Archive for December, 2015

Johor Ruler: Single stream education system the way to improve language skills

Monday, December 28th, 2015

JOHOR BARU: The level of English among the people is deteriorating and something needs to be done to stop the rot. That is the opinion of Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.

The Sultan has always felt the need to have a single stream education system instead of the present three types of schools – national, Chinese and Tamil.

In this second part of an exclusive interview with The Star, the Ruler speaks on a range of issues, including development projects in the state and economic assistance for developers and house buyers.

He also speaks about his vision for the state, the reasons for the recent changes in names of districts in the state and his hopes for 2016.

Q: Tuanku, the level of English is deteriorating and Malaysia is fast becoming a country where the young are unable to converse in proper English while members of the older generation ar better at the language as they attended English schools. In most other countries, the trend is the opposite. What are your comments?

A: Yes, I agree. If you realise, most government officers nowadays are unable to speak or write good English. That is why I am not in favour of the present three types of schools (National, Chinese and Tamil).

Nowadays, there are Chinese and Tamil students who do not know how to speak Malay and of course, Malay students who can’t speak English.

In those days, English schools were regarded as “neutral ground”. All races attended these schools. During my time, it was a must to know both Malay and English.

But now, when you teach Mathematics, Geography and History in Malay in schools, students are at a loss when they have to read books in English in universities. How can you be a scientist when your English is so bad?

That is why I speak to my children and wife both in English and Malay at home but converse in Malay when I meet my rakyat. The previous generation spoke English beautifully.

Yes, English is in danger of becoming the language of the older people while the young cannot speak English proficiently. In countries such as France, Spain and China, young people are speaking English.


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Multiracial family joyfully celebrates Christmas

Monday, December 28th, 2015

PAPAR: Briton, Ashley James Shirlin flew halfway around the world to celebrate Christmas with his Muslim family in Sabah.

Although travelling alone, he said the journey was worth it as his Christmas was entertaining and he was able to meet his relatives.

He also enjoyed the party because it was held outdoors.

“In England, we’d be shivering in the cold because the temperature there is around two to three degrees Celsius, so you can’t have outside parties.

“The party was a family gathering where some of us whose birthdays fall in December, January and February were also celebrating our birthdays, so there were 12 cakes, some are decorated with Manchester United and some with Liverpool, which were put on different tables, they don’t mix,” he quipped when met at the Papar Christmas open house at the Community Hall on Saturday.

The Englishman’s visit was also to see his stepmother who is not well and who happens to be Deputy Works Minister, Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin’s mother.

“The main reason I came over here is to see my stepmother because she’s been quite ill but I usually come to Papar once a year.

“The first time I came to Sabah was in 1972 and I arrived a day after Rosnah was born, so I really have known her all her life,” he said, adding that he has come to the state more than 20 times to visit his stepmother, sister, and four brothers.

Shirlin said that the family has strong bond where his children have also visited Sabah, and his brothers and sisters have also visited him in England.

“The different religions have never caused any problem. I’m Christian but that has never been an issue between us so the only problem I suppose was my mother who was Christian wasn’t too happy with my father when he became a Muslim. That was 50 years ago but that doesn’t matter.


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‘Do not lose your children!’

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah’s best known educationist-cum-disciplinarian for over half a century, the late Datuk Brother Charles O’Leary, warned parents in his parting message that they risk losing their children if all they can give them is money and gadgets, instead of quality time.

He also hoped the Education Ministry would address the problem of overcrowding in schools, which makes instilling discipline and students’ concentration difficult these days.

Among others, he observed that:

• The current school curriculum overburdened young minds with too many subjects to the extent of even contributing to physical deformities in some who have to lug heavy bags to school;

• There are not enough vocational or agricultural schools for those who do not have the inclination to go beyond Form Three.

Brother Charles said children must learn to self-discipline and that this must begin in the home.

“A lot of the task of disciplining should take place in the home.” But, unfortunately, adults, particularly parents, are not looking after their children today because father and mother are working.

“They give their children money but not prime or quality time. You can give them money and all the gadgets but if you don’t give them quality time, you will lose them.

“That is terribly important,” he said, in an unpublished exclusive interview. Daily Express decided to publish the interview in view of his unfortunate passing at age 87 on Christmas eve.

Brother Charles urged parents to take an interest in all aspects of their child’s growth and upbringing.

Worse still, he said, many parents don’t create a good model for their children.

“It’s a kind of attitude – do as I say but don’t do as I do. And parents are too soft and give their children this and that.

“I think they must teach their kids, Look, you must look to the future, you must look beyond self-gratification. Think of the consequences. If that is so, then the job of schools will be much easier,” he said.

The former Principal of SM La Salle, lamented that, generally, parents do not show an interest in their children’s academic performance and curricular activities.

“They will only come to the school when their children are in trouble or only when the public examination results are released.

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Moderate is the way to go

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

MALAYSIANS whine and complain a lot – it’s both good and bad.

The good part is that we obviously want the country to improve, to set new benchmarks so that we can match the best performing nations globally. And we want our leaders to be accountable and to have integrity.

The minus side is that we take many things for granted and we seem fixated in our perception that we are only going in one direction – downhill. We refuse to acknow­ledge even the positive traits around us.

We jump to conclusions, often coming out with the worst scenarios possible. We forward messages, in text or video, without thinking – a simple car fire, the vehicle set alight by a jealous husband, is the work of extremists for sure.

These cynics do not, for a second, ask themselves why a terrorist would choose an ordinary stop on the LRT route to set off a bomb.

But that’s Malaysia. I have enjoyed my Christmas celebrations and I am certainly happy that it is recognised as an official public holiday.

In fact, Malaysians – despite their many different and divergent views – all seem to agree that we must celebrate every festival of every community. Malaysia is among the countries with the highest number of holidays, at state and federal level, which often lead to extended weekends.

So, even the small groups of Muslims who feel that they should not wish their Christian Malaysians a Merry Christmas, supposedly on religious grounds, are happy not to have to report for work on such days.


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Dengue still a threat to school kids

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

OVER 20,000 schoolgoing children have been affected by dengue.

The children aged between seven to 17 account for 18% out of the 113,500 dengue cases in Malaysia as of Dec 1, said Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan.

“The Education and Health Ministries will be monitoring the situation and working with the community. Parent-teacher associations also need to work together with the authorities,” he said at the Dengue Patrol Programme 2015 Awards Presentation Ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, recently.

The Dengue Patrol is a programme that aims to educate students on the dangers of dengue and to instil a sense of responsibility in adopting dengue prevention methods.

The programme was set up with the collaboration of both the ministries and Sanofi Pasteur, a pharmaceutical company.

Kamalanathan said that the Education Ministry was also encouraging public-private partnerships.

This was to see how best the parties could work together in bringing the programme to more schools.

“The programme began in 2011 with three schools but today we have 156 schools (participating),” he said, adding that he hoped more schools would take part in the future.

There are 10,000 schools in the country, but the progress in initiating such partnerships was rather slow, he said.

Also present was Health Ministry disease control division senior principal assistant director Dr Zailiza Suli, who said there had been an increase in dengue cases this year compared to last year. There was also an increase in dengue deaths.


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Islam teaches us to respect others, says TMJ on festive greetings

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: Offering festive wishes to the non-Muslims does not make one less of a Muslim, said Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.

The Crown Prince of Johor said Islam teaches its followers to respect people of different races and beliefs and to stay away from any form of extremism.

“Islam is a religion of peace and love. Islam teaches us to respect people of different races and beliefs.

“I live in a state with various races and religions, and I was taught by my forefathers to respect all of them,” he said in a Facebook posting on Johor Southern Tigers football page, Friday.

He said it was the unity of ‘Bangsa Johor’ – the term the royal family used to refer to its people regardless of their racial background – that what made Johor is today.

“I have Malay, Chinese and Indian friends. During Chinese New Year, I wish them Happy Chinese New year.

“To the Hindus, I wish them Happy Deepavali and for the Christians, I wish them Merry Christmas. That doesn’t make me less of a Muslim, that makes us human.

“During Hari Raya Aildilfitri, people of other races wish us Selamat Hari Raya. If others can respect my beliefs, why can’t I respect them?” he asked.

Tunku Ismail then told his fellow Johoreans to “be different from certain parts of this country”.

“Being a Muslim is about your faith and the purity of the heart. Al-Qur’an is our guide. Don’t try to be smarter than the Al-Qur’an.


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Festivals bring different races together

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: In the spirit of multi-culturalism, Malaysians of all faiths were enjoying the festive air that Christmas brings.

At the Suria KLCC shopping mall, its Christmas decorations and performances attracted a crowd of all races and religious beliefs.

Student Kuek Jia Qi, 23, who was busy taking photographs of herself and her friends in front of the mall’s Christmas decorations, said she was enjoying the festive air although she is not a Christian.

“We Malaysians are lucky because our multi-cultural society means that we get to celebrate many festivals.

“I think it’s fun that we can celebrate other people’s festivals instead of just our own,” said Kuek, who hails from Batu Pahat.

Nadimah Khairuddin, 41, is another Malaysian who is proud of the country’s multi-culturalism.

“I don’t celebrate Christmas but it is nice to live in a country where every festival there is to celebrate is celebrated by all,” said Nadimah, a human resource professional.

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Be watchful of being watched

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

SHE was in a shopping mall when a man quietly followed her into the women’s toilets, stuck his smart phone underneath the door of her cubicle and filmed her.

The 29-year-old woman, who wants to be known only as Tan, got up the moment she saw the bright red phone but the man got away and is still on the loose.

A year may have passed but memories of the incident still make Tan’s blood boil.

“It angers me that the authorities say such cases are common yet the action taken does not reflect that they take it seriously,” laments the assistant manager.

Since the incident in Petaling Jaya Tan is now extra cautious and looks out for suspicious people whenever she goes into a public toilet.

“I look around to see if there’s anyone hiding.

“I also find myself looking at the door to ensure there are no recording devices and I am vigilant when I hear someone coming in,” Tan says, adding that her husband stands watch outside the toilet as well.

She says she has yet to get any updates from the police since making a report on the incident.

Tan also started a Facebook page to warn others of the peeping Tom.

“I wanted to share my story with others because many feel ashamed and do not dare to speak up. Because of this, such culprits always get away with their crime,” Tan says.

And perhaps it is wise for both men and women to be more alert of such voyeurs.

While peeping Toms prefer spying on women, Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist and psychologist Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat says victims can be men, in the case of homosexual perpetrators.

“The selection of victims largely depends on the opportunity to commit the crime.

“Unlike kidnappers who carefully monitor their victim’s movements for some time, peeping Toms create or are aware of opportunities that enable them to be sexually deviant,” she says.

Some examples include hearing when someone turns on the shower, closes the toilet door, closes the bedroom door, and other preludes to the victim removing clothing.

Dr Geshina says the impact on the victim varies according to individuals but could range from trauma and fear to anger and anxiety.

“Some never forget and may refuse to use public toilets for fear of repeat incidents.

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Johor Ruler: I’m above politics

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

JOHOR BARU: Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has made it clear that he is above politics and does not favour any politician.

He also feels that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should be given a chance as every Malaysian prime minister had also made mistakes in the past.

During an hour-long exclusive interview to wrap up the year, the Johor Ruler spoke emotionally on an array of issues, including his late son Tunku Laksamana Tunku Abdul Jalil, as well as his relations with the Prime Minister and former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He also spoke on the dangers of vaping and why it had to be banned immediately, describing it as a “technology drug” which was threatening the society.

The Sultan also touched on religious issues, including the huge budget for the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

The Star: Tuanku, we wish to express our condolences on the recent demise of His Highness Tunku Laksamana Tunku Abdul Jalil. How has the family coped with the event of the past weeks, if we may ask?

Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar: This has been a roller-coaster year for the family and me. The high points have been the coronation in March this year when I became the state’s fifth Sultan in the history of modern Johor. The last time a coronation ceremony took place was 55 years ago.

I also conferred the new title of Permaisuri Johor on my consort Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah at the coronation ceremony, which was another historic occasion.

In October last year, my eldest son, the Tunku Mahkota of Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim ended his bachelorhood when he married Che’ Puan Khaleeda Bustamam.

But all these events took place against the backdrop of the difficulties the family was going through as we joined Tunku Jalil in his fight against his illness.

He was diagnosed while he was on a holiday with us in the United Kingdom in August last year. He was truly a fighter and a man of steel. While it was painful for him during the medical treatment, it was equally painful for us.

We are, after all, ordinary human beings too. I am a father like other parents in Johor. It crushed my heart each time I saw my son suffer, especially when I knew that he was dying. I had to be strong for him until the end.

But as my wife penned in a heartfelt letter which she has shared with Malaysians, sometimes things don’t go as we plan. No matter how painful, one needs to accept reality with an open heart.


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Ex-La Salle principal passes away after attending mass.

Friday, December 25th, 2015

KOTA KINABALU: Former La Salle Tanjung Aru principal, Brother Datuk Charles Michael O’Leary passed away yesterday morning shortly after attending daily morning mass at Stella Maris Church in Tanjung Aru here.

It is believed that the 78-year-old Brother Charles had collapsed after suffering from a stroke between 7.30 am and 8am. He was found lying beside his car by a newspaper delivery man.

Church workers were then notified, before paramedics and the police came.

According to fellow La Salle Brother Peter Foo, Charles had gone to the daily 6am mass at Stella Maris church and was the last to leave at about 7.30am.

The news of Brother Charles’ death greeted the Lasallian community, far and near, with a numbing feeling.

“It is a sad day for the Lasallian family in Kota Kinabalu, for we have lost an outstanding educationist and a great teacher of men,” said SM La Salle’s excellent principal, Julia Willie Jock.

Julia, who had been serving as principal for eight years, also said: “A Man for Others’ best describe Brother Charles, for he has dedicated his whole life to serving God and to educating the young. I will miss a great friend and a mentor, and his sense of humour.”

As for Ho Kin Wong, chairman of SM La Salle board of governors, the passing of “the uncommon man who was loved and will be fondly cherished” is a testament of the impact Brother Charles had imparted on his life, as he will be deeply missed but never forgotten.

Daniel Tan, chairman of Sacred Heart Primary board of governors, also offered his condolences: “Brother Charles’ passing is a great loss for us in the La Salle family and the country. His contribution to education is legendary. I feel a deep personal loss at losing a great teacher and good brethren.”

Meanwhile, Ram Singh, a senior lawyer, recalled being punished by Brother Charles back in 1979, before their final examination (MCE).

“Each of us was given an envelope to fill with stones from the grassy assembly area. Obviously, there wasn’t a single pebble there,” Ram recalled laughingly.
by Nor Afiqah Roslan and Suraini Andokong
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