30 September 2009

Celebrating in multi cultural Malaysia

Hari Raya Aidil Fitri just passed on 20th September 2009. I hope all my Muslim friends had a safe and peaceful celebration. My son did not go to any Malay friend's house to celebrate with them. In fact, being in a Chinese school, my son does not have any Malay friends.

This is worrying. This is a bad sign for the country.

Despite being 52 years old, Malaysia's people have shown that they have not learned to co-exist happily together. Otherwise, the cow head incident would not have occurred. But how will we teach racial and religious tolerance and respect to our children when there is little opportunity for the races to mix, given the diverse school systems that Malaysia has?

When I was a child, I spent most of my primary school years in a rural national school. I was one of 3 Chinese students in the class; there were probably 5 Indians in the class. The rest were Malays. The non-Malays learned to converse in BM very well, even speaking with the requisite accent. In my teen years, whenever I spoke Malay on the phone, the person on the other end of the line always thought I was a Malay. I learned the quirks and culture of the rural Malays; the Malays in turn learned about me, my food, what I do in my spare time etc. I think that experience enriched my life immensely. I also saw how Malay students in rural schools were given ample assistance by the government in terms of scholarships, placement in MARA colleges, matriculation programs, express classes. You name it. I must also state that being the top student in my rural school, I too was given a place in one of the MARA colleges (like a charity political handout, perhaps?). I did not take up the offer. I wonder where or who I would be if I had? (in politics? Ha ha ha....)

Anyway, I am scratching my head thinking how to let my children have friends from all the races in Malaysia. Did I hear someone say "send them to Kebangsaan schools" or "send them to private schools"? Well, the choice of a school is an entire topic worthy of days' of discussion.

Tainted politicians should exit quietly

I wholly agree with Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Wanita chief Alice Lee who said that "Politicians, apart from being capable and talented, must also uphold morality". To be in high office, and to even aspire to be a leader, one must be prepared to uphold integrity and honesty; to know the difference between right and wrong, greed and temptations; and definitely, when one's wrong doing has been exposed, to know that it is time to leave.

Leave so that the institution you say you want to lead will not be damaged by your (mis)conduct; leave so that you have some semblance of dignity left; leave so that your family will not continue to suffer in silence and plaster stiff smiles on their faces in public while parroting the press secretary's prepared text of "I stand by my husband/ father" but deep down inside they are revolted and disgusted by what he has done.

MCA has already suffered much in the 2008 general elections, showing signs that it may be considered wholly irrelevant by its former electorate. With Datuk Sri Dr Chua Soi Lek's unashamed exhibition of raw ambition and hunger to be chief of MCA, willing to do anything and to enlist anyone's help (Ling?) to succeed, what hope is there left for the party? What credibility or integrity or standing would a party that is led by a person whose misconduct has been exposed, admitted to, and embarrassingly circulated have? What standing would MCA have in BN? I would be highly embarrassed to be associated with such a party.

Imagine Datuk Sri Dr Chua giving a speech to our young people on the topic of interity or being a good family man? Could he? It would just take a sarcastic remark from someone in the audience to bring the house down in laughter or awkward silence.

It is tragic that Datuk Sri Dr Chua's personal activities were publicised in such a manner. And who does not know that there are so many more leaders out there who have less than desirable standards of morality/ fidelity. It's just that they haven't been caught in the act....and that too, is tragic.

29 September 2009


Haven't written much about any new personal care products I've used recently - that's because I haven't finished using the stuff I wrote about!

Let's talk shampoos. Everyone uses it to wash their hair; to make it look clean, healthy and bouncy; to make it smell nice. Oh, and we don't want our hair to drop because of an unsuitable shampoo and no dandruff, please! I have thin, baby soft and straight hair, and alas, my hair drops quite a lot whenever I wash it.

So I tried Avalon Organics Biotin B Complex Thickening shampoo. It is specifically designed to to help restore thinning hair and is fortified with an elixir of biotin, saw palmetto and wheat protein to help control hair loss. Several people I recommended it to have been very happy with the results and have asked us to order the shampoo for them. They obviously found that the shampoo could help strengthen hair strands and boost body and volume for a healthy scalp and thicker, fuller looking hair. For me, I found that the shampoo did make my hair appear fuller.

Right now, we are using "Whenever Shampoo" by Kiss My Face. I find it suitable for frequent use as it gently but thoroughly cleanses hair without stripping or drying. It contains pure essential oils and organic herbs such as nettle and sage. It is really very pleasant and refreshing, and gentle enough for children too - my little girl has used it, and she likes the smell.

26 September 2009

Char Siu & Chicken Rice in Sec. 17

Phew...just came back from a very short trip to KL to visit my parents. Husband went to KL for work and asked us to tag along since our son has a whole week off school for Hari Raya.

We had dinner at our favourite "tai chau" coffee shop, Ming Kee. We ordered the old favourites - crispy chicken with onion rings, sweet & sour pork, "yau mak fu yi" (chinese lettuce fried with fermented bean curd) and seng kong tau foo. Still tastes just as good!

For lunch today, I bought back BBQ pork and chicken rice from another old favourite - a shop called Choon Yien, located at the ground floor of a block of flats on Jalan 17/13 in Section 17, PJ. When I was still working in KL, my colleagues and I used to like coming here for lunch, but you got to get here early, though. If you get here at 1pm, most of the tables would be taken and you have to wait for quite a bit. The BBQ pork, roast pork and roast chicken are all very nicely done here. The rice is oily and fragrant, with enough sauce from the meats. The complimentary soup that comes with your rice could be any of the traditional Chinese soups like lotus root, old cucumber, peanuts with preserved vegetable etc. - and they are all yummy as they have been boiled with lots of chicken bones to make a really flavourful stock.

The proprietor of the place is the guy with the moustache - friendly guy - while his assistant also sports a moustache but is bespectacled. James is the name of the assistant, and he is probably the one you will deal with. Be warned that he can be temperamental, but once he recognises you, he is a nice guy too. Might be easier to get your order if you greet him with a "Hi, James!" Works for me all the time.

22 September 2009

Maid agencies to avoid

Like most things, we try to obtain references or recommendations when trying something new - a new restaurant, a new tutor, a new beautician. So I think it would be really useful (for me, definitely) for others to share the positive experiences they've had with maid agencies and to put a word of caution on agencies you wouldn't want your friends and families to go to.

The good: In my experience, Zaha (KL) and Kawasama (PJ) are honest maid agencies that have been around for many years. At least they didn't shutter down and disappear after taking my deposit. When you need their follow-up counselling service for the maid (and maybe for yourself too!), they are also responsive. A reader posted that she has used Top Management (Ipoh) several times.

The bad: A family member used an agency called Global Access Sdn Bhd or Global Management & Services (Puchong). It was a very bad experience. They were very prompt in coming over to get you to sign the agreement and to collect a huge deposit - then it took them 5 months to deliver the maid, when they promised no more than 2-3 months. Each time a follow-up call was made to the agency to enquire about the progress, the manager cum owner was rude and liked to say "you are not our only customer". Then the maid ran away after 2 weeks. No apologies, nothing from the agency. It took almost 3 months for the agency to deliver a replacement, and guess what, the maid who finally arrived was not the maid that my relative chose, it was a completely different maid whose biodata they had not seen before! The agency had taken the liberty of sending the maid that was chosen somewhere else and giving my relative any maid they had, without first informing of the change. When queried on the change and that we had not been informed, the rude manager merely said "Take it or leave it". Once your money is with the agency, the bad ones know they have the upper hand as you are not about to let your money sit with this agency and go to another maid agency - besides you can't, as you would have to cancel the maid application made through the bad agency first.

20 September 2009

My experience with maids

Like most working women in Malaysia, I employed my first maid when I was expecting my first child. Most of us have the mandatory 60 days maternity leave, after which we are obliged to go back to work, or use our own leave, or quit our jobs. Unlike in first world countries where a woman can take up to 3 years of unpaid leave and still have a job to go back to when she so chooses.

The first maid agency I ever used was called Zaha, in KL. Being first time maid employers, I remember we were surprised that we had to plonk upfront almost RM5,000. That was (and still is) a lot of money, just starting out in our marriage and careers. The first 2 maids Zaha sent to us had VD and Hepatitis B. But Zaha was good, as they did not send the maids to us - the diseases were revealed by the medical exam done upon the maids' arrival and they were sent back immediately. Obviously, the medical exams done in Indonesia were defective (fraudulent??) Zaha replaced the maid and I finally got my maid 2 months after I delivered. That threw all my childbirth plans into massive disarray, but I guess that's life. You can plan and plan, but only God knows the outcome.

In 2001, an Indonesian maid's starting salary was RM380. My first maid was on the big side and in her forties, so she was slower in moving around. Still, she did her work honestly and she was a clean person, which were important aspects to me. Unfortunately, she suffered an epileptic episode and upon further medical examination, it turned out that she had a brain tumour. I guess the medical exams on maids do not include a brain scan. We sent her home, one year short of her contractual period, and advised her of her medical condition. Of course, there was no refund to us from the maid agency, nor any discount for the next maid we had to employ.

My second maid was arranged by a different agency, Kawasama. This maid had previous experience working in Malaysia, so we had very few problems with her. She completed her 2 year contract and asked to extend her contract with us. We were agreeable, to this. However, in the midst of her third year with us, she had family problems and had to return home.

We continued to use Kawasama for our third maid, who is into her 5th year with us. This third maid started with us at a salary of RM400. For her third year, we gave her a raise, making her salary RM460. In her 4th year, we paid her RM500. This year, we are paying her RM550. She gets to go home for 3 weeks every 2 years. Now, this maid is the most intelligent of all my maids. She reads the papers. So with all the hoo-ha going on between Malaysia and Indonesia on maids working here. she has asked for her salary next year to be RM650. Quite a jump, eh?

Going by my record, there has been no maid abuse, and we have been very reasonable employers in giving her increments. Her increments, in % terms, are even higher than my own increments! The Indonesian embassy in KL said that their benchmark salary should be no lower than RM500, preferably RM600. Well, my maid is well within range.

The Malaysian and Indonesian governments should take note of the very good conditions under which the maids work (net salary, free board and lodging, and some maids really eat barrel loads!), and treat the cases of maid abuse with the right perspective - such cases should not be used as a bargaining chip by the Indonesian government.
How has your experience with maids been?

News: It’s RM500, not RM800 for maids

Sunday September 20, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: The Indonesian Embassy will renew passports of maids if employers agree to pay them a minimum monthly salary of RM500 and not RM800 as reported.

Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Gen Da’i Bachtiar said the embassy would be flexible although the benchmark set was RM600.

“If the maid is happy with a RM550 or a RM500 wage, the embassy will renew her passport when the employer seeks to extend her services.

“The benchmark we are setting is RM600. But it is between the maid and her employer to decide on what is acceptable. But it can’t be lower than RM500,” he told The Star.

Gen Bachtiar was clarifying reports that he had set a RM800 minimum wage before the embassy would renew the passports of Indo­nesian maids. This drew criticism from various sectors here which said RM800 was too steep.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil described the wage limit as not feasible.

Clarifying his position, Gen Bachtiar said he had probably been misunderstood during a recent buka puasa event he hosted for Indo­nesian workers here.

“Many told me that their monthly wage was below RM500. I asked the factory workers how much they were paid and found out that their wages were even lower.

“I said this should not be, as factory workers are categorised under the formal sector and should receive higher pay up to at least RM800. This could have been misunderstood by the media to mean RM800 for domestic workers as well,” he explained.

On Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam having confirmed that Indonesia had asked for the RM800 minimum wage for maids, Gen Bachtiar said he was unaware of that.

“There must be a reasonable limit set. Our maids, with the same ability level as the ones sent here, earn RM1,600 in Hong Kong and Taiwan, between RM600 and RM750 in Saudi Arabia, and RM700 in Singapore.

“Their wage in Malaysia, in the peninsula, is between RM500 and RM600 on the average. But in Sabah and Sarawak, it is as low as RM200 to RM300,” he added.

Meanwhile, in Kluang, Subramaniam said the Government might consider reducing the RM445 annual levy charged for employing Indonesian maids to ease employers’ burden.

The minister, however, did not disclose the proposed amount after opening the National Job Carnival 2009 yesterday.

Employers had expressed concern with the high agency fees incurred for employing Indonesian maids which could cost between RM6,000 and RM7,000 for each maid.
Speaking of the request for the Indonesian maids’ salary to be raised above RM800 a month, Subramaniam said such a request had never been made by the Indonesian administration.


I am creating a new section in my blog as a space for news, thoughts and exchange of views on the maid issues affecting Malaysians, in particular Indonesian maids, since I have no experience in employing maids of other nationalities. If you do however, have views to contribute on maids of other nationalities, it would be helpful and appreciated if you would post your experiences.

I realise people in industrialised nations, closest being Australia, do not agree with our maid hiring policies as they have in place stringent employee protection and minimum wages (with that said, there are lots of workers working for less than minimum wages in first world countries). But Malaysia is at a different stage of growth and age, therefore this space on maid issues is primarily meant for Malaysians.

18 September 2009

Samy Vellu is a liability to Barisan, says Dr M

I (and maybe you) continue to be amazed at the hypocrisy of our politicians and leaders, both current and past. Just look at the statements made by Dr M as quoted in the media:

If we look at other countries, whenever a leader fails, he resigns. In Japan he commits harakiri - how many BN leaders have failed, have lost the trust of the people, have been involved in scandals made public and undefendable, yet remain in high office? Dr M, how can you make this statement with a straight face and honest heart? Yes, in other countries, leaders who fail, who are involved in sex scandals, who have corruption charges, step down and resign and lead a quiet perhaps repentful life, but not here in Malaysia.

He said he had a right to criticise anyone for the sake of the Barisan, and added: "I've criticised Pak Lah, who's Samy Vellu that I cannot criticise?" - yes, in theory Malaysia is a free country with its citizens given the right to express opinion and criticize, but in reality that freedom is only accorded to the Dr Ms, Najibs, Hishams etc. etc. Anyone else criticizing too much would have the infamous ISA used against them. And does Dr. M have the grace to accept criricism hurled at him the same way he lambasts others so cuttingly?

He said Samy Vellu became popular because he (Tun Dr Mahathir) had helped him. He wanted to build a university, I persuaded the government to give a RM50mil allocation and I've helped in many more of his projects," he said - this is said with so much personal pride and smacks somewhat of "oh you poor thing MIC, since you are in BN, we just have to help you out". Should not BN, as a coalition of different parties, rightfully help to ensure that all the component parties are strong and meet the people's expectations? Obviously, there are no equals within the BN, and MIC certainly is the loser.

As an aside, I am not saying that Samy Vellu is not a liability.

Restoran Makanan Laut Yam Yam, Ipoh Garden South

This restaurant is one of my brother in law's favourite restaurants. So, we've been there several times with them.

The restaurant serves Chinese food, and the taste of its dishes are moderately good. My brother in law and his wife love the sweet and sour crabs, chilly crabs (any crabs) there. Other dishes they like to order are the pork patties....strange, I can't remember any other outstanding dishes there. What I do remember when we paid for dinner there is the outstanding price! Rather expensive for a non-air conditioned place.

My kids are not impressed with their sweet & sour pork.

Old Style eating place, Ming Kee

When I say old style, I mean a place that the kids would complain about going to.....old shop lot, no decorations, no air conditiong, peeling paint, greasy tiles and floor, but reasonably cheap and good food.

Before we moved to Ipoh, one of my family's favourite place to have rice and dishes for dinner is Ming Kee in Paramount/ SEA Park. It is on the same row of shops as the famous Sunrise Duck Rice, but on the opposite end, facing the KFC at the traffic light junction.

The best dish there. for us, is the Crispy Fried Chicken with Onions (yeong choong kai). We have yet to find any other restaurant that makes this dish better than Ming Kee. It is served with lots of chicken pieces battered and fried, and cooked in sauce accompanied with lots of big onion rings. If you are a lover of onions, you can ask for extra onions - we do!

The steamed fish in ginger or bean sauce is good, fish head curry is great (you can also have plain vegetable curry, just as good), all their beancurd dishes are delicious, and vegetables fried in many different styles. Oh, and we always order the sweet & sour pork for our kids. The proprietors are very friendly and they usually give our kids free soup to go with their rice.

Dim Sum in Kao Lee @ Ipoh Garden

We decided to try some place different for dim sum last Sunday. The usual popular restaurants would be crowded, so we trooped off to Kao Lee in Ipoh Garden, near Wooly's. An uncle had recommended this place to us.

It was easy enough to find parking at 10am, and we waited about 5 minutes for a table. It was bustling inside the restaurant but there weren't queues like you would see in Ming Court.

You can get all your favourite dim sum items here. Their specialties are pasted onto a wall, with pictures, so you can pick which one you would like to try. I picked the Chinese-sausage rice (lap-mei fan), my favourite New Year rice, to go with our other dishes. It was rather dry and crumbly, as Kao Lee does not use glutinous rice, just normal rice. The kids liked the char siu pao enough, while the other dishes like siu mai, har kao, chee cheong fun, congee, wu kok .... were passable. Perhaps lacking in a distinctive flavour one would find in the other famous restaurants in town.

Still, if you don't want to jostle with crowds and have people watching you while you eat, you could try this neighbourhood dim sum restaurant.

16 September 2009

Road rage

I am a moderately aggressive driver. I use the horn and I flash my headlights. But I do allow drivers who indicate to cut in front of me, and I also allow drivers who are having a tough time turning at a busy junction the chance to do so. I'm not that bad, right?

Well, today while driving my son to school, the cars were as usual clogged up in front of the school, forming triple lanes on a very narrow road. I was moving in a lane that eventually would merge with the lane on my left. Problem was, this fellow on my left in a red Honda (I think Honda drivers have a problem) refused to let me merge. When I inched forward, so did he, coming treacherously close to me on my left.

So I had to let him go ahead of me and I slipped behind him. I of course, felt very unjustified. I showed him the middle finger, not really expecting him to see it in his rear view mirror. But he saw it alright! He must have been watching me, sensing my annoyance. He returned my signal, adding more of his own. It didn't make a difference that his wife or girlfriend (he looks to be in his forties) was seated next to him. I think if we had not been in front of a school, he would have got out of his car. Anyway, I've memorised his car number plate.

Fortunately my kids in the back seat had no clue what was going on. I felt ashamed too for having succumbed to feeling so pissed off with that guy to have to resort to such a display. I am as low as him...if I were a guy, I might be worse than him. Food for thought.

15 September 2009

Presenting Malaysia in a positive light?

Our Prime Minister was quoted as saying to the Malaysian diplomatic corp to "help Malaysia present a more positive image to the world". Image is one thing, the reality is another. And the diplomatic corp cannot, for very long anyway, hide the facts of weak leadership, money politics, rampant corruption, selective prosecution, intolerance fanned and encouraged by certain quarters, and a ruling government that is a sore loser unable to get over its defeat in the general elections last year.

To begin with, Malaysia has never had much success or great ideas in marketing Malaysia's strengths, compared to, say, our neighbour down south. It is true that Malaysia has many positive things going for it, but sadly, the events of the last couple of years have seen our nation, thought to be a shining example of a successful third world, Muslim country, increasingly losing its footing in the international scene.

Our leaders' talk rings hollow, insincere and ineffective. 1Malaysia? We have seen everything that is the opposite of that.

12 September 2009

Noodles at Chee Wah

We had noodles for dinner last night. Usually the kids would be thrilled as it isn't rice, but when I said we were going to a coffee shop-style place, they complained. "Why not 1919?", they wailed. They were set straight about not expecting every meal being in a posh, air-conditioned place, and besides their uncle would be joining us for dinner. That helped to cheer them up a bit.

My hubby had been telling me about this place for sometime. That they had very good "loh shee fun" (white, short,slippery noodles nicknamed "rat tails") but also that it is quite, erm, a messy and uh, "not so clean" looking coffee shop. Aha, that's not so very inviting. But, in Malaysia, you know and I know that the good food is served in run-down-yet- popular places.

So, Chee Wah is located on Jalan Che Tak in Ipoh, near the Caltex petrol station. The shop sure looks old and dirty. The proprietor wisely does not seat anyone inside the shop, they set up tables outside. Oh and the shop starts serving pretty late, from 7:30pm onwards. We were the first to arrive at 7:25pm.

Our first dish was fried mee hoon/ vermicelli. Quite well done and tasty. Then came the dozen fried chicken wings - another house specialty. Piping hot and well marinated - the chicken wings and drummets disappeared in a jiffy. Then the star arrived, claypot loh shee fun. It comes boiling merrily in the claypot and the proprietor brings along the eggs in his hand to crack them into the pot for you. Then you stir the egg in yourself. At first look, it is soupy, eggy, with lots of bean sprouts and some minced meat but very insipid and pale in colour. Not like the ones you get in KL. I am a KL girl after all. But the proof is in the eating, and it was delicious! Full of flavour, fragrant, with the bean sprouts adding crunch.

11 September 2009

What do you do when your friend...

.....stops writing, stops replying to your emails, and you have no idea why? Do you feel bewildered, sad, disappointed? Does one continue making the effort to communicate and keep in touch, despite the wall?

I guess many would say it depends how much one values the friendship. If the friendship is to be cherished, just like in any relationship, the one who cares makes the effort, takes the time and is patient.

Coming to the point of time, does the answer "Oh I didn't have time to write you" ring hollow? I have always been able to shoot out a short email just to let people know I remember them no matter how busy I was at work, at home, with the kids. But I guess that is my personality, my standards. Like my husband says, I can't expect everyone to think or act the same way as I do. Besides, that's why we have friends who are so different from ourselves. Heck, even in marriage we end up marrying opposites, which has its own very sticky problems - but that is a topic for another time.
(picture from competetick.com)

10 September 2009

The Ugly Malay and the Beautiful Malay

You may have already read Marina Mahathir's blog where she honestly wrote about the ugly behaviour of some Malays, http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/2009/09/ugly-malay.html. There were pretty strong reactions to her article from both ends of the spectrum.

I followed a thread in the Star that lead to a blog by a fellow Malay-Malaysian entitled the Beautiful Malay, at http://harismibrahim.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/the-beautiful-malay/.

Malaysia is made up of myriad races and people of different political beliefs and lifestyles. So be it, and indeed that is the strength of any country - to be plural and multi-layered in all aspects. But what must exist is the FREEDOM to be different, the RIGHT to be respected and protected by the law EQUALLY, and an EDUCATED GOVERNMENT.

09 September 2009

The "outcast" koi died

This morning, our golden coloured China-koi died.

He had been given to us by a friend who had kept him in an aquarium for several years. Due to the restricted size of the aquarium, the koi had not grown well - he has a bloated stomach disproprotionate to his length, causing some imbalance as you can see him swim much like a duck waddling.

From the day his previous owner released him into our pond, he was an outcast. Swimming alone away from the school of our other koi, he liked to seek refuge in the pebbles of our plant pots in the pond. After a couple of weeks he seemed to acclimatise to his new surroundings, swimming more actively around. Then he disappeared through the pipe into our filter bed, where we let him stay for a while. We fished him out, and again he swam out of the pond into the filter bed. We rescued him a second time but now, he's gone.

Maybe like people, once confined, fish just can't get used to being free.

08 September 2009

Hey Dad! Watch out for me...

I was at the park yesterday evening with my children. It has been a long time since we've been to the park on account of the H1N1 in Malaysia, and all over the world. It was a lovely, sunny evening here in Ipoh and having had their mandatory nap, I relented to their requests for a trip to the playground.

It was surprisingly easy to find a parking bay and it wasn't that crowded. I then remembered that it was Ramadhan, so many of those fasting would not be at the park so close to the hour of breaking fast. The kids had their romp about and the last thing on their agenda was the swings.

Now, any parent would know not to let their younger kids walk or run too close to the other kids sitting on swings as they could be kicked if they were too near to the swingers. And you can't expect a kid midway in the upward momentum of his swing to stop.
So....there was this toddler no more than 2 years old, who twice walked into the path of my kids' swings. The first time I called out to the toddler to stop and her father belatedly grabbed hold of her. The second time, I had to grab her out of the way. This child's father looked completely bored, disinterested and uninterested in his child's wellbeing. In fact after the second close shave he berated his child for walking towards the swings. Honestly, the toddler doesn't have a sense of danger yet - it should be the father who gets reprimanded. And his wife? She was sitting on a park bench nearby, rooted in inaction and looking just as bored. What's going on?

I didn't say anything to the father of the toddler, but now wish that I had. Such irresponsible behaviour.

Malaysia's English

The Star reported that Adelina Raisa Sufian was adjudged top student in English at the University of London’s Queen Mary College recently. And the country is proud, as we should be.

Which brings us back to the hotly debated issue of the quality of English taught in Malaysian schools; and the recent education policy flip-flop where Math and Science will revert to being taught in BM because the teachers just can't "cope" and the rural schools will lose out.

Where did Adelina learn her English? The report mentioned in passing that she pursued her "higher education" at the Oakham School in Britain as far back as in 2004. Maybe she was sent to Britain to study even before that, thus having the chance to learn proper English. If Adelina had done all her education in Malaysian public schools and then gone to pursue tertiary education in Britain, would her English be as excellent?

Government of Malaysia, whichever way you look at it, admit it - English is the most important global language. Reform the country's education policy so that our children can be competent in English. Our country has all to gain from that.

07 September 2009

Cops (in Malaysia) need to be fair

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said that "Police should have a standard procedure to deal with public protests to show it is consistent and fair in its actions". He also added that "people have started questioning why the cow head protesters were not arrested on the spot during the demonstration but 16 people were arrested at Dataran Merdeka on Saturday for carrying out a candlelight vigil."

The answer is painfully obvious - selective prosecution.

And it is painful to know that the Royal Malaysian Police, the defender of the people, cannot be trusted to act impartially nor fairly. Chidren used to be taught that when in trouble, seek out a uniformed policeman - would we want to teach our children that today? Would the policeman help all in trouble or merely asssist those that they have been ordered to give special treatment to?

There is no indication, no sign whatsoever that any action has been taken against the cow head protestors 10 days after the incident. Just lots of talk and diversions by the authorities, not least by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin. So what if PKR, PAS and BN members were involved? Arrest them if you have the guts to do the right thing, Minister.

06 September 2009

Cow Head Protest, Hindu Temple Plan Shelved

It is reported that the controversial decision to relocate a Hindu temple from Section 19 to Section 23 in Shah Alam, which led to a protest where a severed cow head was used and abused, has been temporarily shelved by the Selangor State Government after an emotionally-charged meeting with residents turned rowdy on Saturday, 5 Sep. 2009.

The Selangor Government has said it will continue to search for suitable sites agreeable to all after taking into consideration the sentiments expressed by those opposed to the relocation of the temple. The meeting was tense from the beginning with lots of jeering, pointing and shouting. At one point, a man even grabbed a chair but fortunately it is reported that he was held back by others.

Were those attending the meeting truly sincere in voicing their opinion to find a solution peacefully together, or were they there just to cause trouble, to humiliate any effort to come up with a win-win situation? This is a really ugly picture of Malaysians demonstrating violence, threats, rudeness, disorderly conduct and utter disrespect for law and order (picture from the Star). It shows an attitude of "we don't like it, we don't have to care for or think about the interests of others, just my own interest is paramount".

The Selangor government has given in to the demands of those opposed to the relocation of the temple; it has listened to the people. Recognise that.

We can only hope that when the next site proposed for the temple is announced, the nation will not be treated to another spectacle of extreme, arrogant and unreasonable protest. Malaysia is 52 years old, and Malaysia will only prosper when its citizens live peacefully alongside each other and focus on issues such as education, research, services and growing the economy. There is the greater good to think of. What do you think of?

04 September 2009

Cow Head protest hurting Malasia

Any reasonable, peace-loving Malaysian would condemn and deplore the deeply insulting act by a group of people who carried a butchered cow's head to protest against the relocation of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam. What more during this holy month of Ramadhan.

What does the world perceive Malaysia as?

Muslims in Malaysia march with severed cow head to protest building of new Hindu temple, reports the Associated Press to the whole world.

Malaysia govt vows to nab cow head protesters, reports the Jakarta Post while one reader posts this comment to JP; "David K. — Thu, 09/03/2009 - I guess ... Malaysia ...radical muslims act without fear of prosecution in attacking any other life other than what they think is the paradise from the middle east. Shouldn't they change their tourism ad from, "Truly Asia." to "Truly Middle Eastern?"

Cow protest in Selangor , reports Singapore's Straits Times.

This one single act is hurting Malaysia, internally and internationally. One single act of intolerance, misguided enthusiasm perhaps, or worse, political manouvering, will have long-lasting and far-reaching ripples, if the authorities do not take the appropriate action speedily.

To his credit, and to my surprise, UMNO Youth Chief Khairy has called on the protesters to reflect on their action, asking: "How would you feel if the proposal to build a mosque in a non-Muslim area - which is already happening - leads a group of non-Muslims to burn and stomp on the Quran?" Well thought-out response this time, Khairy.

Please return to your senses, all Malaysians.

02 September 2009

Why aren't many flying the Jalur Gemilang?

To start off with, flying the Jalur Gemilang is not the only way to signify that one is patriotic. Just like going dutifully to one's place of worship does not mean that one is truly devout or penitent.
But this is an interesting point raised on 31 Aug 2009, by one Kontan from Ipoh. Certainly I would agree with others that the monetary cost of buying a Jalur Gemilang is not a reason at all for the perceived dampened spirits for Merdeka Day.

So what's going on? Why might the Merdeka spirit be dampened?

Could it be that it's because:

1) Perakians have been robbed of their legally elected state government

2) Selangorians are watching the daily drama of BN trying to wrest the state back from PR

3) BN does not seem to have the grace and diginity to let the legally elected and victorius party run the relevant states until the next elections

4) Our anti corruption authority is widely seen to be a toothless tiger entirely under the direction of the govt - and is capable only of harrassing the weak and powerless, while those living in Dallas/ Falcon Crest style mansions funded by dubious means are untouched

5) After 52 years, the non-Malays are still lablelled as "pendatang" - look at the US and Australia, melting pots of various peoples. Do note that the only "originals" of a country are its indigenous "orang asli".

6) Malaysia loves to claim that so-and-so residing overseas is a Malaysian (or was born in Malaysia), whenever such an individual becomes famous for sport, academics or scientific invention - but why is that person overseas and not here in Malaysia? Maybe because that individual was not given the nurturing and opportunity by Malaysia which another foreign country was generous and open-minded enough to give him.

I am not ashamed to be a Malaysian, and for the little opportunity that I have been given by my country, I am grateful. But Malaysia and its leaders could really be so much more educated, open minded, merit-centric and fair.