Thursday, January 13, 2011

Open Letter to Chua Soi Lek

by Kee Thuan Chye

You are a highly educated person and one with the ability to think. As such, you are probably aware that the welfare of this nation rests on more than just the MCA winning its share of seats at the next general election and remaining in the coalition that holds the power to decide the fate of Malaysia.

You are probably aware that the way forward for Malaysia is renouncing the way of the Barisan Nasional, led by Umno, falling back on an outdated decades-old formula. And that if you and the MCA continue to collude with the other parties in BN to retain power, you are subscribing to practices that could lead the nation to racial rifts and economic ruin.

Would you not agree with me that at this point in our history, as we stand at this crucial crossroads deciding which is the best path to take, national politics should no longer be race-based?

If you do agree, what then is the rationale for the MCA to continue to exist as an ethnocentric party? What is the rationale for you and your party members to stick with Umno which avowedly fights for the Malays and the MIC which avowedly fights for the Indians?

How long more do you see this ethnocentric equation taking hold of the lives of Malaysians, causing strife from time to time when disputes arise over who should get what and how much? We’ve had 53 years of that; isn’t it enough?

Which is more important for you and your MCA colleagues: To stay on in BN in order to reap the rewards of being in government positions, or to do something that will ensure the honor and integrity of your party and of yourselves? I cannot tell you what that thing is which you could do to gain rectitude. You have to find it yourself.

But as you search for an answer, perhaps you would like to reflect on how strong the MCA’s position really is within the BN coalition for the party to achieve its aims. Are you, for instance, contributing to inter-racial understanding and harmony? How could that be when you have to speak up against any threat to the position of the Chinese? How could that be when Umno must speak up against any perceived threat against the Malays?

It’s a game full of contradictions, isn’t it? You can’t have one and the other, can you? In fact, your attempts over the past several months to speak up for the Chinese – indeed, for the country as a whole – clearly illustrate this.

Last August, after the Malaysian Chinese Economic Congress, when you called on the Government to gradually remove the 30 per cent Bumiputra equity in all sectors of the economy, you were immediately jumped upon by Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin. He even warned you about May 13.

A few days later, in your interview with a Malay-language newspaper, you had to soften what you had said, clearly showing your vulnerability.

Even Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein told you to “stick to the struggles of BN”. What are they? Do you know?

You were even a target of criticism at the Umno general assembly last October. A delegate slammed you for saying that the social contract should not be discussed openly.

Then at the BN convention last month, you called for a ban on the use of the term “Ketuanan Melayu”, and you told Umno it should not approve government policies during its supreme council meetings. But straight away, Hishammuddin said you had upset many BN leaders, including those in the MCA.

This boggles the mind. What you said was absolutely right – how could Umno take it upon itself to decide on government policies when it is only one of the component parties of BN? Does the MCA have no say? So how could MCA leaders be upset by what you said? Have they become Umnofied themselves? Have they become slaves of their masters? Or, as former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin said, “running dogs”?

If so, what dignity is left in them? And in you, if you continue to serve the MCA within the BN fold?

Isn’t it obvious, too, that what you say doesn’t count for “doodley-squat”, as the American novelist Kurt Vonnegut would call it?

To be brutally honest, what good is your speaking up when you are still within the same cabal and your partners not only disagree with you, they don’t respect what you say?

As you have probably been informed, people outside don’t give much credence to your speaking up, anyway. They think it’s just a sandiwara act to merely give the impression that you are standing up for what is right. But it’s just an act.

I admit that going by the issues you have been bringing up recently, you are highlighting the fact that things are not being done right, and that your political partners should be held accountable. I might even hazard that you are at least concerned. What I fail to see, though, is your commitment.

For instance, at the MCA general assembly last October, Umno president Najib Razak told your party right within your own premises to be less communal and less demanding. Did you have an answer to that? Did you tell him in return to ensure that Umno would be less communal too? Did you tell him that the MCA was not being more demanding, that it was merely asking for what is guaranteed all Malaysians?

You see, I believe you know what is right for the country, but you are not willing to go all the way to ensuring that what is right prevails. If you were, you would not continue with the current regime. You would press for reform.

Surely, you would not disagree with me if I said the judiciary needs to be independent, that it needs to regain the trust of the people? The same with the police, the mainstream media and the civil service?

Surely, you would not disagree with me if I said our education system needs to be totally revamped to institute quality and regard for merit?

Surely, you would not disagree with me if I said that the way we award government projects needs to be transparent to eliminate cronyism? Or is that too tough a call after your appointment as Penang Port Commission chairman, a move that raised many eyebrows?

Above all, surely you would not disagree with me if I said we need a government that is clean; tells the truth; follows the rule of law; uses public funds for the people’s sake rather than for its own; and upholds the country’s institutions rather than abuses them for its own advantage?

Do we have such a government today?

If we did, you would not have said what you said last Dec 5 – when you called for each BN component party to have an equal voice and to share power “genuinely”; when you said BN had to change to be inclusive, multi-racial and to put the people first.

I know how to read between the lines, Soi Lek, and what you said that time said a lot about the coalition your party is part of.

Do you think it is capable of responding to your calls for change? Right now, looking just at the Cabinet line-up, we can see what a far cry it is from the days of Tunku Abdul Rahman. Will we ever see an inclusive government that has non-Malay ministers for the portfolios of Finance, Trade and Industry, or Defence? That no longer looks at skin color but at ability, integrity and character?

I think you might better serve the people by taking the first step that leads away from race-based politics. If you choose to do that, you will be blazing a trail. And that could bring honor not only to you but your party as well. Unless, of course, you’re a politician first and a public servant last. Then all I’ve been saying here is worth doodley-squat.




Friday, January 7, 2011




中国词汇是生动的,“舞狮”是动词也是名词。把“舞狮”解释为一只舞动的狮,它就是名词。例如“我们去看舞狮”(名词);而“我们去看他们舞狮”(动词)。不过我们不应跟英文“Lion dance”作比较而指“舞狮”与它格格不入。再者“Lion dance”是正确国际英文用词,而不是大马式英文用词。





的作业本中收录了“狮子舞”而非“舞狮”这个做法並不完全不適合。在马来西亚式的英语教学中“lion dance”似乎就是“狮子舞”直译而来的用词,所以这两者关係为之密切,倒是“舞狮”这个词与它格格不入。

另,低年级孩子在思维上属於直线式思考,在教学上就字面解释对他们会是最理想的方法。因此“狮 子舞”的“舞”所指的就是“舞蹈”,与“狮子”合成后,教师只要就字面上的解释,孩子就能容易理解。反之,“舞狮”中的“舞”却產生了词性变化,从原本的 名词转化成了“舞动”、“挥舞”的动词之用。对於这样复杂的词性歷程,教师可能真的没有办法对思路不成熟的孩子一一说清。

笔者认为,词汇的普遍性及实用性也是非常重要的,出版社所採用的词汇也应该依此基准。词汇是没 有生命的,它可能会隨著时代的改变而萍踪浪跡,所以不时淘汰也是我们难以劝阻的。笔者委劝出版社在课本或作业本中注入新词之际,也不要忘了在该词后附加惯 用词,如:狮子舞(又称“舞狮”)或舞狮(又称“狮子舞”)。除了能平缓出版社及家长两种不同思维的声音,对孩子而言多学一词並没有大害。

从这事情看来,肩负最大责任的並不是家长或孩子,笔者认为出版社才是真正能提昇孩子中文素质的 推手,因此在教材设计上除了求变也要求质。多样化的作业本能培养孩子不同层面的思考,这是一件好事,所以作业本上有不一样的突破是件创意之事,不过千万別 忘了不完善的设计將是孩子前进的绊脚石。






“上升股”变化使用“upped, rose, increased, soared, climbed, gained, added, plus, shot, grew, got, swelled, ….”,而“下降股”用“downed, sank, decreased, slipped, dropped, lost, subtracted, minus, shed, shrunk, ....”。我想,五千年优秀的中文,为何不用丰富形容词呢?中文岂不是有“上升股”的“上、升、起、增、扬、攀、得、加、飙、长、胀 ….”,而“下降股的“下、沉、落、降、滑、跌、失、减、削、损、少、缩 ….”吗?



Thursday, January 6, 2011









Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In Najib’s silence, priests forced to clarify ‘blunder’

January 05, 2011
Pakiam hosted the event at the carpark of his residence. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — The Najib administration’s latest “Christmas blunder” has religious leaders in a mad scramble to explain to Christians that the church had not bowed to a directive to remove religious symbols during a Christmas party a fortnight ago.

The Malaysian Insider understands that over the weekend, Catholic priests were forced to address the issue as it had caused an uproar among parishioners who questioned why the church had adhered to such “overzealous” requests, allegedly made by the prime minister’s aide.

But the leaders also agreed that despite their attempts at defusing the situation, the “damage has already been done”, resulting in a rekindling of the same tension that rose during last year’s “Allah” controversy.

Father Simon Labrooy, who spoke on the issue during two separate masses, predicted that the Christian community’s anger was not likely to dissipate until the premier publicly clarified his stand.

He agreed that the administration, now mulling snap polls, would encounter an “angry” Christian electorate if it failed to address the issue.

“Najib should say something about it... he should make a statement to clarify whether the instruction had indeed been given and whether he plans to take action against the person who stirred up this whole thing.

“If the instruction truly did not come from him, then he should take action because this whole thing has created disharmony and animosity among Christian followers,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

The prime minister has been silent on the issue.
Since the issue erupted last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has not issued a formal statement on the matter.

It was reported that an official from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) confirmed that the premier had been “completely unaware” of the directive issued by his aide.

The official was also quoted as saying that the PMO would not respond to the incident as it did not want to prolong the issue but gave its assurance that the aide, a non-Muslim, had been advised against repeating such a directive without going through senior officials.

The aide had reportedly listed out several conditions on Catholic Archbishop Murphy Pakiam to facilitate Najib’s attendance at the Christmas tea-party held at his home, including the removal of religious symbols like crucifixes from the venue.

Questions later arose over whether the archbishop had complied with the requests, resulting in rising anger among the Christian community towards both Najib and Pakiam himself.

Labrooy said he was forced to clear the air over the issue by explaining during his sermons that the archbishop had not “compromised God for man’s need” and had not complied with the requests.

A parishioner told The Malaysian Insider that the Catholic priest had repeated his words twice, first during New Year’s and again the following Sunday, that Pakiam had not submitted to the directive despite speculations suggesting otherwise.

“Father Simon said that he was aware of the many speculations and how people were upset that the archbishop had complied with the requests.

“He told us that the Catholic church had stood its ground and refused to comply. But it makes little difference. Najib should apologise and fire his aide,” said the church-goer.

Labrooy confirmed this with The Malaysian Insider, adding that he had wanted to silence conjecture on the issue.

“There seems to be suggestions that Pakiam had relented to the requests and this is putting him in a bad light. It is not right.

“However, it is true... the damage has already been done. Many people are very angry that the directive was issued in the first place and this does will not look good on the government,” he said.

Father Michael Chua agreed with Labrooy and stressed that Pakiam had not needed to comply with the directive as the function had been held at the carpark of his home where there were no Christian symbols.

“I was there and there had been no changes to the itinerary for the function. It is just that the prime minister came at the time when prayers had already been said.

“Also, it was at the carpark, so there was no removal of crosses or anything. The reports in the media suggested that we had to remove them but it is not true,” he said.

Chua is in charge of the Ministry of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs of the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese, and is a part of the Christian Federation of Malaysia which organised the function on Christmas day last year.

He admitted that since the media exposed the issue last week, religious leaders have been finding it difficult to explain the matter to their followers.

“We have been having problems explaining to the congregation. The most important thing is the context of the matter — it was a carpark and there were no crosses there.

“We have been having it here for the past few years and this was just the first time that the prime minister attended. There was no deliberate removal [of Christian symbols] and we did not take seriously any of the requests,” he said.

Chua stressed that the function had gone on according to plan and it had also seen the attendance of political leaders from the opposition.

“But many people have been angered by this. First, they directed their anger to the government and then to the archbishop and this is not fair. We have been trying to explain it but many do not want to hear the explanation,” he said.

Chua would not say if he felt the prime minister should apologise on behalf of his aide but insisted that the matter not be taken out of context.

“Also, it was a CFM affair, hosted by the archbishop. CFM will meet soon and perhaps then we will discuss it. If we have an issue with it, we will take it up with the authorities,” he said.

The Malaysian Insider reported last week that the prime minister’s aide had issued a list of directives to Pakiam to facilitate Najib’s attendance at the Christmas tea-party on Christmas day.

Among the directives given were: to remove any overt Christian symbol, such as crucifixes, from the party premises and that carollers not belt out hymns and not to quote from Scriptures or say any Christian prayers during the visit.

At the time of publication, Pakiam could not be reached for comment.

Pakiam reportedly said this week that the directive was probably issued by an “overzealous officer”. He also refused to wade deeper into the matter by saying, “Let us not waste time on things like these.”