit Tinggi, Pendamar Indah flats, Taman Sentosa, Bandar Parkland, Kampung Idaman, Taman Gembira, Jalan Raja Lumu, Teluk Gadong Indah A, Kampung Pendamar, Jalan Tengku Badar, Persiaran Raja Muda Musa, Jalan Kastam, Pandamaran Jaya, Taman Telok Gedung Besar, Sobena Jaya, Sijangkang, Telok Panglima Garang and Kebun Baru.

Consumers can contact Syabas’ customers service centre hotline at 1-800-88-5252.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Ya PAS, Masukkan Lah Aku Ke Syurga......

Note the 3rd para: "Sehubungan itu, kerjasama dan perhatian pihak tuan amat dihargai. Mendengar CD ceramah PAS sahaja akan menjamin tuan masuk syurga. Pemilik pasaraya berbangsa cina juga tidak terkecuali, jika di dapati ingkar dan degil dengan arahan ini, tindakan tegas akan di ambil tanpa sebarang notis."

And at bottom left "undi PAS masuk syurga".

Kalau surat ini "authentic", memang dahsyat-lah Parti Islam Se Malaysia ni... awesome.

Takkan-lah PAS sanggup buat jaminan sedemikian. Ini siapa punya dirty tricks department?

Dengar-nya bab yang pasal syurga bukan dalam original circular. Haji Azhar (yang issue circular ini) berkata, ada pihak yang menambah dua kerat ayat yang berkenaan itu.

Kawan saya di Kota Baru marah sungguh.

"Ini semua kerja Umno...", ujar beliau.

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Maid Story

Just over the weekend, there was a report, quoting Indonesian embassy Information, Social and Cultural Affairs Minister-Counsellor Suryana Sastradiredja saying that the embassy had advised its government to suspend the sending of maids to Malaysia indefinitely although the maids had begun their compulsory training this month.

He said it was because of reports that two maids were physically abused by a senior government official and his wife, and that the two victims were also not paid salaries.

Apparently, one of the maids had sought shelter at the embassy last Friday night, while the other had been asked to return home earlier by the official’s wife.

So far there has been no police report lodged.

Read the New Sunday Times report here.

Today, deputy human resource minister Maznah Mazlan said that the delay in the arrival of the maids had been deferred to April 1, from March 1 earlier.
But this is not because of the alleged abuse case of two Indonesian maids.

This is because the maids have not undergone the mandatory 200-hour training.

She told reporters that that was why the Labour Department and the Indonesian government had postponed the arrival date by a month.

Bernama, quoting Maznah said the training was part of the requirements for Indonesian maids to come to Malaysia under the new regulations, besides the requirement for employers to submit their profiles.
Malaysia and Indonesia had also agreed to have a working contract for domestic maid and the cost of recruiting Indonesian maid fixed at RM4,511.
Maznah said that the ministry was coordinating with 12 employment agencies in Indonesia to bring in the maids.
"So far, 128 employers in the country have submitted their applications to the agencies concerned," she added.
She said those wanting to employ domestic helpers could do so by surfing for further information.

If you ask me, well and good if we can still source maids from Indonesia. But I believe the government should SERIOUSLY work on finding long-term solutions to help Malaysians deal with this issue of domestic help. It affects thousands of families.

We cannot be doing this forever. There must be a cut-off point somewhere. The government should work with related agencies to find a solution -- like setting up creches in work-places, establishing good and reliable nurseries and child care centres in housing and residential estates and so on.

In this respect, the government must know that we hardly look like a progressive nation.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Dear Yitzhak., Dear Ehud

21 December 1993

His Excellency
Mr Yitzhak Rabin
Prime Minister of Israel

I would like to thank you for your letter of 17 October informing me about
the Agreement of Principles and Mutual Recognition between Israel and the PLO.

My government supports this positive development and views it as a first
step towards the realization of a comprehensive solution to the Middle East
problem. As a demonstration of Malaysia's support to this development my
country was represented at the Donor's Conference to support The Middle East
Peace held in Washington and subsequently pledged a modest financial
contribution to the Palestinians to assist in their new tasks. My government has
also offered the Palestinians technical assistance under the Malaysian Technical
Cooperation Programme.

Malaysia as a matter of general principle is prepared to develop relations
with Israel at the appropriate time. In the meantime, we would like to see
tangible progress in the implementation of the peace agreement.

The Middle East problem particularly the Palestinian issue has been a cause
of instability to the region and I hope the recent agreement between Israel and
PLO would contribute to lasting peace to the area.

I look forward to normal relations with Israel. (this last sentence is hand


This is to Ehud Barak.

8 June 1999

His Excellency
Mr Ehud Barak
Prime Minister Elect of Israel

Your Excellency,

May I extend my congratulations on your victory in the recent elections.
With this impressive mandate, I hope that you and your coalition partners will
be able to guide the destiny of the people of Israel at the threshold of a new

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that Malaysia has always
sought peace and the settlement of problems between neighbours through
negotiations. It is therefore our hope to see the mutual implementation of the
agreements signed between the PLO and Israel. We also believe that if the peace
process is to be salvaged, sincere and effective steps must be taken to honour

As an important partner in the peace process it is crucial for Israel to be
more accommodating. The Palestinians have made major sacrifices. They no longer
demand the elimination of Israel. They are even prepared to share Jerusalem with
you. It is therefore timely that Israel respond positively so as to sustain the
hopes of the people in both Palestine and Israel. Solemn commitments made by a
previous Goverment must be honoured. The alternative I am afraid, would be a
permanent state of conflict and regional instability extending into the next
Century. This is certainly a prospect that must be avoided.

The crux of the problem is that no party should revert to the old ways of
taking what belongs to others, on the one hand and instigating hatred and
violence, on the other. Malaysia cannot countenance aggression by anyone,
whether friend or foe. Any country that focibly takes over land and properties
of others, or demolishes dwellings belonging to others in order to set up its
own settlements cannot be said to be sincere in wanting peace.

Malaysia is of the firm conviction that the security of all countries in
West Asia can only be assured with the establishment of a just, lasting, and
comprehensive peace in the region. This must be based on the principle of
"exchange of land for peace" and the establishment of an independent Palestinian
state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The world looks foward to Israel under your leadership, to push foward the
peace process with true determination. It is my sincere hope that the attainment
of a comprehensive settlement in the region would allow Malaysia to
realistically envisage a positive move towards the establishment of normal
relations with Israel.

Yours sincerely,