Subang Jaya emails to the Press (Nov 2002)
Saturday, November 02, 2002
Let the professionals run national service
THE government decision to introduce mandatory national service for young Malaysians is timely and should be lauded.
Malaysians from all walks of life will certainly agree the time is right for such a national programme to be initiated in view of uncertainties and challenges we face and to meet the needs of our country.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has announced a committee would be formed to work out the details of the proposed national service.
One is made to understand it is unlikely to be the same as Singapore’s, which requires two years of national service from citizens when they reach 18 years of age, and while it would contain some military elements it would also focus on effectiveness and productivity.
However, I cannot but hope that strategic courses covering military elements, discipline, teamwork, self-identity, personal fitness, ethics, social work, theology, a fighting spirit and a Malaysian identity would be considered.
National service would certainly not be complete without weapons training.
It is hoped the committee selected to oversee this project would comprise individuals selected from a wide area of expertise, professional bodies and from society at large, and are not confined to the “usual names and political nominees’’ one sees “recycled’’ from time to time.
The committee should carefully deliberate the questions of the age of the conscripts and their length of service.
A balance should be found between the length of the training and the time required for an extensive exposure to the objectives of the course.
It should certainly not be styled after the Rakan Muda scheme which was badly managed and an absolute waste of public funds.
Since this national service programme would also provide an avenue for youth of all races to participate in group activities, which would result in an effective tool to break down racial barriers, extensive government funding should be made readily available.
However, to make the programme work for the long-term interests of the country, it is important that it be run by professionals reporting directly to the Prime Minister.
It must also be free from petty politicking and political interference.
DR JACOB GEORGE
Thursday, November 07, 2002
Current laws on rape just not enough
RECENT cases of rapes and robberies have caused me to wonder whether the punishment for sex offenders in our country is adequate.
Why is it that a man caught for committing armed robbery can be jailed for life while the Kajang rapist for instance gets away with 19 years?
If the rapist had used a gun to threaten the victim, will he be jailed for life? Then, I wish he had. At least he can be locked away forever.
What about the rape victim? She was already dealt a “death sentence’’ with the rapist’s horrible act. How will she feel 19 years later when he walks out? How will we feel?
With talk about child and women safety and debate on prostitution, how do our laws provide safety for all? Current laws are simply not enough.
Many organisations have asked for a reform of our laws to protect women and children. But, why is it taking so long? Bear in mind that most of the victims were young (some as young as two years old) and did not exactly have sexually attractive attributes.
What these victims have in common with the rest of us are that they are all female.
Women are not sex objects and certainly not the weaker sex.
So what if chemical castration is allowed? Such punishment will only be meted out only after the offence has taken place. Too late!
This letter is an appeal not only to lawmakers but also to society.
Just because a life was not taken does not mean that evil did not take place. Just because you are safe today does not mean you are going to be safe tomorrow.
Friday, November 08, 2002
Our leaders should set good example
I FULLY agree with Dr A. Soorian, “VIP offenders setting bad example’’, (The Star Nov 6).
When I was in Australia about 12 years ago, the then Prime Minister Bob Hawke was shown on evening news not wearing his seat belt in the back seat when his car was being driven away from a function. (In Australia it is compulsory to wear seat belts even in the back seat.)
The very next day, the chief of police went to the Prime Minister’s office to serve Hawke the fine, which he paid on the spot. This was also reported on TV.
At that time too, a surgeon I knew had his driving licence suspended for six months for speeding. His reason was he was rushing to an emergency.
The police replied that as a doctor, he should have known better. The law applied to everyone.
As a country aiming for developed status, our leaders must realise they are not above the law. In fact, they should set the example by scrupulously obeying the law, and be seen by the public to be doing so.
They should be paying their traffic fines out of their own pocket, and not using taxpayers’ money for this.
Also, if drivers for state exco councillors can speed to meet deadlines, I would like to ask if doctors are allowed to speed when rushing for emergencies?
DOCTOR AND DRIVER,
Monday, November 11, 2002
JPJ should deal with more serious matters
I REFER to your report, “Dealers bombarded over tinting reports,’’ (The Star, Nov 8) about the operation against tinted vehicles. This is so typical of the department.
Car tints have the advantage of filtering out harmful ultra-violet and infra-red rays and the department should have been proactive and established early the guidelines for the approval, sale and installation of such films.
I am sure most vehicle owners would be happy to install the approved types instead of listening to all types of claims of approval by the installers.
There are other more serious issues that the department should tackle with speed and efficiency.
Lately, many cars are fitted with huge exhausts which are noisy. The drivers are somehow intoxicated with the noise and treat our roads as the Sepang Circuit.
I am sure there is a law against noisy exhausts (besides the racing). But do we see anything done by the department?
Heavy vehicles are supposed to be inspected regularly and be driven at regulated speeds. Yet, we have to deal with the belching from trucks and buses, if they have not bulldozed you off the road.
Where is the effectiveness of the department? Is it easier to take action against tinted cars?
Thursday, November 14, 2002
National service should be for all
I READ with interest your report, “Law: Exempt science students,’’ (The Star, Nov 8) quoting Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding as suggesting youths who take up courses related to science and engineering be exempted from the proposed national service to encourage youths to study these courses due to a shortage of scientists and engineers.
Firstly, the suggestion reflects a logical fallacy – that students will be motivated to pursue courses in science and technology to avoid participating in the proposed national service.
I feel this reasoning is weak since the argument for getting more students to take such courses depends on the underlying erroneous assumption that students are not interested in national service.
Is this true? Are there any reliable and valid surveys done that show students would shun national service?
Isn’t it an irony when the Government is trying to implement national service, a way out is provided for students to avoid being enlisted?
Secondly I do not see why students have to either choose between pursuing science and technology or joining the national service. This oversimplifies the issue and reflects an “either or’’ fallacy. Why can’t they have both?
Science and engineering students are also patriotic and nationalistic.
I have served in the Malaysian Armed Forces as a professional duty list, short-service commissioned army officer.
The regimented and disciplined environment has definitely done me a lot of good.
With a well-planned training curriculum for the proposed national service, our youths will be more well-rounded in their outlook, character, mental and physical development.
Scientists and engineers are in the forefront of spearheading our country to achieve Vision 2020.
It will be very sad indeed if this group of professionals are the same group that have avoided national service.
KAPT (Rtd) LKS
NEW STRAITS TIMES
Thursday, November 14, 2002
Credit Ali for being honest
I REFER to comments by both Idris Mokhtar and Aiman Abdullah (NST, Nov 12) on Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam’s remarks (NST, Nov 10) on the raising of the highway speed limit to 160kph.
It is rather distasteful that the latter has remarked that the Malacca Chief Minister's remark was "born of arrogance and ignorance".
For those of us who know him personally, Ali is a decent, soft-spoken and upright politician. However, he is quite outspoken and direct. And what is wrong with that? When he spoke on the speed limit on present highways he was making an observation that all of us have made from time to time.
One should give credit to this man for being honest to himself and the rakyat and speaking from his heart rather than being a hypocrite, like so many of our politicians and office bearers of non-governmental organisations who "hunt with the hounds and run with the hares".
He argued on behalf of those of us using the North-South Expressway regularly who find the speed limits stated quite inexplicable and unjustifiable in "present road conditions".
Some stretches are 90kph while long stretches where neither "man nor animals move or breed" are inexplicably between 90 and 110kph.
If one is arguing from the safety aspect, Malaysian statistics will clearly show that in the majority of fatal accidents, negligence and recklessness take place more on trunk and city roads in comparison with those on the highway.
Yet, the concentration of the police speed traps and units are on the North-South Expressway and this is inexplicable! I would rather pay any speeding fine and drive fast beyond present ridiculous speed limits and get out of certain stretches speedily rather than reduce the speed and either "fall asleep at the wheel" or become a target for highway robbers or other kinds of felons Malaysia is famous for! Policymakers should not forget that the rationale behind the construction of highways is to get its users who pay for this "service" to move from point to point safely and speedily! And in Malaysia, highway usage does not come cheap either.
Between the toll chargers, the speed traps and "lurking thieves and robbers", travelling on Malaysian highways is a very expensive affair.
There is no reason for any quarter to get upset if there is a call to raise the speed limit. And raising the present speed limit to 160kph for all vehicles, except heavy vehicles, tankers and public transport, is not unreasonable, given present "ground conditions".
Last edited by jeffooi; 14-11-2002 at 10:36 AM.
NEW STRAITS TIMES
Thursday, November 14, 2002
Why all these conflicting statements?
Nov 14: PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying that Singapore was changing its mind on the price revision in the water supply agreement with Malaysia (NST, Nov 2).
The Prime Minister should have realised that he was referring to the call for a price revision from Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew. On the other hand it was Singapore's Foreign Minister S. Jayakumar who was quoted as saying that Malaysia had lost the right to do so.
These were two different people talking and they are holding two different portfolios.
Such conflicting statements coming from the island republic are hardly surprising in the present circum-stances.
Singapore is undergoing its most traumatic experience arising from its worst economic performance. Singapore should not expect the water issue to improve its GDP performance. The late Indonesian PresidentSukarno launched Confrontation against Malaysia when the Indonesian economy was in ruins. It did not help at all.
When Lee met Dr Mahathir on the issue, NeWater had not been introduced in Singapore yet. Now three months after the introduction, we have yet to know what side effects it would have on those consuming it. Could there be any or are we witnessing one? Pertamina of Indonesia would be well advised to take heed of this Malaysian experience when it starts to supply gas to Singapore from its Pagar Dewa gas field in south Sumatra in 2005 (NST, Nov 5).
AZMI A. HAMID
Friday, November 15, 2002
Build pedestrian bridges in Subang Jaya, USJ
The Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) recently announced the estimated revenue for the year 2003 which is RM150mil.
With that I gather MPSJ will be able to allot funds for constructing pedestrian bridges at strategic places in USJ and Subang Jaya which have been put off for years now.
The residents, schoolchildren and others have risked their lives running across six lanes of certain roads in the area.
All we residents ask for is that 2% of the estimated revenue, i.e. RM3mil be allocated to construct three bridges – two in Persiaran Tujuan at SS18/SS19 and USJ4/USJ5 and another in Persiaran Kewajipan near The Summit, where pedestrian bridges are required.
Furthermore, the stretch along Persiaran Tujuan from traffic light J8 to J10 (from Subang Jaya towards USJ) should be widened to four lanes.
This is because currently, one lane is for traffic turning right into 19/6 which leaves only two lanes free for the others.
Every evening during peak hours, the bottleneck causes the jam as far back as the Federal Highway/Subang Airport turnoff.
The authorities need to fell six trees and remove 30 flowers pots. The drains have to be covered so that this 200m-stretch can be widen.
A small walkway have to be constructed for the many pedestrians (especially schoolchildren).
In the meantime, the traffic lights J8 and J9 have to have the same timing and with longer green-time.
After school hours, the timing of J8 at the pedestrian crossing should have a shorter green-time to allow a smooth flow of traffic especially in the evenings.
THE STAR Metro
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Display licence before charging tax
HOW many diners have seen a service tax licence at the restaurants? Yet, we all pay the bill without hesitation. The amount billed for is normally affordable by and large, which may be why nobody cares to check it out.
Although we know that only restaurants which have a service tax licence can collect service tax from customers, it seems that almost all restaurants in town are doing it. And, like it or not, it is in the bill.
I have yet to see a service tax licence and will be grateful if the relevant ministry could enlighten me with some details, like the size.
It will be helpful if the service licence is big enough to be seen from a distance. Bold letters will help.
Is there a regulation on where the licence should be displayed? The cashier’s counter can be one spot, where diners can see it when they settle their bills as it may be embarrassing to ask the waiter for the service tax licence in front of guests.
Steps should be taken to ensure restaurants display their service tax licence if they are entitled to charge it.
NEW STRAITS TIMES
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Let's keep it spiritual
The controversy over festive decoration and promotion at
shopping malls may make good reading, but do we really want
Hari Raya to become the vulgar commercial trading spectacle that
the spirit of Christmas has been turned into worldwide?
Let us keep Hari Raya the contemplative, reflective and spiritual
celebration that it has always been and leave commercialism to
3:00pm Wed Nov 20th, 2002
Display religious maturity and tolerance
Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzil has asked Singaporeans to "attack Malaysia with their money!", an exhortation to them to come shop in Johor during the various festivities.
The Johor state government and the ministry is promoting a mammoth sales carnival to be officiated by Abdul Kadir on Nov 23 to target Singaporeans and indirectly, other visiting foreigners to the island.
However, the icy blasts by two groups attacking the shopping complexes in the state for putting up more Christmas than Hari Raya (falls on first week of December) decor will work against these promotional efforts.
Their attacks will only help to fuel bad press abroad for Malaysia at a time when the country needs all the foreign visitors and tourist revenue it can gather as it braces itself for a possible drop in international visitors and revenue in the next 18 months.
The crude comments by Johor state's tourism and environment committee chairperson, Dr Chua Soi Lek’s will only give Malaysia "bad press abroad". An experienced politician — and what more a tourism leader — like Chua should know better than to hurl accusations at the shopping complex proprietors for being unduly influenced by western culture.
His statement "that proprietors did not need to adopt the western practice like in London or Hong Kong where they were enthusiastic about Christmas promotions" was certainly inappropriate, unfortunate and extremely unbecoming.
I agree that the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations should not be sidelined but there could have been an oversight or for commercial reasons that these shopping complexes gave more prominence to the Christmas display.
There is no reason why the learned politician could not have exhorted joint decorations and buntings be put up instead, as was done for the joint Chinese New Year and Hari Raya "Kongsi-Raya celebrations" previously. He chose instead to politicise the matter and create unwarranted controversy by instructing the proprietors to bring down Christmas buntings and decorations!
As such, I cannot but concur that some of our politicians and certain vernacular media just do not have the sensitivities to practise good public relations. The comments made by a well-known senior editor of a vernacular newspaper that shall remain unnamed was also unfortunate and in bad taste.
Malaysians have — fortunately or unfortunately — become too familiar with such comments made by politically ambitious and self-serving politicians and played up in vernacular newspapers to exploit the racial and religious insecurities of certain quarters.
These irresponsible politicians and others find a sensitive spot and work on it, declaring themselves the wira (heroes) defending the maruah (honour) of their respective bangsa (race).
This is certainly a quick way into the political mainstream and thus access to the economic resources that total political control affords. It is an old trick, performed many times over by politicians.
But all should remember, as strongly pointed out by none other than Jordan’s Queen Noor, a devout Muslim, in an exclusive interview with CNN's Larry King recently that Christianity and Christmas is not a "Western religion or Western celebration" — a fact rather conveniently ignored by our "religious bigots and extremists" — and Jesus Christ was not born in London, New York or Washington, but in Bethlehem in Palestine.
Damage has been done and we must hope that such unfortunate comments, coming soon after so many recent race and religion related controversies will not further dent Malaysia's image in the international community and hamper tourist arrivals to our nation. These have included Umno Youth’s call to close down all Chinese and Tamil schools in the country, racial polarisation, the deterioration of racial and religious tolerance, the demolition of several temples, burning of two churches and the allegations that Malaysia is a transit point for international terrorist groups.
One must also remember that this is the holy month of Ramadhan where peace, harmony, tolerance and a forgiving spirit must prevail in all Malaysians.
THE SUN Sun Valley
Thursday, November 21, 2002
Worried about safety on Jalan USJ 6/2
AS A resident of USJ6, I am worried about road safety along Jalan USJ 6/2.
Motorists using this road frequently speed. In one instance, I saw a car reversing from the Subang Jaya Municipal Council car park and almost colliding with a car overtaking it.
A few accidents have happened at the junction of Jalan USJ 6/2H near the Petronas petrol station, and at the junction of Jalan USJ 6/2A.
I hope the council will look into the possibility of building humps at each of the junctions for the safety of roadusers, especially students.
Monday, November 25, 2002
Two suggestions for EPF on nominations
ABOUT two months ago, I went to the Petaling Jaya Employees Provident Fund office to submit my nomination for my beneficiary.
Till today, I have not obtained any acknowledgement from EPF.
May I suggest two simple procedures for EPF to consider:
1) That when the EPF nomination form is submitted, an immediate acknowledgement is given. I fail to understand why an immediate acknowledgement cannot be given. When I asked the counter clerk for an acknowledgement, she said it would be sent to me.
2) That the EPF state the beneficiaries in the yearly statements sent out to members, like what is being done for life insurance policies.
If the beneficiaries are stated with their proportionate share in the yearly statement sent to members, it will serve as a reminder to the member on whether he needs to make a fresh nomination.
I hope that EPF will seriously consider these suggestions.