Archive for June, 2009



13
Jun
09

IMG_0277

 

BALIK KAMPUNG

Esok Ahad 14 Jun saya nak balik kampung!

Pulang ke kampung halaman, tempat tumpah darah ibu saya di Nyalas, Melaka. Sambil menghadiri majlis perkahwinan sepupu lelaki yang digelar Tete, saya nak  menjenguk saudara mara Minangkabau yang masih menetap di kampung terpencil ini.

Ingat lagi kunjungan ke Nyalas masa saya kecil! Menziarahi Tok Manan, bapa ibu saya yang menjadi penghulu atau demang kawasan ini. Besar tinggi orangnya! Ingat juga Tok Mat Nor adik Tok Manan, seorang guru sekolah Melayu di Jasin. Terkenang juga Mak Cik Munah, Monel, Limah, Yam, Yah dan Pak Cik Ali adik beradik (lain ibu) arwah mak saya. Tok Manan mengahwini  empat isteri tetapi satu lepas satu, iaitu selepas kematian isteri sebelumnya. Bukan untuk memuaskan hawa nafsu seperti lelaki Islam sekarang yang mengahwini dua tiga isteri serentak!

 Terbayang bayang muka Ali Pelat yang membesar dan menua bersama saya. Dengan Ali lah saya selalu bersembang, berseloroh, berjenaka sambil menghisap rokok daun semasa kecil dan Rothmans semasa dewasa! Kami berdua menjelajahi politik negara dan meninjau ke dalam lubang lubang politikus UMNO. Dalam loghat Minang! Dengan nada yang penuh emosi! Mengenangkan nasib bangsa dan negara!

Den tengok ogrhang Melayu pokan dah mengado ngado macam si kudong dapek cincin!  Dapek sikit dah bodoh sombong lupo sedagrho magrho kampong masih papo kedano! 

Sungguhpun tidak berpelajaran formal Ali Pelat mempunyai kebijaksanaan yang luar biasa; mempunyai “native intelligence” dan “native speaker intuitions” yang tajam! Dan hati Ali sungguh suci! Saya amat merinduinya!

Saudara mara sebelah ibu orang Minangkabau, semua bercakap loghat Minang, semua orang kampung pendalaman! Kali terakhir saya melawat mereka ialah dua tahun lepas semasa Yam meninggal dunia. Memang benar saudara mara yang tinggal di merata pelusuk negara berjumpa hanya pada majlis perkahwinan atau kematian!

Saya pasti tidak ada banyak perubahan dalam hidup mereka – dari dulu hingga sekarang. Mereka masih susah, kebanyakan mereka masih kais pagi makan pagi! Bercucuk tanam! Memelihara ayam dan itik! Memancing ikan sungai!

                                                          Pulang

                              Tiap kali aku menapak bumimu England,

                             Bagai bangau menghinggapi kerbau

                             Ombak beralun balik ke tepi pantai

                             Hujan renyai menyerapi bumi;

                             Sebentar rasa pulang

                             Seketika rasa puas

                             Sekejap rasa tenang;

                             Seolah dibelai penawar rindu

                             Menumpang kasih di pangkuan ibu susu.

                             Bukan kerana untung dan megah

                             Dapat memeluk gading bertuah,

                             Lebih dari itu –

                             Tanduk kerbau ku genggam kukuh

                             Kampung halaman teratak berteduh

                             Tetap ku tatang, tetap ku sayang.

 

                             Namun kau England –

                             Menusuk zahir batinku

                             Membuai mimpi dulu

                             Mengimbas ingatan lalu

                             Fatamorgana syurga abadi di kalbu;

 

                             Jiwamu England tetap ku rindu.

Mungkin sekarang rumah atap papan sudah bertukar menjadi rumah separuh batu, basikal sudah digantikan dengan motor atau Proton “sekenhen” dan radio dinaiktaraf kepada TV dan CD dan DVD. Anak-cucu mereka mungkin lulus UPSR atau SPM. Ada juga yang lulus STPM dan menuntut IPT di sini sana .

Membeli kenderaan dan alat hiburan menjadi keutamaan mereka! Menikmati hiburan moden seperti Akademi Fantasia  memenuhi masa lapang dan menjadi buah perbincangan hebat. Ini menggantikan borak kosong di kedai kopi atau mencaci jiran sambil mencari kutu di tangga depan! Mana ada masa atau minat nak membaca buku! Mana ada duit lebih untuk disimpan atau dilabur!

Dengan pendidikan formal yang lebih tinggi daripada nenek moyang dan ibu bapa mereka, pemuda kampung berpeluang mendapat pekerjaan “white collar” atau “blue collar” di bandar bandar kecil dan besar. Tak payah lagi bertungkus lumus mengerjakan sawah sekangkang kera atau hutan sepelaung di pinggiran kampung mereka.

Mudah orang bandar seperti saya bercakap! Hidup kita lebih senang, lebih mewah, lebih “affluent”! Orang Melayu bandar tidak serupa atau sejiwa dengan saudara mara kampung.

Kata saja orang Melayu tapi jurang perbezaan antara kelompok kelompok Melayu seluas gaung!

Dengan perbezaan pendapatan dan kemudahan hidup antara bandar dan luar bandar yang semakin menggunung, timbul lah perbezaan ekonomi, sosio-budaya dan politik yang makin lama makin memisahkan kita semua.

Kata saja orang Melayu! Tapi hati dan jiwa berlainan!

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11
Jun
09

51W43168ATL

And among his wonders is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colours; for, in this, behold, there are messages indeed for all who are possessed of [innate] knowledge!

AR-RUM (22) 

 

TEACHING/LEARNING ENGLISH

Malay is my mother tongue, the language of home and family, the language in which the most tender of feelings are expressed, the tongue with which the harshest of emotions are spewed!

My first two years of formal learning was in a Malay primary school in Rasah, Seremban where I picked up the rudiments of kira-kira and alam sekitar. After that it was “off to a nunnery”, the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus  Seremban where my love for the English Language and Literature was sown. I went on to read English Literature and Linguistics later.

Having taught English Language, Literature and Linguistics in secondary schools and at a public university for more than 30 years, I feel kind of qualified to comment on several unresolved issues in the national education system, viz (i) the teaching of English and (ii) the teaching of Maths and Science in English. With this come the attendant problems in (a) standards and qualifications of teachers and students and (b) their eventual performance and results.

The importance of the English Language must be taken as the given in this equation. And in no way does this deny the position of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.

I’m a proponent of  true bilingualism. What this means is that  Malaysians must be fluent speakers of  Malay and English who express their thoughts and ideas articulately in both languages. They must be able to use each  language confidently and consistently at all levels of discourse. NOT in the mumbo-jumbo of  Manglish, bahasa rojak or pidgin!

The vision of having a truly bilingual Malaysia and of building a truly bilingual (and even multilingual) society is within reach in the near future if the right policies, facilities, training and methodologies are in place! Topping all of these is the right attitudes towards language learning!  

Bahasa Malaysia must be developed in all its uses and functions as the key to nationalism, unity and integration – as the medium of instruction, as the official mode of communication, as the language of national discourses, as the channel for research and development, as a tool for academic advancement.  This must be vigorously and rigorously pursued at all levels of society. This is logically indisputable!

Bahasa-Melayu-hebat_n2-111208

Running parallel to the growth of the national language must be an equally concerted effort to advance the use of English – the international language of communication, diplomacy and foreign affairs; of trade and industry; of economic development; of scientific and technological research. If we vow to make Malaysia an effective global player in all of these (and more) sectors we must vow to be proficient and efficient in English. The logic in  the equation is again indisputable! 

The ongoing debate about the supremacy of one language over the other or the threat that one language holds over the other is circular and wasteful! The same arguments have been proffered over the years. They have become boringly unproductive and disruptive if not destructive!

I urged for true bilingualism and suggested pragmatic and drastic ways of teaching English in a lengthy article in Utusan Malaysia (9 Mei 2002).

Meantime people are still arguing and Malaysians have not improved their language skills! In fact they’re getting worse with the advent of new communication technologies and the creation of modern language registers like contracted email and SMS language – the use of short forms, acronyms and abbreviations; the mixing of Malay and English colloquial language and slang. They are spreading like wildfire.

One has to look at the chats and comments on Facebook and Twitter, emails and blogs, SMS messages – to realize the extent of linguistic deterioration. In a multilingual society like Malaysia the incursion of mixed languages and language types is more drastic than in a monolingual society.  

HOW THEN DO WE EFFECTIVELY AND EFFICIENTLY TACKLE THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF ENGLISH?

I’d like to offer some pragmatic and realistic suggestions based on my experience and knowledge of developments in this area:

A. USE LANGUAGE TAPES TO IMPROVE LISTENING AND SPEAKING SKILLS

This can be done in the school language labs (if schools can afford them) or on the student’s own CD player/ walkman (with earphones) for one period a week under teacher supervision in school, and regularly under parental supervision at home.

Students get to hear English spoken by native / fluent speakers in conversations and in relevant communicative situations (asking for information, at an interview etc) and they will internalise the elements of the language – pronunciation, intonation, grammar and vocabulary – to reinforce learning in the other English periods. Young people like to imitate and with good models of English on tape, they get the full advantages of the language drills which they can practise in their own time.

 The text of the tape can be printed out and used to teach reading comprehension,  grammar and vocabulary. In the University of Malaya in the 70s we used the SRA labs with tapes for listening and speaking and printed texts for reading comprehension and writing. Copies of the tape and text  are easily and cheaply made for internal use. 

I believe this is a cheap and quick way of improving the English language proficiency of both the teachers and their pupils. And it has proven to be a  highly successful teaching/ learning methodology in China. 

B. READING AND WRITING SKILLS

Bring back the book report as a weekly/ fortnightly activity in the English classes.

Students are assigned a reading task, preferably a simple reader (start with short stories and progress to abridged editions of English classics and novels).

They submit a written exercise: (i)  paraphrase or summary of the story (ii) description of their favourite character/s (iii) phrase/ line/  paragraph quotations they like  lifted from the text  (iv) vocabulary work for new words and phrases that they come across and how to use them. To reinforce their speech and speaking skills, an oral presentation can be made  in class.

C. TEACH AN ARTS-BASED SUBJECT LIKE HISTORY IN ENGLISH

History, Living Skills and Civics offer teachers and students a wider scope for using language in all its manifestations – reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Unlike Maths and Science which is formulaic and more expository, the humanities are a lot more descriptive and exploratory. They offer a far greater range of possibilities for language use than Maths and Science. The argument that teaching  Maths and Science in English reinforces English language teaching/ learning  is a flimsy one.

I’m all for making English compulsory for SPM because this offers the greatest motivation for learning the language and for changing the attitudes towards it! And it’s not too much to ask for a pass in the English paper!

The rural schools must be equipped with the basic facilities and methodologies that the teachers can handle. Even if they are not English language specialists they can inspire learning and the right attitudes towards the subject. At the same time they can use the same facilities to improve themselves.

They’re worth a try!

08
Jun
09

Zainah%20Anwar%20-%20Malaysia%20rogn%C3%A9%20redim%2090p

ART THOU NOT aware of those who, having been granted their share of the divine writ, now barter it away for error, and want you [too] to lose your way? But God knows best who are your enemies: and none can befriend as God does, and none can give succour as God does.

Among those of the Jewish faith there are some who distort the meaning of the [revealed] words, taking them out of context and saying [as it were,] ” We have heard, but we disobey,” and ” Hear without hearkening,” and, ” Hearken thou unto us, [O Muhammad]” – thus making a play with their tongues, and implying that the [true] Faith is false. And had they said, ” We have heard and we pay heed, ” and ” Hear [us], and have patience with us, ” it would indeed have been for their own good, and more upright: but God has rejected them because of their refusal to acknowledge the truth – for it is in but few things that they believe.

AN – NISA (44 – 46)  

 

WOMEN’S VOICES

I’m all for speaking up!

I’m all for articulating thoughts, opinions, viewpoints, ideas in speech  and writing!  

For only in making yourself heard and read can you effect learning in yourself and others. And only through knowledge and experience can you bring about  the desired improvement or change or development or progress.

I’m all for healthy interaction and communication and exchange – what is currently referred to as “engagement” that is, involving one another in the pursuit of these improvements, changes, developments, progress; that is, what is popularly called “inclusiveness”

For there’s no doubt that societal change involves society’s stakeholders, that is the men and women and young people and children who constitute society and who are the beneficiaries of the change.

Every segment of society matters in any change that is going to affect their lives!

For it is these men and women and young people and children that constitute the family, one of the most important if not the core unit in society!

Each segment has a voice and the right to make themselves heard and be heard, whether it is in the championing of social justice, humanitarian issues, political concerns, culture and tradition or religious responsibilities.

If there is dissent or disagreement either within the segment or without there must be room for discussion and debate, either in an open forum or behind closed doors. 

YOU DON’T SIMPLY SHUT THE DOOR TO SHUT  PEOPLE OUT/UP!   

I therefore view the PAS call to ban Sisters In Islam (SIS) as a cowardly, retrogressive move!

I object strongly to the PAS call to “rehabilitate” the SIS women who have fought long and hard to engage men and women in a more progressive discourse on Islam.  

Through their research-based programmes which are reinforced by continuous input and feedback from enlightened thinkers and scholars, SIS has slowly but surely effected change in the landscape for Muslim women.

SIS is the voice that has spoken loudly and clearly about the injustices borne by Muslim women and advocated change or modification to a male-centric interpretation of the Syariah.

The two lone and lonely voices of the PAS women in an oblique support of SIS represent the great injustice  in the Muslim world – the silencing of articulate voices (be they from men or women) who only want the justice and equality promised in the Quranic teachings.

When Muslims should be reaching out to one another to present a united, compassionate and merciful ummah, emulating our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in his teachings about the 99 attributes of Allah, we are at odds with one another over something as important as justice and equality!

For Muslims to be taken seriously, there must be genuine efforts at a real muzakarah of the men and women of Islam to iron out the creases in the understanding of the Syariah.

Age-old prejudices and misconconceptions about the duties and responsibilities of men and women in the family and society must be looked at within the context of present-day needs and requirements!

THIS IS THE WAY FORWARD!

E PLURIBUS UNUM  (OUT OF MANY, ONE)!

05
Jun
09

obama-that-one-poster

And [thus it is:] unto every community [that has ever believed in Us] have We appointed [sacrifice as] an act of worship, so that they might extol the name of God over whatever heads of cattle He may have provided for them [to this end]. And [always bear in mind;] your God is the One and Only God: hence, surrender yourselves unto Him.

And give thou the glad tiding [of God’s acceptance] unto all who are humble – all whose hearts tremble with awe whenever God is mentioned, and all who patiently bear whatever ill befalls them, and all who are constant in prayer and spend on others out of what We provide for them as sustenance.

AL – HAJI  (34 – 35)

 

E PLURIBUS UNUM

OUT OF MANY, ONE!

Obama’s speech given in Cairo yesterday has many lessons for One Malaysia !

One must admit that no nation can be more plural than America! America is unique in its racio- ethnic diversity and everything that comes with  people and their groups – stock/genes/colour, language, culture, religion, customs, traditions, dress, food in all their permutations.

But out of all these diversities has emerged one nation America and one nationality American!  Because of their magnitude and numbers America and the Americans represent the best and the worst of humanity. The best in its ideals of democracy, freedom and equality! The worst in these same ideals when distorted and manipulated by self serving interests!

But then, where is there a nation and a people that is not self serving?

One can argue that as a nation China has magnitude and numbers too! However one can quickly add that China’s population is more homogenous and its peoples more genetically similar.

One Malaysia shares with America the dream of unity out of diversity! The vision of one nationality out of peoples whose forefathers settled in the Malay Archipelago and the Malay Peninsular from the outlying regions and from as far away as Europe, Arabia, India and China throughout history.

map-2

There were waves of migration bringing in waves  of  migrants at different periods of history from as early as the 3rd century. The most significantly recent wave that brought big numbers of migrants from China, India and the Indonesian islands came with the opening of Penang and Singapore in the late 18th and early 19th century.  One can say that the forefathers of most present-day Malaysians would be traceable to these arrivals.

So Malaysia is younger than America, its peoples not as racially diverse as America’s huge European, African, Asian, Arab; Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities. But efforts to unite diverse communities with diverse needs remain a crucial part of the American dream as they are with the Malaysian one!

America does this wisely and systematically through a common language, a common education system, a common constitution and law. Lately common national pursuits like the fight against terrorism and the pledge to uphold democracy at home and abroad have united the American people and given them a relevant impetus and a modern identity as a nation.   

E Pluribus Unum!

One Malaysia!

No doubt Malaysia is puny compared to gigantic America! But as a people, no matter how small our numbers are, how trivial our needs and interests we can have common dreams, aspirations and goals. What we all want after all is a place in the sun – the Malaysian Sun!

Indeed, Malaysians can gather hope from Obama’s speech, from the firm promises, strong warnings and veiled threats!

What I take as my guiding light is Obama’s urgings to move forward and not let history and the past stop us in our tracks! We can’t erase history but we can definitely remove the baggage of hate, vindictiveness and prejudice that takes over our puny human minds, hearts and souls.

Malaysians of all ethnicities can be generous and magnanimous and share the cake that we all have painstakingly baked!

E PLURIBUS UNUM (OUT OF MANY, ONE)!

ONE MALAYSIA!

02
Jun
09

street%20crimes

 

NOW AS FOR the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off the hand of either of them in requital for what they have wrought, as a deterrent ordained by God: for God is almighty, wise.

AL – MA’IDAH (38)

 

SNATCH THIEVES

They’re getting closer!  The snatch thieves I mean! They’re getting bolder and moving faster too!

Today, three of my kutu friends who were chatting in the car  as it cruised towards the traffic lights were rendered speechless when a man opened the back door and snatched a handbag that was placed between the two front seats. He then jumped pillion on to a waiting motor bike and disappeared into the main road traffic.

We couldn’t stop talking about it over lunch, each of us contributing anecdotes and experiences re traffic/street crimes. We all agreed that they are on the rise, their methods and techniques getting more wily and difficult to control or anticipate, the criminals being almost impossible to catch.

We painstakingly report it as Annette did today, urging the police to dust for finger and handprints on her car. But how do we and the police identify the street criminals from the millions of people that ply the city streets and back lanes, many hiding behind false papers or no papers at all?

Policemen on horseback will certainly be a more formidable patrol force than those on motor bikes! Police horses can be trained to kick offenders or trample on them while their police riders get the handcuffs out! Trained riders can get their horses galloping faster than the culprits can run or ride away!

20050304_204701_Horseman%20in%20Circo%20Massimo%20Vig%20B_W%20Small%20File_view

Louise revealed that horses have been tried but they were not well looked after! So back to patrol motor bikes and cars which cruise down our neighbourhoods ever so sparingly! Or not at all!

Seeing how ineffective policing is, it looks like we the public have to take control of our own safety and our possessions. Women especially have to be more vigilant because they and their handbags are the targets of snatch thieves!  Snatch theft has become more rampant because the thieves know how profitable it is to snatch a bag especially a Chanel, Dior or Louis Vuiton. Ladies, especially Malaysian ladies carry a lot of cash and valuable stuff in their handbags!

So ladies, be careful and observe these DOs and DON’Ts:

Do carry a pepper/ insecticide spray.

Do have laminated copies of your IC and Driving License instead of the original.

Do bring only one credit /ATM card

Don’t carry valuables or jewellery

Don’t have more than a couple of hundred RM in your bag

Don’t chat too much when walking in a group

Do be extra vigilant when walking alone 

Do lock your car from inside

Do put your handbag on the car floor

They are watching every move you make or do not take!




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