Rue says

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Fascinating and Mellow Malacca's Trip

Ignorance is bliss, some say. I'm divided on this issue but when it comes to festive season, ignorance of the crowd is a blessing... no doubt about that.

my friends and I recently went on a backpacking trip to Melaka. A wonderful experience that gave me an envelope of serenity which keeps my sanity intact in the midst of the over exploding global and social affairs that serve only to damage the minimum quantum of solace left in this world.

as they say, pictures worth a thousand words, i guess it's true...

Monday, August 25, 2008

What’s wrong with an honest and corruption-free government?

I’m an immaculate political observer, to begin with. I strongly advise myself not to be politically partisan to any group, although, sometimes, as ordinary human I am, I do demonstrate political preference. I take no side in any political ideologies, though from time to time I am tempted to endorse or reject some of them. I firmly stand in the middle path of neutrality to political statements and stances, but occasionally I disapprove or agree with them. I always preconceive the thought that everybody, including politicians, is sincere until proven otherwise although it is inevitable to prejudge someone to his prejudice. Where does all this defence statements lead us to?

I found articles concerning the bold actions of the ACA in chasing corrupt high-ranking government officers and how certain politicians are supportive of the move. A moment ago, I read in the paper that the two Perak Exco members will be charged in the Sessions Court on 25 August. Notwithstanding all these developments, I still found voices criticising the move by ACA and the intention of these politicians. The reason, all those actions are futile as it is impossible to have an honest and corruption-free government.

I laud this action by the ACA and the moral support given by some of the politicians. It shows that they are determined to restore the confidence of the public to the government. On the issue of an honest and corruption-free government, I must first concede that this is impossible to attain. Not even one single government that stands on this globe is perfectly honest and free from corruption epidemic. But hey, everybody knows that, even the DAP Secretary-General cum Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng readily admitted that corruption is impossible to be rid off, but at least the rate could be reduced. Reasonably speaking, we know that the bona fide belief held by everyone about a utopia government is beyond realistic grasp and I’m particularly sure, being a learned and wise nation, I assume that we perfectly understands that it is only an ideal dream.

I am not saying that this ambition of creating an honest and corruption-free government should be dismissed. It is not frivolous and vexatious enough to be summarily renounced. We have long live under a so called ‘corrupt regime’ that, to my humble opinion, we are unable to envisage the situation of being in a relatively honest and corruption-free government. We are so used to indulge in the corrupt world that easily caused us to ridicule any attempt by some persons to get the society out of the dark world. What is wrong with a clean and fair government? I thought that is what we are asking for, as evidenced in the recently concluded result of the General Election which according to political analysts, a signal sent to the government demonstrating our unhappiness over the corruption that taking its toll on the country. I guess the maxim that goes around is true. People would rather approve wicked and abominable acts instead of staunch steps; we really like to condemn or scorn godly moves that sometimes we declare the wicked blameless and the innocent guilty, or, if you don’t like the way I put it, we always feel reluctant and indifferent or sometimes scornful to certain noble actions.

It is reflective of the ACA’s and some politicians’ objective to do the impossible or to do things that most people and politicians would be reluctant to deal with. It is a fact that politics is filthy and undeniably the politicians themselves do indulge in dirty practices, but that does not necessarily mean that all politicians not trustworthy. We have long prayed for politicians with integrity to stand in the political plane; now we have a few people on the stage, give them a chance to prove that the idea of a utopia honest and incorrupt government could, at the very least, be relatively translated into reality. To those who are always indifferent and scornful, I guess it is the time to brace yourselves because we might experience a positive governmental transformation; perhaps, let’s pray for it.
I remember reading a book which discussed the history, drafting process, salient features, emergence as well as the Malaysian orthodox understanding of our glorious Federal Constitution. It’s a revelation to learn all these basic things of our Constitution. It is certainly an eye-opener to understand how the great document is instrumental in orchestrating the spirit of tolerance among the various races of this land, as well as its undeniable successive roles in keeping all the various organs and the people in Malaysia in good terms, although it is understandable that it can’t in any way perfectly become the problem-fixer to some of the issues hovering in the air. I guess being a law student has rendered me unable to appreciate the social impact of the Constitution upon our life and relations with each other. In constitutional law we learn more of the legal aspects of the document instead of its basic aims in steering this country.

My reading particularly touched on the issue of affirmative action as provided for under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. Stances and opinions were espoused as to the relevancy of the action in today’s context and its effectiveness in reaching the goal it was meant to achieve. I was really interested in the public’s position of this particular provision of our Constitution.

My mind suddenly visited the recent event that took place in front of an MB’s office. A multitude of people was gathering in defence of Article 153 and all benefits patronised by it. Well, as Art 10(1)(a) and (b) says, everyone has the right to freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly. I may disapprove your action but I shall defend your rights.

Arh, let me put this right; I recognise the rights to peacefully aseemble but the last time I checked, Section 27 of the Police Act criminalises an assembly without permit of more than 5 people. If I’m not mistaken, the BERSIH protestors were charged in court for their demonstration. Revisiting the recent demonstration orchestrated by some ‘leaders’, I’m not sure whether the demonstration obtained a permit or not. And I seemed unable to appreciate the fact that any of the demonstrators are slapped with criminal charge; most probably because there is no action taken? One question: are we moving forward and being more appreciative to our rights as enumerated in Art 10(1)(b) or…? It’s rhetoric, by the way

Back to the main discussion, I believe in affirmative action but on a different basis, not similar to the belief held by most of the benefits-receivers of this action. To me affirmative action should only be employed to help the needy, not the people who do not really need it. Who then deserve to reap the benefits of such affirmative action? Those who are unable to stand on their on feet of course, at least metaphorically speaking; this is owing to the fact of absence of sound financial support or any other means to continue their social survival. Those who are seemingly “can’t stand on their on feet” should not be quick to be accorded with the assistance found in the affirmative action. If they can work their arse off and earn something without assistance, then by all means, they should be encouraged to take such step.

Oh, before we harbour this article and end our voyage of reading, a quick response to my own question. Folks, when it comes to the issue of transgression of the law, don’t show favour, please. Nobody likes it when the law is capable of being enforced unfairly and is only enforced to certain groups of people while the others who commit the same crime escape punishment. Remember government’s studies 101: a democratic government is a government by law, not by men.

And I swear...

‘I swear that this writing is wholly mine and you should neither question nor attempt to check whether this entry is authentically written by me.’

Imagine if you encounter an article exclaimed as such, would you just blindly accept the statement and choose not to verify whether the article is actually written by the ‘writer’ or it is actually plagiarised? Oxford University in 2006 reported that plagiarism is the rampant unethical conduct committed by most students. Students who are caught plagiarising always bail themselves out by throwing reasons such as they do not have time to actually sit and write the article or that they don’t know that plagiarising is wrong; lame excuses. On the first premise, everyone is given 24 hours a day and as far as I concerned a lot of people get to do a lot of things within that period; secondly, are they living in the Ice Age? People, the last time I checked the INTERNET did store news quoting authorities that criminalises plagiarism. In short, no excuse could absolve these culprits from their wrong.

Oh by the way, I don’t easily buy it when writers cry and swear that their articles or their works are authentically written by them, not until I have verified the claim and there is a score of evidence to corroborate the claim. Too bad folks, I don’t believe your sworn statement merely by observing your lips.

Notwithstanding that, it seems that a new trend has emerged in Malaysia that could be perceived as an easy way out to exonerate oneself from the wrong allegedly committed. Yup, it seems to suggest that to find out the truth we just need the accused person to swear, denying his or her attachment to the wrong alleged and lo and behold, the accused person’s name is clear. Further action is no longer needed to verify whether the sworn statement is really warranted or not. Further investigation? It’s an ancient history now. I’m not a religious person but sadly nowadays even religion cannot skip from being manipulated by certain quarters of people for their own benefit. I’m not in a position to judge any sworn statement uttered by anybody but I certainly against the idea that once swearing, the person swearing is deemed to have been telling the truth; it’s a blind faith my dear and I don’t favour blind faith. Truth is never baseless; it is always supported by concrete evidence. Swearing does not suggest that concrete evidence present. Swearing is not the requisite for concrete evidence to present but instead the present of concrete evidence is the requisite to the truth.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What would you believe?

“If you want to know the truth, you have to believe it,” that’s the X-Files’ tagline. I watched X-Files last week and frankly, I have to admit that I was disappointed; disappointed with the profound simplicity of the storyline and the lack or rather the dimming significance of the X-Files’ factor. I tried to believe that it was a good movie but I just can’t. My cognitive faculty just won’t compromise with the fall of the quality of X-Files.

I’m also unable to dance to the music of X-Files’ tagline. How am I suppose to believe the so-called truth if there is nothing to concretely suggest that what I am about to believe is actually worth to be believed? I’m not a religious person and I don’t appear religious; well at least to those who have corrupted the concept of religious by associating religiousness with long beard, the ability to memorize the decrees and commands of the Holy Book and other features that are clearly human-invented; but I can proudly preach to the world what faith actually means. It is not of simple blind belief per se; to a certain degree faith is reasonable and is supported by evidence. People believe that there is a God because they can see the wonderful universe; since everything has a creator, it is reasonable that the universe also has a creator and the Creator is God. Students have faith that they can do well in their final exams because their on-going assessments tell them that they can do well in their final. We believe because there is a reason to believe, and X-Files successfully failed to supply any concrete reason to persuade me to believe that it is a good movie.

X-Files- good movie- just believe it? It just doesn’t tally. This frustration then brings me to another question. How do we actually form our belief? Is it really based on reasons or in one way or another we lie to ourselves and just coerce ourselves to believe what we want to believe? For years I held on to Disney Channel’s tagline, “you can do it if you believe,” So whenever I was about to engage in something that seemed difficult and impossible for me, I always forced myself to believe that I could do it. Sometimes, it worked, if luck was on my side. However, most of the time, I could always become Hulk or any other superheroes whose life is filled with rage and frustration.

Let me put this straight first before we go on further. It has always been my principle to form my faith based on reasons; though I know to a certain extent reasons can’t always explain everything. But being a vulnerable and simple Joe Blogg, I quite frequently defy the principle that I hold on to. In spite of the availability of reasons and evidence to suggest the opposite, I normally choose to believe that I can do what I dream to do.

I’m a positivist and perhaps that explains the transgression of the principle. For this particular fight that I recently engaged in, I was told in advance that my path would be very gravelling. I was informed that Giants would stand in my way and Doraemon couldn’t do much but only help me and my partners in crime to get prepared in a short period of time. I knew of my ability and coupled with the fact that my partners have the necessary knowledge concerning the thing that we would engage in; I suggested to myself that we could do it. It was reasonable and possible to think that we could do it. But life is not like the Hindustan’s movies or any of Barbie’s fairy tales; not everything would work to our expectation.

With the faith that we could actually do it, we entered the battlefield and fought our fight. Nevertheless, when the result came, I could see that I wasn’t David at all. I could be Samson but I was never a David. My invisible swords could not even give one of our enemy giants a single significant bruise. The evidence pointed out to the fact that the juries were not impressed with the beauty of our swords and the fighting skills that we portrayed. Sitting at the comfortable Honda’s couch, I tried to figure out why we failed. I had a hard time digesting the fact that we failed to beat the giants. Though the evidence clearly suggested to the contrary, I still tried miserably to believe that I did better than them. In frustration, I violated my principle.

For the past two weeks I forced myself to believe that I could do well in the fight that I would engage in; for a fortnight I coerced myself to believe that I could surf up over the other participants and emerge to the top. For fourteen days I tried to believe that we could make people proud of us. For 336 hours I carefully crafted the faith, but it only took seconds to annihilate the dream. In one shot, two sets of law brought me to my knees. The law of gravity backfired me while the natural law thrust me to the corner.

Now I know why people like the phrase “you can do it if you believe”; it gives you hope but not necessarily a living hope. Hope is what gets many people going; hope is what made people believe and do crazy things; hope inspires, resurrects and comforts us. People would just do almost everything to get it; too bad when hope is founded on a wrong premise. So I guess that leaves me with a couple of questions:

  1. Do I really believe based on reasons or do I just believe to appease myself?
  2. Even if I have plenty of reasons to corroborate my belief, what do I actually believe in?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Terrorised Language

While you are reading this, there are languages that are being buried

Why did I start blogging in the first place? It all started as a means for me to express my thoughts and to discuss and review things that going on in this life. When I first started, I never knew the force that backs blogging activities. Was I ignorant or was it coincident that during that time blogging was not as popular and widespread as today? I don’t have any idea.

A lot of things change after we left high school and I am not exempted from it. For instance, it has been two years since I last wrote in Malay, owh, save only when I sat for CTU 551 (Tamadun Islam dan Tamadun Asia) and did my assignment for CTU 553. Lately, thoughts have come across my mind and much of the discussions that took place in a number of forums seemingly confirm my concerns. My concerns primarily are, and I believe these are also the same tune of concern sang by those who care for this matter, pertaining to the development of Malay language, its future as well as its fate.

To begin with, in Malaysia, the Malay language is accorded with protection under the shelter of the glorious Federal Constitution. Art 152(1) designates the Malay language as the national language of this land. Not only that the Federal Constitution vigorously offers protection to this language, the Constitution also recognises and gives prevalence to this language over English if the Malay version and the English version of the Federal Constitution have any discrepancy. If such conflict arises, the Malay version is to be regarded as the authoritative text. This magnificent declaration can be found in Art 160B. These two Articles exude the intention of the architects of our Constitution to exalt the position of Malay language in its own land; after all Malaysia used to be known as Tanah Melayu, although socio-politically speaking I am not comfortable with the term. Of course, historically speaking, I might prefer to employ that term; nevertheless, this is a different issue altogether and I shall not indulge in it. Perhaps if there were a need to address this issue, I would write something on it. Having regard to the traditional name of the place in which the language is spoken, it is somewhat justifiable that this language should be fortified.

Now, there is a furore in the air about the current position of the Malay language. The language is no longer the medium of teaching in the public universities, save only to some religious studies and studies on sociology and anthropology courses. It is still the official language in our primary and secondary school system. The lingua franca in these two institutions was English but the Jawatankuasa Kabinet 1974 revised the position and as a result, Malay language was designated as the medium of teaching. I wouldn’t comment anything on this because I am somewhat divided over this issue. There are pros and cons with regard to this policy but I guess it is best left hanging until I could find and figure out constructive contentions.

Back to the furore, there are grievances in the air over the fate and future of this language. Will it last? That is the million-dollar question that is dominating the atmosphere. In the wake of perceived ‘threat’ to the Malays, a forum was held and it was reported in the News. One of the overriding issues was the survival of Malay language in today’s challenging world. One of the panellists lamented about the treatment given to this language; he accused the language is discriminated, forgotten and not given due care.

Nevertheless, my critical evaluation over the issue stimulates me to go beyond the lament over the position of the language. Why is that the prominence of the language has deteriorated? I believe this has something to do with the way we treat the language.

I realise that most of us don’t really care about the existence of this language. We take for granted the existence of this language that we fail to appreciate the value that is attached to it. We adore too much of foreign language, especially English (which is what exactly I am doing now; this writing itself is self-explanatory of my language preference. Shame on me). Contrary to some countries like Japan, France, South Korea and China, just to name a few, we Malaysians refuse to go in depth to learn our very own national language. Because of that, we take for granted this language and consequently nobody appreciate it. We tend to forget that during the period of Malacca Sultanate, Malay language was the widespread lingua franca in South East Asia, at least.

A European historian even concluded that the Malay language was as widespread as the Latin language in Europe; that period was the glorious days of both languages. Nevertheless, as the usage of Latin is dwindling, the same epidemics also contracted by the Malay language. It is somewhat lucky because unlike Latin, Malay language can still find its place in today’s world. Surely we don’t want the language to suffer the same fate suffered by the Latin language; it is now only used in Churches and for religious purposes only.

Lets ponder for a second, why was DBP established in the first place? I reckon we don’t have the exact answer but reasonably presuming, one of its tasks would be to enrich the Malay language, to preserve and to ensure its survival. But what has become of that institution now? Have they carried out their duties? I’m not sure but looking at the state of the Malay language, I guess it is reasonable to assume that they have failed to discharge their duties accordingly. The Malay language is not substantially enriched over the decade. In fact, the Malay language is very poor in its fund of vocabulary. As a result of that, sometimes we cannot find the correct word in order to project the suitable expression. We cannot satisfactorily express what is inside our mind.

Most of today’s contemporary words that can be found in the Kamus Bahasa have its origin in English.

Yes, it is inevitable for us to borrow and take words from other languages but what distresses me the most is the fact that DBP only imitates the words, upload them into the Kamus nakedly without conducting any research as to the viability of the imported words. The lack of research has rendered it impossible for the imported words to expand and create more derivatives. Saharil Hasrin has suggested that to strengthen the Malay language, it should be acceptable to just copy other terms and words from other languages to the Malay language; he in fact is countenancing the notion of ‘be open to language evolution’. With respect, I am unable to agree with him, at least wholly, on this notion. We have to be cautious in copying other languages. The most important thing is we have to consider the viability of the words in the Malay language. We want the words to expand the language and to enrich the vocabulary, not to become liabilities and rubbish to the language. The imported words should be able to offer us more sensible local words in order to best represent our expression.

Our forefathers in the past undeniably copied scores of terms and words from other languages but they did that cautiously. They didn’t just nakedly and blindly extort the words and commit them into the Malay language, they improvised the words. As such, those words survive until now and not only have they survived alone, together they also breed and give birth to more words, derived from their own. They exist not merely to enrich our vocabulary but they also act as spirits to the language.

I have conceived this all this while; can any statutory body be sued if it fails to carry out its statutory duty? Is there any law that allows legal action to be taken against the belligerent statutory body? The answers to that would have to be in negative. In relation to DBP, the courts cannot entertain any legal action against them as no law permits them to do so. Besides that, the nature of its functions and the success or failure of its carrying out its duty cannot be legally measured; it can only be politically, socially and philosophically adjudged but cannot be mathematically decided as fail or pass. There goes the chance to hold them accountable for their failure to enrich and strengthen the position of Malay language.

Before wharfing the journey of this writing, I guess it would be a little appropriate to put forward a couple of suggestions. Instead of copying more words from the West, why don’t we consider borrowing words from our neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Japan, and India? This could be applied to lexicon that concerns with science social usages. Of course, for technology convenience purposes, it is advisable to borrow technological terms from the countries that are technologically developed

Secondly, we could be more open to new words or street words. But of course research as to the viability of the words should be conducted. Ultimately, I hope DBP can perform its statutory duty by proliferating language study.

For more insight on the state of Malay language, refer to essay entitled ‘teroris bahasa’ by Saharil Hasrin Sanin, compiled in New Malaysian Essays. Available in your nearest bookstores

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oh my little experience

15 April 2008, I woke up at 8.53 and gazed into the morning sun. What a wonderful day, I thought. I was still overwhelmed by the compliment given by a friend of mine over my ability to write. Well, I guess I have all the reasons to be happy on that. It is a sad fact that in 1 year, a normal Malaysian in pro rata reads only one page. It’s very rare for us to see a typical Malaysian finishing a book every month. For example, last week a reading of The Sun revealed to me that our own National Laureate, A. Samad Said has produced more than 60 books but only less than 5 are known by the public. Shame on me too for not knowing his works, but that’s not the point here. The fact that only a nominal number of literature-conscious people know about his works as compared to the more than two-thirds majority of the people in Malaysia points out to only one thing, which is lacks of reading. Consequently, it results in the lack of literature product produced by the Malaysian people. Hence I guess we have to brush up our interest over reading material. As a Jewish proverb goes, ‘embrace knowledge and she will exalt you’. It literally means seek knowledge and it will help you. How to seek for knowledge? The answer is simple, start reading.

I remember I bought 2 newspapers on 18 March 2008, that's about a month ago. They were The Sun as well as The Star. The Sun has always been my favourite because judging from its content; it is more neutral in its reports compared to the other mainstream newspapers. I recalled back things that I read in both newspapers.Essentially, both newspapers had the same content. The Café Latte section in The Star with Penang Chief Minister is still fresh in my memory. News and stories relating to Lim Guan Eng, for the past few months have been dominating the newspapers. Stories ranging from his stance over the NEP to his opinion about the street demonstration staged by UMNO Penang have helped the newspapers to be sold like hot cakes.

One of the questions posed towards him asked how he expects to run the state, in light of his post as the Penang new Chief Minister, as he does not have any experience in government before. The response given, to me was thus far the wittiest response I’ve ever encountered from a politician. If I may quote, ‘when we talk about experience, I always say that I don’t have experience in corruption and misappropriation of funds.’

In this world of competitiveness, employers always look for experienced workers or persons. While it is entirely up to the discretion of the employer to employ such experienced people, this act nevertheless has driven the whole concept of experience to deviation.

Does experience have any merits? Of course yes. Through experience, we could get things done smoothly. But the requirement for an experience on the part of the employees has nevertheless discriminated the fresh graduates or those who seek to build or start their career afresh. The question posed against Guan Eng is an evasive question. It’s not that they really want to know what his expectation is but instead they are testing him, whether he could perform to the expectation of the people of Penang or not.

In most of job vacancies advertisements that I often come across with, the requirement of not less than 2 years of working experience is always replicated in most of the offers. No wonder Malaysia’s employment rate is very high. Every year, the countries’ higher learning institutions produce about 40 000 fresh universities graduates. These graduates come out from the universities without any experience; for how can they gain the required 2 years of working experience when prior to their graduation, they spent 3 to 4 years sitting in classrooms learning all the necessary craps relating to their prospective job field. It is sad that most of the graduates fail to secure jobs because of the absent of working experience. The money and time that they have invested for 5 years suddenly become futile because they cannot reap any benefit from the investment.

The private sector, primarily the employers have to be considerate to these fresh graduates as well as to those who wish to start afresh in their career. Experience should not be the ultimate determining factor of finding potential employees. Look beyond the experience, like go into the abilities, capabilities and potentials of the candidates. Most importantly, employers should be able to dive into the personalities of the prospective employees. Honesty, sincerity, sense of integrity as well as the determination to excel oneself should be the yardstick of what make a good worker. Working experience is a learning curve and nobody would be able to collect it if no chance is given.