Thursday, October 28, 2010

Leave politics out of examinations

The recent announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that history would made a must-pass subject in the SPM examination at the Umno general assembly raises many doubts on his motives behind the move. Why did he choose to make such an important announcement at the Umno assembly? Shouldn’t it be more appropriate for him to make the announcement with the top officers from the Education Department? Was this decision discussed elaborately before being announced? Is there any hidden agenda behind this abrupt decision like what many believe?

While making History as core subject in primary schools may be a good move but making it a must-pass SPM subject I am afraid will not be wise as it would become just another subject that would be studied to pass the examination. History is an important subject that must be studied by all in schools but making it a compulsory exam subject will not have any benefits as our students will just memorize the historical facts just to pass or even score A in the subject. What is needed is a clear understanding of the historical facts that shaped the world in which we live. For this there is a need for lively discussion, debate and visits to places of historical sites to appreciate what, how and why certain events took place.

On the local scene the subject should be taught to make our students appreciate the real facts in history in particular those related to our country’s founding, the rule by foreign powers and the Federal Constitution and not to indoctrinate our students with a narrow and biased interpretation of these facts. It could be a tool for racial unity if it is taught rightly to enable our students of all races to value the sacrifices of the founding fathers of our nation without any ethnic distinction. It is a fact that all races contributed to what we are today and this is what they must be taught and not hidden for political or other reasons.

Besides our own history, world history should also be included as of late the knowledge in such history is rather poor. Many of our students do not know anything about major personalities who have shaped the world. Many do not know the circumstances surrounding the world wars, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and cold war between the West and Communism. Many of our students know little of the great religions of the world, in fact they are ignorant about any religion other their own, which is indeed a sad state of affairs.

There is a need to be more open about the teaching of history in schools. Teachers must be more objective and not carried away by emotions in narrating the events that took place in history. There should be no attempts to hide the truth behind the events that unfolded in the past. In fact students should be allowed to engage in discussions on the various historic events to judge for themselves the right and wrongs in history.

History is an important subject that we should be taught but making it a compulsory subject for the passing of an examination is taking it too far. Furthermore the timing and place of the announcement of the decision at the Umno general assembly smacks of a political motive and politicization of our education system in particular the crucial examination like the SPM is indeed detrimental to the future of the nation.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Moving on as Malaysians

Leaving behind the pendatng issue and move on

At the recent 57th MCA general assembly, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak declared that the Chinese are loyal citizens of Malaysia and should not be perceived as immigrants. This was one the strongest statements from a prime Minister on the status of non-Malays in the country.Many may be skeptical of his but should be turning point in the history of the nation.

After four to five generations of arriving in the country how can they be still regarded as immigrants or ‘pendatang’ when they all born and bred here. In fact many of them have never set foot on a foreign soil. It would be unfair and illogical to call them pendatang and thereby deny them of equal opportunities with their other fellow Malaysians.

Pendatang or otherwise Malaysians of all races have contributed greatly to elevate the nation to where it is today. They have all also benefitted immensely from that development for which they are all thankful. Despite having originated from different lands, they were exceptionally united in fighting the colonialists, the Japanese and the communists which led to the formation of truly independent nation. Unfortunately the unity that existed then is fast eluding us which should indeed be a cause for concern. After more than half a century, isn’t it time for us to put aside this issue of pendatang and move forwards as Malaysians?

The time has come to recognize Malaysians by their contributions to the country regardless of race. The time has come to tap the potential of all citizens to remain competitive in today’s fast moving global world which recognizes no borders based on ethnicity. The time has come to give assistance to all Malaysians in need regardless of ethnicity, as the primary concern should be poverty. The time has come to create a mindset to regard all citizens as equal and legitimate citizens, who are here to stay and share the fortunes and misfortunes of the nation which we all regard as our motherland.

The Prime Minister has declared and introduced the 1Malaysia concept to fulfill these aspirations to make Malaysia a modern, progressive and united nation. To make this a reality, the Barisan Nasional, in particular Umno must lead the way do away with race politics which is the main obstacle to the ideals of 1Malaysia. Race-based political parties must ultimately make way for multi-racial ones which will ultimately breed leaders who will regard themselves as Malaysians and champion the plight of all citizens not just their own race. Only with such leaders will we be able to ensure that no one community, however small, is neglected for whatever reasons.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Giving time for others - the story of Jack and Besler

Giving time for others

This story which was mailed to me by a friend illustrates that people value our time we give them more than anything else,money,food and gifts. In our hurry to pursue our goals in life we tend to overlook that many people around us are in need. Even those who cared for us in the past are conveniently forgotten as they are out of our sight.

As we grow older we will realize that unless we give a little of our time for others, they too will not have time for us when we are in need. This is a fact of life, which the sooner we realize the better.

Thank you for your time

Jack & Mr. Besler

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams.

There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

"Jack, did you hear me?"

"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.

"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.

"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said

"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important... Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he returned home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture... .Jack stopped suddenly.

"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone," he said

"What box?" Mom asked.

"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. "Mr. Harold Belser" it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside.

"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:

"Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser."

"The thing he valued most time"

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. "Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.

"I need some time to spend with my son," he said.

"Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!"

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away,"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Adopting a mindset of moderate thinking

The Star,Oct 7,reported that many leaders attending the Eighth Asia-Europe Summit (Asem) have expressed support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s call to make moderate thinking a global trend. The positive response from world leaders has prompted the PM to think of ways to promote such moderate thinking worldwide

The biggest challenge to world peace in extremism of any sort be it racial, religious or any other ideologies. Although all religions came into to existence to promote peace among men but today their abuses have become a serious threat to that peace itself. In fact religious extremism has become the most serious threat to the human race today and unless moderation is adopted by all there is real fear of the extinction of the human race with the availability of sophisticated nuclear weapons. The PM’s call for moderation is indeed timely and wise and must be heeded by the world community.

While our PM’s call was well received by leaders outside, it is more important for our own leaders to heed his call. As the saying goes ‘Charity begins at home’ so must moderation also begin at home where extremism is also from time to time threatening to disrupt the peace and harmony in our multi-racial and multi religious nation. Of late there has been number of incidences that were the result of such extremist attitude among some members of the population and even leaders at high level. These numbers may nevertheless be small but if not nipped at the bud, the damage they could cause to undo the peace and harmony can be tremendous.

The authorities should be firm to act against anyone, regardless of race, religion, political affiliation or social status, who is seen to advocate extremism in any form. Prompt and stern action against such people is the only way to deter those who may want to resort to such extremist activities for their own vested interests. Those in positions of power and influence, like political leaders, educators and civil servants must be seriously warned not to say or do anything that would touch on the sensitivities of others. Activities that encourage religious and racial moderation must be held from time to time to emphasize its importance among all such leaders.

A moderate mindset is of utmost importance for ensuring lasting peace among the diverse ethnic groups in our country. We may have many ideal policies to promote tolerance among the people, the latest being the 1Malaysia policy. These will remain just political rhetoric unless there are deliberate and sincere attempts to implement them without fear or favor. We must not let the few with extremist’s minds among us to derail the peace and harmony that the vast majority of Malaysians want.

Historic Parliament after historic GE14

  New Parliament symbol of hope and democracy Congratulations to all our newly elected MPs. The first session of the 14th ...