Friday, December 27, 2013

Pardon me, can you please apologise again?

Link to MSN Malaysia News

Jahara must be deaf to request a second apology from Lim Guan Eng.

Malaysia's opposition leader and Penang state Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (© BAZUKI MUHAMMAD\Newscom\RTR)

Far from being satisfied with Penang Chief Minister’s prompt apology for calling Jahara Hamid a grandmother, she is now threatening legal action within a week if Lim Guan Eng did not apologise for a second time. The Telok Ayer Tawar State Assemblyman and Penang Opposition Leader must indeed be hard of hearing to demand a second apology.

Jahara had earlier drawn comparison between two different locations in Penang to support her argument that illegal Malay hawkers were being unfairly treated by the State Government. This would have resulted in instigating racial tension if the matter was not refuted immediately, to which the Chief Minister called Jahara a ‘racist grandmother’.

Telok Ayer Tawar Pakatan Rakyat coordinator, Norhayati Jaafar confirmed that the Malay stalls operating without licenses in Jahara’s constituency especially at Pantai Bersih are still operating their business without interference from the enforcement officers, contrary to what Jahara claimed.

“As far as I know, the Malay hawkers are still conducting their businesses in Telok Ayer Tawar and there are no intentions to do otherwise,” she said.

While Jahara may be crying wolf and entangled in her own web of deception, Penang enforcement officers are mostly caught in between carrying out their duties and appeasing a large number of illegal operators who unabashedly occupy idle land to carry out their businesses.

Tale of a Malay trader at Pantai Jerejak

Juninah and six other Malay hawkers operate without licences by the seaside near Bayan Mutiara in Bayan Baru. The site is now earmarked for land reclamation and the business owners have received notices to clear the area to make way for further development. These business owners have also requested the State Government to relocate them elsewhere.

Maybe the Penang State Government should help look into the problems faced by Malay traders. Tricky problems as such must be dealt with care and caution so as not to be accused as being discriminating against the Malays or being seen as setting precedence by negotiating with illegal traders.

Santai Bahtera, a pretty beachfront café located next to the Penang Island Pulau Jerejak Jetty has an amazing view of the Penang Bridge. To date, the café has permanent structures such as a surau, toilet and water facilities, electricity and even a stage.

“We are just earning a living but the State Government is chasing us away with development,” lamented Juninah.
Juninah had sought help from various authorities but all her cries for help are not being taken seriously.

“We admit we are illegally conducting our business here but we do hope that the State Government will help us by relocating us to another site,” she added, claiming that she recently spent RM140,000 renovating the place.

Apology not good enough

Word is out that Hj. Rashid Hasnon, Deputy Chief Minister 1 for Penang, who is also the State Assemblyman for Pantai Jerejak had given an explanation to Juninah for being unable to help her maintain her business site as the area will soon be condoned off to make way for bicycle tracks and land reclamation. However, efforts are still underway to help Juninah and the others achieve an amicable solution.

Apologies and explanations are always never good enough.

Good governance is all about making the right call at the right time. The State Government has the authority to allow or disallow, make legal or stand firm on matters concerning illegal occupation of idle land.

The only setback is that if any precedence was made, many other instances of illegal traders seeking the same compensation and treatment may be expected in the future or else the State Government may risk being accused as being unfair.

Pardon me, can you please say that again?

Apart from Jahara’s threat to sue the Chief Minister of Penang if Lim Guan Eng did not apologize for a second time within a week, the issue of being called a ‘racist grandmother’ remains firmly wedged as a racial issue – one that is distinguishably ambiguous as enforcement officers are expected to carry out their duties only towards non-Muslims.

Jahara claims that only stalls of a certain race were demolished. Perhaps Jahara can provide a fair solution for all illegal traders and without prejudice too. In any case, if she is only looking after the interest of Malay and Bumiputera traders, then she would have just affirmed and stamped the ‘racist’ label on herself.

As a grandmother of seven grandchildren, there is no reason why she should not be called a grandmother if she was proud to be one at all.

** This is the writer’s personal opinion.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How sexist remarks attract remarkable attention

Link to MSN Malaysia

A grandmother by any other name is still a grandmother.

Reuters Picture Stream (© Reuters Picture Stream)

The commotion over the ‘racist grandmother’ remark hurled by the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng during the Penang State Assembly towards the State Opposition Leader, Jahara Hamid drew ire from many people even though an apology was issued soon after.

Gender accusation is highly inappropriate considering many people would have misconstrued Lim’s remark although his timely apology was commendable.

The Chief Minister fell for the oldest trick in the book – succumbing to provocation and unfair accusation from the opposition. On hindsight, if Lim had not been so quick with his tongue and instead retorted in a calm manner, Jahara would have just remained as that, a grandmother.

In all hilarity, the term ‘grandmother’ has never been a derogatory one until now. The word conjures an affectionate portrayal of a woman with wisdom. As such, it would be an oxymoron if ever the phrase ‘Grandma Jahara’ was coined.

Jahara had accused the Penang State Government with practicing double standard in enforcements with illegal stall operators by comparing two totally different locations to support her argument. She would have intentionally caused the issue of enforcement to be a racial one even though there was none.

Calling a spade a spade

A rose by any other name is still a rose. Whether a woman is a grandmother or a spinster, name calling gains attention. This is mainly because people do not like being called names. Even more so, when a woman is reminded of her gender - as if it is something negative - age and marital status aside, she would get upset.

The point in hand here is that language plays an important role in gender equality. The understanding of words relates all the way back to how we were brought up and how society reacts in certain circumstances.

Somehow, a man would not accuse another man of being a racist grandfather or a racist bachelor.

In a world where women have to work doubly hard to achieve what men take for granted, it comes as no surprise that women feel unsettled with phrases in relations to gender connotations.

After all that is being said and done, it may also be constructive if women were able to take a different approach towards gender classifications. So what if we were being called a grandmother? So what if we were being called a spinster?

It takes a lot to get to where these women are today and all that has nothing to do with being either a grandmother or a spinster. If the women truly reveled in being a woman, being branded as one should be taken in a positive manner rather than a negative one.

Triumphantly, it may be that men feel intimidated by the presence of women. Therefore, the overwhelming need to verbalise it in a way to put the women ‘back where they belong’ sometimes come about in the most unexpected manner.

For example, Ridhuan Tee would never comprehend why a woman might choose to be single rather than a couple. He is a blind follower without essential critical thoughts and should be aptly dismissed as a nuisance not worthy of our time.

After all, a sneer should not be mistaken as a sexist remark.

What is a sexist remark?

A sexist remark is when someone refers to another with an offensive word or phrase that belittles or insults the person’s gender. The offensive words may range from vulgar words to descriptive words that refer to a woman’s genitals.  Who could forget the Minister who implied that women ‘leaked’ every month?

In any case, being labelled as a grandmother or spinster is candidly mild and women should not take any further offence. Be proud of being one instead of feeling insulted. That itself will cancel out any contemptuous effort, if any, that was meant as a pot shot to an easily bruised ego – something synonymous to being sensitive and emotional.

Last but not least, being a racist carries no sexist undertone. Jahara remains as one.

** This is the writer’s personal opinion.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Duo Stringendo

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A time to understand human rights: Human Rights Day on 10 Dec

A time to understand human rights: Human Rights Day on 10 Dec
Malaysia is still rated fairly free despite fall in Human Development Index ranking.
Demonstrator holds candle during vigil for release of Raja Petra and opposition member of parliament Kok in Kuala Lumpur (© Reuters)

The existence of a Human Rights Day ironically translates into an apparent lack of human rights in the world, even with laws which are supposedly meant to protect the innocent.

In 1950, the United Nations General Assembly declared 10 December as Human Rights Day. It has been twenty years since 1993, when a mandate of High Commissioner was created for the promotion and protection of all human rights during the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna the same year.

Furthermore, Women’s Rights are now acknowledged as a fundamental human right. Discrimination and acts of violence against women are at the forefront of the human rights discourse.

Human rights cover a wide range of issues including access to basic necessities, equality, life and the right to tell the truth. In the Universal Declaration of Human the first and second article states that:
  1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood;
  2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Human Rights in Malaysia

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in a survey done under Human Development Index (HDI), Malaysia has backslidden in its ranking, from 61st place in 2011 to 64th place out of 187 countries in 2013.

Two massive rallies, dubbed Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0, held on 9 July 2011 and 28 April 2012 respectively attributed to the drop in the HDI ranking. Bersih is the Malaysian acronym for Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, and aims to promote free and fair elections in Malaysia. During Bersih 2.0, over 1600 protesters were arrested while over 500 protesters were similarly detained for Bersih 3.0. Riot police also used tear gas and water cannons on protesters at both rallies.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), a human rights organisation in Malaysia, is still actively pursuing the case of the Defence Ministry’s controversial Scorpene submarine purchase through the French court. The world still mourns the death of a central figure in the Scorpene deal - Altantuya Shaariibuugin, who was blown up with C4 explosives in 2006 and her immigration records erased.

Another blatant violation of human rights in Malaysia is the rape of indigenous Penan women in Sarawak. Workers of a large timber conglomerate had been constantly harassing the local women, but there has no action taken against them, even though the incidents were broadly publicised.

Do laws protect or are they used to prosecute and silence the victims?

In Malaysia, the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allowed for detention without trial was replaced with the Security Offences (Special Measures) 2012 Act (SOSMA). SOSMA and the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) which replaces Section 27 of the Police Act have been criticised as being even more draconian and restrictive.

The officially endorsed policy of preferential treatment towards the majority practised in Malaysia is another instance of human rights violation, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Any attempts to question or discuss the matter will be dealt with by the Sedition Act or the Printing Presses and Publication Act.

Even Christians in the country are not spared. A recent ban on the use of the Arabic word ‘Allah’ by Christians created international headlines and much negative publicity.

Ops Lallang, an operation carried out in 1987 saw a total of 106 people arrested under the ISA. Forty people were detained without trial for two years and sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre. These people included political figures, social activists and individuals. Two daily newspapers, The Star and Sin Chew Jit Poh had their publishing licences revoked for a period of time.

Custodial deaths and the licence to kill

According to SUARAM, there have been 12 custodial deaths alone this year. Two other high-profile deaths were Teoh Beng Hock and Gunasegaran who died the same day – 16 July 2009.

When Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said, “I think the best way is not to compromise with them, don’t give anymore warnings to them, [if] we have evidence, we [will] shoot first”, it created a furore among right-thinking Malaysians.

With such a statement, Ahmad Zahid has displayed a lack of understanding about the rule of law.

Your right is just as much my right

Just a few days ago, an UMNO division head asked for the 1Malaysia slogan to be changed to 1Melayu during the party’s General Assembly. Such blatantly racist statements are nothing new in Malaysia. Even former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew has claimed the minorities face systematic marginalization in Malaysia.

It is bizarre how a human can treat another human with so much contempt, and this plainly justifies the existence of something like Human Rights Day. Laws are written by men, but some men manipulate the law to favour the rich and influential. Can we then blame the 47% who voted the present government into power?

While most would frown upon giving out election goodies and rightfully view it as a form of vote-buying, the Prime Minister has been quoted as saying ‘you help me, I help you’ during a state election campaign in Sarawak in 2011.

It comes as no surprise at all that immediately after the General Election and heavy spending, the prices of all essential goods shot up, due to a hike in petrol prices, the removal of the sugar subsidy and a rise in electricity tariffs. To add insult to injury, an impending Goods and Service Tax of 6% will be imposed from April 2015.

Inflation affects the livelihood and affordability of the average wage earner. Although a moderate inflation rate is healthy for the country’s economy, knee-jerk changes to the country’s fiscal policies will create shock and unrest. To make things worse, the Prime Minister’s wife, who apparently obtained the cabinet’s approval to represent the country for official visits using the country’s jet plane, has displayed spendthrift ways unbecoming of someone in her position.

How UMNO equates itself with the great Nelson Mandela who passed away on 6 December this year is yet another mind-boggling claim. One fights for human rights, while the other fights against it. One helped in the removal of the noxious apartheid policy, while the other promotes superiority of a certain race.

Facts are indeed stranger than fiction.

So what are Human Rights? Human Rights are the ability to treat another fellow human being with goodwill and mutual respect to achieve peace and unity. In Malaysia, with things as they are now, that ideal scenario is a long time coming. Until then, we still need Human Rights Day.

** Article published in MSN Malaysia

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Stepping out of men's shadows by Carolyn Khor

Link to MSN

Domestic violence is not the norm

 Domestic violence (© slkoceva, Getty Images)

Domestic violence, rape and unwanted pregnancies are problems that are synonymous with less fortunate women who are often left in a lurch with a series of problems that follow. The predicaments these women find themselves in are less likely to be publicly acknowledged due to the conservative attitude of the society towards such occurrences. 

While it is widely agreed that women are the victims of such incidences, nonetheless cases like these are often swept under the carpet or settled between two disputing parties to save the hassle of going through court proceedings to seek compensation or justice.

The instance of the recently divorced 13 year old girl in Kulim who married her rapist highlights the severity of how families are willing to compromise their daughter’s wellbeing in order to save face. Both families of the adolescences conceded to allow their teenage children enter a contract of marriage even though both may not have been ready or prepared for the responsibilities of starting a family. Both families had thought that through marriage the family honour may remain intact and the stigma that comes along as being a victim and rapist could just be eventually forgotten. This shows that conservative families still opine that the happiness of the teenagers comes secondary to any face-saving measures that may keep gossip-mongers at bay.

The promotion of abstinence and rigid religious outlook form the basis of such bias atrocities towards women.

Men on the other hand, escape criticism, penalties and deterrent actions.

Consent to marriage for minors involved in rape should only be precipitated if sufficient care and understanding towards the marriage institution are taken into consideration. This swift and candid solution towards the victims cannot be taken as an absolute response to resolve the matter.

The heavy burden placed on the child in premature marriages interferes with the child’s opportunity to education and better work opportunities. An early bride is expected to carry out the responsibilities of a wife which includes child-bearing.  As and when the child bride is left to fend for herself, she will be unable to do so and this creates additional stress and problems to the community.

Domestic violence is inevitably associated with the lack of support and awareness that violence is not an acceptable form of communication. Domestic violence happens in households of varying lengths and ages although younger women and very young women might find it doubly challenging to verbalise or respond adequately towards it. Women who fall in this category are often made to feel shameful of themselves and are belittled for voicing out, as domestic problems are still largely considered a personal problem and not something to complain about.

Perpetrators of domestic violence dictate the situation with emotional and mental manipulation and blackmail. The aggressor blames the victim for provoking him and uses contemporary examples of how other women submit and accept such incidences. Families of these aggressors normally take the side of the aggressor while families of the victim can only advise the victim to tolerate even more to avoid divorce or a break-up in the marriage, many times for the sake of the children.

Although the society does not wish for more single parents, smug attitudes towards single parents and divorcees should not form basis as hindrance for women to choose to lead a healthier and less conflicted life - whether both parties part amicably instead of continually suffer in a high-tension situation daily or face the consequences of being in a lopsided contract. Children involved in such conflicts are also the victims and will stand to gain if they were shielded from the devastating dilemma.

Instead of feeling helpless, women should stand firm in their conviction whether to allow the society’s opinion affect their decision to stay or leave a bad relationship, or to make changes to halt the assaults. The obstacles that women face daily are marked with expectations and limitations. However, no matter what the decision, it should be a beneficial choice with room for personal growth and with provision to provide a healthy ground for their children’s growth.

** Article published in MSN Malaysia

Monday, December 2, 2013

Understanding women by Carolyn Khor

Women are often described as gentile, docile, mild, sensitive and emotional. On the other hand, the unflattering sides of women are generally characterised by terms like unforgiving, petty, overreactive, narrow-minded and judgmental.

These definitions of women we should then ask - are they what the women really think of themselves or are women being conveniently shoved into neat little categories by those who lack understanding of who the real women are?

The way our society has been trained to think from young is skewed towards gender segregation and discriminatory practices. There are no rules to say that baby boys should be dressed in blue and baby girls in pink, but sadly, commercial advertising and consumers alike move along the trend of mass stereotyping.

The superiority of man as a gender did not come by accident. It has been reflected in cultures through time, reinforced through language and then practiced through the laws that govern us as a society.

Two main bodies that regulate our daily lives are the civil and religious law. People subscribe to these notions and hold them in high regards as the commonly accepted principles in life. With that, an acceptance of the punishments that follow if these rules were deviated from arose.

Although there are obvious physical differences between men and women, the role that each gender take upon may not be that distinct anymore especially with our modern lifestyle. Whereas the man used to be the sole breadwinner in the family, the worsening economic situation has forced many women to seek work to supplement the family income. As more and more women get access to education and work opportunities, the gender gap has become narrower.

Even so, people should not forget that women too, since ages ago used to toil the land, braved many difficulties and shared the responsibilities of shaping the world into what we have today. All these are left unspoken for while increasing barriers are placed upon the women to restrict them from realising their true potential.

It is not to say that women should revolt and start abandoning caution to the wind in the battle against men; but rather, to rely on their inner strength, develop and inculcate a sense of worthiness to combat the disunity that have taken roots among the women.

As such, if the policy-makers comprised of an equal number of men and women, it would then make a difference as to how women are perceived in general. The capabilities of a woman are equal to the flow of the universe; the rhythm of growth; the womb of the earth and the unleashed power of the mind. All these latent gifts are within reach, if only women spared a moment to silently draw on all their experiences to plant the seeds of mutual respect towards themselves and other women starting with their own children.

In summary, it is as the eighteenth-century English writer, philosopher and advocate of women’s rights Mary Wollstonecraft once said: “I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves”.

** Article published in MSN Malaysia

Friday, November 29, 2013

Relive your childhood at ESCAPE Theme Park

Link to PGC

Focus: Relive your childhood at ESCAPE Theme Park, Teluk Bahang ~~~ by Carolyn Khor

Relive your childhood at ESCAPE Theme Park, Teluk Bahang ~~~ by Carolyn Khor
Everyone has an inner child who just cannot wait to come out to play, that is, if given a chance. Spread over seven acres for now, ESCAPE Theme Park in Teluk Bahang is a childhood dream come true. Its Founder and Chief Escape Officer, Sim Choo Kheng is every bit the Peter Pan who still believes in fun and laughter, along with a heavy dose of nature.

“We need to reconnect with Mother Nature. It is only instinctive of us to be protective of the environment when we love it,” said Sim, who reminisces his youth as a kampong boy who used to climb trees, swam and fished for fresh water prawns in the streams in Thean Teik Estate, Ayer Itam where he grew up.

Sim hopes to share this joyful experience with the children of current generation whom he describes as having a ‘lack of creativity and curiosity’ due to the overdosed institutionalized learning.

‘Low-tech, High Fun’ is how Sim describes his theme park.

“We do not have the money like the 'Big Boys' in Orlando, but we have the creative flair, the international experience and more importantly the passion and drive to realise a new theme park genre that is distinctively in harmony with nature and its surroundings,” he said, adding that ESCAPE adheres to the international safety,  operational and cleanliness standards.

Sim, 48, has been in the theme park industry for more than 20 years and is involved in the operating, designing and building of theme parks worldwide. ESCAPE, according to him, will be his ‘final destination’ when he manages to re-create his playground he lost to 'progress'.

"I yearn to be a kid again, I shall return to where it all started!”, he exclaimed.

Having realised ESCAPE since ten months ago is a personal fulfillment in addressing the void of human interaction with nature such as participatory learning and reconnecting with our core values.

According to Sim, the idea of a theme park started during the Industrial Revolution where people needed to take a break to ease their minds off the stark reality of hard work.

Unlike other theme parks, ESCAPE does not have roller-coasters or sugar coated fantasies. Sim thinks that some theme parks are ‘distorted in their views between having fun and being scared’. "We think we have solutions for everything, in reality very often we resolve a problem by creating a new one".

“The idea of outdoor fun is to enhance bodily motor skills and coordination besides boosting physical fitness,” he said.

ESCAPE Waterplay is expected to be featured in late 2014 and Treetops Hotel in the near future. The total area of 44 acres within the vicinity of the ESCAPE Theme Park will host many more attractions later.

“Repurposing this former Teluk Bahang Dam construction site means we didn't have to disturb much of the surrounding nature, almost all the old structures built by PBA were enhanced with many thought-provoking ideas complying to ESCAPE's ethos. We respect nature and we hope that we could convey this message of love for nature to those who visit our theme park,” he concluded.

ESCAPE Theme Park opens daily from 9:00a.m to 6:00p.m. Further details may be found here:

A breath of life for well-being

Link to Penang Green Council

Focus: A breath of life for well-being ~~ by Carolyn Khor

Almost everyone takes breathing for granted. In this fast-paced life, almost nobody takes notice of breathing except for when some problem crops up. At The Art of Living, an organization which is a not-for-profit, educational and humanitarian NGO (Non-Governmental Organization), breathing is taught as a technique to live a stress-free and violence-free life and to experience inner peace.
“Our guruji’s objective was simply to make people smile and be happy always,” said Sam, a 29 year old Penang Art of Living volunteer.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the organization known as The Art of Living, has 152 centres worldwide with five centres in Penang. It was founded in 1982. Sri Sri was born on 13 May 1956 and resides in India. He currently tweets at @srisrispeaks.
Among Sri Sri’s insightful quotes are:
“If there are ripples on the surface of the lake, we cannot see its depth. Similarly, unless the mind is restful, we cannot experience the harmony and union within us.”
“Break through all the barrier and feel that you are blessed. This is the only step you have to take. The rest will all happen.”
“Life teaches you the art of letting go in every event. When you have learnt to let go, you will be joyful, and as you start being joyful, more will be given to you.”
Besides breathing techniques, meditation and yoga are also offered at the centre.
Sam says that the breathing technique taught at their centres, called Sudarshan Kriya, is recognized as a proven method to manage anger, violence and other negativities like anxieties and depression.
The meditation technique used is called Sahaj Samadhi.
The Sri Sri Yoga method adopted by the centre is an integrated approach to Yoga using a combination of Asana, Pranayama, meditation,, ancient yoga knowledge and service. According to the brochure, this is a prayerful discipline that leads to the union of the body and the mind.
Sam’s wife, Angel had introduced Sam to The Art of Living about three years ago due to the increasing demands in life which included juggling with an education, a career and his family life. With sleep deprivation, Sam decided to seek help. Angel was introduced to the organization some time earlier to help her improve on her general well-being.
Both husband and wife found the techniques useful and helpful.                    
“Just one hour of the Sudarshan Kriya breathing exercise tames anger, soothes worries, stress and anxieties and heals emotional frustrations,” claims Sam.
“It also helped me view things in a broader perspective and I now lead a healthier and happier lifestyle with a peaceful mind”.
“We are all on the same journey but using different paths,” said Sam when asked about how The Art of Living differs from all other organizations which claim to also offer the same stress-free solution.
The Art of Living Foundation channels a large percentage of their collection from courses, The Art of Living publications and sales of Ayurveda products to help rural areas in India and other parts of the world with humanitarian projects such as conflict resolution, disaster relief and sustainable rural development, empowerment of women, prisoner rehabilitation, education and environmental sustainability.
For those who are interested to understand The Art of Living may want to attend the basic course which is usually conducted for 6 days continuously from Tuesdays to Sundays, for a total of approximately 24 hours. Class fees are RM350 per course for adults and RM250 for senior citizens above 60 years old.
For more information, please contact Sam 016-4841280 or visit the website:

Real men don’t hit women

Link to MSN News

Fighting violence against women (© Carolyn Khor)

Violence is a vicious cycle and violence begets violence. There should be no excuse to perpetuate violence and every effort must be made to eliminate violence. 25 Nov was International Day for the elimination of violence against women.
In cultures that see no wrong in violence towards women, physical and sexual violence are practiced to subdue women. These women are silenced and victimised by the society to withstand the abuse and are expected to allow these torment to continue as a form of subservience and obedience towards men. This form of ‘accepted punishment’ is derogatory and psychologically damaging.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 3 out of 10 women experience violence by an intimate partner at some point during their lifetime, and 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime. The UNDP also reveals that in more than 35 countries worldwide, marital rape is not considered a criminal offence.

Violence against women

In Malaysia, 35,684 cases of domestic violence were reported nationwide during 2000 to 2010, of which 3,255 cases originated from Penang.

Of these reported cases, only 4% were brought to court and an estimated 45% of the accused aggressors were acquitted, indicating that there is insufficient mechanism to discourage domestic violence.

Chong Eng, through her portfolio in the Penang state government as Chairman of Youth and Sports, Women’s Development, Family and Community together with the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) held an event at Prangin Mall in Georgetown in conjuction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women yesterday. The event marks the first day of a 16-day campaign against gender-based violence.

Chong Eng delivered her speech to an audience that largely comprised of civil activists and members of the public. Penang State elected representatives like Teh Lai Heng, Dr. Afif Bahardin and Lim Siew Khim were also present to support the event. A number of men were also spotted among those present. Non-Governmental Organisations that turned up include Pusat Kesedaran Wanita (WCC Penang), Pusat Perkhidmatan Wanita (PPW) and Soroptimist International Club of Penang.

“There are many ways men can help to end violence against women,” said Chong Eng.

She also urged men to take the initiative to understand the issue of violence against women and to also volunteer in women-friendly organisations.

While Penangites may be enthusiastic and eager to spread awareness against domestic violence, the actual catalysts for change are the women themselves. As Dr. Afif said in his speech, all religions do not support violence against women - citing verses both from the Quran and Bible.

Distressed women may seek confidential help at the Women’s Centre for Change 04-2280342 or

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Press statement by YB Zuraida on NFCorp’s failed takeover by Japanese company

Press statement by YB Zuraida on NFCorp’s failed takeover by Japanese company

Prime Minister Najib Razak should just liquidate the National Feedlot Corporation and recover the RM250 million soft loan that was given to the agricultural company run by Sharizat’s family. That is the only way to hold Sharizat’s family accountable for the mismanagement of funds. The board of directors which includes Sharizat’s husband and children inappropriately spent the people’s money on luxury items unrelated to the agricultural business like purchasing high-end condominiums and prestigious cars.

It is simply illogical that any company would want to inject RM20 million into a debt-ridden company that operates at a loss with no foreseeable opportunity for a turnaround. For Kirimitomas Agro to even consider a deal like that, we can only imagine what negotiations went on behind closed doors. Regardless, it is still not a worthwhile deal.

Kirimitomas Agro would be better off just starting with a clean slate with no encumbrances. In fact, there are qualified local companies that are equally suitable to provide similar services to the public. Malaysia is an agricultural-based country and the government should have no problems at all identifying experienced companies with good track records. This is in contrast to the NFC, a company that does not even have a track record to begin with.

Since the NFC expose, ‘Condo Lembu’ has become a household name.  The severity of the matter goes to show that our country sorely needs transparency and good governance. The ‘gravy train’ has been practiced for far too long and people should be made aware that this habit is selfish and deprives our children of a good future. It is morally wrong and it is ethically wrong. As they say, monkey see, monkey do, and we need leaders who can show a good example. If the big boss ‘makan’, the small ones ‘makan’ too. We do not want this culture to be cultivated any further. Instead, we should focus on transparency, good governance and efficiency.

Kirimitomas Agro Sdn. Bhd. (KASB) is a joint venture between Otoshitos Sdn. Bhd and Hannan Food Group. Prime Minister Najib Razak announced KASB as willing parties to take over the scandal and debt-ridden National Feedlot Corporation in April this year but replied in parliament yesterday that the deal has fallen through.

YB Zuraida Kamaruddin
Ahli Parliament Ampang

Related links:

Is heavy rainfall an act of God?

Link to MSN Malaysia

Penang flooding

While some might attribute the recent heavy rainfall as an act of God, some blame it on climate change, rapid developments and inefficient drainage.

Penang experienced unusually heavy rain in the last few days and will be expecting more to come as metrological images show strong wind and vapours forming over the Indian Ocean heading over to this part of the region.
Landslides and fallen trees were reported in several parts of the island and floods afflicted many areas throughout the state. All state-related personnel are on high alert for high-tide peak hours and are closely monitoring the situation.

Chong Eng, the Penang State EXCO for Youth and Sports, Women’s Development, Family and Community was among those whose house was flooded early in the morning five days ago at Kampung Padang Lalang in Bukit Mertajam.

She said, “While climate change is beyond our human control, we in government should do whatever humanly possible to reduce flood problems.”

Much of Penang’s appraisal and opinions are established based on two phases – pre-2008 and post-2008.
“Penang government should take immediate measure to solve the flood problems. Do not play tai chi and push away responsibility by saying that it is due to "heavy rain and too much rain." The root causes are too many housing developments and 80% of rain water, instead of seeping into natural earth, is being diverted to concrete drain. In addition, our drains are outdated and too small in size to carry the increasing volume of water! Therefore, we see flood everywhere!” said Teh Leong Meng, a Gerakan member in his Facebook posting.

Penang flooding

Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng announced that the Penang State Government is ready to act immediately to ensure that Phase Two of the Sungai Pinang Flood Mitigation project is carried out even though this might be unpopular with the 35 residents who refused to move out of the area.

“The flood this time was due to the high tide. The Penang Municipal Council and the state Drainage and Irrigation Department also did everything that they could,” Lim said.

The Chief Minister also compared the situation at Jalan P.Ramlee where water used to rise up quickly within 2 hours of rain five years ago but has improved to 7 to 9 hours of ankle-deep water after heavy downpour now.

Welfare aids, blankets and food were distributed to the victims and temporary shelters are set up in several places where residents were evacuated to safety.

Apart from floods, submerged cars, uprooted trees, muddy terrain and traffic congestion, the bad weather also caused many potholes to appear which poses a danger to road users.

Paya Terubong State Assemblyman, Yeoh Soon Hin was quick to point out how the Federal Government had not responded to requests to resurface part of the road at Lebuhraya Thean Teik.

Elsewhere, potholes and uneven roads can be seen everywhere.

Penang Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said floods were reported mostly in the south-west district.

Among the areas were Kampung Seronok in Bayan Lepas, Kampung Masjid Teluk Kumbar, Kampung Nelayan Teluk Bahang and Kampung Trang in Pulau Betong. In Kampung Pulau Betong houses and cars were submerged up to hip level or 0.5 metres high and villagers were seen moving their belongings and valuables to higher grounds. Malaysiakini reported that 188 houses were damaged and 20 families in Pulau Betong were shifted to a nearby mosque.

Penang flooding

According to Chow, the Penang State Government has allocated an additional RM6 million for 10 new flood mitigation projects in the state to reduce and prevent flash floods. He said the projects involved the upgrading of drainage, building of pump houses and others.

Jagdeep Singh, chairman of Penang Urban and Rural Planning and Housing Committee reported that 210mm of rainfall was recorded on Saturday and the tide was 2.5m high.

Several developments were being identified as the main culprits for causing the flash floods.

'We found the flooding to be caused by incomplete drainage works, poor drainage maintenance, lack of dredging in the retention pond, shoddy drainage by the Malaysia Airports Berhad and the water seepage at the Desa Ria retention,” said Abdul Malik Kassim, chairman for the Penang Religious Affairs, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee.

Hamizah binti Che Mat, a 43-year-old resident in Batu Kawan had just finished cleaning her house which was flooded knee-high consecutively for two days. She claims that the nearby housing development caused the flooding.

“There was this flood and I was robbed of my belongings, too. The flood has never been this bad before.”

“I am sure this is a test from God, it could have been worse,” she said, referring to the Tsunami in December 2004 which claimed some lives in Penang.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Zuraida to Seai Kei: Reflect on your own backyard first

Parti Keadilan Rakyat is a democratic party where leaders are elected based on a direct one-for-one vote, also the first political party in Malaysia to empower such voting rights to its members.
Any member of the party may also contest for the president’s seat if he or she wishes so.
Perhaps Heah is unaware of the meaning ‘sexist’, contextually or otherwise as the word itself bears no relation to whether or not Wan Azizah decides to contest in the next party elections.
How sexist is sexist, how disgusting is disgusting - let the people judge
How much ‘disgust’ she feels is also irrelevant especially as the whole country witnessed not too long ago the extra-marital affair with the release of a video tape sex-scandal of the MCA Chairman, Chua Soi Lek with a younger woman half his age.
Does Heah feel a sense of accomplishment and esteem over her party Chairman’s actions? How much equality does she think that is? And how much respect does that amount to towards a woman?
Heah should also be reminded that Prime Minister Najib Razak became the first man to helm the Women Ministry in the history of Malaysian politics and might perhaps be the world’s first man to hold that position too.
Does Heah feel dignified, proud, approve and support such a decision made by the Prime Minister to rob women from a position meant for women? This is still the biggest insult made towards women in the 21st century in terms of women’s rights and equality.
When Heah was still the Deputy Minister in the Women Ministry prior to November 2012, she had failed to uphold the women's rights nor did she protest against the various sexist remarks made by the BN backbenchers in parliament.
How could Heah, in her capacity as a Deputy Women Minister accept with dignity derogatory terms such as 'bocor' and other insinuating or snide remarks made by her colleagues and still say nothing to defend the rights of the women?
Reflect on the misdeeds in your own backyard first
As the publicity spokesperson for MCA, Heah should reflect on the wrong-doings of her own coalition party before trying to seek publicity.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat was initially founded on the basis of injustices stacked against the then newly-sacked former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. The party’s struggles were to restore justice to the judiciary and other branches of administration in the country.
As a party that firmly believes in upholding equality and justice, it is easy to see the difference between leaders who really fight for such values as opposed to just having the ‘dacing’ or party logo which symbolizes justice but practices otherwise.
In Parti Keadilan Rakyat, it is the spirit of reform that burns through the people’s hearts and that is the very fire that has sustained the party through the years since 1999.
True equality
It is not only Wan Azizah’s wish to see Anwar in parliament as the Permatang Pauh MP but the wishes of the rakyat as well. Anwar Ibrahim resides in the hearts of all Permatang Pauh constituents.
What can be said about Wan Azizah is that she has been, all these while, the symbol of inner strength, unity and resilience towards the unjust and unyielding government that oppresses its citizens through every known government machinery and heavy-handed methods like the ISA, detention without trial.
Wan Azizah will always remain as an icon of hope to every man and woman in the country who wishes to see change.
As the founder and president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Wan Azizah has provided optimism and courage to many women to participate in politics, a male-dominated arena. She has shown the nation that truly, behind every successful man, there is a woman. That woman behind Anwar is her, and we are proud of that.
That, Datuk Heah, is equality.
YB Zuraida Kamaruddin
Ketua Wanita Parti Keadilan Rakyat

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