For my son, when he grows up, this site will be my legacy for him. The decisions his mother and I made for him, to understand them, to learn from them and to lead a life without prejudice and to succeed in it on his own merit.

Monday, July 13, 2009

There Will Be A Whole Lot Of Catching Up To Do

Hard on the kids
What about the Chinese community? Having sacrificed a generation of guinea pigs, what are they going to do in the face of the new changes?
By LIM MUN FAH/Translated by DOMINIC LOH/Sin Chew Daily

A dejected former PM Tun Dr Mahathir says even if the policy of teaching science and maths in English cannot be implemented in primary schools, at least it should be implemented in secondary schools.

It has taken Tun Mahathir six years to come to terms with what the Chinese community feels.

But then he is no longer the man in power, and could only stare at the reality helplessly.

Starting 2012, everything will be back to square one. Science and maths will be taught in students' mother tongues and Bahasa in primary and secondary schools respectively.

This decision meets the aspiration of Malay educationists and nationalists.

But they are not going to stop just that. They are still fighting for science and math subjects to be taught in Bahasa in Form 6 or pre-U.

What about the Chinese community? Having sacrificed a generation of guinea pigs, what are they going to do in the face of the new changes?

Stopping all the controversies may not stop us from worrying about the future of our children.

The case study published on Sin Chew Daily's front page could be bone-chilling!

Just take a look: Xiaoli is presently in Standard One, learning science and maths in both Mandarin and English. In 2012, when she will be in Standard Four, she will have to learn these two subjects in Mandarin only.

But when she goes to a national-type secondary school in 2015, she will have to learn science and maths in Bahasa Malaysia. And when she proceeds to Form Six in 2020, she will have to switch to English again for these two subjects.

One moment bilingual, one moment Mandarin, one moment BM and one moment English. Is this kind of learning process normal? Does that go well with our educational philosophy? How could our kids not weep, their parents not worried, and teachers not annoyed?

As if that is not enough, under the new solution, how should Chinese primary schools improve their English standard as Bahasa continues to take the lead?

I have calculated the number of hours for English classes each week in primary schools of different language streams: In stage one: 240 minutes for national schools, 60 minutes for Chinese primary schools. In stage two: 210 minutes for national schools, 90 minutes for Chinese primary schools. The differences between the two are 180 and 120 minutes respectively.

Under the new system, in stage one: 330 minutes for national schools, 120 minutes for Chinese primary schools; in stage two: 300 minutes for national schools, 120 minutes for Chinese primary schools. The differences between the two are 210 and 180 minutes respectively.

Obvious enough, national primary school students' English command should be further enhanced under the new system.

There are approximately 42 weeks in an academic year for primary schools. If we do some simple arithmetic, we should be able to find out how much of English lessons will a Chinese primary school student have to miss over a span of six years.

These students, 90% of whom will proceed to a national-type secondary school in time to come, will have problem adapting to the new curriculum given their relatively poor English command. And then they have yet to encounter a brand new issue of switching to BM for science and maths!

Chinese primary school students will only have a dimmer future ahead of them.

Of course, they have an advantage over their peers: the ability to master three languages.

But that is achieved only with a heavy price: They will have to learn extra hard!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Father's Conscience

There's something about this article that was sent to me. Which I just happened to post something about telling lies the day before.ItalicItalic

Ghandhism - A Must read for parents
Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K.Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, in his June 9 lecture at the University of Puerto Rico, shared the following story:
I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban , South Africa , in the middle of the sugarplantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies.
One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father asked me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced. When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, "I will meet you here at 5:00 p.m., and we will go home together." After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6:00.
He anxiously asked me, "Why were you late?" I was so ashamed of telling him I was watching a John Wayne western movie that I said, "The car wasn't ready, so I had to wait," not realizing that he had already called the garage.
When he caught me in the lie, he said: "There's something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn't give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order to figure out where I went wrong with you, I'm going to walk home 18 miles and think about it." So, dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads.
I couldn't leave him, so for five-and-a-half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through this agony for a stupid lie that I uttered. I decided then and there that I was never going to lie again. I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at all. I don't think so. I would have suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing. But this single non-violent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday.
That is the power of non-violence.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Telling Lies In Malaysia

The Making of a Sodomy Conspiracy and Najib’s role
By Kenny Gan, Suara Keadilan

It was Mark Twain who said, Always tell the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said.
A truthful account of events does not need any scheming, planning or coordinating to make the details logical and consistent. It does not care for unexpected events, unknown circumstances and unexpected witnesses getting in the way because they will all automatically validate each other.

Truth has a beauty and simplicity which does not require anybody to make improbable assumptions, illogical explanations and unlikely postulations of human behaviour to fit the narrative.

Conspirators can try to cover up the truth with lies, deceit and fabrications but the truth will eventually come out like water dribbling out of a leaky container.

Lies may need more lies to cover up the holes to make the story appear logical and consistent but more lies may punch more holes in the framework until the whole thing collapses and the deception is exposed.

The Making of a Sodomy Accuser

Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a young college dropout volunteered to work in Anwar office just before the 2008 general election at a time when PKR was very short-handed. It was later discovered from his online postings that he is strongly pro-Umno.

He claimed to have been sodomized by Anwar against his will a total of eight (8) times before he resigned and made a police report. He sent a friendly quit e-mail to Anwar which can he read here.

Saiful visited the office of the Deputy Prime Minister a few months before the alleged incident and took a photograph with Najib’s aide which is widely circulated online.

Saiful explained that he had gone there to apply for a scholarship but this is a very awkward explanation. As a college dropout, Saiful was not in the market for a scholarship and in any case, the DPM office is the wrong department to go.

Even more shocking was the revelation that he has met Najib Razak who was the DPM then at Najib official residence in Putrajaya a few days before he made his police report.

Najib at first denied that he had met Saiful but later conceded that Saiful had come to him for career guidance.

But Najib later retracted the career guidance part after much ridicule and said that he had met Saiful at his residence one night when a traumatized and sodomized Saiful came to ask for his advice.
Najib said he listened to Saiful story and told him it up to him whether he wanted to lodge a police report or not.

More exposure came from Raja Petra Kamaruddin who revealed that Saiful met a police officer, Senior Assistant Commissioner Mohd Rodwan in room 619 of the Concorde Hotel in Kuala Lumpur at 2.30pm on 25 June 2008. Prior to this secret meeting, Rodwan and Saiful spoke on the phone at least eight times.

What are we to make of all this?

Firstly, why would a rabidly pro-Umno sympathizer seek employment with Umno political enemy? Why did he say he visited the DPM office for scholarship when that office does not deal in scholarships?

Even more incredulous, how easy is it for a nobody to drop in at the DPM residence at night to see the DPM and why did Najib deny meeting Saiful initially only to admit it later and gave unwieldy explanations? And what was all that discussion with a police officer about?

We know that Saiful is probably not gay as he has a girlfriend or fianc who has unfortunately been dragged into this sordid affair.

So being forcibly sodomized must have been a traumatic and disgusting affair, if indeed a frail, elderly man like Anwar is able to force himself on a strapping youth physically much bigger and stronger than him.

But Saiful wants us to believe not just the story that he was forcibly sodomized but also the fact that he allowed it to happen eight (8) times before he made a police report.

If we postulate that threats had been used on him, what dire consequences can an opposition leader threaten him with and why didn he promptly call the police who would have come running to his aid with a battalion of high ranking officers?

Nobody who has been forcibly sodomized and traumatized would send a friendly quit e-mail to his tormentor. Small details like this are important as they can trip up a conspiracy but in this case we do not even need small details as the big events are glaring enough to show what a bumbling and transparent conspiracy it is.

Otherwise, one would have explain them by completely discarding what is usually accepted of normal human behaviour and responses and reframing them to the point of lunacy.

When an event really happens, details automatically corroborate the event. When there nothing to hide, explanations do not create more questions.

The Behaviour of a Sodomy Accuser

Before making his police report Saiful make a detour to see Dr. Mohamed Osman at the Hospital Pusrawi, KL to complain that he had been sodomized by a very important person whom he did not name.

Dr. Osman examined him and filed a medical report. As the alleged victim wanted to make a police report, Dr. Osman advised him to go to a government hospital for a checkup as the police will only accept a report from a government hospital.

On the same day Saiful made a police report. It was learned that he also examined by Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), a government hospital either before or after making his report.

After the news broke, our alleged victim of male rape appeared in public smiling and waving confidently to the press, hardly looking like the typical rape victim who has been forcibly sodomized and traumatized. He also challenged Anwar to swear his innocence on the Quran.

This is not the typical behaviour of a rape victim who would normally be depressed and embarrassed and keep a low profile instead of issuing public challenges.

A male victim of rape should be even more humiliated than a female victim as it is an attack and insult on his manhood but Saiful seemed to revel in his publicity and new found fame.

During the Permatang Pauh by-election in August 2008 where Anwar was campaigning to be elected to Parliament, Saiful went to a mosque and swore on the Quran that he had been sodomized against his will in a lavish publicity stunt splashed in the mainstream press and filmed on national TV.

The swearing was prominently used by Umno to discredit Anwar in the Permatang Pauh by-election, however it failed to prevent Anwar from making a comeback as an MP with an even bigger majority than his wife who resigned to make way for him.

Apparently there is much more to this than a simple case of a rape victim seeking justice. He must either be the proudest and most publicity hungry rape victim in the world, male or female or a hapless pawn exploited by powerful people for political ends.

Swearing one’s innocence in the name of God has no meaning. A person heinous enough to participate in a vile conspiracy has certainly no fear of God. Anwar refused to swear his innocence as he maintained it is against Islamic teachings and he would not abuse religion for political purpose.

Investigation and Charge

The way the police swung into action must make an outsider think that sodomy is the biggest and most heinous crime in the country that justifies the use of unlimited manpower and resources to solve.

The apartment where the alleged crime took place was thoroughly checked with a fine tooth comb by the police forensic unit. Dozens of witnesses were interviewed.

Anwar was seized by a team of 20 balaclava clad commandos on his way to the police headquarters to give his statement in a dramatic scene as if he was Osama bin Laden.

It is normal procedure for a suspect to be given a copy of the police report made against him before taking his cautioned statement. This is to prevent him from unwittingly incriminating himself. However Anwar was denied this privilege.

Anwar was sent to a government hospital for a thorough checkup including the indignity of being stripped naked to have his body parts measured. He refused to give a blood sample fearing that his DNA may be planted as what happened in 1998.

He was detained overnight in a police cell although it was not necessary as he was only asked a few perfunctory questions the next morning before being released. However a forensic team examined his cell after his release.

Then came a tussle to get Anwar to submit a blood sample which Anwar steadfastly refused. The ruling party politicians got into the act condemning Anwar for not cooperating.

A new law called the DNA Bill was hastily drafted to make it compulsory for suspects to give bodily samples to police for DNA testing. It also included a draconian provision that the court must consider DNA evidence provided by the police conclusive and unquestionable.

Actually the police have no right to demand a blood sample from Anwar without proper safeguards. Such safeguards include giving the suspect a sample of DNA collected at the crime scene for independent testing or the possible abuse of his sample for planting his DNA cannot be discounted.

When he was charged in court, it was a shock. Despite the alleged victim insisting all along that he was forcibly sodomized, Anwar was charged for consensual sodomy under Section 377B of the Penal Code when the proper charge should have been forced sodomy under Section 377C The date, time and place of the offense were stated as June 26, 2008 between 3.01pm and 4.30pm at Desa Damansara Condominium, KL.

It is easy to understand why Anwar was charged for consensual rather than forced sodomy. It would be pretty difficult to prove how a 61 year old man with a bad back can forcibly sodomize a youth much bigger and stronger than him.

But the accuser insisted it was against his will and had even sworn on the Quran! Such a shameless discrepancy would never have happened if the charge was based on a real event.

In any event, a charge of consensual sodomy is farcical considering that homosexuality between consenting partners is not actively prosecuted in Malaysia although the archaic law exists in the books. There must be hundreds of cases occurring everyday under the noses of the police but only those involving Anwar have ever been prosecuted.

The fact that Anwar was not given a copy of the original police report before his statement to the police is prejudicial to him.

Bearing in mind that his statement contained detailed information on his whereabouts, it is not a great leap of imagination to suppose that the charge could have been based on information garnered from his statement rather than the police report which may be doctored to fit.

As of this writing, Anwar has not been given all relevant documents including CCTV recordings, witness testimonies and medical reports pertaining to his case to prepare his defence as required by law. He is appealing to the High Court to obtain them.

The Unraveling of a Sodomy Conspiracy

Notwithstanding all the irregularities, discrepancies, inconsistencies, illogicalities, unfair treatment and leaps of faith in human behaviour, there are two events which blew the case wide open.

One was the leakage of the medical report of the medical examination done on Saiful by Dr. Osman of Hospital Pusrawi in which he clearly ruled out sodomy due to the absence of any signs of forced penetration. The good doctor has also publicly stood by his findings and filed a statutory declaration to that effect.
Dr Osman is a Burmese expatriate doctor with more than 30 years experience in the medical field and has encountered many sodomy cases. He has no interest in Malaysia’s domestic politics and he did not even know that Anwar was involved when he examined Saiful. As such, he has no reason to lie.

The other event is the revelation by Anwar’s lawyers that a medical report by Hospital KL, a government hospital which did the second examination on Saiful also found no evidence of sodomy and this was endorsed by three specialists!

What will the conspirators do now that their clumsy, bumbling, blundering and awkward conspiracy has been blown apart? Will they drop the charges?

Despite the overpowering stench of conspiracy, most Malaysians believe that Anwar will be tried and convicted. It is a sad reflection of their loss of faith in the government and the judiciary.

If the conclusion of this sordid conspiracy is what many believe will be, it will only convince Malaysians that the people who govern or judge them are morally unfit to do either.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sounding Good By The Hour

Why Najib’s 1Malaysia will fail – Final
By Haris Ibrahim of The People’s Parliament
July 5, 2009

On 15th June, in Parliament, Najib purported to explain his 1Malaysia.

This is Malaysianinsider’s Hafidz Baharom’s take on that explanation :

“Personally looking at it, I still don’t understand just what exactly the 1 Malaysia concept is. I mean, even Mahathir’s Vision 2020 and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s Islam Hadhari had better explanations.

If there was one thing our beloved Prime Minister has done, it’s to confuse everyone in Malaysia with a policy that isn’t “too rigid” but unoriginal, unexplainable and downright incomprehensible to anyone but himself”.

Hafidz, in his article, alluded to his penchant for referring to Hansard. If you would like to refer to Hansard to get a blow-by-blow account of what Najib said on his 1Malaysia, you can access the same, in PDF, HERE. Go directly to page 8 for that account. Take it from page 1 if you want to read about the antics that followed Nizar’s swearing-in.

Personally, I preferred to try and make sense of Najib’s 1Malaysia, if at all possible, from his dissertation that was uploaded on his blog on 15th June and 18th June.

He starts off in the second paragraph by declaring that the ultimate goal of 1Malaysia is national unity which, he says, has been the vision of the leaders before him.

Tunku, I believe so. Hussein Onn, perhaps.



Pak Lah?

A bit of Mahathir’s ‘distortion’ creeping into 1Malaysia, don’t you think?

1Malaysia, Najib says, differs from the aspirations of earlier leaders only in its approach and implementation.

Let’s see.

In the next paragraph, with regard to his proposed approach, Najib tells us that the approach he proposes is to run in tandem with and to complement government policies thus far.

Government policies thus far?

Read that to mean a continuation of the policies put in place during Mahathir’s 22 years and Pak Lah’s 4.

The immediate objective?

Reinforce our solidarity!

The end objective?

Guarantee stability towards achieving higher growth and development for Malaysia and her people.

Hold on!

Didn’t he say earlier that the ultimate goal of 1Malaysia is national unity?

Now its higher growth and development?

In what remains of the third paragraph of his first post, Najib or whoever wrote this up for him got so confused and inadvertantly let the cat out of the bag.

See what he says :

“.…1Malaysia is a formula conceptualised as a precondition in ensuring the aspirations of the country to secure a developed status by 2020 are met”

It gets better.

“If the idea of “Bangsa Malaysia” which was engendered through Vision 2020 becomes the final destination, then 1Malaysia is the roadmap that guides us towards that destination. This definition is built upon the argument that in order achieve the status of a developed nation in the predetermined time frame, the key requisite is a strong and stable country, which can only be achieved when its people stand united“.

If I understand this man, he would have us believe that his 1Malaysia is the roadmap to the Bangsa Malaysia that Mahathir spoke of and, again, with developed-nation status as the ultimate goal!

Put simply, we must all strive for national unity to achieve developed-nation status by the year 2020 because that is what we all desire!

Are you getting a sense of the jiwa of the man who now proposes to unite us all as a nation of a single people?

Not yet?

Read the rest of his posts.

1Malaysia is not about assimilation but about acceptance, “where one race embraces the uniqueness of other races”.

The bedrock of his 1Malaysia is “justice for all…welfare of all Malaysians will be looked after, leaving noone behind”.

For this, he says, “government policies…that protect the interests of disadvantaged groups will continue to be implemented”.


Go and tell that to the 30,000 who took to the streets on 25th November, 2007. They’ll be so, so relieved.
In the seventh paragraph of his first post, where he seems to link nation-building with “the Rakyat must be the first to be developed”, I got a little hopeful.

Could it be that this man just might understand what needs to be done to begin the process of undoing the ‘divide-and-rule’ that his predecessors had crafted and to slowly but surely build a nation of a single people?

More importantly, does this man care enough to begin that process?

I read what was left of his first post and all of the second.

A lot of fancy words with no concrete ideas about how “the Rakyat must be the first to be developed” , about how to go about changing hearts and minds so that Malaysians see each other as just Malayisan and not Malay, Chinese, Indian, etc.

In both of his posts, he never touched, even in passing, on what, in my view, is the most important change that we need to see happen if the government of the day is serious about national unity.

Leslie Lau, in an article in the Malaysianinsider, shared his thoughts on this :

“The idea of national unity cannot be forced on a people. It really depends on one thing. And that is whether people believe in a country. For the most part, that probably happens when there is a sense of belonging, fair play and opportunity. And that comes from our attitudes toward each other. Education is ultimately about providing the opportunity for knowledge. If Malaysians think our education system is failing us, we must examine why and then fix it. I do not know whether the answer is to maintain the system we currently have or to have a single school system. What I do know is that schools are not the place to fix the distrust and suspicion we have of each other as Malaysians. To fix that, we have to change our attitudes”.

I’ll add to that and say that you don’t use the schools to sow the seeds of distrust and suspicion.
You use the schools to buiild the minds and hearts of our young so that they see themselves as one people of this nation.

More specifically, teach our young the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about how all the races contributed to the early development of the Malay states before independence and how those same people worked collectively to achieve independence.

Remember Kelana Jaya MP Loh Seng Kok complaining in Parliament that the syllabus of history textbooks ignored the contribution of non-bumiputeras, that “the fight against the Japanese Occupation during World War II is portrayed as only the effort of the Malays but ignored the role of Chinese and Indian Malaysians”? Malaysiakini has the report HERE, if you don’t remember.

Make the Federal Constitution a compulsory part of the history syllabus.

Teach our young that all are equal under the constitution, and that all disadvantaged Malaysians must be helped without discrimination on grounds of ethnicity or faith.

I do not suggest that this alone will cure the ills that we see in our society inflicted by the divisive policies of the past and present government.

Ignore this, however, and all other measures at forging real national unity will come to nought.
It is not that Najib is clueless.

Indeed, his recent readiness to hold talks with PAS on Malay unity and the possibility of forming a unity government is most telling.

As one commentator said in Malaysianinsider : “…when confronted with the choice of Malaysian unity or Malay unity, you would plump for the latter but attempt to wrap it as a option which would be consistent with your 1Malaysia concept”.

Like Mahathir, Najib’s jiwa is not with the people.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Little Red Enlightenment From The Past

With all the gloom and doom these days with the political front and economy in Malaysia, thought i put this post up from a humorous email a friend sent to me recently. Still classic after all these years and definitely tested thru times to be called a legend.

For those of you old enough to remember Red Skelton, I think you will enjoy this e-mail. For those of you not old enough you will see what you missed!! Either way, his humour was always clean and he was a great entertainer. A rerun of great one liner's from the man who was known for his clean humour. I hope you get a chuckle or two reading them.


1. Two times a week we go to a nice restaurant, have a Little beverage, good food and companionship
She goes on Tuesdays;
...I go on Fridays.

2. We also sleep in separate beds.
Hers is in California, and mine is in Texas.

3. I take my wife everywhere....
But she keeps finding her way back.

4. I asked my wife where she wanted to go for our anniversary.
'Somewhere I haven't been in a long time!' she said.
So I suggested the kitchen

5. We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

6. She has an electric blender, electric toaster and electric bread maker.
She said 'There are too many gadgets, and no place to sit down!'
So I bought her an electric chair.

7. My wife told me the car wasn't running well because there was water in the carburetor..
I asked where the car was.
She told me, 'In the lake.'

8. She got a mud pack, and looked great for two days.
Then the mud fell off.

9. She ran after the garbage truck, yelling, 'Am I too late for the garbage?'
The driver said, “No, jump in!”

10. Remember: Marriage is the number one cause of divorce.

11. I married Miss Right.
I just didn't know her first name was Always.

12. I haven't spoken to my wife in 18 months I don't like to interrupt her.

13. The last fight was my fault though.
My wife asked, 'What's on the TV?'
I said, 'Dust!'

Can't you just hear him say all of these?

I love it........these were the good old days when humour didn't have to start with a four letter word. It was just clean and simple fun.

And he always ended his programs with the words, 'God Bless"

Friday, July 3, 2009

"1984" In Singapore

"1984" of course refers to the title of the novel by George Orwell. Published in 1949, the novel relates an authoritarian government bent on controlling its citizen to stay in power with propaganda campaign and media white wash. Also thru a sytem of "Big Brother is watching" it depicts the kind of pervasive government existed only to streamlined it's people along a common objective of a just and order society.

Below is a 45-minute documentary on Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore and one of the world's remaining political strongmen. The film was seized by government officials (on orders of the home ministry) when it premiered at a private screening on 17 May 2008. Directed by Seelan Palay.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Don't Shoot The Messenger

Don’t shoot the messenger
by CitizenNades

“A JOURNALIST will always protect his kind,” is the common remark we usually get when we attempt to defend our professions from friends and foes who disagree with what we write or do. “You guys will never let each other down, however wrong you are,” is another often-repeated claim. I take pride in stating that if I have made a mistake, I will apologise and have done so before.

Terence Fernandez was abducted and held at gunpoint in Baghdad at the height of the US invasion in 2003. He was released unharmed – though not before two people in his convoy were shot and killed. Despite wanting to stay on, Terence was ordered home in my capacity as his editor, after consultation with the senior management of this newspaper.

I justified this decision in an open letter to the readers by saying that no story is worth your life. Many, including those in the government which had sponsored the Joint Malaysian Media Team to the war zone to give an “independent view” of the American onslaught were not happy with the decision but it stood. We were accused of being cowards but I would rather have a living coward than a dead hero.

To those who had offered support and sympathy for the 24 hours that we had lost contact with Terence, I penned these words: “It had been a harrowing day for me at the office, but nothing is more satisfying to note that our boy is still there, making me proud of being a journalist, his colleague, friend and confidante.”

Over the years, both of us had brushes with the law – not of our doing – but over-zealous law enforcers who think they can cow us into revealing our sources. We have always protected our sources and still seek legal counsel when the need arises. If we break that code, no one would ever want to deal with us. And wherever we go, we tell our audience to not treat us as enemies but as friends who can help further a common cause. Not that we would take sides, but sitting over a cuppa beats a confrontational interview, hands down, every time.

Long before Terence’s harrowing experience, there has always been a tinge of support in my heart for my brethren journalists if they had done no wrong. It was on that premise that I walked into the Brickfields police station many moons ago to demand why my late colleague Raymond Nathan was handcuffed behind his back. His “offence” was to have harshly demanded why an accident victim was not attended to immediately. Having said that, I stayed away from the cause of another journalist who was detained for drug-related offences.

Therefore, after reading the plight of Nevash Nair of The Malay Mail (where I started and honed my investigative journalism trade), who was questioned for six hours by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), I can relate my feelings. I too, not long ago, underwent a similar exercise (though I was not detained) when police officers came to record my statement on the Balkis affair. Nair’s alleged offence (gathered from news reports) was reporting what a member of Parliament experienced at the MACC office. His laptop and handphone were seized – a new experience for those in the fraternity.

What offence did he commit? Did he take a bribe from the MP or any other party to write the report? If that is the case, I would rest my case and declare that the law must take its course. However, this was not the case. While it would be wrong to “interfere” with investigations, no one has told us what Nair is being investigated for. The National Union of Journalists has come out strongly against the treatment of the journalist, but the silence on the part of two senior newsmen in the MACC’s Consultation and Anti-Corruption Panel is deafening indeed. No one expects them to defend any wrongdoer – journalist or not – but they owe a special duty to find out and explain the nature of the so-called offence and if the methodology used by the MACC in the course of its investigation is commensurate with the provisions of the Act. We are likely to be told that “MACC has wide powers” but the speed with which it embarked on Nair’s report and its almost immediate statement – the files were never missing – gives us, lesser mortals hope that the commission can work on cases and produce results in a jiffy if it wants to.

I am not against the MACC and I will be the first to admit that there are bad apples among us and there a handful who are involved in dubious deals, for whom there should be no sympathy. The MACC has a job to do and it should show no favour to anyone – journalists included. In this case, no money changed hands and apparently, they wanted to get to the bottom of the issue where the MACC officials had been quoted saying that “the files are missing”.

If I had been the investigation officer, I would have had a chat with him and asked him how and why he came to the conclusion that the files were missing. Surprisingly, to add to MACC’s perception problem, it singled out Nair while other journalists who filed similar stories were spared the detention and interrogation.

The Fourth Estate has a duty to play in nation-building and the creation of a better society. It has a duty to work with both the public and private sectors in disseminating news which the public wants. If there is something wrong, it has a job of pointing it out and if there’s something positive, it has to be reported as well. This is the credo in every journalist’s mind and most of us are aware of this when we put pen to paper. We are aware of the laws of defamation and the other punitive laws which could land us in jail. But when we are faulted for reporting what was said, is it not a case of shooting the messenger?

R. Nadeswaran does not want special dispensation of the law for journalists but asks that they be treated fairly. He is editor (special and investigative reporting at theSun. He can be reached at:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Everything Is Under Control

That’s the way to solve the problem, mate

Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim yesterday suggested that all media return to using the terminology swine flu instead of Influenza A (H1N1). It is easier for radio and TV announcers to say selsema babi (swine flu) than H1N1 in Bahasa Malaysia.

Raja Petra Kamarudin


H1N1 out of control

Attempts to contain the virus is impossible: expert

ATLANTA: Health officials estimate that as many as 1 million Americans now have H1N1 flu. Lyn Finelli, a flu surveillance official with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, voiced the estimate at a vaccine advisory meeting yesterday in Atlanta.

The estimate is based on mathematical modeling. Nearly 28,000 US cases have been reported to the CDC, accounting for roughly half the world’s cases. The US count includes 3,065 hospitalisations and 127 deaths. An estimated 15 million to 60 million Americans catch seasonal flu each year.

The percentage of cases hospitalised has been growing, but that may be due to closer scrutiny of very sick patients. It takes about three days from the onset of symptoms to hospitalisation, Finelli said, and the average hospital stay has been three days.

Other health problems have been a factor in most cases: About one in three of the hospitalised cases had asthma, 16 per cent diabetes, 12 per cent have immune system problems and 11 per cent chronic heart disease. The numbers again highlight how the young seem to be particularly at risk of catching the new virus.

But data also show that the flu has been more dangerous to adults who catch it. The average age of swine flu patients is 12, the average age for hospitalised patients is 20, and for people who died, it was 37. Meanwhile in London, it has been reported that parts of Britain now have so many cases of H1N1 flu that it cannot be contained, it was revealed yesterday.

In the worst hit areas, antiviral treatment will only be given to people with symptoms, and schools will no longer be closed. Speaking yesterday, Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, and Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, said that there were hotspots where swabbing and lab confirmations of the virus were now putting an unjustifiable strain on time and resources.

These areas, including the West Midlands and London, are now moving from the containment phase, which is led by the Health Protection Agency, to outbreak management, led by the strategic health authorities and local health trusts. Burnham said that, as of yesterday morning, there were 3,597 lab-confirmed cases of H1N1 flu in the UK.

“Majority of these cases have shown only mild symptoms, though some cases have been more serious,” he said. “Our approach has focused on containing the spread and working with the local NHS to identify cases and isolate them as quickly as possible and treat them with antivirals and treat those around them and offer prophylactic treatment to those around them.

“This is very resource-intensive, but it has been highly successful.” He added that, while containment had worked well, the Department of Health had never been under any illusions that it could prevent the spread indefinitely. — Agencies


Back to swine flu

Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim yesterday suggested that all media return to using the terminology swine flu instead of Influenza A (H1N1).

He said this was to ensure that the people realised the danger of the disease and to get the message across to them more accurately.

It is also easier for radio and TV announcers to say selsema babi (swine flu) than H1N1 in Bahasa Malaysia. – Bernama

That is how Malaysia will solve the H1N1 problem. We shall give it a new name that is easier for Malay newsreaders to pronounce. So, instead of calling it H1N1, we shall call it selsema babi.

H1N1 is a mouthful to pronounce in Malay. H-one-N-one is four syllables in English. But if in Malay, which would be H-satu-N-satu, it would be six syllables. Selsema babi is only five syllables.

“Hold on,” you might say. “If we are talking about just one extra syllable, then why is it a problem so say H-satu-N-satu as opposed to selsema babi?” Ah, but there is another reason for calling it selsema babi and not H1N1. This is, as the minister said, “To ensure that the people realise the danger of the disease and to get the message across to them more accurately.”

It seems if it is called H1N1, then people would relax and not consider it that serious a danger. But if the word ‘babi’ is attached to the disease, then people will realise that it is a very serious thing indeed.

I worry, though, that some Malaysians may start to protest if we call it selsema babi instead of H1N1. You see, some time ago, someone, somewhere decided that the word babi should no longer be used and instead it should be replaced with the word khinzir. So, will we now have to, again, change it from selsema babi to selsema khinzir to ensure that we are ‘politically correct’?

Phew, am I glad I am not a cabinet minister. Can you just see the dilemma ministers have to face in combating problems such as contagious diseases? They spend weeks of their time and have to engage in a series of meetings just to figure out what names these diseases should be called so that they can eradicate all these life-threatening diseases by giving it the proper name.

Actually, if you were to just sit down and mull over all the problems afflicting our country, with a level head, you can actually figure out all the solutions to these problems. Take, for example, the problem of loan sharks or ah longs. To those new to Malaysia, the problem of loan sharks is a 100-year old problem, long before Merdeka (independence) in 1957.

Actually, this entire thing started back in the early 1900s when the Indians and Chinese first came to this country to work the estates and tin mines. The non-whites had problems getting credit and the moneylenders from their own community played the role of banker for the small man who was not credit-worthy in the eyes of the bankers.

It was a good thing really. There were no credit cards or finance companies then. Therefore, the only way you could get a loan would be to borrow from the moneylenders. Now, there are so many credit card companies and they stop you on the streets or in shopping centres to offer you a credit card. And if you already own a credit card it is even easier to get another one. So you can actually end up owning a string of credit cards that allow you a credit line of RM5,000 each.

I have actually seen tables set up outside the banks and they would ambush you as you walk in or out of the bank to get you to sign up for a credit card. Imagine if you own ten credit cards. You could spend up to RM50,000 in one go.

Of course, this would mean on your meagre salary of RM2,000 or so it would take you decades to pay off this RM50,000 debt. But there is a solution open to you. You can then borrow RM20,000 from the ah long to pay off some of your credit card debt and then pay the ah long an exorbitant rate of interest that would eventually kill you (sometimes literally as well).

So how will the government solve this problem? Will they ban ah longs and arrest the syndicate bosses and put them behind bars? They tried this two years ago and the head of the CCD ended up getting arrested and was charged with ‘abuse of power’. So don’t try to touch the loan shark syndicate bosses unless you want to go to jail.

Okay, next solution. Will they tighten the rules on credit cards so that people who can’t afford to go into debt will be spared the agony of being swamped with debt? Of course not! That will hurt the industry. They will have to look at another solution without hurting the credit card or loan shark industry.

Anyway, the minister has gone down to the ground and after his short walkabout on a street in Kuala Lumpur he has decided to eradicate the illegal loan shark menace by making them all legal.

That’s right. Malaysia will eradicate the illegal loan shark menace by registering all loan sharks, thereby legalising them (just like how prostitutes are registered in some countries to make them legal ‘sex workers’ and in one swoop prostitution is eradicated).

Soon there will no longer be any illegal loan sharks in Malaysia. There will only be legal loan sharks. And if we can get the religious authorities to slaughter pigs according to the proper Islamic method then pork, ham and bacon will also no longer be haram. I bet the minister never thought of this one yet.