Archive for June, 2013

On two wheels and a prayer

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

The lanes used by motorcyclists can be a dangerous place to be. And it’s not just bad roads and poor lighting. There can also be criminals and thugs looking for victims. The roads have to be made safe for motorcyclists, too.

IT was quite late in the night. A friend and colleague was going home after a series of meetings in the office.

As usual, he was on his bike on the motorcycle lane at the Federal Highway.

There was a pothole in the road up ahead. He did not see it.

He rode right into it and was flung against the wall of a tunnel. He broke his neck and died on the spot. His young children were left fatherless in an instant.

The motorcycle lane can be a very dangerous place to be.

And it’s not just the potholes and the trenches that seem to appear out of nowhere.

Countless stories have been told of how the lanes have become a haunt for criminals and thugs.

One friend tells of how he was stopped by an “innocent looking” couple, only to see a group of five or so youths coming at them with parang from the main highway.

Luckily, the guy had stopped a short distance ahead of the group.

He fled for his life, scooting off on his bike and lived to tell the tale.

Another couple were stopped by a few young boys. They, too, saw another armed group waiting nearby.

by Dorairaj Nadason.

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A burning issue that needs to be doused for good

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

TO say we are all in a foul mood would be an understatement. As the haze makes its way across the country, only the residents of Sandakan and Tawau are able to enjoy good quality air.

The rest of us, especially those in haza­r­­­dous zones, are simply too choked up to respond to the “same old” comments that accompany the haze as it makes its annual pilgrimage across the region.

The reality is not about how high the API readings are, whether cloud-seeding operations can be carried out or whether the ministerial meetings will come to any meaningful conclusions.

What is real is waking up in the morning and wondering if your child should go to school or if your elderly mother with asthma should be sent to the hospital as a precaution.

What is real is whether the pollutants carried by the haze that result in short-term effects like ear, nose and throat irritations may one day lead to more serious ailments like lung and nose cancer.

That the problem repeats itself year in year out, with no solution in sight, may lull us into a false sense of having to live with the circumstances and to accept things as they are.

So we look forward to the day when the sun will shine again, the red moon will return to yellow, and blue skies and everything nice will be the order of the day.

The Star Says,

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The police watch over us. Who watches over the police? (OPINION)

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Every modern police force in the world today requires a civilian oversight committee to watch over its men in blues.

This fact was recognised as early as 1829 by London Police Commissioner Sir Robert Peel who started transforming the London police from a force of village constables and night watchmen into a modern police force.

With the creation of a highly visible, distinctive, uniformed, full-time, paid police force organised on quasi- military lines came the fear of omnipresent police that would curtail civil liberties.

Thus was born the police oversight commission or civilian oversight committee call it by what name you want, but its role is almost always the same.

We need something, someone or some independent mechanism to watch over our men in blues – to accept complaints against police, and vice versa, to investigate, to punish and to recommend changes to the force to make it better.

Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge V T Singham said the same in his judgement Wednesday ordering the government to pay RM801,700 in damages to the family of police detainee A. Kugan who killed in custody in 2009.

The family won their civil suit against the police and the government. Kugan’s mother Indra Nallathamby, 43, had filed the civil suit claiming RM100 million in damages against the government and the police over what she claimed as the “brutal murder” of her son.

While the judge upheld her claims that Kugan was wrongly imprisoned and that the defendants had breached their duty of care to him, he also urged the speedy setting up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

He noted an increase in the number of death in custody cases and that this increase warrants the setting up of an independent commission such as IPCMC.

by Baradan Kuppusamy.

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Teaching Inequality: Denial, Defensiveness, and the Diminishing of Oppression

Friday, June 28th, 2013

As a sociology teacher, not only do I discuss topics related to oppression and inequality, but these topics comprise a pervasive and substantial portion of our pedagogy. The chapters on class stratification, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality are a required chunk of the curriculum by the social science department, and an obvious pedagogical necessity to the social scientist who knows that our location on the social hierarchy is tremendously dependent upon the “isms”—on an individual and institutional level. When covering a lesson on privilege and oppression—almost inexorably, and amongst others—at least one of the following responses from students ensues: denial, defensiveness, and/or diminishment. Aptly enough, their reactions exemplify a part of the lesson, and therefore can be used as a learning device in the liberal arts and social sciences classroom.

Denial is a common response from students (and the general public, for that matter) when discussing the existence of gender inequality in the United States. This mentality is revealed in such sentiments as “it’s not like it’s the 1950s anymore,” or “but my mom makes all the money in our family,” and is frequently—though not exclusively—retorted by male students. In the book, Privilege, Power, and Difference, Johnson (2006) analogizes the privileged group member speaking for and defining the experiences of the “cultural other” to that of a parent dismissing a child’s cries after a fall: If a child falls down, a parent might say, “you’re fine, no crying, it really doesn’t hurt that much,” when, for all the parent knows, the child may have broken a bone. Similarly, Johnson contends, “members of privileged groups are culturally authorized to interpret other people’s experiences for them, to deny the validity of their own reports, and to impose their views of reality” (109).

When statements similar to the above arise in the classroom setting, instructors can employ the parent/child analogy to explain how dominant groups often denunciate experiences of others. The classroom discussion itself, a microcosm of society, may serve as an example of power dynamics of the larger culture. The teacher might begin by asking if the classroom is a component of society, and if elements of the larger culture can be found represented in the classroom. The teacher may subsequently inquire: “Why is there a tendency to deny that inequality exists when discussing it in the classroom?” Alternatively, perhaps an instructor can preemptively use this common tendency as a hook—even before comments such as these are made—to instigate a discussion: “It is not the 1950s anymore. People have more rights than ever before, and yet for some this doesn’t seem to be enough. Do I— do we—really even need to listen to the voices of others if they are demanding change? Does a person/group from poverty have more authority to speak about their experiences in poverty than myself, coming from the middle-class? What could that person really know that I don’t?!” Prompts like these often result in a good, active discussion.

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Don: Students have poor grasp of history despite scoring ‘A’.

Friday, June 28th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Many students have poor knowledge of the country’s history despite being able to score “A” in examinations, said historian Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr. Khoo Kay Kim.

The academic said many not only failed to appreciate but also failed to learn about the country’s fascinating history.

“When I asked who was Tun Tan Cheng Lock, they just smiled and did not know the answer. Some of them don’t even know the history of their own school. It is sad.

“If you know history, you will be surprised what this country is made of,” he said in his presentation at the 2nd Education Nation Conference here yesterday.

Khoo also lamented that today’s examination and result-oriented education system had changed the way students were being educated, where many of them studied by memorising and not learning by understanding.

“Those days, it was difficult to even get 70 marks in history, but now they can score 90 plus.

“Many schoolchildren just memorise essays because they can more or less spot the topics that will come out (in the examinations).”

Khoo said teachers should also re-evaluate their role and be effective educators who could work with students to develop their minds, instead of just helping them to score “A” in the examinations.

Teachers innovate to get their students interested

Friday, June 28th, 2013

PASSION FOR VOCATION: They will present papers at an international conference on their experiences.

SHAH ALAM: IF you think that Malaysian teachers are not as creative nor passionate about teaching as their peers in other countries, then think again.

For the teachers presenting papers at the “International Education Conference on Innovative and Creative Learning and Teaching” tomorrow, teaching is not only a passion, it is an art.

“I found that by asking students to assume the personalities of historical personalities and leaders, they can retain information better.

“For example, a student can assume that he is Alexander the Great and write about the personality by getting into the character.

“This means they will experience his story and remember better,” said History teacher R. Muhuntan, 44, from SMK (P) Kapar, whose paper is entitled My autobiography in teaching History.

Muhuntan said this technique helped students, especially the weaker ones, because those in Form Four and Form Five had to learn about 487 historical leaders.

“Usually, students these days do not recognise nor appreciate the good virtues of leaders. By doing this, they will know their leaders and their contributions.”

English teacher Rachel Sharmala Koruthu, 45, from SMK Rawang, uses “cariterature” (caricature and literature) to help her students memorise literature characters.

by Mazlina Mahmood.

SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah welcomed Semester June 2013 New Students

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

SIDMA College, UNITAR International University Sabah, welcome 200 new students who have just registered for the June Semester 2013 Foundation, Diploma or Bachelor UNITAR courses offered at SIDMA College. The two days event which started on 20 June 2013 beginning 8.00 am was held at SIDMA Atrium.

Prof. Dr. Morni Hj. Kambrie, SIDMA Chairman, in his welcoming address congratulated the students for making the right choice in choosing SIDMA College; UNITAR International Sabah; a college whose priority is on the students’ future in building them a successful career.

SIDMA College, which began offering UNITAR Courses since 2002 has most of its graduates employed both in the public and private sectors and currently most of these graduates are holding senior posts.

He also explained that being a UNITAR regional centre, the courses offered here (Foundation / Diploma / Bachelors courses) are exactly the same programme as offered at UNITAR main campus in Petaling Jaya, Selangor which are fully registered and approved by MQA.

Registered students can also apply for financial assistance, such as PTPN loan to finance their studies.

As part of SIDMA commitment to excellence, Dr. Morni also encouraged students to communicate with him or to any other SIDMA staff should they faced problems regarding their studies and to sit together to discuss and find ways to overcome their study problems.

Acting CEO, Puan Azizah Khalid Merican, took the opportunity to highlight to these new students, some of the do’s and don’t as students of the college; such as the vision, mission, corporate day, rules and regulations of the college.

She also encouraged students to concentrate on their studies and strictly adheres to the course requirement of their studies such as registration schedule, study / FTF schedule, and examination schedule. Any changes made need to be referred to the relevant department / person in charge.

Puan Azizah also took the opportunity to highlight some of the previous achievement both in academic and co-curricular such sports, games, cultural activities participated by SIDMA, UNITAR Sabah students from the previous semester, organized both internally or by other institutions or organizations. SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah has been well-known for its excellent achievement in sports and games participated by our students.

She advised all students to be committed and to keep up with the spirit of a good sportsmanship in whatever activities they participated in order to continuously keeping up the good name of the college and the university.

Ms Caprisandy Appollonius Andrew, Registrar, took the opportunity to explain all the requirements and procedures related to students registration and urged students to abide by it.

She also explained to the students about CLIX, the new UNITAR Virtual Learning Environment that these students can access for their respective lecture notes, courses of studies, participate in forum discussion, and more. By September 2013, all UNITAR students will in CLIX.

The new students were also being briefed by Manager and key person from the Finance Department, Academic Department, Resource Centre and the Student Affairs Department and being introduced to the various facilities available and the key personnel in each of these departments.

The last event of the program was the new student’s orientation which was conducted by the Student Representative Council (SRC). The SRC conducted ice-breaking and team building sessions to get the new students to understand and to know each other better, as well as to know the existing staff and the college better.

Overall, Prof Dr. Morni, SIDMA Board of Management and staff warmly welcome these new students. They too strongly encouraged these students to really prepare themselves and to fully equip themselves with all the necessary knowledge and skills in order to be able compete in the rapidly changing and complex world.

Thus, during their study here, the students need to fully immerse themselves in their academic studies, develop all the necessary skills, such as communication, talents, thinking skills, research skills, technical skills and most important to be a lifelong learner.

They must always be open and receptive to new information, learn to be both an effective leader and a good team player. They must be able feel free, be an independent learner, flexible; explore and seize opportunities to mix academic knowledge and sports through the wide range of activities and supports provided both by SIDMA and by UNITAR.

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Cop was supplying info to the Sulu militants: Witness

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Kota Kinabalu: The High Court trial of Hassan Hj Ali Basari, a police corporal charged with intentionally withholding information related to terrorist acts heard, Tuesday, that police began tapping his conversations for possible complicity when a group of Sulu militants intruded at Kg Tanduo in Lahad Datu, early this year.

The prosecution’s protected witness Number Two, who was testifying under protection from an undisclosed location within the courthouse building, told Justice Ravinthran Paramaguru that he/she listened to the communication upon being instructed by the superior.

The witness, an administrative assistant at Special Branch in Bukit Aman police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, told the court that his/her duty was to process the information and do a translation, if needed, as he/she was fluent in Suluk, Bajau and Malay.

Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Dato’ Nordin Hassan during examination-in-chief, the witness said three interceptions were made on Feb. 25, March 2 and March 3, 2003.

Referring to a document dated Feb 25, the witness said the conversation was between Datu Amir Bahar and Raja Datu Agbimuddin in Suluk at 10.31pm whereby Amir, who made the call, informed Raja he had been tipped off by Hassan that the Malaysian government would be coming at 12.30am, to which Raja replied they would be ready.

Datu Amir also said that Hassan and Husin were brothers and like their own family. The witness said by monitoring daily, he/she could identify their voices.

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Half of Faculty Say Their Job is More Difficult Today than Five Years Ago

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

If you find yourself working longer hours or maybe feeling a bit more stressed at the end of the day, you’re not alone. Fifty percent of college faculty who completed the annual Faculty Focus reader survey said that their job is more difficult than it was five years ago. Only nine percent said their job is less difficult, while 33 percent said it’s about the same.

For those who find their job more challenging, the reasons are wide-ranging. Some mentioned larger classes or a heavier course load, while for others it’s keeping up with technology or a move to the online classroom that’s adding extra hours to their work day. Additional committee work and administrative responsibilities also were mentioned frequently, as were budget cuts that have reduced the availability of resources and support. Finally, many readers commented that today’s students often bring new challenges because they seem less prepared and less motivated for the rigors of college, are more likely to argue about assignments and grades, or, in some cases, are stretched thin themselves due to work or family responsibilities.

Compared to five years ago, would you say your job is more difficult, less difficult, or about the same?

Survey demographics
The annual Faculty Focus reader survey was conducted in April 2013 with 1,247 higher education professionals completing the online survey out of the 85,789 subscribers who received the invitation to participate. Approximately 65 percent identified themselves as professor/instructor, with the largest percentage (32.4 percent) working at four-year public institutions, followed by four-year private institutions (25.6 percent), and two-year public institutions (22.7 percent). In terms of how long they have worked in higher education, it ranged from fewer than five years (18.5 percent), six to 10 years (24 percent), 11-15 years (17.6 percent), 16-20 years (11.8 percent) and more than 20 years (28 percent).

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Defining and Promoting Teamwork in the Classroom

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Group work and teamwork. In college courses the terms refer to students working together, often on an assignment or an activity. Group work is the more neutral term, whereas teamwork implies something about how the students are working together. And although teamwork is easy to identify when we see it on a playing field or court, what does teamwork look like in a college classroom?

I found a useful answer in an article by Deeter-Schmelz, Kennedy, and Ramsey. They propose a list of behaviors which can help students and teachers understand what teamwork looks like when it happens in a group. Here’s a slightly edited version of what they propose.

A good team player:

  • Works toward the understood goals of the team
  • Contributes to an informal, comfortable, and tension-free work environment
  • Is enthusiastic about working with the team
  • Follows through on commitment
  • Takes pride in the team’s work
  • Shows interest in other team members’ achievements
  • Readily accepts feedback on performance
  • Encourages others to achieve at high levels
  • Is able to stay focused on team tasks
  • Openly communicates with others in the group
  • Is sensitive to the feelings of other group members
  • Is able to resolve conflict effectively
  • Is eager to try new approaches.


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