Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Babak Layar Perak

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and wife Datin Seri Fatimah Taat (right) talking to Raja Dr Nazrin Shah at Istana Iskandariah after an investiture ceremony on Tuesday. - SAIFUL BAHRI/The Star

babak-babak di layar
selang seli menggamat audien
skrip mengikut suasana
meriah sebuah sarkis semasa
sandiwara bollywood para algojo
bermain silap mata
sekejap bertukar-tukar
topeng-topeng karikatur
dari lembaga-lembaga
haiwan politik jalanan
yang gentar pangkahan
suara hitam putih
keramat demokrasi
mahkamah rakyat

kuasa ditangan pengarah
kencing dibelakang tabir
bercandu dengan survival
mengatur agenda percaturan
permainan strategi perang
yang berlanjutan masa
menjadi bencana panjang
buat marhaen meneruskan
gawat kehidupan
setelah terkantung-kantung
perlembagaan negeri
di ambang pintu masuk
busuk dan membusukkan
tandas ketuanan!

Dubai UAE
12 Mei 2009

MPs claimed expenses for swimming pools, helipads, chandeliers... and even a moat

If we can check our BNs' MPs expenses thorougly with transperancy...dulu, kini dan selamanya...we may find out more on how they rob us for more than 50 years....you see, why these politicians want to cling to power at all costs, irrespective of moral issues...they do not give a damn about rakyat!

How shameless top Tories claimed expenses for swimming pools, helipads, chandeliers... and even a moat

Senior Conservative MPs were facing the sack last night after spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on cleaning moats, maintaining swimming pools and the upkeep of their country estates.

A string of wealthy Tory grandees submitted an extraordinary list of claims to maintain their stately homes.

The claims included the maintenance of a helipad, the cost of hanging a chandelier and bags of horse manure.

Enlarge Tory Hall of Shame (clockwise from top left): David Davis, Michael Ancram, David Heathcoat-Amory, Stewart Jackson, James Arbuthnot, Sir Alan Haselhurst, Douglas Hogg, and Sir Michael Spicer

Tory Hall of Shame (clockwise from top left): David Davis, Michael Ancram, David Heathcoat-Amory, Stewart Jackson, James Arbuthnot, Sir Alan Haselhurst, Douglas Hogg, and Sir Michael Spicer

Conservative leader David Cameron said last night he was 'appalled' by the claims and warned he would take 'disciplinary action' against any MPs caught breaking the rules.

The disclosures, which are the most outrageous yet, will cause further public outrage of the lax parliamentary expenses system.

Commons rules make clear that 'excessive or luxurious' claims are not permitted under the rules.

But leaked documents last night revealed how a string of rich Tories milked their controversial second home allowance in full.

Douglas Hogg, the former agriculture secretary, submitted a claim form including more than £2,000 for the moat around his Kettlethorpe Hall country estate in Lincolnshire to be cleared

The taxpayer also helped meet the cost of a full-time housekeeper, the maintenance of his stables and for his piano to be tuned.

Sir Michael Spicer, the Conservatives' most senior backbench MP, claimed £5,650 for his garden to be maintained including 'hedge cutting ... helipad'. He also billed taxpayers to hang a chandelier in his main manor house.

Three Tory MPs - including James Arbuthnot and Stewart Jackson - charged the taxpayer to clean their swimming pools.

Conservative Party leader David Cameron

Time to act? Conservative Party leader David Cameron deep in thought during a visit to Harrogate District Hospita yesterday

David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, spent more than £10,000 of taxpayers' money on home renovations and furnishings, including a new £5,700 portico at his home in Yorkshire.

David Heathcoat-Amory claimed for more than £380 of horse manure for his garden.

Michael Ancram, who is the Marquess of Lothian, claimed more than £14,000 a year in expenses while owning three properties, none of which have a mortgage and are worth an estimated £8million.

Sir Alan Haselhurst, the Deputy Speaker, has claimed £142,119 for his country home over the last seven years, despite having no mortgage to pay. He has charged the taxpayer almost £12,000 over five years for gardening bills at his farmhouse in Essex.

Stewart Jackson, a shadow minister, billed the taxpayer for more than £11,000 in professional fees when buying a new home in Peterborough within a year of being elected to Parliament.

Mr Cameron was said to be furious about the scale of the claims which further embroiled his party in the scandal of MPs' expenses.

He said it was imperative for 'every individual MP to stand up and explain why they claimed what they claimed'. Then, he said, the public could decide at the ballot box.

'If there's a case of someone who clearly did break the rules and that was totally unjustifiable then there may be a case for action,' he said.

The latest revelations follow the disclosure that Mr Cameron's multi-millionaire frontbench have also maintained lavish lifestyles courtesy of the taxpayer.

Last night, the Metropolitan Police announced that it was considering complaints it had received about the expenses of six MPs, including Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, and Alistair Darling, the Chancellor.

Meanwhile, it emerged that Parliament is planning to bring forward the publication of details of MPs' claims after they were leaked.

Gordon Brown earlier followed Mr Cameron by offering a public apology on behalf of all MPs over the expenses scandal which has shaken Westminster.

Master English by learning English, not others

I remember being taught to pass exams. I remember being taught the importance of the almighty "A". I remember being taught to memorise facts. I remember being taught. I do not remember learning. I do not remember having to think. I do not remember why.

Master English by learning English, not others


OVER the last many months, the debate concerning the teaching of science and mathematics has once again dominated our discourse. The letters pages in our many newspapers rife with opinions and commentary. Critical notes from teachers, students, parents and politicians. Barely a day goes by without some recommendation on how to remedy the situation; without some novel solution.

So let me get it out of the way. Here are my two cents:

I believe that it is necessary for science and mathematics to be taught in Bahasa Malaysia. There, I said it. I do not say it out of sentimentality. Neither does it stem from some misplaced sense of national pride. My reasons may be dispassionate, but they are practical.

The facts are these:

- The teaching of science and mathematics in English does not serve to improve one's command of the language. The teaching of English does that. The understanding of its structure and rules, the immersion in its literature, the active encouragement of its use. There is no easy out. There is no shortcut. No killing of two birds with one stone. And while our students may now be fluent in the technobabble that is common to these subjects, their English language skills remain wanting.

- There are those who insist that after 11 years of science and mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia, our students find it difficult to cope when they go abroad to further their studies. That they find it impossible to handle the transition between the two languages. That it in fact causes them to lag behind. I disagree.

I believe that if you possess the intellectual capacity to actually make it to a university, then those skills should provide you with the competence to make the shift from one language to another. Besides, so many of the technical terms are in fact loaned words.

English terms that are magically transformed into Bahasa Malaysia merely by virtue of their spelling. "F" instead of "PH", "SIN" instead of "SYN", lose the "H" and you get "fotosintesis". One would never have to grapple to decipher "experiment" from "eksperimen". It isn't like we are actually using the word "ujikaji".

- I believe that children achieve a better understanding when taught in their mother tongues. They can better grasp abstract concepts. For it is after all much easier when relating to the familiar. In fact, there is data indicating that the top 10 countries that have excelled in the International Olympiad in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology are those using their mother tongue as the medium of instruction. The teaching of science and mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia does not encumber its understanding. It may in fact do the very opposite.

- It is the practical application of our education that is of the utmost importance. For what is the point of having a doctor returning home to practise medicine and being unable to communicate with his patients? How would he take their medical history? How would he even begin to explain to them what was wrong? Through a translator? What is the point of attaining all of that knowledge and then not being able to pass it on to your own people, in your own language? It is insulting. Really.

But there is more to the problems that plague our education system than just the language in which we are taught. It is merely a distraction from all that really ails us. Our system is broken, in that it fails to educate our youth, let alone inspire them. We are shut up in our schools and in our colleges for years, and come out in the end with little else than a brief grasp of language and some memory of the thoughts of other men.

For 11 years, I, too, was held captive, cold irons bound, in the claustrophobic confines of the Kurikulum Bersepadu. My dreams tortured by the spectre of Afonso de Albuquerque. His disembodied head, muttering in Portuguese, insisting, over and over again, that his name is in fact pronounced: "Al-Buh-Kur-Kee".

I can barely call to mind all the things I was taught in school. I remember being bored. It is the one compelling memory of those days. I remember being bored and I remember being sweaty.

I remember being cooped up in a little room with rickety chairs and a squeaky ceiling fan. I remember 44 other people. I don't remember their names or their faces but I remember their smells. I remember that cleaning the blackboard after class would give me an asthma attack.

I would sneak storybooks into school, hiding them between textbooks, in those small spaces underneath those rotten wooden desks. I would read them, surreptitiously, while the rest of the class struggled with the base six number system. They were my only escape. The only way I could endure my sentence. Year after year, with no early reprieve for good behaviour.

I remember being taught to pass exams. I remember being taught the importance of the almighty "A". I remember being taught to memorise facts. I remember being taught. I do not remember learning. I do not remember having to think. I do not remember why.

It is an unfortunate truth, but our education system gives birth to drones. Human computers that are able to regurgitate, with great efficiency and accuracy, everything that has been fed to them. And little else.

Therein lies our greatest failing.