Monday, March 22, 2010

In Memory of Dr. Gerald Bracey

I came across him while doing some reading on GCI and that led me to this interesting post "Shouldn't every child have an education like the President's daughters?"

"Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants a longer school day, a longer school week, and a longer school year and national subject standards, which will inevitably lead to one national test.

Duncan wants to institute merit pay, which is a euphemism for paying teachers to produce higher test scores. Such merit pay, combined with national academic standards and one national test, will inevitably continue to transform our public schools into test prep factories.

Thus, more and more of the same old industrialist factory model of education. All we need to do to improve schools, says Duncan, is intensify the command-and-control model of education.

Arne Duncan does not understand that the most effective organizations in our society, both for-profit corporations and nonprofits, have evolved beyond command-and-control cultures. Peter Senge describes these new entities as learning organizations, which are built on the foundation of systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, and team learning.

Senge explains why Duncan approach is destined for failure. "Today's problems come from yesterday's 'solutions,'" he notes. Our factory model schools, have become the problem, not the solution.

President Obama's two daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama do not attend a school that is part of the problem. They attend the Sidwell Friends School in the District of Columbia, a school profoundly defined both by the values that it rejects and by those that it embodies.

Sidwell embraces a post-modernist paradigm of schooling defined by the following elements:

  • "A rich and rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum designed to stimulate creative inquiry, intellectual achievement and independent thinking in a world increasingly without borders."
  • Encouragement to its students" give expression to their artistic abilities." It does not cut the arts out of the curriculum to focus only on math and reading.
  • A community that values "the power of individual and collective reflection..." Sidwell values not only knowledge that is outside the child and teen but also what children and teens know within themselves. Sidwell encourages reflection and inner knowing, neither of which are acknowledged in any state's academic standards.
  • "An understanding of how diversity enriches us;" it recruits a diverse student body -- 39 percent of its students are persons of color -- and offers a global and multicultural curriculum.
  • Emphasis on "stewardship of the natural world;" it engages its students both in learning ecology and in developing the ethics that are at the core of the concept of stewardship: that every individual has a personal responsibility for ecological health and sustainability.
  • Promotion of service, and a curriculum and communal life that engage its students in understanding why "service to others enhances life."
  • Use of multiple forms of accessing knowledge and truth: "through scientific investigation, through creative expression, through conversation...through service within the school community and beyond."
  • A recognition that schooling is both about individual learning and about young people learning how to work together well with others. "Work on individual skills and knowledge is balanced with group learning, in which each person's unique insights contribute to a collective understanding."
  • Personalization of learning and education of the whole person. "Above all, we seek to be a school that nurtures a genuine love of learning and teaches students 'to let their lives speak.'" Sidwell 's central ambition is "to recognize and nurture each person's unique gifts."

Sidwell is expensive, but Sidwell's commitment to implementing a post-modern paradigm of schooling focused on personalization of learning, a global and multicultural curriculum, an emphasis on ecology and environmental stewardship, service to others, multiple forms of knowledge, and personal responsibility and excellence have little to do with money. The commitment is driven primarily by the values of educating the whole person, and any school in America could enact a program founded on those same values.

Barack and Michelle Obama have abandoned industrial paradigm, modernist schooling to send Malia and Sasha to a post-modern school focused on the personalization of learning in the context of a caring, responsible school community. Isn't it time that every family in the nation has the same opportunity?

Most puzzling, if the president and First Lady Michelle Obama send their children to a post-modern, personalized school, why are the president and Arne Duncan advocating policies that would intensify the most defective features of industrial, factory model schools rather than trying to transform schools to make them more like Sidwell Friends?"

Reading his articles on education was addictive and my manic-googling on him led me to his obituary on Washington Post. He died in his sleep on 20 Oct 2009.

May his soul rest in peace and may we make him see from up above that his efforts for betterment in education system for all children are underway on this part of the world.

"Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army"

~ Edward Everett

High Income or High Competitiveness?

Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base.

All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty.

Duty is the essence of manhood

General George S. Patton

When I went to 'roll my sleeves and get my hands dirty' in The Little Red Dot a couple of years ago, too often I heard that they never thought a Malay could be as competitive because they have seen many come and go and they lack the urge to compete healthily on the same level with the rest of the team, instead of using their charms to gain support to stay afloat. At first, I felt good but after a while, shish, are we Malays that bad that me, the not-so-smart malay gal could be seen as such?

With this hoo haa on making this country a High Income Economy, joining another 67 countries recognised as ones by the World Bank, I am totally skeptical that this country, with Malays being the majority, could be one because I always see that most Malays are 'malaise' and they think highly of them it's extremely difficult to make them think, what more to think outside the box and make this country a great one? Most think the job they have are rightly theirs, not because they earned it, but because they deserve them even when they only lift a finger or two! This explains why our public servants balloon up in recent years - just like when we first gained our Independence. However, this time around, we hire more not to empower them but to control them in times of elections. Like Sabah and Sarawak, they are also our Gomen's FDs.

Even if we become one, I hate this GNI and that GDP because we could have high income per capita yet not everyone benefited from it. So, what good does it make? It goes back to where we are today.

I shall leave economic theories to those people who know best like Mr. Etheorist (wow, I love his blog!) and today, I wanted to rant about Global Competitiveness Index ("GCI").

"The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important - and then get out of their way while they do it" ~ Jack Welch

GCI is a new, more comprehensive tool to assess competitiveness of nations as "a competitive country is one that increases the prosperity of its own people". Developed for the World Economic Forum ("WEF") by Professor Xavier Sala-i-Martin of Columbia University, the new index extends and deepens the concepts and ideas underpinning the Growth Competitiveness Index formerly used by the Forum. Officially launched in September 2006 as part of The Global Competitiveness Report 2006-2007, the GCI has now become WEF's main index of reference. For 2009 - 2010, Switzerland knocks USA off the first spot to be the most competitive country.

What I love about GCI is that it encompasses on 12 Pillars of Competitiveness, taken from the very plain words of Dr. Gerald Bracey here in the context of ever-familiar USA: -

1. Institutions must operate through laws that are fair, not through personal whim or through the kind of cheating we saw at WorldCom, Enron, etc.

2. Infrastructure. We have long taken infrastructure for granted, but since Katrina and the collapse of that bridge in Minneapolis, we can no longer afford to be complacent. You need effective was of transporting goods and people via roads, railroads, ports, and air. You need reliable electricity and a good telecommunications system.

3. Macroeconomy. Our weakest link. Governments that have to pay lots of interest on debt can't be efficient because that money can't go to increase productivity. The U. S. debt, both to other nations and to its own people is huge. The trade deficit has been falling somewhat because of the falling dollar, but that kind of gain entails its own risks--if China and Japan bail out of buying bonds and such in dollars, the economy will collapse (but so will theirs)(75).

4. Health and Primary Education. As I showed in "The Worst Place to Be a Kid," the U. S. is not a particularly healthy place to grow up. And the health problems suffered by children carry over into the workplace as adults, especially for low-income workers. Primary education establishes the base for later education.

5. Higher Education and Training. For the WEF, this includes secondary school as well as institutions of higher education. And, as the half-life of jobs shortens, the availability of and ability to take advantage of high quality on-the-job training becomes increasingly important to both employer and employee.

6. Goods Market Efficiency. In a competitive nation, the most efficient firms produce goods that consumers really want.

7. Labor Market Efficiency. In a competitive nation, workers are allocated to their most efficient use and given incentives for high performance.

8. Financial Market Sophistication. A competitive market channels resources to the best entrepreneurs, not to the politically connected. It also provides risk capital and loans.

9. Technological Readiness. The WEF holds that differences in technology use explains much of the differences in productivity among nations. Information and communication technologies are especially important in this regard.

10. Business Sophistication. This reflects how well various related companies work together in networks.

11. Innovation. "Firms in innovative countries must design and develop cutting-edge products and processes to maintain a competitive edge. This requires an environment that is conducive to innovative activity support by both the public and private sectors".

12. I left out market size because a) I'm running out of room and b) the WEF admits that it is not as well established as the other 11.

For more bytes on these pillars, I enjoy reading Prof.M.Guruprasad's as it shows the vital aspects of each pillar.

Once upon a time, Malaysia and Taiwan were standing on the same level in terms of competitiveness and 52 years on, Taiwan is on the 12th place - jumped 5 places - while Malaysia falls 3 places to be on the 24th place (See WEF's full ranking here).

Why do I need to compare us with Taiwan anyway? Not only it is amongst the highly competitive countries, it is also a High Income Economy! Maybe we need to get our EPU to learn a thing or two from this nation!

If you watched NatGeo, Disc and Travel & Living channels, you would see many faces, facets and assets of Taiwan. This tiny nation houses the most expensive and the finest Chinese treasures - thanks to their advent in technology and their responsible to guard these precious priceless gems from the past that make Chinese people the best amongst the finest. Nonetheless, its advent in technology is well balanced with their love for harmonious existence with nature, self-sufficient to feed its people. Amongst the cleanest and the best social community services, this tiny nation with a big heart and brilliant plans is a must-see travel destination.

It's Council for Economic Planning and Development in May last year came up with development strategies for six key emerging industries over the next three months: - (i) tourism, (ii) medicine and health care, (iii) biotechnology, (iv) green energy, (v) culture and creation, and (vi) high-end agriculture, in order to cope with the drastic changes that are taking place in the global economy and enhance Taiwan’s industrial development, aiming to upgrade industrial competitiveness and break through the difficulties facing exports at a time when the international environment is faring so poorly.

And we went Ga Ga over 5-year RM1.0 B investment in bottling Coke when F&N decided to quit, planning to build Nuclear Power Plant when we have enough green energies to leverage on, destroying our billion years, irreplaceable flora and fauna that not only supply livelihood to many of its citizens and a wondrous Mother Nature that we could offer to tourists.

I once watched on NatGeo on 'belangkas' or horseshoe crabs. We Malaysians only know them as delicacies when their blue blood is liquid gold to biomedical industries.

We won't get anyway if the largest race in this country continue to take a backseat. It's high time to change that and be the change we want to see (Gandhi).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You & I Collide...

I went back to my hometown over the weekend for my cousin's wedding reception - 'sambut menantu'.

Last weekend, they had their 'nasi beradab' with water gushing through their shoes but since the food was so good, no one left the table. Mak told me it's a sign of 'murah rezeki' for that couple.

This weekend, God is Great and we brought back rain and that confined me inside the house, looking nice in my dry-clean-only pink baju kurung. Well, not after I broke my back cooking and cleaning, getting some cuts here and there (heheheh exaggerated tak habis habis).

While having our lunch, one of my aunts told everyone at the table that someone divorced his wife after a month of marriage - because he still thinks of me.

And the night before, despite having loud karaoke session as the backdrop, somehow I had the most serene prayer and I prayed that I would be blessed with the right man, if God deems I am worth of one.

The first I wanted to do - well, I'm forever impulsive - was to call him up and ask him why he did that but I last talked to him 10 years ago.

Do you think I should talk to him or just let him live his life like that? Do you think I should feel guilty scarring his life like that just because i said "No" before? Or do you think I should make amend to what I've done wrong to him before?

Maybe I should just let nature takes its course and if "You & I Collide", it is meant to be...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Austerity, Tea or Me?

Ayah is back to buying Utusan Melayau and I bit my lips hard enough when I saw the picture of someone having tea party with his selected internet friends on the front page. EEEEEEEEEE!

How could one spend so much time and resources having one - lavishly when my adik-adik in boarding schools are being asked to go back home during weekend because their 'bilik makan' are closed?

From there, I picked the word "austerity" and that led me to "How to beat Austerity Britain". Interesting and of course, you have read about Spain and Greece taking austerity measures to ease their financial woes and that sent their people on the streets protesting.

While I am not sure if those countries also spend on no-value-added socio-economic activities like ours (I think I contribute better outside the cell if you know what i mean), I presume they have to take those stern and painful measures that hit the poors the most to stay afloat as a nation.

But as I delved further on austerity measures being implemented throughout history, I cannot help but see these measures being carried out here in our Ibu Pertiwi for the past 2 decades. So, I must call them 'distorted austerity measures' because 'yang miskin semakin miskin, yang kaya terus menjulang harta' where: -

1. We see food prices are getting higher by days (as a result of reduced food subsidies and manipulative hoarding), fuel prices seem to climb quietly (again, tukar nama, naik harga), rotting education system, dying government hospitals being shorthanded in terms of qualified personnel, equipments and space;

2. On the other hands, we spend billions on still-waiting-to-complete damning damn, new palace, new convention centre, malfunctions trains and buses (ops, lupa pula kapal selam yang lambat nak menyelam - kesian); millions on overpaid GLC bosses, loop-sided water and IPP concessions and yes, my favourite part - legalised bookmaking activities (satu kontrak untuk awak, 2 juta untuk saya, satu YB untuk awak, lima juta untuk saya - wow! truly skim cepat kaya) and funding endless 'sesi bertemu rakyat' (my foot!).

It is sad. How could we allow this to happen all these years? Are we not intelligent enough? Are we not sensible enough? Or perhaps, like some, just have some tea and talk about this and that austerity, mediocrisy, hypocrisy, absurdity sampai mati.

It is even sadded because we thought once we have intelligent people to run something, we should just leave everything to them. Heck NO! I came across an Bloomberg's interview transcript with Michael Lewis here on "his newest book, “The Big Short” chronicles how a small handful of investors anticipated the subprime-mortgage collapse and positioned themselves to make fantastic profits".

"They who are of the opinion that Money will do everything, may very well be suspected to do everything for Money" ~ George Savile, Complete Works, 1912

You really have to read the transcript - it is mindblowing for me because so many 'collapses' in this world were well 'enginered', demonised by greed that is natural in all of us (if only we know how to control it and where to apply it). And yes, I know you would agree with me looking at all those racial and reliogion spats being hyped up by certain quarters of homo sapiens and the missing billions from our coffers by selected fews.

In my industry, I meet a lot of intelligent people that 'engineer' financial models using assumptions that do not make economic sense at all yet they think those figures look bloody good on papers. On that note, I make a point not to trust any engineers and economists because these two groups of intellect are normally the ones that bring this world down.

Sometimes, we could be intelligent or so we think because we know so many stuffs but what good do they make if they don't make any sense to many?

Yes, I don't think we need financial engineering to pass through this murky, bloodish financial backwaters for it is more important and pertinent to engineer the mentality of the intelligents and make this world a better place.

Oh, since we are talking about cents we made and billions we lost, Uncle Antares shared a heartwarming story about Uncle Ben Bernanke during his weekly Senate Finance Committee meeting.

Yes, money could get us somewhere but in this maddening world, we are too busy making one we forget its real value - to live life better with people we care.

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting somewhere we don't have but rather of recognising and appreciating what we do have"

~ Frederick Koenig

Austerity, Tea or Me? All have benefits if ONLY you know how to handle...

Record-breaker Heartbreaker

I met one of my good friends last night - well, we were supposed to meet for our belated birthday weeks ago but as always, I am forever...busy. So we talked and as usual (hehehhe over used phrase of mine), I laughed like a hyenna (my colleague thinks that's my 'awet muda' tip - ek?). We shared a lot of things in the sense that we normally experience the very same thing on personal front.

"Have you ever wished those questions are being asked by one we love truly and not by some lunatics, itchy to settle down with anyone that fancy them", I said to my friend's surprise. We read each other's mind!

Alas, life has never been fair to those with working hearts because we continue to break some hearts to be true to ourselves and definitely breaking ours in the process. Mine is beyond repair but I trust when T.E Kalem says that the heart is the only broken instrument that works. It isn't numb and dumb.

For breaking 2 hearts in 2 days in a row, I wonder if I am a record-breaker heartbreaker.

Beware treading this unchartered sea of mine...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fight For This Love...

It's definitely more than meets the eyes when it comes to love.

Recent news on 2 lovely couples catch my feeble mind attention. Cheryl Cole was busy promoting her "Fight For This Love" and her hubby, Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole was busy with some other women - Cheryl now decided to dump him. Maya Karin - the timeless Malay beauty - is faced with probable divorce from her husband. They are in fact lovable and kind people. So, where did they go wrong?
Don't they love each other enough?

Is love alone not enough?

Recently too, I was told by someone that I shouldn't let my moral standard and expectations overrule my feeling for others. Having heard that from someone that cares for me deeply, I questioned myself whether I should be less true to myself so that I could spend the rest of my life with someone? If that is the case, is it right for me to say that I should accept hypocrisy, corruption, injustice and lies so that I could be entitled to special rights and positions as a Malay in this Ibu Pertiwi for the rest of my life? Yes?

"I don't wish to be everything to everyone, but I would like to be something to someone" ~ Javan

Yes, I live my life giving some meaning to someone, especially someone who has been neglected by the system and the people. Someone left a comment in a blog saying why there are more MPs from rural constituencies compared to urban ones. Although his comment came across as one given by an educated person, his envy to these rural people for not having the same chances is worrying.

Nonetheless, I understand his grievances as we see that some MPs from these rural areas are just plain stupid, talking cock in the August House, having no respect for his people's wishes for improvement and protection on his well-padded shoulders.

"They do not love that do not show their love" ~ William Shakespeare

This is where we need to change our mindset. We don't need Robin Hood to rob the riches to feed the poors. All this nation needs is just well-informed, financially capable, reliable and honest people in the urban areas to ensure these people from rural areas, who are often being sidelined not only in development and growth but also being cheated to believe the lies they read, listen and watch, are able to fight for their rights, able to dream for a better life, able to feel contented for what they have.

"The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost" ~ G.K. Chesterton

Yes, we might lose this nation to some greedy people and too many times, not only we lose our moneys, our mother nature, our dignity and our integrity, some may lose lives of their beloved ones and some may carry on living scarred for life from missed opportunities, rutalities and injustice befallen upon them.

To know that we might lose this beautiful nation and its people (it won't be if we continue fighting, instead of loving), it is just timely that Uncle Zorro shared "A Union Waiting to Happen" today. Thank you Sir.

"A man is not where he lives, but where he loves" ~ Latin Proverb

I love this place we called home and I know you too. Despite the madness we have endured so far, we still love it because love doesn't have to have reasons and when there's love, unity and duality never conflict, says the great Rabindranath Tagore.

Please lend your hands to this beautiful project by "Extraordinary People Impacting Community" young people.

Fight for this love of our nation. Register to vote for our rights.

Yes, that's the easiest fight we all could do.

A bell is no bell 'til you ring it,
A song is no song 'til you sing it,
And love in your heart
Wasn’t put there to stay -
Love isn’t love
'Til you give it away"
~ Oscar Hammerstein, Sound of Music, "You Are Sixteen"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Wish...

I wish for funds
For kids to have fun
In school

I wish for one
To save some funds
To have less fun
To crave less wants
So all kids could go to school

p.s. I still believe we could be proactive in getting all kids to go to school. In addition to "Jom Daftar Undi Ramai-Ramai", maybe we too should start "Jom Ke Sekolah" campaign, where we keep a record of kids born in this nation. As we all know, not all kids could go to school due to various circumstances. It would be lovely if PR could get down to the 'base' when they go for their 'roadshows' instead of mere ceramahs and forums.

Little Things We Do...

They say little things we do tell who we really are as a person.

If we want to change the course of this nation of ours going, we ought to change the way we behave on roads, amongst other firsts, apart from stop wasting food at all functionsl and using and keeping our toilets clean.

I take public transport and I love walking. DBKL put thousands traffic lights all over the city and I love punching those buttons that make your cars stop so I, some aunties and uncles, some students with heavy bag, some little kids could cross the road safely. Yes, safely because we have alerted you drivers," Excuse me sirs, madams, in big, flashy cars, we are about to cross to the other side of the road. May we?"

But you drivers refused to do so. So, I would make my point and walk slowly like 'itik pulang petang' but you drivers don't really care because you insisted that I make way for your car so you could reach home 2 minutes earlier. At times, I put my life at risks, some times at the verge of death really, standing in the middle of this 5-6 metre-wide road, looking at you sinisterly. Still, you refused to budge.

If you saw a 'girl in pumps' standing in the middle of the road holding a paper that says,"Where did you get your license to kill", that's me and I beg you drivers to behave yourselves.

If you could lose your judgment and senses over getting home early by a couple of minutes, if you feel that you're the only one that matters, if you think you deserve all the rights to do what you want to do, my God, I don't know how long this nation have to suffer more due to your erratic behaviour on the roads!

Glee says "Don't stop believing" and I say "Stop right now!" before it's too late...

For Your Heart Only...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Their Problem is Everybody's Problem

For this post, I would like to borrow TM's tagline - It's good to talk.

Too many times, we see that most people tend to just remain silent when there is definitely issues to be raised, ideas and feelings to be shared because we do not wish to be seen as 'mengada', 'tunjuk pandai', too sensitive, 'gila glamour', etc. But whatever bothers you as a normal human being is also a trouble for all of us human beings out here. So, when you feel there is a need to say something, please do.

I like to tell myself that there is no such thing as stupid questions. Too often, those who are not asking are the stupid ones themselves.

I remembered one comment I got after writing "I want my money back" from an anon blogger that says, "As a blogger, I can’t stand it that unnecessary tension or scare is created for no apparent reason to the public". I believe the said blogger is happy with what he has to today. Thank you God for that but how could he or she feel so when there are so many people out there who still live in misery?

As a blogger, is he or she trying to say that those being posted on the Net are meant for people who could access the internet (meaning they have free time to surf and all)?

"Articulating the situation - even if it can't be fixed - frees you to focus on the most important item on the agenda - [that is] doing your best work" ~ Frances Cole Jones

I beg to differ. As a blogger, I try to make as many people understand what really happen out there and start people talking and thinking. Blessed are the nation where the fortunate ones set aside from their pocket to share with the less fortunate ones, not because they think it is cool to do charity but because they know it is their responsibility to protect the underprivileged.

If you have watched Fahmi Reza's "10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka", you could see that the fight for this nation's Independence was spearheaded by lower and middle class people that formed a unified political left movement comprising PKMM, API, AWAS (Angkatan Wanita Sedar), Batas (Barisan Tani Se-Malaya), MDU (Malayan Democratic Union), Putera (Pusat Tenaga Ra’ayat), AMCJA (All-Malaya Council of Joint Action), PMFTU (Pan-Malayan Federation of Trade Unions), MNDYL (Malayan New Democratic Youth League), Geram (Gerakan Angkatan Muda).

When I attended SABM's Roadshow in KLSCAH, I threw my 2-cents to SABM on how are they going to make SABM appealing to lower and middle class people , especially those who cannot understand English, since, from my observation, those people who took time to attend SABM's roadshows are those of privileged class and educated lots. I asked them how about those people who are not when they are the ones that are prone to be abused, misused and misled by people in power. After that, Mr. Victor Chin, a great artist, asked me if I am a welfare officer. I told him I wish I am one but I am not but I would like to take any opportunity to raise their predicaments. I got even more worried after hearing to one lady asking about the privacy of votes we cast because they fear that their votes for justice and fairness may cause discomfort in their lives - thanks to those insecured people in power. So, i stood up again and asked, "If these people are scared to vote those they believe could make this nation a better place, what about others that rely on people in power to earn a living?". If Uncle Zorro and Mr. Duke were there when I opened my big mouth, I might get an earful from them. Ouch!

After the roadshow, I met the beautiful and brilliant Sharada, a graduate from LSE, and her aunt. She understand where I am coming from when I shared my 2-cents. She said that she couldn't convince her colleagues enough to attend SABM roadshows because they say they are not racist. How true - educated people do not feel threatened by racism. But how come we still have racial spats in this Ibu Pertiwi?

The problem with us educated lots is that we know yet we don't care much about those don't know about their rights and continue to be suppressed by the people in power. We tend to stay in our comfort zone, being self-centric lots.

I cried watching that short film by Fahmi Reza because I feel like I owe Pak Cik Yahya Nassim, Uncle Lim Kean Chye, Pak Hashim Said, Pak Majid Salleh and Pak Cik Zainuddin Andika a delayed victory to a fight they started 63 years ago.

I would like to share an excerpt from Fahmi Reza's interview with The Sun here, that I really hope would make us feel inspired to do something for these true blue Anak Bangsa Malaysia: -

"Jacqueline Ann Surin:

I know you’ve spoken about how Lim Kean Chye was initially quite resistant to do this interview until he had interrogated you. Did you have a sense that the others were also resistant, and why do you think there was this kind of resistance, at being interviewed and having their stories documented?

Fahmi Reza:

First, for one of my interviewees, I think it was quite painful for them to recall what happened. Because, some of them had put all this behind them. They never engaged in politics after they were released from prison. So, it’s a dark period in their life.

This is my tribute to people who fought, they struggled. These are regular people. It’s different classes but mostly from the lower classes - the children of farmers, fishing folk, small traders. So, they really sacrificed for independence. So, for them to be arrested and detained, and when we got independence, it’s not the independence that they wanted, the Merdeka was not pure, and this was not the independence that they fought for. So, they feel disappointed that their struggle that they started has not been completed.

That’s what I felt from them.

When I wanted to ask them questions, too, it was difficult for some of the interviewees. They failed, basically. They wanted something but they failed. But their failure is not because of their mistake but because of colonialism at that time, British rule, with the help of well…that’s the other thing they were disappointed about.

Because for the first time, if you look at the hartal, it was moving towards creating this new bangsa (nationality). Because at that time, that sense of nationhood did not yet exist.

The thing that I find amazing is that they were able to see the divide-and-rule policy that the British imposed on them, and they fought against that. The Putera-AMCJA was a manifestation, for the first time in our nation’s history, of the different races getting together and uniting. And the hartal was truly bigger.

If you look at the People’s Constitution, they wanted to give birth to a new bangsa. They were conscious about breaking the Malay-Chinese-Indian racial categorisations. They wanted a new nationality, regardless of race.

One other thing I learnt from my interviews was that at independence, what was born was a nation, not a bangsa. That’s why we have this problem today of having three main races, when actually we should only have one, Bangsa Malaysia.

And their mentality was different. If you talk to Lim Kean Chye, race was not in their consciousness, which is very strong today. I think the unity that they talked about was not about race. It was more about class. It was about uniting all the people to go against the British to fight for independence. So, we could have been something different than what we have today.

What's Inside That Matters...

Some people have their wish list in finding one they want to spend the rest of their life with. Like animals, most of us tend to go for physical attributes in finding one to propagate and assimilate. Some men go for fair maiden with long black hair with luscious lips. Some women seek tall, dark and macho men. These people long to have their Prince or Princess Charming. Little did they know that their Prince or Princess Charming wish list could instead be Prince or Princess Harming wish list!

I found this interesting article “The Number One Thing to Look for in a Partner” that says if you prioritise finding a partner who is sexy, smart, charismatic, successful-in-their-field, you could end up in Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and Mussolini!

In this article, you would find about “The Psychopath Checklist”, used by criminal psychiatrist to test the potential of someone being a hardcore psychopath, capable of committing repeated evil and violent crimes. Guess which traits psychopaths share? Glibness, extreme charisma, the need to always be doing something, feelings of high self-worth, pathological lying, proneness to boredom and emotional unavailability.

“Values provide perspective in the best of times and the worst” ~ Charles Garfield

The article points out one of top traits to look for in a partner – that is an appealingly strong character. Good character values not only come in handy on a day-to-day basis, but during those eventual, inevitable times of conflict. If you and your partner do not value putting in the effort of acting with strong character values during times of disagreement, disappointment, stress, crisis, temptation, sadness, monetary-challenges, illness, vulnerability, misunderstandings — then your relationship will always suffer!

John Gottman, the famed psychologist and researcher who runs The Love Lab, says he can predict how long a couple will last, not by studying how well a couple gets along, but by studying how well a couple doesn't get along. A relationship is only as strong as its weakest link - how a couple handles their challenges.

Under Aristotle’s Relationship of Shared Virtue, we will both want to deal with conflict by facing up to it with "strong character values" and viewing it as "a laboratory for growth".

To live happily ever after, our relationship must have a dual function – it should be a "Den of pleasure" - for fun, companionship, sex, laughter, etc. which you as a human need - so you can keep your soul alive with passion and it should also serve as "Laboratory for growth" - the ultimate place of challenge for your soul to be nurtured to grow - where we inspire one another's "character development" – and that’s what Aristotle called true happiness!

Authentic values are those by which a life can be lived, which can form a people that produces great deeds and thoughts ~ Allan Bloom

So, do we go for Super(ficial)man or one whom we value Superinsidehim because if we go for the former, we might end up with someone who's rude, angry, dishonest, disloyal, hurtful, non-communicative, unempathic and selfish!

Wow! If you manage to reach to this stage reading my long-winding post, thank you. I truly appreciate your curiosity.

For our shallow-mindedness, quick-unreasonable-temper and laiszze faire attitude towards betterment of this Ibu Pertiwi and its people, I decided to use the analogy of finding our one true love for every single one of us, big or small, young or old, rich or poor, man or woman, longs to find our Prince or Princess Charming. I have wrote earlier about "Politics of Marriage", based on Aristotle's Book VII of Politics.

He says, "A state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange. Political society exists for the sake of noble actions, and not of mere companionship".

Politicians come and go and what remain and should remain as it is first nobly inspired to be is the party. I am thankful that many YBs with strong values remain true to their fight, which is our fight - the common people, by remaining in line, hand in hand, weathering these days of political turbulence.

Like finding our Prince or Princess Charming to spend our lives with, may we be able to see the noble strong values in those people we entrusted with our support to make this Ibu Pertiwi a better place for everyone, generations to come.

If there's something to steal, steal a zeal!

“Character is the final decision to reject whatever is demeaning to oneself or to others and with confidence and honesty choose what is right”

I wrote somewhere in my blog about Mak’s cousin that carried an enterprising ‘business’ handling Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat’s financial aid application for people with special needs. She told those people that she could help them to get their application approved faster but of course at certain ‘service fees payable'. Still, the fastest approval would arrive one year later. Truly Rakyat Diutamakan!

So, you must be wondering how she could get herself involved in this kind of ‘easy peasy business deal’. Apparently, she has a friend working in that Jabatan, who would provide the necessary information. Mind you, she charged at least RM100 from one application – upfront!

“No people is fully civilised where a distinction is drawn between stealing an office and stealing a purse” ~ The Other Half of Madam Eleanor Roosevelt

I used Past Tense in describing her entrepreneurial set-up because she is now in and out of one private hospital with continuous cervix bleeding. She stopped all her businesses like selling things at rocket-high price and of course, charging her ‘exorbitant service fees’ to our brothers and sisters that are already in dire financial needs! Truly Malaysia Boleh!

Why am I highlighting this, again?

Well, you must have read TheStar Metro Central’s “MP Slams Welfare Dept for Slow Action” and now you know I didn’t bluff about this middlemen or Ali Baba enterprise that flourishes in our country, even in our Welfare Dept. If Welfare Dept can do that, tell me please, what do you expect of deep-pocketed Jabatans? Oh, that may explains how an ex (or axed) political secretary of one top man could have so much assets, aye?

“No people is fully civilised where a distinction is drawn between stealing an office and stealing a purse”

Moral of the story – never ever take what is not yours, especially from underprivileged people. God is great because for all the moneys she saved from her ‘businesses’ are now being utilised heavily to pay the hospital bills. Still, God is great because He wanted to help by cleansing her ‘system’ from those bad moneys by her suffering from such ailment. My Dear Bong shared his story on "Makan duit rakyat is bad for your stomach".

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Our Responsibility To Adik Syafia Isn't Over Yet..

More than a week ago, I saw something worrying.

While waiting for my bus, I saw one Indonesian man standing in front of me, moving from side to side. A moment later, I noticed he started doing some silat movements. At that instance, I retreated to the back of the bench because I knew I had made eye contact with him, which he would translate into, "hey, I have an audience!" and if he decided to do something stupid, I would be his first victim. After some time, others also started to move away from him.

Poor Uncle Prakash, the station master of that bus stop, was busy filing up the conductor's trip card that he did not notice 'the storm brewing'. Suddenly, the Indonesian man ran towards Uncle Prakash and started punching and kicking him. Thank God, Uncle Prakash was quick to defend himself with the plastic chair he had near him and managed to stop that Indonesian man.

My Tok told me I scream and laugh the loudest amongst his grandchildren (whenever we watch horror and comedy movies) but that night, I didn't use that to alert Uncle Prakash. I only managed to give out a sob instead of a scream. Stupid Fi-sha!

What worried me much was the fact that no men came to help Uncle Prakash! Mind you, there were stronger, younger men than Uncle Prakash around but they all chickened out! They backed out like we women.

Thank God, Uncle Prakash was unhurt. He told me later that he thought that Indonesian man was playing around. What if that man had a knife? Oh dear!

When I related this horrific experience to my friend, he said the men, like women, tried to save themselves! And I think we, malaysians, have turned into "MYOB society"! We selfish lots that lost our conscience to self interest!

"Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future" ~ JFK

That's what happened to Adik Syafia Humairah that succumbed to her death after being sadistically abused by her mother's boyfriend! Her grandfather told the reporters he had seen cigarette burn marks on her body before but how could he do nothing about it? Her mother must have notice something but how could she trust her in the custody of that EVIL?

My Mak says that EVIL should be hanged to death and I say, "No, we should flog him to death!"

Though my anger is beyond words, I think we need to look at this tragic incidence - holistically. We are in this together. We had Adik Syafia Humairah's blood on our hands!

Marcus Aurelius says, "Poverty is the mother of crime". In this case, Adik Syafia Humairah's mother was too busy working to earn a meagre income to support her growing family that she had to stay a night at her colleague's house, perhaps because her workplace is far away and it would be unsafe and uneconomical for her to go back to her house often. The grandfather had to shut his mouth because her daughter or the EVIL must have told him, "Cakap pandai, bagi duit tak nak". He himself may not be self-sufficient, economically.

Adik Syafia Humairah lived in a society that is trapped in the race to earn some more money to pay the bills and lead a normal life. They are just too busy to exercise some conscience, let alone to see each other socially when the women may have to leave the house at nights or early hours working in the factories. The men, well, since we all know you guys chicken out too many a time nowadays, are just too tired to bother, too busy to ponder, too angry to care, too chauvinistic to tell the women it is their responsibility to raise the children when they get their wives to work and share the burden of supporting the family!

Let's see what wonderful this world would be if, if only: -

1. Once Adik Syafia Humairah's father was jailed, Jabatan Penjara Malaysia would get Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat to see this family, evaluating whether the mother is capable of supporting and taking care of the family.

2. If she is not, her children should be placed with reasonable welfare houses. Yes, children are best raised by mothers but when poverty stricken, the first victims would be these innocent children;

3. If she is capable of that, Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat should constantly visit her at home to know if she needs any assistance*.

Like in her case, they should facilitate her to get a divorce from her jailed husband. If it was made easier for her, instead of unproductive legal procedures, she had to resort befriend a man, apparently any man that would take her and too sad, that EVIL was the only man standing to protect her. They should bring in Puteri UMNO to guide her through this rough patch.

Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat should assist her to find a good childcare centre to place her children when she goes out to work.

Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat should help her find someone nearby, through the list of volunteers they have, to care for her children.

*Like my brother's case as I wrote earlier here, I hate it when we tend to equate assistance to moneys when it could be counselling, support and all!

"What is man's greatest bane? His brother man alone"~ Bias of Priene, Maxims

Unfortunately, we lost Adik Syafia Humairah just like that. If only we could hear her crying saying, "How could you allow this to happen to me?"

She is not just a statistics - she is precious life this world had to take away for us to learn that it is vital that we start looking out for each other, to see another child as ours, another woman under the light of our mother, our sister, our wife, another man like our father, our brother.

“Leadership is liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible” ~ Max Depree

She is a dire reason for us, that we need to do more than just visiting her mother when Adik Syafia Humairah is gone, forever. We need to be on proactive mode. Reactive, which is the motto of our government of the day, is so lame and irresponsible.

We need to get the right people to run those departments that could extend their assistance to them, before they have to resort to Ah Longs and prostitution to feed a family on daily basis, before they have to suffer - physically and emotionally abused, before another precious life is lost and before this cycle of suffering continues to the next generation

I know we can't do that much to help these people but there is one sure-fire way to put a stop to all this. That is to register yourself as a voter and carry your overdue responsibility to Adik Syafia Humairah and many more innocents that we have lost. To vote is not about to thump your chest and say, "I support XY Political Party". A vote is a responsibility done towards promoting responsible and conscientious management of this Ibu Pertiwi and its people.

"In a child’s eyes, we are god. Maybe we should act like one by being compassionate, merciful, protecting, forgiving, providing, wise and loving. The one that sees things through his eyes. The one that listens to him. The one that gives chances for him to be what he wants to be. The one that accepts him for who he is today – dirty, sticky, noisy and mischievous.Indeed, children are precious, priceless and pure. Let them be" ~ Fi-sha

p.s. I love observing people and I see there are many parents out there who are not fit to parents in the first place. Nowadays, people rush to get married for legitimise sexual intercourse, without seeing whether one is fit - financially, mentally, spiritually and emotionally - to be a parent.

p.s.s. Looking at Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim's 'continuous observations of everything and anything his Ministry could put his hands into' lately, I wish, really really wish, he is our Minister that looks after Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Best Birthday 'Present' Ever!

“Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for” ~ Lawrence Block

5.50 am

"Lunch today?"


11.00 am

"Local or western?"

"Dua2 boleh"

12.45 pm
"Can I change my mind? I'll go for chinese"(Gee, tak habis habis indecisive!)

1.00 pm

As we waited to be seated at Madam Kwan's, my eyes caught a sight of one XX-chromosome being, wearing nice-looking grey coloured shirt, standing 20 feet away, smiling at me. He's gorgeous! My heart skipped two beats. My breathing stopped halfway. Till we were showed our way to the table in that full-house restaurant.

I must be crazy but it is so not me doing that. A believer in the quality school of thought, I don't give a damn about the finesse of one's physical attributes. Well, until that Thursday, fortunately! :)

Since I had to catch up with my racing heart beats and intermittent breathing (really), I zoomed in the menu and told the waiter, standing next to me.

"I'll have my char koay teow" (hehhehhehe, my boss kata takde benda lain ke nak makan? I told her i had enough Jap's on Wednesday and Western over the weekend).

"How about your drink Miss?"

I looked up and saw his gorgeous face. "No".

"Boss, alamak rugi tak tengok dia tadi!" (See, I must be really out of my mind confessing such girlish matter to my boss)

Apparently, that gorgeous man is a waiter with Madam Kwan. We had extra special treatment, attentively delivered by him.

My three-quarter crazy mind was busy sizing up my courage, "Should I or shouldn't I ask for his name?".
Argh! Tak tanya pun (hehehheh penakut!). My face was blushing and I didn't dare to look at him when we left our table for good. Double argh!! But I heard him saying outloud, "Thank you and see you again".
After when i got back to the office, I realised I flirted with him and I am capable of flirting after all (though my flirting maneuvers

Meeting him that day was very important to me. Let me confess.

Last month, one Kuwaitian guy telling me how much he likes me, well after I walked him to Petaling Street in a space of 30 minutes talking and asking him a lot of things about his country and people. Apart from another 'confession' he made to me at the end of the 'power walk' (which I should not divulge), he gave me a peck on both cheeks. I was shocked. I blamed myself for being over friendly with him, for simply making him likes me.

Still in tears, I shared that with a dear friend, later that night, about what happened and how 'bad' i have been. A comforting listener he is, he said I cannot blame myself if someone likes me.

That's it!

For the past 18 years, I blame myself if someone likes me (because I know I cannot reciprocate the feelings and it hurts so much to see how 'cruel' I could be breaking hearts over and over again) or I like someone (because I am complicated no one should stay around me for long and for some odd reasons, I tend to see the beauty of complications in a person - that's a recipe of bad romance).

Pablo Picasso once said that "It takes a long time to grow young". How so true! That Thursday, I freed myself from the blaming game and boy, I do feel young. Indeed, it was the best birthday 'present' I ever received from myself.

Talking about 'present', I received another 'present' in a form of a fuss-free friendship with someone, who I deem the most sincere and selfless man I ever known, who thinks I'm the most smart Malay gal out there, who thinks I'm too good to disappoint that he would do anything but hurting my feelings, who writes the most beautiful line I've ever laid my eyes - "You shall always be in my mind" - in a split second, who tolerate my idiosyncratic thinking and behaviour in such subtle way no man ever done before and surprisingly, he is a malay after all!

Thank you God.