Monday, August 31, 2009
Tanggal 31 Ogos, genaplah 52 tahun! Merdekanya negara kita dari belenggu penjajah. Lahirlah Malaya...
Kemudian, 16 September 1963, Sabah dan Sarawak menjadi pelengkap Malaysia. Singapura kekal sejenak tetapi keluar 2 tahun kemudian, melakar masa depan sendiri...
Bulan Merdeka... Bukankah lebih sesuai jika kita namakan Bulan Malaysia agar ia lebih bermakna kepada segenap lapisan masyarakat dan bukan sahaja buat mereka yang ada di Semenanjung sahaja... tetapi hakikatnya masyarakat di seberang Lautan China Selatan memang dipinggirkan sejak dari lahirnya Malaysia.
Kini, slogan 1Malaysia... lahirnya dari cita-cita politik. Tetapi SATU apakah yang dimaksudkan oleh slogan ini? SATU di hati? SATU segala-galanya? Atau SATU mengikut keperluan dan kepentingan sahaja? .. as and when required??
Satu Malaysia...terlintas di fikiran etnik-etnik di Sabah dan Sarawak yang masih lagi jauh terpinggir; suku Penan misalnya mengalami krisis kebuluran kerana jambatan penyambung hayat mereka telah diputuskan oleh syarikat balak. Dilakukan tanpa mengira kesan kemanusiaan kepada mereka ini yang tempat tinggal mereka terletak jauh di pendalaman. Manakah keprihatinan yang dilaung-laungkan? Adakah kita berSATU mendalami krisis mereka kini?
Ini di Malaysia dan bukan di Padang Pasir Sahara. Ini Malaysia, buminya kaya dengan segala sumber. Tetapi manusianya masih lagi menghadapi krisis kebuluran yang pada dasarnya boleh dielakkan!
52 tahun! Kalau dikirakan jangka hayat manusia, sudah dikira matang dan boleh membezakan yang patut dari yang tidak patut, yang benar dari yang palsu sebab menjelang masa itu, manusia sudah sepatutnya lebih sedar hasil dari segala pengalaman pahit manisnya. Sepatutnya sudah mula mengaplikasikan pengetahuan yang diperolehi dari pengalamannya... tetapi dari bibit kejadian kebelakangan ini, nampaknya kita masih lagi dibelenggui oleh kesempitan minda dan kerakusan manusia.
52 tahun... di manakah Malaysia? Dari banyak segi, di sebelah Semenanjung, rasanya masih lagi seperti Malaya. Integrasi Semenanjung dengan negeri-negeri yang terpisah oleh Laut China Selatan, masih lagi jauh dari yang ideal. Yang dirasakan mungkin kemelut dari sini makin hari makin dekat di sana. Gejala-gejala yang memisahkan dan yang mengasingkan, yang lahirnya dari realpolitik di sini, makin hari makin menular di sana.
52 tahun...banyak isu dalam kancah politiknya kini menjadi tatapan dunia. Dari perbicaraan melibatkan kematian seorang wanita Mongolia ke kematian Teoh Beng Hock hinggalah ke isu Kartika dengan arak.... dan cuma beberapa hari yang lalu, perarakan memprotes pembinaan kuil yang menunjukkan Malaysia yang semakin hilang arah nampaknya....
52 tahun..... adakah kita bebas sepenuhnya dari belenggu penjajah? Atau adakah kita sekarang sudah didominasikan oleh bentuk penjajahan yang baru? Rupanya berbeza tetapi modus operandi-nya sama.... pecah dan perintah. Bersatu kita teguh, bercerai kita roboh. Ada banyak intipati yang boleh menjadi pengajaran kepada kita semua di sini dalam pepatah orang tua-tua ini. Selamat Hari Merdeka.. semoga tahun-tahun yang datang akan lebih baik dari kemelut sekarang..
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Sat for my PTK exam during the hols too. The paper has changed again. It gives a feeling that those people up there don't really quite know what the best assessment is. Anyway, this time around there were no more essays to write. It was a 3-hour paper the last time... all essays!
This recent PTK paper was a one hour paper - 40 questions, all objective. I don't know how answering 40 objective questions are going to determine whether we are competent. Questions sounded like the Pendidikan Moral type... half the time I didn't know what I was doing! So I guess I won't fit the bill of a cekap fler, and hence should be reflected by the lack of cekap-ness in my work.
Anyway, the system doesn't quite reward the best people. Neither does it promote the most capable person. The teaching service is like politics... just like the rest of the civil service. Pay rise such as the one determined by the PTK does not reflect your ability to teach or how good you are at your work. Neither is promotion based on your true ability. Patronage of race and cronyism is how people are moved up! ... again a reflection of our political system. And our political scene is kinda sickening at the moment.
astaka (pavilion).... they too had skirtings. The floor was wet from the rain. Out in the open, exposed to the rain and shine, I dread to think how dirty those pieces of clothes are. The skirt malaise is one that every school seems to be infected with now! Sometimes I wish we'd be more sensible and practical.
replaced by vein scanning. Technology changes ever so fast.....
Anyway, today school is back on. I'm back in a place with the same setting... curtains hanging everywhere, collecting dust, tables with long and short skirts, unwashed since the day they were hung up since the beginning of the year... the same show, the same 'merumahkan sekolah' thingy. Sometimes I think we take this.. Sekolahku, Rumahku too far.
And today... it's this merdeka celebration thingy going on at school. More than two thirds of my class students are not at school. The rain is beating outside.... and somehow, dampening the mood to celebrate....
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Paddy Museum was the next stop. Many of them commented that it was well worth the visit to see the revolving huge mural. This is one the few tourist attractions here that we are proud of. After the short visit to the museum, we stopped by Gunung Keriang for the crystals... but the ladies were not that into crystals.
What caught their attention was a stall selling some spicy paste... I think it was tomyam. The stall owner was one happy lady that day cos she practically sold everything in her stall! Add that to the herd mentality at work... it was a sure sell formula! That's the onslaught of almost 2 busloads of ladies... there were only a handful of men, you see. Don't know why the menfolks didn't join their wives!
After that Other Half and I took 10 (chosen ones, LOL!) out for lunch at Huatang. We had to rope in the girls (Ling & Siah) to provide temporary taxi service. They came all the way to the Paddy Museum to get the extra passengers. 8)
It was nice to be belanja our teachers and some of my friends' mothers (and father). We hardly get such opportunities. Many of them had a hand in my growing up years and they were people whom I looked up to.
The weather held for them for that one day... it rained the day before and it rained the day after and the day after..... God was good!
Orkid Tropika Cafe.
Well these were some of the highlights of the hols.. add that to Siah's birthday, I'd say it was quite a good hols....
Friday, August 28, 2009
gu-bak kway teow th'ng stall. There aren't many places offering this fare in Alor Setar. This is the third place I know of; after Xantana (not sure whether they are still selling it) and Viet Cafe.
Yu Yi has quite a few other stalls operating. There was the 'tju-char', wan-tan mee which is nicer if you pack home... something about letting the mee simmer in the gravy and being softened first, chicken rice and apom, I think.
The 'tju-char' also serves lunch at reasonable prices. We sometimes go there for lunch. Price is reasonable and the food not too bad.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I used talk with friends mostly over Skype but somehow since FaceBook became the flavour of the moment... I've also jumped onto that bandwagon. It has found me many old friends. I'm ecstatic to be able to reconnect with friends near and far. Interaction with my kids' friends has also taken on this dimension. I now have 'conversations' with them via FB, online and offline.
Interactions between the adults and kids used to take place when they go to each other's house or at church... for those who don't have the latter, the interaction was kinda limited. These days.. I even know what they have for lunch before their parents do!
As for me, it's usually lepak cum some other task. We drop notes here and there, exchange info of the latest gossip, tag each other, throw our thoughts, share our hobbies and exploits, ooh and aah over the littlest of things, laugh over jokes.. And my horizon just keeps expanding... I think my mom and dad will probably not comprehend all these.
Yet... in all these, I see the good for the old, for my parents' generation. This form of communication is actually rather liberating in the sense that you can reach out and be reached at whims. They could be so in touch with their children and grandchildren... distance not a problem.
And being social creatures as well as having a lot of time on our hands and also sometimes not much to do, I think this cyber lepak-ing is good for many groups of people. The fun part is the interaction continues even after you have signed off... cos you can pick it up from where you left.
So this new way of lepak.. it actually has it many good points. But like the 2 sides of a coin, there are also the cons we have to look at. But with some discipline I'd say there are many plus points. For parents.. get on, try it out.. it'll also help you understand your children's worlds. For the older gen, it's great to stay connected after the line dancing, tai-chis, kopitiam sessions.... or in the dead of the night, when you sometimes find the need to 'talk', the lines are opened, channels running.... it keeps the mind active too... perhaps we may need bigger screens for our failing eyesights, and more comfy chairs but it's well worth it. Everyone needs to lepak every now and then.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I'm going to talk about liquor. Liquor has been hogging the headlines... first the confiscation of the beer at Shah Alam and then the now famous issue of Kartika and her insistence to be whip in public. It was to be the first time such punishment to be executed in Malaysia... alcohol can put us on the world news...BBC, CNN .... top stories some more. BTW she also made it to the frontpage of the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, a feat which very few of our corporate figureheads have been able to equal.
If you are an honest contractor looking for a tender, you can never look beyond small jobs. For big jobs come with big bags... for you to fill with gifts to the people you owe favours for securing those tenders. You've got to pay to secure those tenders... everyone is doing it. If you don't, then it's hard to move on. So, honest living again seems out of the question if you are looking into securing big jobs. That's what most people think.
Making an honest living? How to when we have people like Khir Toyo who shows the way to mansions fit for kings and queens from fairy land? And they tell you that it's from their honest living. So, the small people learn from the big fish... at the same time mutualism thrives.... I give you patronage, you give me your undying loyalty.
Buying a choice lot in a new project is another example. When you want to purchase one, inadvertently you will be told that they are sold out... BUT if you are willing to pay extra a few ten thousands... then a lot will become available. There is no transparency here.... you just have to take their words for it. So developers can always make a quick buck just by holding back the choice lots for those who don't mind forking the extra for it...
Read this report from The Star. Kelantan State Secretary Datuk Mohd Aiseri Alias said the survey conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) showed that 30.5% of the students interviewed were willing to accept bribes if they had the power and the opportunity. This not new stuff... it's been there all along. Now they're just publishing what has been happening all these while.
The joke is on us... we seem to be getting more pious... but more are willing to accept bribes... Honesty??? It seems so yesterday. Where have the good people gone?
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Strange how we've been conditioned to think like this. Other Half and I took Daughter for a drive in the small kampung and bund roads of Pendang, Tanah Merah, Bukit Raya and some other places which I've forgotten their names a couple of days ago.... I told him I used to travel those kinds of roads when I would go to schools in those kind localities for work-related-duties. And those days, I didn't have that incomplete feeling even though I did not have the mobile. I didn't think that I needed the mobile to feel safe... even on the small kampung roads... cos there was no mobile.
These days, most of us have this must-be-connected feeling all the time and to feel safe. I have also changed... See how easy it is for us to be conditioned. But I belong to a generation used to not having the mobile... I can still go out without my mobile and not be really bothered by it. I wonder whether my kids' gen can do without their mobiles at all.
But that feeling of needing-to-be-connected (also via the Net) has also enabled us to be tracked in ways never imagined before. I am reminded of these verses from Revelation 13:16-17, "He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.
The computer chip is one advancement that has made all these possible. An implant of a tiny RFID chip would make all of us very 'trackable'. Mobile phones have chips. And the day will come when the implant of this chip in humans will be a requirement. Who knows? Maybe pandemics will be a reason for it to be made mandatory. You can't buy or sell without the chip... the mark.
All of us know how difficult it is to get people to comply to self-quarantines. Just look at the current H1N1 scenario. True, there is fear, but there is also this group of nonchalant people (and also the unknowing people)... And it is this minority who will most probably finally make the majority push for something like the RFID... cos this chip can be used to monitor movements of people. And quarantines can be imposed... all their activities can be blocked; the authorities can locate you in a jiffy..... If you build up enough fear, people will agree to this sort of monitoring... all for the good of the greater mankind.
Anyway, back to the mobile phone. I came across this post in one of my wanderings around the net... it's an interesting article. Provides you with insights of what is available and also the possibilities. Read it at
http://humanityinmotion.blogspot.com/2009/08/sexy-spy-is-your-cell-phone.html. According to this article, your phone can be used to listen to what you say even when it is turned off. Techonology is pervasive. I think many of us don't quite grasp its full pervasiveness yet. SMSes can be tracked once a stealth software is installed into it. And you won't even know what hit you!
I find it believable cos I've heard hear says where authorities suddenly showed up and asked questions related to some SMSes received or sent out. So, is it surprising that Osama bin Laden has gone back to using human runners to send his orders and get news? He trusts his lieutenants more cos there is such a feeling called loyalty in a human. You can't trust an electronic gadget to keep its silence because it has no loyalty.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Willard Wigan. Ever heard of micro sculpting? Can you imagine a sculpture on a pinhead or in a needle hole? They're so tiny that you need to use a microscope to see it! Marvellous pieces of art he's come up with! You've got to see it to believe. BTW, he's dyslexic!
And this guy.. Gever Tulley. I like his style... he started a summer school called The Tinkering School. The things that he encourages and allows kids to do at his summer school; most of us would balk or flip over.. play with fire, give them a pocket knife to own, throw a spear, deconstruct appliances (in other words, take apart he appliances at home), break the copyright laws....for digital media, drive a car for the under-aged kid.... but I think kids learn better from first hand experience.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
sesat. I remember finding prawns in my lobster order at Damiral's Grill last time.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Coursework... The last decade or so have seen more coursework being introduced in schools to make our assessment more complete or holistic. It was also introduced to reduce the dependence on written exams. In our present system a student's future hang on to just one exam; which means that if he happens to be sick during the public exam, the 2 years spent in preparation will be kinda wasted. So, we try to balance up... at least it looks good in theory. But it has become an arbitrary, artificial system of evaluation imposed by the ministry with little thought as to what the schools and teachers can do.
Coursework... they are highly unreliable in our context. Right now at Upper Secondary, they have coursework for Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Pendidikan Islam (PAFA), Pendidikan Moral, Pendidikan Seni, English and BM (Oral)... but they are basically quite meaningless cos students don't do any real work. Most of the stuff they submit are copied or done for them. You see, teachers have to make sure the students do their coursework.. I've seen teachers making the recalcitrant students sit and copy notes prepared for them. It's mostly copy, copy and more copying. And for the more initiative, they will Google and plagiarised... all cut and paste. Teachers don't really bother. Most did bother in the beginning but the constant barrage of 'must pass the candidates' from higher up have all but ensure that whatever little credibility in this form of assesment is all gone.
Then the folio for Pendidikan Moral... they're all quite fake-ish. Oral for English, on the other hand doesn't quite test the speaking abilities cos students don't make much effort or bother sometimes. Sometimes, teachers have to prepare the stimuli just so that they have something to talk about. PEKA (Bio, Physic, Chemistry) basically test your ability to 'reproduce'... many students just copy from their senior or reference books. It's the same for History and Geography at Lower Secondary. These subjects are supposed to involve some field work... but often times, because the students are not bothered and teachers are warned not to 'fail' them, copying becomes the norm as it's the easiest way to complete a task.
For Pendidikan Seni, it's well known that students sometimes pay professionals to do their art work. And nothing is done to 'disqualify' their work from the exam. In fact, they get good grades some more! Teachers have very little autonomy to disqualify them here as orders from higher up insist that the students be passed. The grades do not reflect real work... a whole generation brought up on compromise, plagiarising, copying....
So, tell me! What skills do they learn from course work? We teach them that it's okay to copy, acceptable to fake things, that everyone is doing it.... take the easiest way out. There is actually very little control on the 'cheating' that takes place in all these kerja kursus.
Coursework... probably the one good thing they are good for is they are good at generating the economy. Cos the one place that students seem to definitely head are the shops for binding, nice covers and all those set to impress.. the superficial. The content after all has been tried, tested and graded. Not theirs but of those before them... continued deception, sanctioned by our education system. Now tell me... isn't that also happening in our Malaysia Boleh? Reading the spat between Ong and Tiong implies that so many things are wrong also with MCA. In BN, they are all actually 'brethrens' of the same minds....literally. Really depressing, ain't it? It all begins with the little seed call 'compromise'.
So you see, we still need those one-off exams such as SPM and STPM. They still have their roles to play... cos after all the artificial evaluation and work done, we still need to fall back on exam grades. It's still a more reliable yardstick (despite standards being pulled down).
Friday, August 21, 2009
The most recent case to have made the headline.. a Maths and Science teacher, Chai Mee Feng from SMK USJ 12. May she R.I.P. A seemingly healthy and fit 39-year-old teacher. Developed fever and flu, one week later, she had severe pneumonia and multiple organs failure. The authority say she didn't die of H1N1. And if you read this blog post, which I assume is one of her students, they have another teacher by the name of Ms Chow in the ICU. It seems there's another teacher under quarantine.
I don't see the school admin watching out for our welfare.... Don't know what to believe anymore. One day the mortality rate, highlighted translated to a high percentage.. then a couple of days later (after Kit Siang highlighted and questioned it) the number of deaths started to drop but the number of reported confirmed cases begin to rise. At this rate, our mortality rate will surely come down... doing of our own undoing?
But this looks set to stay.... going to be around for a while this flu thing. The spread is too far and wide. And the measures are rather slip shod. A lot of flip-flops too.. one minute, they accuse docs who used the Rapid Test Kit as profit minded. Next minute the DG of Health says the use the Rapid Test Kits is 70 - 90% accurate... but Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman of Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), says it only detects 25% of the cases, thereby creating a sense of false security.
This is the time, perhaps we should let the professionals do the running.. not politicians who don't do their homework very well. I could go on to the Fluhalt (generic Tamiflu) which is being used... which the Minister now says should be sold at RM80 per box. The generic company which produces this started charging almost double when the situation got worse... Social responsibility??? What's that? Those private docs who bought it at that price now have to bear the loss... Word on the ground gave the impression that the Flu Halt were going for RM150... more expensive than Tamiflu, the original oseltamivir.
Masks in school... don't think so they do much good. Kids' hands are just too itchy and the mask feels uncomfortable on their faces. And they're uncomfortable.
This was 2 nights ago. I took out a bag of 3-ply masks. Daughter was immediately fascinated by it... and I guess she wanted to try. The novelty of something new I supposed. And being the diplomatic lil gal she is, she told me she wanted to learn how to use it... I said okay and promptly fastened one onto her face.
Before the first minute was over, she was already tugging at it. At the end of the first 5 minutes, she wanted to take it off. I told her she had to learn to get used to it as I heard her school had made school masks mandatory. She went down to get me a cup of water... but when she came up, she was already in tears... from the discomfort of the mask and because I refused to let her take it out! Aiyo! How do you keep the mask on the children's faces? So, for children, we have to physically separate them... right now, the authorities and kiasu parents are doing a horrible job of it!
Anyway, I quote this...
Dr Adeeba also said that face masks were not useful in preventing the spread of the virus but what was important was to practise personal hygiene and observe the quarantine period.For the past 2 weeks, I've started 'yelling' at my students who were coughing to wear masks in class... and if they refused to comply I threatened to send them out of my class into the corridors. And I've also started telling my students to distant themselves... not that I succeed each time! *sigh* Plus I seem to be disinfecting my hands all the time at work also....
She cited a report by the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta which says mask-use by either infected patients or health-care personnel does not prevent the transmission of viruses.
"While the mask is effective in preventing those already infected with the virus from spreading it, it actually does nothing to prevent healthy people from getting the disease," said the report.
So, this mid term break is a real welcomed break... fasting begins during the break too! Hopefully people won't be falling sick! Selamat berpuasa....
An update... (25/08/08) From The Star, Ms Chai's death was reported by the Minister of Health and he said she was from a high risk group. I looked at her photos from her students' blogs... either she must have gained lots of weight before she died or everyone of us is also obese. Plus the daily updates from the MOH's own web (for 24/08) page also did not indicate any other underlying probs. And I wonder too how transparent the gahmen has been with the reporting. And today's news too.. the police pooh-poohed the content of the surat layang about the misconducts of a MACC superior in the Teoh Beng Hock case. Tell me..... they grilled him like 'crazy' over RM2500 (was it for the purchase of flags) but treat someone with the RM20 over million mansion with such respect that they find no fault.... something is very wrong. And this is probably just the tip of the iceberg... dig deeper, there will probably be more worms... lots of stinking worms.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Karyn was home over the weekend. And she's one who would be 'crazy' to suggest that. Of course, she'd have to find people equally crazy to follow... and she found willing partners-in-food-hunting in Mei Yan and me.
makan. We stopped by this stall which was diagonally across the mee shop to get some fruits; bananas mainly as there were so many nice ones hanging around.
It was a nice hang-out time... good to this every now and then. De-stress, catch-up, do what 'ladies' do best... yak, yak, and 'shop' - even though it was just fruit shopping. So, if you are bored or crazy enough to try this, by all means do so. This is Alor Setar, where we still try to enjoy it's idyllic pace but it also seems to be more and more fleeting these days...
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
What do you think the school heads are telling the students? "Fever also must come school because it's exam. If you don't come, you'll get a zero!" So, students get worried. They go see the doc, take their medicine, suppressed the fever and go to school and infect their classmates. I had a class this morning and coughing and sniffing among students were going off like a symphony! All because the Headmaster and Principals say they must go or else. Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education cannot work hand in hand!
You tell me.. we all crazy or not. If this had been a more virulent strain of virus... most of us would be dead. And exams won't matter to dead people. I wonder whether these HMs and Principals would continue to go to work if they have a fever. And many of them have underlying problems too.
Last week, a teacher in a neighbouring school died and it kinda shook many of us up. He had fever the week before. It subsided and he went to his school's motivational camp to give a talk on his subject. Two days later he was dead... the private hospital he went, but never even managed to get diagnosed, ruled that it was probably a heart attack. Now, this was one of the guru cemerlang... highly in demand for talks at this time of the year... SPM is around the corner. He had been very busy going around. Did H1N1 had something to do with his death? I don't know. But all we know is he had fever and some of the students and teachers who were in contact with him at the motivational camp he attended a couple of days before he passed away have also developed fevers. I think he underestimated what the flu might pushed his body to react.... May he R.I.P.
Later in the day, I read in Malaysiakini that a teacher had died in a prominent school in Subang Jaya. At least the parents are demanding for explanation.... despite denials from the school and all that! Just take a look at measures at schools... they are shockingly lacking; from hygiene to lack of concern from the admin.
Well, this virus kinda punishes your body heavily... you don't get enough rest, I guess it could do you in. Lately, people have been paying more attention to deaths.... not that deaths don't happen everyday. But all of a sudden, everyone is more interested why a person died.... and if fever had something to do with it... then everyone gets more worried. But it still doesn't make them do the sensible thing. Strange isn't it? To be fearful and yet not able to do the right thing? Kinda reminds me of those people who spout holy stuff from their mouths all the time but cannot live up to their 'spoutings'.
It's natural to die... but to die from something preventable like flu... to die because of the incompetence and idiocy of the people who are supposed to know how to make the right decisions.... well, that's stupid right?
So, HMs and H1N1... you see another set of idiocy... It doesn't end there cos when it gets down to the parents, they are also unable to do the sensible thing. They send their children to school in their state of unwell, fever suppressed by panadol to sit for their exams cos they don't want their children to get zero... another set of idiocy.
Then there is another set of parents whose children are sick... they say their children want to go to school... they cannot stop them... two sets of idiocy here; both the parents and kids. Kids; understandable cos they don't think quite straight. Parents don't seem to see that their kids don't think straight these days. I think parents treat kids too much like adults now.... letting them make decisions which they are not ready to make. Between desires and the sensible thing.... which one will a kid gravitate towards?
I'll digress and talk about another set of idiocy.. school trips and camps. Is it wise to have it now? I think not. But there are many who feel that the camps should run as usual... in-house training run as usual... all the congregation of people. Trips too... you put everyone together and infection will spread... again no brainer. Again another set of idiocy.
See? We are all idiots! Idiots cos the sensible and right thing is so clear to see yet we don't have it in us to see to it! The undoing will be our own doing!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
It would have been better if this had been said by someone else who has never had to do things along the line that he did... maybe then there'll be more credibility and hope. Politics make us all damned fools. Straight politicians are a rarity... not that there aren't any. There are a few young hopefuls I see. I hope they stay that way. Then maybe, there'll be better things in store for us all... the anak Malaysia.
Just for the records... anyway, another milestone maybe, race to be dropped from official forms. Should have been dropped long ago... Filling in forms without having to write in Malay, Chinese, Indian... hmmm... that would be one small step forward.
And the DG of Health went on air today to clear some issues... go read it here.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Should this new figure be a cause for celebration? Possibly 80 000 people infected but falling death rates. Our statistics will be catching up (down) with the world statistics soon. Who knows, maybe even get to Hong Kong's 0.3%?
Ever since Lim Kit Siang highlighted this figure thingy, the percentage has been inching downwards.... he sure managed to get the Ministry of Health to buck up... either that or our data is not accurate! Some people say all H1N1 related deaths are reported (but our Ministry trying to give a very telus impression). But this is Bolehland. You figure out!
And finally, today the free 3-ply masks arrived at my school for the staff. BTW, our morning assemblies still run as usual. I guess there are some of us who feel that 'lumping' the kids together even with the flu outbreak is too important to give it a miss. Duh! Any brains in it, I wonder.. Virus transmits in groups... assembly is not exactly a smart thing to do. Or they think they can do a hit and run thing... quick assembly, virus no chance to transmit. No brainer!
Update 19/08/09.... read this for the latest mortality rate which is said to be 0.007%. Am curious to know how this figure is arrived at?
Okay, so if you are in Year 5 in 2012, does that mean that you still have the option of learning Maths and Science in English? Then in 2014, when this batch moves up to Form 1, they switch to BM. This is followed by 5 years of instruction in BM and if they choose to do Form 6, it's back to English! This has got to be the craziest thing I've ever heard. I wonder whether we can find another country with a swing like ours.
Our kids hang like a yo-yo and is bounced around. Some of them are going to end up quite confused... either that or they're going to be great at doing translation job in future.
The MOE should realize by now that is actually quite a large group who wants the medium of instruction for these 2 subjects to be in English. Else, you won't have schools like SK Bukit Damansara and SMK Sri Hartama trying to hold their EGMs to voice out their desire for the continuance of PPSMI. And the school authorities actually locked them out because they did not want the EGM to take place. Aren't parents stakeholders too? And if they are, why isn't the Government listening to them also?
There are other schools as well like SMK St Francis, SMK Gajah Berang, SMK Tinggi St David, SMK Canossa Convent, SMK Infant Jesus Convent, SM Catholic, SMJK Tinggi Cina, AM Yok Bin, SMK Tun Tuah, SM Pulau Sebang, Sekolah Tinggi Methodist Melaka and SMK (P) Methodist Melaka who want to convene their respective EGM regarding this matter. Who says the majority want PPSMI to be reverted? The silent majority is now trying to speak out and the Government is trying to silent them by locking them out of the schools.
Why can't the Government just liberalize the education sector... let the parents have a choice. Let those schools who want to continue in English, carry on. If the vernacular schools insist on their mother tongues, then let them continue. Let there be a choice.
In a couple of years, we'll know what the people really want cos by virtue of the demand and supply, schools that do not cater to the needs will just fade away. I fail to understand why the Government insists on being so rigid in this matter. Liberalization of the choice of the language of instruction should be the way to go! It's not going to make the young ones less Malaysian than they are now. We're already in a sorry state cos even the Government is not consistent....
...soft landing. Yeah! Right! More like a merry-go-round a bush; a confusing one that is and that sadly is the Malaysian Way.
Update 18th August: Finally, from the NST, some more clarification on the soft landing... we sure are going to get truly confused kids.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
- Our leaders say the development of human capital is the way forward. What about preserving the human capital we already have? Many doctors, nurses, lab staff, hospital assistants are already stretched to the limit in this current H1N1 epidemic. I find it surprising that not all the staff are given the N95 masks to wear. The 3-ply mask is what's being used mostly as they also are short of the N95 masks. I find it appalling that the heads don't watch out for the welfare of these frontliners. If these frontline workers were to be incapacitated, then the rest of us would be at the mercy of any advancing diseases.
- Hospital staff are stretched to the limit. Many of them are working longer hours than usual. Soon, many will be without adequate rest which will lower their immune system. These people need to be taken care of. Hire more contract doctors if necessary. Postpone all elective surgeries and other appointments which can wait and channel the docs from the other disciplines to helping their overworked colleagues, especially those in the Medical and Pediatrics. We cannot afford to have them succumb to the disease. Yet such concerted efforts are lacking in many of the hospitals.
- Leaders in the hospital show no seriousness in overcoming the current pandemic. Family members, from young and old walk in and out of the isolation wards. No effort is put into stopping them. Very minimal effort also to get the message across to these kampung folks the gravity of the problem. Everyone wants to play the nice guy. So, rules are bent even when it is detrimental to the public's health. It's as though they are expecting divine protection on all these visitors. Again poor leadership!
- I find it disappointing that a week plus after the statement that some RM2.6 million had been set outside for the purchase of thermometers and masks for schools, we still have not seen them. Most schools are still without adequate protection. And the Education Director General said that students were supposed to wear masks starting from the 11th of August, according to this report from the NST. Why is it taking such a long time for this to be implemented? Temperature taking? I don't see it happening where I am yet.
- Then the leaders inform the public that anti-virals have been made available to the GPs and private hospitals. The real situation is right now even if you have the money, getting a ready supply of the anti-virals would prove to be a tricky affair. It's still best to take your chances at the General Hospitals if you are made really ill by the H1N1.
- Meanwhile the figures continue to rise for infection and mortality. Instead of organizing political ceramahs, these leaders should be going into the kampungs to giving ceramahs on the importance of practising good hygiene, the dangers of the disease, etc, etc.... Yet we have UMNO trying to organize a 10 000 gathering in Johor... their time and resources would well be used to educate the public on the dangers of this flu.
- Passing the buck... leaders are quick to claim credit for the good things and also grabbing what they can for themselves and their cronies. Yet in this crisis, I see a lot of passing the blame. They say the medical practicioners are at fault... how can you blame a Medical Officer for missing out on some of the cases if it's the 150th patient he's seeing and going without sleep the night before because he had been working the whole night? What has the 'leadership' done to reduce these overworked docs?
- You get the impression that the leaders don't know what actually is going on and they seem to be shooting blanks. For example, the DPM said they are considering announcing the hotspots for infection... and a day later he said it wasn't such a good idea. Do their homework first. What hotspot? The whole country is the hotspot. What they do best now is talk and more talk and even more talk? RM3 million has been disbursed for masks, he said. Well, I haven't seen them in my school yet. And neither my son's. Sometimes, I don't know whether they are telling the truth. There are thousands of schools in the country. Who is to know which school has been given masks? Accountability, integrity, honesty... among the mark of good leaders somehow seem to be missing.
- Then the couldn't-care-the-least attitude by some of the docs... many from the other departments prefer not to answer to the 'call-of-duty' as it will also expose them to the hazards of the flu. Many rather be the proverbial ostriches and remain in their corners.... the call the serve is greatly diminished in many younger docs now. Why not? Our education system is to be blamed. Moral absolutes have been bent for years and they are the products of that system.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
We were told that the place usually closes early.... by 2.30 pm. The place was full of people when when we ordered our food. So it was only natural that I thought the food would be good. Otherwise, why so many people?
The fried (mixed) fish was too black for us to identify what pieces we were putting into our mouths. Siah's first piece was an eyeball. The young flers all have an aversion to all the exotic parts of the fish. LOL! For me, I found the taste and smell of the spices such as garlic and ginger overwhelming. I think they mask the taste of the main ingredient. So, in the end, diners will find it nice because spices are generally appetizing.
The squid was rubbery and bitter. It probably has something to do with the dark soya sauce used... the bitter after taste wasn't too appetizing. I 'downed' it with lots of garlic and chilli in more garlic and soya sauce.
Personally, I'd give this place a pass. But since so many people seem to like the food. I guess maybe their style of cooking does not go well with my palate. Price wise, I think it's not value for money. The 3 dishes came up to RM96... and those were not even the 'expensive-type' of fish. So plus drinks, the bill came up to around RM120 for 9 of us. Definitely on the high side where Alor Setar is concerned for a meal like this.
read articles such as this. Anyway, mine came with three sticks!
Friday, August 14, 2009
Plans and studies started hatching as soon as word got out that the virus could be manipulated. Health systems could be stretched to the limit, diverting the attention of governments to a national health disaster. And if they control the companies which can provide a cure or even relief, then they'd have plenty of funds to continue with their work. It's a way of bleeding the countries dry and filling up their coffers.
The police and armed forces could be brought to their knees... slowly. Some will recover but many will succumb. It takes years to train a soldier, they reckon. And they could wait. Many planes will not leave the ground for there'll not be enough pilots. Pilots take even longer to train. In the event of an invading army, it'll make things easier as resistance would be less. And this would cost much less than if whole wars were fought conventionally. The same virus after all did turn the tide of one of the great wars to the alliance of Triple Entente.
Or just plain and simple... tinker with its genetic make-up and cut down on its virulence. Just enough to make people really sick. But in the process, kill a couple here and there... those who are weak to begin with anyway. The world's population is burgeoning anyway. What would the loss of such lives be? Modern technology can also be harnessed to spread fear... news mongering can be taken to new heights. FB, MSN, Skype... the internet would do it no sweat for them.
WHO? No prob. They already have their people sitting there. And if one round is not enough, they can still play around with the DNA and keep coming out with more subtypes. The drug companies they own would make a big killing... the governments of the country would never know what hit them! There would be some countries who will try to make their own antidotes, but they control the information.
The prospects were attractive. The excitement of just the thought of prospects was palpable........the mind just working overtime at this point!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Sick people waiting for up to 7 hours before being seen by the hospital assistant (HA) or doctors. The docs, nurses, hospital staff, hospital cleaners are too swamped right now... The same patient, after being seen, goes back with the medication. Next day, the patient goes back because the fever is still high. This time, he waits another 6 hours to be admitted... because the queue is long and there seems a shortage of beds. Rooms meant for 4 patients now are filled up by 8. And there are lots of hearsays going around.
And where do most of the infections take place now? One of the places is the school. We're seeing a domino effect.... one student after another, one class after another... and it's compounded by the exam season. The UPSR and PMR trial exams... soon to be followed by the SPM and STPM..... so students are compelled to go to schools, therefore compounding the problem. The virus is having a field day in a field made available by institutionalization.
I've been seeing so many of my students falling sick these past 2 weeks. It does seem so out of control and worrying. They have brought the virus home. I supposed in the next 2 weeks we're going to hear more cases involving the family members...... and this is only from my perspective.... from a small school in the suburbs of Alor Setar. In Labuan, the Health Director says 90% of those infected were students. Well, this is now... in a week or so, it'll be a different group.
A lot of talk about telling people not to capitalize on the current epidemic.. masks going at super-inflated prices, digital thermometers now gone up another notch too, old stocks of anti-virals given an extension of shelf-life... human nature is such that they will capitalize.. no point telling them not to.
So, school closure a last option... there should have been a closure, perhaps at the beginning. Maybe not nation-wide but state by state... school by school just did not do much good. But it is always easier to reflect on hindsight. We always lack the courage to take the drastic measure upfront because of so many reasons. Decisive leadership is something that is very lacking now. The Minister says schools can only be closed if too many students or teachers get the infection... wonder whether the Minister realize also that there are many teachers who have underlying health problems.. and also those who are beyond their first trimester of pregnancy.
Anyway, check this blog if you want to know what is happening around the schools in the country where H1N1 is concerned. It probably contains more info than your mainstream media. By the way you may want to also check this out; from BERNAMA. You'd wonder where our news editors put their brains. Propaganda spin doctors work too when there is pandemic!
Right now, it feels like the virus is on a rampage. True, 98% of the people do recover without the need of hospitalization.... but you wonder how much under-reporting takes place, because this is Bolehland we're talking about. Report too many deaths and the economy might be affected. It all boils down to $$$. Everything can be compromised... just take a read of the PKFZ fiasco.... Ministers, leader of the backbenchers club, MPs... from the left hand to the right hand... and they make it sound so okay. So, take a moment to wonder, would you trust them to do the right things?
My two sen of ramblings... At lunch time today, announcement of another 7 fatalities... that makes it 51 now. BTW, they say it takes 3 weeks for herd immunity to start and 3 to 6 months for this flu to peak. Our Culture Minister also says not to have an alarmist approach to this whole flu thing. Then I'd like him to make visits to the hospitals to see the situation.
And what a white elephant it is. Completed in 2003, it cost RM23 million. Then the roof leaked and they needed about RM7 million to repair it. So from sporting the castle towers it now looks like this... zinc roof!
Not just that, this project probably also created an ecological disaster too. It seemed the place used to be covered with a mangrove swamp. But I didn't see a single mangrove tree. Guess all the mangrove trees must have all been cleared up to make way for the never-did-berth-yachts.
This is hardly a suitable place for a yacht club... it's easy to see. The winds are kinda strong, the water muddy.... the siltation would keep it too shallow for a yacht club. So, how was this project allowed to proceed? No EIA reports? No rehabilitation? Taxpayers money, all gone down the sea, through the Kuala Kedah river mouth!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
And the gahmen keeps saying they have it under control. Information comes sporadically from either the Health Minister... whom some are saying he's very 'soi'(unlucky) and the DG of Health. Not much from the docs on the ground. We surely must be adding on to the world's percentage. And this adds to more paranoia. And we are also denying those who truly need the medical care the attention they need because the hospital waiting rooms are now full of people with influenza-like-illness (ILI). Chaos is indeed reigning cos the hospitals are swamped with people with flu-like-symptoms. *sigh* And the poor staff are all overworked!
In the news today, the PM says they are going to launch full scale education of the public.... when the spread is now swinging ahead full steam. It's a bit late now but I guess something is better than nothing. The PM should visit the GH(s) to gauge the situation...
And schools... let me begin with the ghost called Kiasu (Hokkien for afraid to lose out) who prowl the corridors. You see Kiasu is found in the parents and teachers. Kiasu parents send their sick children to school to sit for the exam. When you explain to them that their kids are infectious, they tell you the exam is very important. As though they can tell the virus what not to do. So their kids go to school because they feel their kids seem to be able to cope with the disease. Even if it's not H1N1, good practice should be the way to go.... but we have this tidak apa attitude.
The idiocy stemming from this... they forget that there are kids who might have underlying problems at school. They forget that there are kids with grandfathers and grandmothers at home who are susceptible to the disease. They forget that there are kids with family members with other underlying problems. No! These Kiasu(s) don't give a second thought to all these. All that matter is their kid can go for the exams/tests!
Then teachers tell the sick children.... "Come to school, take the exam. You can go back immediately after the exam." I wonder whether the school has this special ability to stop the virus from finding new hosts. Idiocy arising from H1N1... parents and teachers. Hello! Don't these people read the WHO recommendations... and that the kids are infectious for up to 8 days! In Singapore, they automatically hand you a 7 day leave if you balik from overseas or exhibit any symptoms! That's how serious they take this pandemic! We treat this pandemic as if we are taking a stroll in the park. We don't bat our eyelids when 10 month old babies die because of the flu, or 20 year old seemingly healthy college kid is found dead in his hostel because of the flu. It's a good opportunity to teach social responsibility... not just I want.. I want mentality. But we don't bother...
Kiasu is followed by another ghost called Kiasi (afraid to die). You see this Kiasi Ghost will take the sick child straight to the doctor after the exam to be treated for the fever which of course will naturally rise after a couple of hours of exam (when the fever is suppressed by the medicine)... body already stressed by virus... stress some more by the exam. Then the Kiasi will ask the doc, "Doc, you think my child can go for her exam?". Doc says better rest.. Then the Kiasi says.. "But exam very important. Maybe I send her and pick her up immediately." And the school complies, even encourages it.... sick children come to school, other children become sick. If that is not another idiocy... then what is! Exams won't matter to dead children, you know!
Civil society?? Still some way to go! Kiasu, Kiasi.... we used to laugh at the Singaporeans. We are no better than them! Look at their figures.. only 9 dead compared to ours. And their infection started way earlier than ours... H1N1... It has really shown us what idiots we can be! I am ranting and raving a lot on this, I know.. but really beh tahan at our lack of responsibility and the lack of social responsibility!
Anyway read this pekeliling from the Pengarah Kesihatan.... arahan dan nasihat sudah diberikan tetapi nampaknya ramai yang tidak kisah! And they don't want to close schools cos ini akan menganggu proses pengajaran & pembelajaran. Look what the Mumbai authorities did. Read here. Even the ghost of Kiasu is in our gahmen. Let's hope Kiasi come visiting next. Then maybe they'll start thinking about closing the schools to break the cycle of infection. Thankfully, H1N1 has not been that virulent.
There are plenty more idiocies... demands that workers be paid full if they fall sick. Small industries cannot afford that. Banks whose workers want to don masks but not allowed by the management because it is seen to drive the customers away. I supposed they think their staff should gadai kesihatan (nyawa) for them.
Oh ya! Sick secondary kids skip school but then go for tuition. Why? Cos school can afford to miss but tuition cannot. So, in the end, H1N1 becomes an excuse not to go to school, just a mere excuse cos they still go around not giving two hoots whether they infect others. It gets a little depressing seeing all these from us, the so-called civil society!
A little social responsibility from everyone... that would probably work well... think a little more for those around you; that also would probably work.
Update 14/08... this is from The Star. The mortality rate stands at 0.1%, says the Minister of Health. How did the people at the Ministry come up with that? Isn't 0.1% the mortality rate of normal flu? Did the statistics improve so much in the last two days? Did we have a huge spike in the number of infected in the past 2 days? Or this is just.... Malaysia Boleh at work? Anyway, check out the comparison of mortality rates in our neighbouring countries.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Lil Gal was attracted the the new play area... but I said no since this is flu season. We ordered our breakfast stuff.. they're all the same. I took their Nasi Lemak which was a disappointment cos the nasi tak lemak and the sambal was too salty. The anchovies were rather hard. If you want good nasi lemak, go to the food court in Alor Setar Mall. For RM1.50, you get tastier nasi lemak that is lemak. Some more nicely packed. I usually go for it whenever I go to Alor Setar Mall, which is not very often, fortunately.
The rest of the food stuff... well, this is KFC. Standard fast food fare.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Well, schools are hotbeds for infections, and a very conducive one, if I may add. Confined and cooped up together for more than 6 hours together, it's not hard to see how infectious diseases can have a field day. Everyone rubbing shoulder (as in literally) to spread the disease! And kids are least likely to stay clear of each other.
So in a pandemic such as the one we're in.. our educational institutions would be the hotbeds for them to spread. Alor Setar has not been spared from the H1N1 spread too. The hospitals are full... the clinics too. People are worried. I am too. This wave of infection came about after the higher institutions closed due to H1N1. And the fully infectious people were sent home, back to their kampungs. The virus travelled with them. That helped sped up the infection rate. What were the people up there thinking?
Plus at some schools the measures just don't quite measure up. Students who are sick are not checked for their temperatures... the MOE's promise of gadgets to check temperatures still has not materialized. In some cases, the sick students are just left to mingle with the well ones. Masks are encouraged in some schools but students are not taught how to use them properly... in the end, the masks become a source of infection as well; as happened during the SARS outbreak. And you cannot expect small kids to use the masks and not be scratching their noses. Somehow the nose seems to itch a lot when you don a mask.
In my school, the absenteeism rate has been quite high... add that to the fact that the recalcitrant students are taking this opportunity to skip school, it's hard to know the actual figure. But going by just where I am and also those schools that I know of... I'd say many people are sick. I've not seen so many students falling sick at one time.
And how to contain too also when parents are more concerned about their children sitting for their tests (it's test season now). So, those with sick children let their children go to school. You know what they say... never mind, send them for the exam then we take them back. Even when their children are sick, education comes first! Can you beat that? Another Malaysia Boleh! We 'perah' our kids to the limit also? I find it so prevalent in my gal's school. Exams are like do or die thing. We are selfish cos we do not think that our children may cause other kids to fall very sick.....
So, those who are not sick catch the infection from the sick ones. The teachers also sow ignorance... cos they ask the sick kids to come to school to take their exams; how to contain? The vicious cycle perpetuates itself because of our kiasu-ness; all for the fear of missing out tests, that their kids are losing out. Wonder, wonder.... but while wondering I've decided to take my lil one out from school for a while. It's a difficult decision as it will affect her overall position... and she'll probably drop to a worse class.
And the increasing death toll (the DG says that is also expected to rise given the high number of those down with pneumonia in ICUs all over the country) does seem to paint a rather worrying picture. Today it stands at 32. Of course there are other diseases which kill but right now this cloud seems bigger. And also natural disasters. The Typhoon Marakot in Taiwan in one blow buried more than 500 under a mudslide. More lives lost there in couple of minutes than a month of H1N1!
Anyway, H1N1 can't be contained as long as we have this tidak-apa attitude. Either that or we wait for the virus to run its course... that's from my narrow viewpoint! BTW, the Chinese government says if there is a second wave, it'll most likely hit next August. Beats me how they came up with that assumption. Maybe they know something we don't.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Mee udang is one of them. I've tried the mee udang from Teluk Kumbar in Penang and also some other places... This one boleh tahanlah. It's a bit too sugar sweet though.
ikan jenahak... asked them to cook curry with the fish head. This is a forgettable dish. The curry was very bland and tasted watery. Maybe because the fish head was not big enough.
But given the location and also that the food was so-so, it would take some effort for us to go back there again. They have a set table kinda thing at RM350 for 7 people but going through the menu, I find it rather expensive cos for that kind of price, I can go to any of the restaurants in town and get a very good seafood meal; same price for more people. So, if I were to come back here, it'd be more for the nature experience than the food.
And oh! BTW, this is perhaps one of those RM6 million structures where their toilets don't work. You can spend that much building it but not make sure the toilets work... so if you do go, make sure your bladder is well emptied first.
Time flies... that's when days are filled with things to do. 24 hours feel rather short now but some day, I guess 24 hours in a day will...
On a morning trapped with my iPad. Been meaning to write this for a long time but just didn't want to sit down and go through the data. ...
3 years ago, they initiated steps to ban corporal punishments. Now they say they want to bring back caning to curb indiscipline. For once, ...
If you have a penchant for Thai food, Alor Star is actually quite a good place to get rather authentic Thai food. After all, the Thai border...