Stay focus and do not be diverted!

Last Sunday, there was a big gathering organised by the Chinese educationists to protest against certain perennial problems faced by the Chinese schools. At least 10,000 people attended.

Whether Malaysians agreed with the cause of the chinese educationists or otherwise, it is immaterial.  Since public gathering is an expression of public sentiments that is allowed under the Constitution, this means that we should all support the right to protest and gather in the context of Chinese education.

I am all for the existence of the vernacular schools since it is guaranteed under the Constitution. I also do not think that the existence of such schools is causing the failure of people to integrate better. What is causing the polarisation is actually much more complex and I have gone over that in the past.

Now back to this rally. the whole focus was supposed to be on the perennial problems of not enough teachers who can teach in Mandarin. This arises because there is no systematic training  of such teachers, despite the problems being there for more than 5 decades. Petitions after petitions  have been submitted, and ministers have come and gone, with each minister promising that the problem would be looked into. Alas, 50 years on, it has got worse, and many teachers who do not even speak Mandarin are now posted to chinese school.The Chinese educationists are afraid that this might lead to a change of character of the Chinese schools; in other words, although constitutionally, the existence of Chinese schools are now guaranteed, it might still go into oblivion if there are no teachers to teach in Mandarin.

The whole objective of this rally is to raise the awareness of the people on this issue. But the whole focus has since been diverted to an alleged attempted assault against one of the guests invited, the Deputy Minister of Education.

Although video  footage by the organisers did not show any attempted assault and 2 eye witnesses have come forward to talk to the vernacular press that what happened was someone trying to show the YB the ‘down’ hand sign as well as the middle finger, and this someone might have inadvertently touched the face of the YB because of all the pushing and shoving. There are many who used foul languages and shouting at the YB too, and allegedly some even threw newspapers towards his direction.

I do not condone this type of behaviour of using foul language and signs towards anyone, even those whom we do not like and we despise. Even though many in the crowd and in CHinese community have perceived that this YB has not done enough on this and other issues, that is still no way that we should show another person hand signs and so on.

Nvertheless, this actually gives the YB a taste of what people’s frustrations are towards this perennial issue, and being the 2nd man in charge, he should be able to come out with a more systematic way to train Chinese school teachers.

Now after the rally, this YB in fact held a press conference and informed the press that there was an attempt to assault him, even though the Selangor police too has denied that allegation.

Because of that allegation, he has inadvertently (even though some people i talked to thought that it was done on purpose, I think otherwise) succeeded to divert the whole attention away from the focus of the rally toward that alleged incident.

It is really a pity that this has become so. But given the negative views of many people against this blowing up of small issue to divert attention, he has actually done his party a disfavour.

The support of Chinese community, which is now estimated at about 15% only for the Big Brother, would never go back to the Big Brother given the wide spread reporting of this small-storm-in-a-tea-cup-blown-into-big-publicity-thing and which was not viewed favourably by most who sympathise with the plight of the CHinese educationists.

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‘Maid’ in Indonesia

I am blessed because I have a good maid. She is a Fillipino. She came to my house in the mid-80s, when my third child (2nd daughter) was born. This child is now in her final year of medical course in Queensland. So my maid has worked for me more than 20 years.

Of course I have to go through the hassle of getting work permit renewed every year ( even though the hasssle is lessened by having the maid agency doing this for me for a fee every year). Every few years, my maid has to go to her Embassy to renew her passport.

According to the agency, she is the longest serving maid from that particular agency which has been in existence for almost 30 years.

Initially when she came , I have a rather big family. My aged parents were both staying with me, and I have 2 other kids then. It was after she worked a few more years that I had my fourth child.  So initially she had to take care of the house, 4 kids, 2 old persons . Luckily for her,  both of parents were active and mobile right up to the day that they passed away. My mum used to teach her cook all the dishes that she knew and my mum was a very good cook. My maid has indeed become a good cook after more than 2 decades in my family.

She has to do household chores like cleaning, but since our priority is for her to look after the children ( the younger ones since the older two did not need much looking after at teir age and my parents helped out looking after the children too), we usually left it to her to do things at her own pace.Things could be very sloppy at times, and house could be quite messy, but she took care of the two younger kids well. And that is what is important for us.

Her work load becomes lessened as my parents passed away one by one and my children grew older and older.

Despite many short comings ( she has broken so many of our things that we have lost counts-but humans are fallible, aren’t we all?), she has helped us to tie over the difficult periods when my children were small and my parents old. Now that there are only 2 of us left and household work is now much less than before, we have decided that she can stay as long as she wants, as she has by the many long years of service, rightfully earned herself a place in our family, and there are many things that my younger daughter would confide in her that she would not even discuss with us.

Many people have asked us how we can maintain such long relationship with her. Just like in any relationship, there has to be much give and take on both sides.

Now to digress a bit.

Have you all heard about the joke of a person with a right eye cataract going to see an eye specialist , only to be told by the specialist that he operates only on left eye? Or imagine a piano teacher that teaches a student to play the keyoard with his right hand and asks him to seek someone else to teach his lefthand play?

or a hospital nurse that will only serve you medicines and take your temperatures but refuses to helps clean you or accede to your request to help you get up since her job description does not entail helping patients?

or a restaurant worker that will only take your oder but refuses to answer to your request to clean the table  or to bring the bills?

or a maid that does only one chore?

Most of the people that employs maids need them to help in household chores, and that normally entails cleaning, cooking, and washing. Some may requires them to help to look after children too. Maids are not superman, so employers do indeed need to space out these chores so as not to overload them with work. And when things get too busy, employers have a duty to do some of the chores too.

As I have mentioned above, in any relationship, icluding that of employer-maid, there must be certain give and take. employers too must look after the health of their maids; this should include physical as well as mental health. Most of them would get depressed on and off ; this is understandable as they have to leave their loved ones at home to come and live in a totally alien environment and work.

Most maids are simple souls and not very highly educated. They need time to learn new things, especially how to operate modern gadgets. they also need time to learn how things are being done in the bosses’ homes. It is not an easy task. It calls for plenty of patience and understanding.

Having said that, I think it is really unreasonable to limit a maid’s chore so strictlly that one will only look after the kids and nothing else , another will look after the old parents and so on and so forth.

I find the Indonesia authority’s demand that each maid can strictly do one chore very amusing. It is like shutting their own door for the maids’ markets.

Under the proposal, if a couple needs maids to look after their kids and their aged parents, do household chores like cleaning and cooking and washing, they must be prepared to employ 4 maids. And that defeats the purpose of employing a helper to do domestic chores.The husband or the wife might as well quit job and stay at home to be housewife or house husband, since it would be economically not feasible to employ 4 maids, house them, and feed them.

Who would then employ the Indonesia maids? perhaps only multimillionaires can do so. But not everyone that needs a maid is a multimillionaire.

It is like a compuer company telling prospective customers that they need one computer to do emailing and another to doo wordprocessing and yet another to store their photos and music. It will only result in the company losing market shares and eventually folding up.

It is like the fable of the person who kills the goose for the golden eggs.

Late but still better than never!

I apologise for not being regular with writing these few weeks. I was just overwhelmed by the amount of work. There are so many foreign workers coming for official medical checkup (under the 6Ps) that most of my time is occupied with examing them, taking blood, and keying in the results online when the reports were ready. These besides the normal patients that I am still seeing.

So this might go on until next month, when the amnesty for foriegn workers ends.

Today i would like to write on the cowgate. It has finally been given the dues that it deserves.

CowGirl has finally resigned agreed to step down (Editor: the word resigned was changed because of the first 2 comments posted as both the commentators have rightly pointed out my mistake of calling this a resignation), after holding on for so  long, and her resignation might be too late to change people’s opinion now. If it was done when the whole  thing was revealed following the Auditor General’s report, it might have some impact that this government is indeed bent on tackling corruption. But coming now, it has given a perception that action is finally taken, not because of the principles involved, but more for trying to win votes in the coming election.  One wonders if not for the fact that there is an election, could it be that the whole thing would just drag on and nothing would happen?

Politically, the wanita is always the vangurad of UMNO. They are the ones that go house to house and talk to the women folks in kampungs. Their impact cannot be underestimated. That may be why the PM has dragged his feet for so long. After all, appointing ministers is his sole prerogative. The inaction may be due to the fat that he did not want to alienate the wanita’s support in case of a party challenge, which is very likely, if he does not perform better than 2008 in the next GE.

With this one issue put away, PM has dealt with his  most pressing outstanding issue.

With this, the chances of an election in late May or early June cannot be discounted.

The proof of the pudding!

The Prime Minister should be applauded for admitting the past mistakes of BN and apologising for them. Aren’t we taught in schools that humans are follible and that we should apologise for our mistakes?  PM has certainly been taught well.

He did not mention what are the past mistakes, though it would probably takes a book as thick as Barry Wain’s to just list them down.

Offhand I can think of so many, but most of them are the results of these:  rampant corruptions ( and a culture of you-help-me-i-help-you), compromising the integrity and independence of various institution especially that of the Judiciary, abuse of power, double standards in enforcing laws, compromising the standards of most fields including that of education, adoption of policies that lead to polarisation of race relations.

The end result is what we are today. While we see many of our comtemporaries have joined the rank of the First world, we are still struggling to try to get out of the middle income trap.

While before, many of us of different colours could sit in a coffee shop tegother and chat, this is now a rarity rather than the norm.

While before, a middle income person can possess a car and a simple house, nowadays, itt would take more than just middle income to do the same.

While before, corruptions were mainly individualised, now it has become institutionalised, with kick backs and mark-ups leading to leakages amounting to hefty amounts of money, which could have been better utilised to improve the infracstructure and living standards.

While before, Malaysians excelled in many fields, now we see mediocrity everywhere, the existence of which has led to a tidak-apa culture of the workforce, the result of which is increasing incompetitiveness.

These are just tip of the iceberg.

Most of you can easily name many more mistakes which cumulatively have led to what we are today.

PM did well to apologise for all these, even though his deputy was less eager to look back – forgetting that   apologising is in fact a strength and not weakness and realising past mistakes would do anyone well in future –for reasons that all of us have already known.

PM must be desperate and has taken a leaf out of our Southern neighbour. PM Lee’s apology just before the republic’s election did swing many percentage points back to the ruling party, and help cushioned the more rebellious young voters’ impact in the republic’s last election.

But apologising alone is not enough. Words must be seen to be translated into action, otherwise it would just be words. Promises (to change) that are not fullfilled would just be like the cry-wolf boy;  Malaysians have seen so many flip flops that we are now one of the most suspicious people.  Without solid changes, words and rhetoric would not be enough to earn back the trust that we have given for so long in the past .

We want actions, after the apology. We want corruptions at the highest levels to be weeded out. We want education be improved. We want economic policies that translate to more disposable income in our pockets. We want better policing. We want more level playing fields. We want improvement in existing healthcare and not just another scheme to tax us. We want hazardous projects like the Rare Earth plant to be put on hold. We want better human rights treatment.

Can this apology be translated into action, and action into policies and policies into better living standard?

Or is this apology just a mean to lure people to vote for the Big Brother again after which things will be back to usual?

We don’t know.

Nevertheless, we know that the proof of the pudding is  in the eating!