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

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Strip search : Turning the tables

Strip searching and ear squats are legal. An excerpt from The Star,

On the ear squats, ACP Mazlan said, in some cases, simple exercise steps and corporal punishment were carried out to ensure the suspects stretched out their arms and legs to ascertain there were no hidden items.

Corporal punishment? So, the lady in the picture has been judged and deemed guilty of an unknown offence. So the police has taken the law into its own hands and deemed humiliation as a just sentence. However, it appears that they have forgotten to document this event.

From The Star,
Azmi: Government will protect woman in video if she comes out

PENGKALAN PASIR: The Government is willing to provide protection to the naked woman doing ear squats in the controversial video clip in a bid to get her to come forward and give evidence.

“Let me assure the victim or victims that they shall be protected. They can help us in the investigations and bring the culprits to justice,” Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said.

He added that there was suspicion that the victim could be an illegal, as this would explain why she was not willing to come forward.

Before asking the "victim" to expose her identity to the hungry press, the police should at least have some sort of a record documenting her arrest and subsequent humiliation. If she was just brought to the station for questioning, why was she strip searched? What were the reasons for her arrest?

Every citizen should fear if the police has the authority to strip search anyone it wishes to without any form of charges.

Police to go after person who filmed naked woman


KUALA LUMPUR: Who shot the scenes? This is the crux of police investigations into the controversial video clip showing a naked Chinese woman doing ear squats while in police custody.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Musa Hassan said whoever took the video clip - whether from the force or a civilian – would be charged under the Penal Code with insulting the modesty of a person or intruding into the privacy of a woman.

The offender can be fined or jailed up to five years or both.

As usual, whistle blowers are hunted down. There should be an outcry of justice. Instead the police has now turned the tables, justifying their actions and putting blame on someone who obviously wanted to expose a police malpractice.

This turn of events sickens me.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Police Incompetency

Some personal experiences have drawn a parallel to the current sensational "naked woman" saga. It highlights the lack of proper dicipline in the police force and the lack of independence when cases involving people in authorities are brought before them. Let me illustrate a case.

A 44 year old woman, who had been previously healthy, was brought into the Emergency in a semi-comatose state requiring assisted ventilation when oxygen saturations were low. She was reportedly well until she ingested some herbal medicines. It was then that she developed a sudden high temperature with stiffness of the entire body. After the initial investigations, she had biochemical evidence of acute pancreatitis and CT scan of the brain showed generalised cerebral oedema with a subarachnoid haemmorhage. She also went into DIVC requiring repeated transfusions and displayed evidence of a cranial diabetes insipidus. The twist is that the initial urine pregnancy test was positive. An ultrasound scan showed an empty uterus with no evidence of an extrauterine pregnancy. A repeat test was still positive before becoming negative several days later. Unfortunately, she never recovered conciousness and expired after a week in the ICU. The medical and ICU team were not certain of a the exact cause of death and thus agreed upon a post mortem. Moreover, there was a suspicion of poisoning and an earlier police report had already been lodged as per standard protocol in the emergency department.

It was then that the husband made obvious attempts at preventing the post mortem from being performed despite suspicion of poisoning and the unknown cause of death of this young and previously healthy lady. He made calls to the top police officers in Bukit Aman, who then sent a senior officer to the hospital. The initial offer from this senior cop stunned me. He offered to absolve all responsibilities from the hospital if we were to allow the body to be released and buried as per the request from the family. This was despite the medical team telling them that the cause of death was indeed unknown. The standard procedure for the police should have been to order for a post mortem. When we did not budge, he relented and offered to convince the husband. Later a relative, who was allegedly a commander in our air forces, arrived. However, they realised by then that the hospital will not issue a burial permit when the cause of death was unknown and a suspicion of poisioning and possible foul play was clearly visible.

The saga is unfolding and the findings of the post mortem, which is scheduled for today, will be interesting. My only fear is that unforseen forces will eventually prevail in concealing the true facts pertaining to the case.

The police, in this case, did not follow procedures and the investigation was hindered by authorities in higher positions. Why am I not surprised in a land where everything is possible? Malaysia Boleh!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Respecting hospital rules

There is a sense of sheer frustration when dealing with visitors to hospitals. Sometimes I tend to think that their utter disregard for basic rules is a reflection of the ills in society today.

For example, there is poor adherence to visiting hours and the number of allowed visitors permitted into the ward. Despite clear signages informing the public of the stipulated hours for visiting, they come in droves at times outside those hours. They start packing hallways sometimes causing uneasy congestion and creating a noise not dissimilar to that from the markets. Some can be seen "picnicking" along the hallways. It will then be laboriously difficult to rid them from the ward as they crowd around respective beds.

Smoking along stairwells is another popular defiant activity. Many can be seen smoking in these areaa, only to feebishly conceal the cigarettes as I walk by.

Bringing children to hospitals is also a favourite among hospital visitors. Not only do they allow them to enter the wards but also to roam unsupervised. These children often will then make deafening screeches shattering the tranquil of the ward. The inaction of the parents involved is even more startling.

I would ask why. Just as we visit our friends at their homes, we attempt to conform to the norms practised at these particular homes and put on our best behaviour. Hospitals should be no different. Hospital rules are there for a reason and should be adhered to. Our society should learn to respect rules be it in hospitals or elsewhere. Until and unless they do that, I fear that Malaysia will not achieve a developed nation status that is so desires. These are hidden qualities of a truly developed nation. Materialistic wealth and property is only a facade of development and progress. Ultimately, a nation is only as good as its people.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bird Flu : Are we really prepared?

From Malaysiakini,
Bird flu emergency plan in place
Nov 12, 05 2:05pm
Malaysia has readied an emergency plan to deal with any bird flu outbreak and allocated RM12.92 million (US$3.4 million) to produce a vaccine for poultry.

Health Minister Dr Chua Soi Lek said in case of an outbreak police patrols would quarantine areas within a three kilometre (4.5 mile) radius of any suspected human case, the New Straits Times reported.

Health officials would go from house to house to check for more infections of the deadly H5N1 virus, he said.

Chua also announced a six-level alert system in the case of an outbreak, with zero meaning the country is free of the virus, Bernama reported. cont...

The Government is trumpetting its readiness to tackle this possible infectious disease nightmare. However, how ready are we actually? During the SARS crisis, Malaysia was lucky to escape the brunt of this unfortunate epidemic unlike our neighbour Singapore. In actual fact, we escaped relatively unscathed. We may not be so lucky this time around.

How prepared are we actually? Are our Emergency Departments well trained to handle a crisis should it erupt? Are there any protocols in place or emergency drills to sharpen our response? How about a contingency plan should our healthcare workers be infected?

Are we really prepared?

Sadly, I fail to see any urgency, at least at the hospital where I work in. There should be debriefings on what the frontline medical staff should do if they suspect a case of birdflu. Isolation wards should be up and ready with relevant equipments in working order. Emergency drills should be performed to ensure that there is no confusion among staff should a case emerge. Infectious disease teams should be set up and communication among diciplines or departments must be smooth flowing. All wards must also be trained likewise should a case be admitted unknowingly. Medical officers on duty must be vigilant. Public health, hospital, police or perhaps the immigration and veterinary departments must be alert and in constant communication. The public should also be encouraged to report sudden bird deaths to the police.

I fear that Malaysia is not prepared contrary to our grandious claims. If we do not buck up, a disastrous outcome is beckoning. God help us all.

Friday, November 11, 2005

University politics

The recent furore surrounding the legal actions taken against students purportedly for inciting a boycott of a recent university election is a testimony to the repression of a basic human right, freedom of speech. Our political leaders are well aware of the fact that student bodies can become powerful political tools and can wield considerable influence on the university students. Allowing students not aligned to the ruling government will be seen as a threat to national security.

I find this a dangerous precedent and does not augur well for the future of this country. A university should be an oasis for the expression of ideas, free from political repression. Even if the university feels that its election rules have been violated, it should be dealt internally and transparently. Subjecting these students to legal actions with severe penalties of a "real" world signifies the intent to force submission and remove a possibly future threat to the current political establishment. Students are no longer allowed to grow as unique individuals but rather expected to conform to a particular ideology.

Removing this basic right in the name of maintaining stability in this country is lame. By not allowing the discussion of 'sensitive' topics and unconventional political ideas, we are not allowing Malaysia to grow as a nation. Thus Malaysians remains immature in their thoughts and thus only serves to create an artificial environment of harmony and stability.

Protecting the independence of universities from political parties and upholding the right of expression of its students is an important step, if we are ensure that our future generations are not merely clones but an improved version of our current generation.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mysterious Pigeon Deaths

On my tagboard,
What was that on the star yesterday? About all the bird dying in Bidor, and that 19 years old girl??

In the NST today,
Pigeon deaths mystery
BIDOR, Nov 6:
The deaths of over 100 pigeons in Bidor, while yet unexplained, is not due to bird flu.
State Health, Science and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Tan Chin Meng said the Veterinary Research Institute conducted tests on the dead birds and confirmed thatthey were not killed by the bird flu.

However, investigations were stillongoing to ascertain the cause of death, he said.

Bidor townsfolk found dead pigeons all over town yesterday morning bringing traffic to a standstill.

So it is not eh H5N1 strain of bird flu. The question is what then caused this massive pigeon deaths in Bidor? Mass suicide? I am sure the answer will be more apparent in the days or weeks to come. (if anyone still remembers about it!!)

Girl,19?? Not aware of that. Perhaps Chiwi can enlighten me on the origins of that report. There has been no reported cases of suspected bird flu in Malaysia as of yet. However, we have to be extremely vigilant considering the epidemic in our neighbouring countries.

As this virus is sometimes carried by migratory birds, how can we avoid this? Surely can't prevent them from entering our airspace!! Such infected birds may end up spreading the virus to our local bird population.

We are certainly at a threshold of a major epidemic capable to wiping out millions of lives. We can only hope and pray that this virus does not have the propensity to transmit from human to human anytime soon!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Flawed Fire Alarms : Someone must take responsibility

From malaysiakini,
Fire erupts at Suria KLCC, no one hurt
Nov 5, 05 11:47am

Fire broke out late Friday at a shopping mall in Malaysia's famed Petronas Twin Towers, forcing hundreds of panicked moviegoers to evacuate but causing no serious injuries, witnesses and officials said. cont...

For such a gigantic building like the KLCC, its security features must be flawless. Unfortunately, this incident at their cineplexes highlights gross negligence on behalf of the KLCC management. Lives could have been tragically lost.

Firstly, the fire was not detected at its earlier stages but allowed to burn out of control. Were there not any sprinklers or smoke detectors installed at strategic areas? Are they not standard security features of high rise buildings? If they were present, then why have they not functioned as they should?

Secondly eyewitness accounts documented the failure of its smoke alarms preventing them from alerting others.

"We hit the alarm. It wasn't working at all, and some of the people were trying to get out through the emergency exit, but they couldn't make their way out," he said.

The Fire Department should investigate this incident thoroughly. There was an obvious failure of KLCC's fire detection system. Faults should be rectified now before an uglier incident surfaces. If indeed there is negligence on the part of KLCC's management, the responsible individual(s) should be brought to justice. There should be not corners cut when coming to the safety of skyscrapers or any building for that matter.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The tudung controversy

There is hardly any mention in the mainstream press about the furore created by a non-Muslim student of the International Islamic University for refusing to wear the tudung during a recent graduation ceremony. Despite the IIU wanting to be a more globalised university, they have failed to respect the basic right of its students. Their argument is that the tudung is a formal dresscode during its graduation ceremony. Surely, they must realise that the tudung represents a religious belief and is certainly not merely a dresscode. Have we ever seen any non-Muslims wearing a tudung? Wearing a tudung is almost synonymous with being a Muslim.

Just as the Muslim world demands justice and the right to wear the tudung, they should in turn respect the beliefs of another. As they fight to legalise the wearing of tudungs world wide from Singapore to France, perhaps they should also show that tolerance is indeed the teachings of Islam by relaxing this absurd ruling.

Stories are published in malaysiakini

UM : sliding into oblivion

From malaysiakini,
UM defends slide in university rankings
Nov 2, 05 10:06am
The country's oldest and most prestigious university has defended its poor performance after it slid 80 places in a respected ranking of the world's top-200 institutions.

The Universiti Malaya's Vice Chancellor Hashim Yaakob insisted its performance had improved despite coming in at 169 on The Times Higher World University Rankings, a drop from 89 the year before.

"Actually, UM is better this year as compared to last year as we are graded as excellent in three out of the five university categories in the survey," he was quoted as saying by the state Bernama news agency late Monday.

Hashim said that UM, which was founded in 1949, ranked among the best 100 universities in the categories of arts and humanities, social sciences, biomedicine, science and technology.

He also blamed UM's poor showing on increased competition with more universities surveyed for the ranking this year, as well as a new evaluation category which rated universities on the employability of graduates.

"In the new category, they asked employers to list the universities with students who are employable. We do not know which employers they approached," he said. cont...

The vice chancellor is defending a sinking ship. It is riddled with unfair bureaucratic practices, flawed policies, incompetent management and uninspiring academicians cum administrators. Being contend with a slide in rankings and rationalising it as an improvement in performance displays the delusions of grandeur that our universities as suffering from. Blaming increased competition as the reasons for this slide in rankings only highlights the lack of quality in UM in a globalised setting.

60,000 grads unemployed
Annie Freeda Cruez

Nearly 60,000 Malaysian graduates are unemployed.

A survey on the jobless, carried out for the first time in the country, also revealed the profile of the unemployed graduate: Female, Malay, from a public university majoring in business studies or information technology, from a poor background, and educated with a study loan from the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN). cont...

No surprises here. It is time public univerisities acknowledge the weaknesses there are present and make genuine attempts at improving the situation. Relying on past glories will only depreciate the value of degrees from our local universities. The VC perhaps should be the first to recognise his shortfalls rather than justify an obvious flaw in his managerial style.
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