"I believe in a country where hard work and merit, not privilege or background, determines success."
Tony Blair 2005

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Declare War on Snatch Thieves

In The Star,
Doctors operate to save baby of snatch theft victim

JOHOR BARU: Doctors at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital here worked 14 hours in an operation to save the baby of a snatch theft victim who went into a coma after falling from her motorcycle on Oct 20.

Sanorfizah Saleh, 31, was warded at the hospital’s intensive care unit where she underwent surgery to remove blood clots in her head.

She is expected to recover within the next few days after doctors detected some movement in her left fingers yesterday.

STILL IN A COMA: Sanorfizah being treated at the ICU unit of the Sultanah Aminah Hospital after she was knocked off her motorcycle by snatch thieves.
The baby, named Amirul Naim by the father, Azhar Md Ali, 33, is reported to be doing fine and would be taken to Kuala Lumpur to be cared for by a relative there.

This despicable crime has gone out of control. The police it seems have become ineffective in combating this menace. The culprits are becoming bolder by the day and more dangerous too. They are obviously individuals without conscience and totally with no regard for the law. The task now is to formulate an effective battleplan to stem this scourge. We need to declare war on snatch thieves.

There has been few successes in catching snatch thieves. This is because on most occasions there are no forthcoming eyewitnesses and no leads, as events unfolded at a shockingly fast pace. Most vehicles used in these crimes were also stolen or bearing false registration plates. Therefore tracing such culprits becomes a tedious and sometimes impossible task. Take Petaling Street for example. Pickpocketing in this area is common and police would only shrug their shoulders in helplessness when victims approach relaying their ordeals.

The solution would be to catch these thieves as the crimes are committed. In order to do this, others in the vicinity will have to play a role in possibly apprehending such culprits. Let not the events that occured to Sanorfizah be repeated. The police need to beef up their patrols and more plainclothes police personnel will be required in high risk areas.

Most of the crimes are committed by foreign nationals. A story carried on a local news recently mentioned that firearms were seized from an individual who is an Indonesion with a PR status. Why is it so easy for these individuals to get PR status when spouses of Malaysian professionals who are also professionals themselves can wait for 10 years and still be denied a PR status? Can someone clarify on this discrepancy or is the answer too obvious? I digress.

Snatch thieves are good evidence of moral decay and underlying social ills. We need to study the subject matter more closely in our efforts to understand the mentalities of snatch thieves. Perhaps only then can be start winning the battle. Is it due to economic hardship? Drugs? Gangsters? Pranksters?

We need to do something. If not, we will be hearing the death of another victim in the near future.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Still Water Runs Deep

In the letter section of The Star,
No study loan due to ambiguity

ON Oct 15, my father took me to Wisma Chase Perdana in Kuala Lumpur, the headquarters for the National Higher Education Fund (NHEF).

We were elated when the officer-in-charge, Khairul, told us I was eligible for a loan. It was a small sum, but we still felt it was good news.

On the morning of Oct 18, I called the Public Services Department (JPA) and explained my status as a private medical student wishing to inquire about its loan offer.

After listening, the officer-in-charge referred me to an Encik Azman who told me to talk to an officer, Norzailina.

I dialled the number given to me but there was no answer. Later, I e-mailed an inquiry to JPA and sent a copy to the Prime Minister’s office.

On the same afternoon, I enquired about the NHEF loan at the International Medical University (IMU) and was told no such offer was available to students like me.

When I demanded an explanation, I was told Khairul was relatively new and knew little about such things.

On Oct 19, Khairul himself admitted I was not eligible to apply. I then asked to speak to CEO Wan Ahmad but was unsuccessful.

His personal assistant painstakingly explained the reason for my ineligibility: The Jabatan Pendidikan Swasta (JPS) had sent an ambiguous document regarding loan applications for overseas-bound IMU students like me.

Since the requirements were not met, NHEF had rejected all loan applications. It seems this “ambiguity” has been going on for years!

I was horrified to discover that my opportunity and welfare are at stake because of a minor technicality that no party intends to solve.

Since Oct 19, I have been calling the JPA (03-88853405) countless times, but no one picks up the phone. I managed to get someone on 03-88853049, but it was the local loan department.

The person who answered asked me to dial 03-88853405. I told her as gently as I could that I had just done that.

She suggested I keep trying.

Some good soul gave me another number (03-88853000; training department), but no one picked up the phone when I called at 3pm.

Up till today (Oct 22), I haven’t heard, in writing, from the JPA nor the PM’s office.

Now I remember why I gave up approaching JPA for a loan during my first semester – I had a similar bad experience.

I was bounced around like a beach ball by irresponsibility, incompetence and bureaucracy.

I am at my wits’ end about getting a loan to continue my education.

(via e-mail)

There has never been any transparency in government procedures. The writer's loan application hiatus will only be the beginning of many frustrating encounters. There are many flaws from the inefficiency of the officers in charge to the unfair policies in place.

Let me illustrate these unjust policies. The Cardiology department at a local hospital is well staffed with excellent, competent and well qualified cardiologists. Unfortunately, when the position of head of Cardiology became vacant, none of these cardiologists were selected. In turn, a more junior cardiologist from UK , who had little experience in the local situation was selected. Many asked why? No clear answers are forthcoming. Speculation is rife which often brews mistrust among certain groups of people. There was hardly any transparency or logic in the selection process.

My reservation of the SLAB(Skim Latihan Akademik Bumiputra) program is another good example of inconsistencies and illogical government policies. Elaborating on it further however may only invite unnecessary attention.

There is little that can be done when top government positions are monopolised by incompetent individuals. Corruption remains rife, although vehemently denied by politicians, is crippling the country. When money politics aka corruption cannot be stemmed in the main political party of our ruling government, how much can we expect the fight against corruption in government agencies to succeed?

The "tidak apa" attitude remains a hindrance to an efficient service. Simple good phone ettiquette, despite being a prime directive of the government, is ignored.

There is certainly unhappiness and dissatisfaction with current policies, despite a relative calm.

Blame the media

From Yahoo News,
Abducted Aid Worker in Iraq Begs for Life
Fri Oct 22,11:07 PM ET
By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Trembling, haggard and weeping into a tissue, Margaret Hassan, the kidnapped British aid worker who has spent nearly half her life delivering food and medicine in Iraq (news - web sites), begged Britain on Friday to help save her by withdrawing its troops, saying these "might be my last hours." cont....

The media should be blamed in connection with the current spate of kidnappings cum murder in the Middle East and in particular in Iraq. The display of the victims pleading for their lives are indirectly playing along with these vicious kidnappers. These kidnappings are done to publicise an agenda that would otherwise not have been heard. Therefore, to allow the telecast of the victims and those of the kidnappers only serve to promote the successes of such kidnappings. Just as the policy that Governments should never deal with terrorists, so should the media in particular Al Jazeera. The ghastly killings that are often allowed precious airtime will only cement this method as an effective terrorist propaganda. News organisations should ignore direct requests by known terrorists for airtime. It is time to isolate the terrorists and reiterate that the war of terror will never stand the test of time.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Works vs Health

In The Star,
Ministries differ on fungus woes at Johor hospital

KUALA LUMPUR: Two ministers have come out with differing views on the cause of the fungus problem at the new RM557.8mil Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Baru.

According to Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, it was the failure to undertake routine maintenance, while Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the problem was due to structural defects.

Samy Vellu said the Public Works Department (PWD) had appointed a specialist contractor who had done work on a similar problem at Pantai Hospital here to tackle the problem.

Samy Vellu said the Finance Ministry awarded the contract for the construction of the hospital to MH Project Sdn Bhd.

“The PWD was responsible as the implementing agent,” he said.

He said the hospital was supposed to be completed on July 29, 2002, but three extensions were given due to various problems.

The hospital, which was completed on Nov 14 last year, was handed to the PWD on Feb 15 and to the Health Ministry a month later.

Samy Vellu said the Health Ministry appointed Pantai Medivest Sdn Bhd to oversee daily maintenance and monitor building supervisory systems before reporting on defects and damage to the main contractor.

“There were no daily routine checks on the hospital due to lack of staff.

“The presence of the fungus on the second and third levels of the hospital was due to damage to the air-conditioner valve, which was not reported as there was no building supervisory system,” he said.

However, Dr Chua said the fungus problem was due to the structural defects and not delay in routine maintenance.

In dismissing Samy Vellu's report as “defective,” he said the fungus was caused by the dampness in the hospital following leakage in its major roof and low human traffic.

“The roof was like a big retention pond,” he said in an interview by FOONG PEK YEE.

“We (Health Ministry) received the hospital in good faith on March 15 this year but it was full of defects.

“Besides major leaking problems, there were also problems in the piping system which had affected gas flow and also problems in the sewerage.

“The problems were made known to the contractor, who had promised to rectify them but did not do so,” Dr Chua said yesterday.

He said his ministry was the “end-user” and it was the responsibility of those involved in building the hospital to deliver a good product.

At last, a duel to relish. One party blaming the other over the issue of fungating walls at a newly built hospital. After the millions spent, there has to be some sort of accountability for such a shoddy workmanship. Unfortunately such news is becoming too regular. Remember the fuss over the poorly constructed computer laboratories at our schools recently. There should be some heads on the chopping block.

Samy Vellu has been tolerated long enough. He lacks respect for the population of Malaysia and takes us for fools. Remember the occasion when confronted to provide an explanation for building a toll plaza at an existing road, he simply said, "If you do not want to pay the toll, then you can enjoy the jam!". No explanations were ever offered and such sarcasm would not have been tolerated elsewhere. His long career in politics has certainly clouded his judgement and the end is near.

In the meantime, we could expect such war of words to continue.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Movie Magic : New Police Story

Jackie Chan, my all-time favourite actor, is back. As anyone would expect, the movie is packed with his slick fight scenes and daredevil stunts. He never ceases to amaze me. The end-of-the-movie bloopers is also a Jackie Chan trademark. However, in this movie, he explores with more emotional scenes, something that he has been failing to impress before. Did he pass the grade? I would still say "not really". Nevertheless, it is a fun movie to watch with its fair share of thrills and surprises. I would love to rate this higher but it was certainly not on of Jackie Chan's best movies. I would give it a generous 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The "Anwar" Saga

By now, most are already aware of the recent controversy concerning a comment posted on Screenshots by a mysterious "Anwar". A derogatory remark was made about Islam Hadhari. Islam Hadhari? What is that? Is this a new branch of Islam? Why can't Islam be Islam? Is the original Islam then inferior to Islam Hadhari? That would be tantamount to blasphemy, would it not? Why was "Anwar" frustrated about Islam Hadhari?

Often Islam Hadhari is mentioned in the same breath as politics.

"Umno has now proven to the world the success of a progressive approach to Islam. Umno must therefore enhance its understanding of the concept of development that we propagate through Islam Hadhari," as said by Badawi.

Perhaps, it is this fact that brews dissenting views about Islam Hadhari. Only UMNO-linked people appear to be talking about Islam Hadhari. What about regular Islam now? More confusion than clarity, it seems.

Even the Badawi administration are not forthcoming when it comes to facts and explanations about Islam Hadhari. Perhaps, they themselves are not totally clear on its concepts. So what is Islam Hadhari?

The Prime Minister said that 'Islam Hadhari' aims to achieve 10 main principles. They are faith and piety in Allah; a just and trustworthy government; a free and independent people; mastery of knowledge; balanced and comprehensive economic development; a good quality of life; protection of the rights of minority groups and women; cultural and moral integrity; safeguarding the environment; and strong defences. He went on. Abdullah said that 'Islam Hadhari' was complete and comprehensive, with an emphasis on the development of the economy and civilisation, capable of building Malay competitiveness.

So Islam Hadhari is a guide to practising Islam. It is meant to "complete" Islam. Is Islam not complete? Why is there a need for Islam Hadhari? If it is a guide to practising Islam, then would the comments by "anwar" be tantamount to blasphemy? He criticized the approach which appears to be motivated by UMNO. He did not blaspheme Islam. It is only coincidental that Islam Hadhari has the word ISLAM in it. A smart political move, perhaps.

I think the authorities have been misguided in this issue. They have equated Islam Hadhari to Islam, which in my opinion, is inaccurate. Does this mean the rest of the Islamic world is not practicing Islam appropriately as envisioned by UMNO?

Think about it!
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