Archive for May, 2014

Constructive memes to forge ahead

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

MENTAL REVOLUTION: Dynamic and inspiring ideas of individuals help many civilisations achieve their goals.

THE study of the ideas of individuals and of the driving ideas of the nation remain an exciting and yet a relatively unexplored domain of knowing and understanding.

Dynamic ideas are hard to come by, interesting to discover, uncover, or map out. The cartography of development ideas of the nation mirrors the cartography of ideas of different individuals across the stages of development.

The tracking of these various ideas are like the tracking of lost civilisations, lost kingdoms, lost Malay manuscripts in the sinking of the Portuguese Flor de lar Mar in 1511, the tracking of germs and bacteria or missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Memes are like the particles in physics, the DNA of the body of ideas.

In 1957, there was the canopy of ideas of Independence, the meaning of Independence and the meaning of voting. When so many adults were illiterate, adult literacy was important and those who were illiterate had to learn to make marks on ballot papers — the Xs.

Getting people to learn to sign their names was important, but that simple signature was part of a bigger transformation, the agenda of basic literacies of the three Rs, reading, writing and arithmetic — later on religion and moral education were included.

The basic literacies were to be for all — the agenda of universal education, primary education for all, mass education at the secondary level and elitist education in the tertiary world.

By the late 1990s, there was the articulation of the policy of the democratisation of higher education, that is universal higher education. This is one exciting tracking of a meme. There are other memes in the realm of politics, economics, law, literature and ordinary living.

‘Education key to conservation’

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

SAMARAHAN: The most challenging task in carrying out wildlife conservation in oil palm plantations are when human settlements are present in the conservation area.

There are six longhouses in the Sawai forests, Suai, which is right at the boundary between the Miri and Bintulu divisions. To the people living there, hunting is a part of their culture, and to stop them from doing so was not an easy task.

Wilmar International Limited’s general manager for group sustainability Simon Siburat said it took years to educate villagers of the importance of protecting endangered species in their surrounding areas and the value inherent in their local ecology.

“We have 1,500ha of conservation land within our plantations.

“We have recorded the presence of clouded leopards, Orang Utan, civet otters, proboscis monkeys and other animal species.

“Through years of educating the local communities, we are proud to say that some of the longhouse residents are now part of our wildlife ranger programme.

“These rangers are empowered with full police authority to undertake daily patrols targeting illegal logging and hunting in the area,” said Simon.

He said the corporation recognised the importance of environmental management and hoped to protect the wildlife within their plantations.

In Malaysia, Wilmar International Limited’s conservation areas cover about 7,000ha of land, with 1,500ha in Sarawak.

Yesterday, the corporation signed a memorandum of understanding with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in matters relating to wildlife conservation and environmental management to ensure sustainable development of oil palm plantation at the campus here.

Simon represented the corporation, while Unimas was represented by its vice-chancellor, Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi.

Kadim said Sarawak has close to 1.2 million hectares of oil palm plantation, amounting to 24 per cent of the total plantation area in Malaysia. It produced three million tons of crude palm oil last year.

PAM Sabah backs call to preserve Prince Philip Park.

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: PAM Sabah Chapter supports many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are voicing their concern over the likely disappearance of the historical Prince Philip Park in the future.

Its chairman, Ar Victor Wong, who has just returned from Kuala Lumpur after the PAM Council meeting, urged the authorities to preserve the park rather than re-zoning for private development.

He was commenting on the Draft KK Local Plan 2020, in which Prince Philip Park has been re-zoned into HR, or Hotel and Resorts.

According to Wong, not many people realize that the park was named after his royal highness, Prince Philip who visited Jesselton, North Borneo then in the 1950s. Many traditional huts and atap huts were constructed for the occasion, with indigenous folks from all over North Borneo then, to welcome the prince in a big, big way.

“As a school boy, it was my first cultural shock to see the so many natives in their traditional costumes, not seen before!” he said.

“I used to walk along the beach from Tanjung Aru to the Petagas River in an hour or so during the weekends. The long stretch of sandy beach was nice and beautiful, and occasionally ponies with riders were seen galloping along the beach” he added.

“However, it was most regrettable and unfortunate that the fate of our beaches has suffered a double blow since then. The first was during the 1970s when the beach was divided into two stretches by the airport runway, to create sufficient length for the Boeing aircraft. Then in the 1980s, the construction of the Tanjung Aru Beach Hotel further divided the northern stretch into two. As a result it is no longer possible to walk along the whole stretch of the beach from north to south,” he added.

Wong further commented that Prince Philip Park has been bestowed with the best sunset scene in the whole of Malaysia, where one can see the setting sun sinking gracefully below the water in the horizon.

“This God-given phenomenon is priceless and unique to Prince Philip Park that we should appreciate and be proud of. Thousands of tourists, especially those from the heartland of China who have not seen the sea in their entire life, are often seen flocking to the Tanjung Aru beach, to watch the setting sun, to have their feet getting wet in shallow water, and simply to listen to the sounds of the waves.

“Should we allow private development to take over Prince Philip Park and deprive the majority of the public to witness the sensational happening in nature?” he asked.

Wong stressed that Prince Philip Park has already become an important contributing factor in the promotion of tourism in the State, and brings in foreign revenues and exchanges, making our economics more dynamic and vibrant. Rightly so, Kota Kinabalu should be accorded as a “Beach City”. This will be the envy of our neighboring state, Sarawak, where its capital Kuching is sited along the Kuching River, with no beach fronting the city.

“The entire length of our beach is only approximately 3km, and this is very short compared to the 14km of Miami Beach, Florida and 40km of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The double blow as stated earlier was already bad enough, and any further reduction in the length of our beaches will reflect poor city planning,” he said.

“We should not allow the Prince Philip Park to disappear under private development,” he emphasized strongly.

Teach boys to respect women at early age, says NGO

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

PETALING JAYA: The Government should introduce gender sensitisation in the education system to teach children, especially boys, to respect women at an early age.

Sisters In Islam programme manager Suri Kempe said several intervention programmes exist in other countries that teach young men to redefine masculinity and dissociate it from violence to reduce sexual assaults.

“If we truly want to see a cultural shift in the way we treat our women, the more holistic approach would be to introduce gender sensitisation into the education syllabus,” Suri told The Star yesterday.

She said the number of rape cases being reported by the media was extremely worrying and said women were perpetually at risk because men were not taught to respect women.

“When we tell a boy not to do house chores because it ‘is women’s work’ or that in football he needs to kick harder, because he kicks ‘like a girl’, we teach our boys that girls and women are inferior,” said Suri.

“Boys are being raised in a culture where being masculine means being aggressive, and that it is perfectly acceptable to use violence to get what you want.”

She was commenting on the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by some 30 men in Kelantan. The girl is believed to have been gang-raped and likely sodomised at an empty house in Ketereh.

Wanita MIC chief Mohana Muniandy said that severe action must be taken against the perpetrators.

“We call on the lawmakers, police department and the Government to do everything in their power to take up radical reforms, ensure justice and reach out to make women (feel) more safe and secure,” she said.

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) executive committee member Meera Samanther expressed concern as the incident looked like it was planned in advance.

“We don’t normally hear gang rape with this number. We are horrified that this has happened,” she said.

The schoolgirl had gone out to meet a female friend but was instead lured into an empty house where she was gang-raped.

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A unique royal institution

Friday, May 30th, 2014

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is head of state but not the head of government, and reigns but does not rule.

EVERY year the first Saturday of June is commemorated as the official birthday of our Yang di-Pertuan Agong. With the day approaching, attention is drawn to the uniqueness of this royal, federal institution and its potentially pivotal role in the life of the nation.

Unique features: The system of constitutional monarchy at the federal level is a rich blend of British conventions and Malay royal traditions. The unique rotational system is grounded in Negri Sembilan’s history of customary Chiefs (Undang) of the various districts (Luak) taking turns to occupy the post of Yang di-Pertuan Besar. The office of the federal Yang di-Pertuan Agong exhibits many other unique features.

First, the monarch is elected by and from amongst the Rulers of the nine Malay states. Second, the position is rotational under a fascinatingly complex system detailed in the Third Schedule.

Third, the post is not permanent. The King is elected for a period of five years and cannot be re-elected to a consecutive term.

Fourth, in addition to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, there is a Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong who acts on behalf of the King if the monarch is unable to exercise his functions due to illness or absence.

But if the monarch dies in office, the Timbalan does not become King automatically. Nor does he fill out the remainder of the deceased sovereign’s term. He fills the breach till the Conference of Rulers elects a new King and a new deputy.

Fifth, unlike in the United Kingdom where the monarchy knows of no break and a new monarch’s accession is always backdated to the date of the previous sovereign’s demise, in Malaysia a time lapse may exist between the end of one reign and the beginning of another.

Sixth, under the Federal Constitution the King suffers from several legal disabilities. For example, as long as he is the federal monarch, he is not allowed to exercise his functions as State Ruler except in regard to his role as head of Islam, amendments to his State Constitution and the appointment of a Regent or Council of Regency.

Seventh, since 1993, the King enjoys no immunity in civil or criminal law.

Eighth, the King is removable from office. This is possible in three direct or indirect ways.

* Dismissal by the Conference of Rulers – a unique provision of accountability of the King to his brother Rulers.

* If he ceases to be the ruler of his State in accordance with the Constitution of his State.

* If he is charged with a criminal offence in the Special Court, he is suspended temporarily from his office. If he is acquitted, he resumes office.

If convicted, he may be pardoned by the Conference of Rulers. If not pardoned, presumably he loses his office.

by Shad Saleem Faruqi.

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A Sultan’s legacy

Friday, May 30th, 2014

It’s a sad day for Perak and the judiciary. Sultan Azlan Shah is no more. But it’s sadder still for the hockey fraternity. Not only did he lead the hockey players in good times, he also made sure they would not fall into bad times when they retired.

HE was the consummate hockey man – a player for his state, a national selector who was behind the rise of some of the greatest names to have graced our hockey fields and, finally, the president of the Malaysian Hockey Federation for close to three decades.

Sultan Azlan Shah was indeed the father of Malaysian hockey, the man behind the sport in the country for as long as anyone can remember. But it wasn’t just the love for the game on the pitch that set him apart from everyone else. It was the fact that he cared for the sportsmen (and women), the athletes.

It was he who was behind the setting up of Yayasan Hockey – a scholarship fund for ­talented hockey players – in 1990. He was also instrumental in the setting up of a players’ retirement fund.

Under his watch, hockey players were not just a motley crew chasing a ball with a stick. They were doctors, degree holders, highly qualified professionals, CEOs even. His hockey set-up saw to it that the players would always have a successful career when they left the game.

His successor as president of Malaysian hockey – it’s called the Malaysian Hockey Confederation now – is set to leave the game. The president is Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the man who has just been elected as leader of the Football Association of Malaysia.

Tengku Abdullah, however, has his work cut out for him as head of Malaysian football. Detractors may question his record – after all, he has been deputy president for years. However, we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, the outgoing president was the Sultan of Pahang – his father – so it must have been tough trying to tell his father how things should be done.

Now that he is his own man and president, let’s see what he can do.

Tengku Abdullah is an avid football fan and was a good player as well. He has asked for four years and deserves at least as much.

He has to chart a future for the football team that has fallen to new depths. But there’s a lesson he has to bring for the late Sultan Azlan Shah, too. He must not forget the past. And those who have served the country

Just last Sunday, I was in Malacca, as a ­veteran’s football team from Penang took on a team in Malacca. And there, among my many friends from Penang, was one famous son of the state.

A. Rukkumaran (pic) was one of the biggest stars of the national team in the 1980s. To then coach Frank Lord, he was the lynchpin of the team, and he was “Rocky” to all headline ­writers.

by Dorairaj Nadason.

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Sultan He ascends throne and pledges to rule state fairly

Friday, May 30th, 2014

New Sultan: Sultan Nazrin Shah signing the declaration on his proclamation as the 35th Ruler of Perak before the caske t bearing th e body of his father, Sultan Azlan Shah, at Istana Iskandariah in Kuala Kangsar. — Bernama

New Sultan: Sultan Nazrin Shah signing the declaration on his proclamation as the 35th Ruler of Perak before the caske t bearing th e body of his father, Sultan Azlan Shah, at Istana Iskandariah in Kuala Kangsar. — Bernama

KUALA KANGSAR: Raja Muda of Perak Raja Nazrin Shah has been proclaimed the new Sultan of Perak. He will now be known as Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.

The proclamation was made at the Balairong Seri (Throne Room) of the Istana Iskandariah at 3.15pm yesterday.

It began with Orang Kaya Bendahara Seri Maharaja Jen (rtd) Tan Sri Mohd Zahidi Zainuddin reading out the proclamation and announcing the new Sultan.

“Based on the Article 6 of the State Constitution Schedule 2, with the full consent and endorsement by the state Dewan Negara which convened on May 28, Raja Nazrin Shah has been appointed the new Sultan of Perak,” he said.

Following that, Sultan Nazrin stepped to the throne where he pledged to rule the state fairly.

“I swear, Wallahi, Wabillahi, Watallahi, that I will rule Perak fairly based on the state constitution and Allah’s law,” he said, before signing the declaration of oath.

Zahidi then hailed “Daulat Tuanku” three times and everyone present followed suit.

Mufti of Perak Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria followed up with a recital of the “Doa Selamat”.

Sultan Nazrin then placed his hands on the casket of the late Sultan Azlan Shah and kissed it to signal that the funeral ceremony could proceed.

There are several other ceremonies that are part of the installation of the Sultan of Perak, including visits to royal mausoleums across the state.

The eldest son of the late Sultan Azlan and his consort Tuanku Bainun, 57-year-old Sultan Nazrin is a caring Ruler who takes a personal interest in the welfare and concerns of the state’s subjects.

As Raja Muda and the Regent of Perak, the 35th Perak Ruler was actively involved in various charitable causes.

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SIDMA College staff gets Harvest Festival goodies! (May2014)

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

The Kaamatan Festival (Pesta Menuai) is a very unique rice harvest festival celebrated on 30 and 31 May annually. The largest indigenous group of Sabah, namely the Kadazandusuns, who were mainly agrarian and subsistence rice farmers, celebrate this annual event with good spirits, cheer, and festivities.

Sabah’s harvest festival is closely associated with the cultural and religious belief systems in which the “Bobohizans”, the female shamans played a paramount role. It is a complex religious practice centered on the paddy rites of passage and the life cycle of Bambarayon – the in-dwelling spirit of paddy.

For generations, the Kadazandusun ethnic community of Sabah has celebrated Kaamatan as a thanksgiving for a bountiful paddy harvest, close family and friendship ties, and a hope for continuous good harvests in years to come.

The theme for this year celebration is “Culture: Foundation of Peace and Friendship” (Koubasanan – Koimpowon Do Pibabasan Om Piombolutan), which is most appropriate as family and friends do make that extra effort in coming together for family gatherings.

During this auspicious occasion, Prof Dr. Morni Hj Kambrie, SIDMA College Chairman announced the distribution of Kaamatan goodies to its staff celebrating the festival as a symbolic gesture to thank all who had loyally supported and contributed towards SIDMA’s good “harvests”.

Goodies in the form of canned drinks and sacks of 10 kilogram rice were distributed to all staff by Puan Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO SIDMA College) on 28 May 2014 at SIDMA Atrium beginning 4.00 pm. The event was managed and coordinated by SIDMA Staff Welfare Association (PKKKSS), headed by Mr. Zain Azrai.

Mr Zain Azrai, on behalf of PKKKSS committee and all SIDMA staff took the opportunity to thank Dr. Morni (and family) for his generosity. He felt that we, as staff of Sidma College, are fortunate and blessed to have a just and caring boss; someone who takes into account his staff’s welfare as one of his many important priorities; a man whose heart is for his people – people of all races and cultural traditions. This is just one of his many humble ways of fostering, preserving and propagating harmony and unity through diversity of our college.

Kotobian Tadau Tagazo Do Kaamatan and Happy Harvest Festival Celebration from Prof Dr, Morni Hj Kambrie, Puan Azizah Khalid Merican, Puan Azlina Ngatimin (Director), Mr Lim Chin Tong (Registrar), Mr. David Tiongin Lumbok (Chairman, Board of Governance), Managers, Heads of Departments, Lecturers and staff.

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Time to give thanks for the harvest

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Kaamatan has gone beyond an opportunity for merry-making, and more importantly, is a time for reunion as well.

IT’S that time of the year again. Kaamatan is now the buzz word in Sabah, at least for the month of May.

The annual Harvest Festival kicked off in northern Kota Marudu district on May 1 and for the whole month, the celebrations will be held at villages and towns around the state.

And as in previous years, the festivities will culminate with the two-day state level celebration at the Hongkod Koisaan hall in Penampang at the end of the month.

The hall is home of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) headed by the Huguan Siou or the community’s Paramount Chief Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

The KDCA is also the main organiser for the state-level Kaamatan festivities starting on May 30 with the staging of a traditional sports carnival and a myriad of cultural pre­sentations at the grounds around the Hong­kod.

The following day will see the closing of the celebrations culminating with the crowning of this year’s Unduk Ngadau or the winner of the Harvest Queen pageant.

For generations, Sabah’s ethnic Kadazan­dusun community have celebrated Kaamatan as a thanksgiving for a bountiful padi harvest.

The launching of the celebration at either is thus usually marked with the magavau, the ceremony to appease the bambarayon or rice spirit by a group of bobolian or traditional priestesses.

Whether at village, district or state levels, Kaamatan is also the showcase of other aspects of ethnic culture, including food and drink.

The festivities thus include competitions for the best traditional dishes such as hinava or raw fish, nonsom sada or pickled fish, tuhau or pickled wild ginger, and pinasakan or stewed fish.

There is also usually a contest to choose the best lihing or rice wine that is sipped from tajau or clay jars. After the best dishes and rice are chosen, these would then be served to guests at the festivities.

William Majimbun is all too familiar with the intricacies of the Kaamatan celebrations. As Kota Kinabalu Native Chief, he is usually invited to the festivities around his native Inanam and Menggatal as well as other districts.

And he observes that Kaamatan has gone beyond an opportunity for merry-making, and more importantly, is a time for reunion as well.

by Ruben Sario.

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Addressing wage inequality and trade reforms

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

RIGHT STRATEGY: With the inevitable advent of globalisation, boosting productivity is vital.

AS the world economy shifts into a more globalised era,  every developing nation is harnessing its resources in an effort to take part in a more free trade regime.

Globalisation promotes the practice of free trade and it is believed to promote a more level playing field in the world market, as tariff rates are driven down to near zero per cent.

In other words, protectionism policy is at the brink of extinction with the rise of trade reforms. Trade reforms in the long run reward efficient producers with the competitive advantage that ensures its position in the global market.

Free trade was promoted by the celebrated Adam Smith in the 18th century who highlighted the idea in his book titled, The Wealth of Nations. Here was how he put it at that time: “It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it from them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage.”

It is with that notion that nations undertake free trade in the many different shapes and forms such as regionalism and bilateral trade pacts. As globalisation brings these nations together through intensified trade activities after trade reforms are implemented, households will surely benefit.

When trade is carried out, households are able to choose from a wide variety of products in the market at significantly lower prices. These products, which are now available locally, may be manufactured within the country or abroad. Producers then are motivated to increase their productivity and quality of products to compete at a global level.

In his book Making Globalisation Work, American economist Joseph Stiglitz emphasised that with globalisation, “everyone was supposed to be a winner — those in both developed and the developing world. Globalisation was to bring unprecedented prosperity to all.”

Even with all of the advantages of free trade in the long run, there are some groups who are concerned about the downside of globalisation in the short run. Their concerns are real and not without basis.

Labour economists have found a trend in many developing countries whereby as trade reform episodes take place, wage inequality between skilled and unskilled workers is observed to be increasing drastically in the short run.