Hong Kong Occupy Central Rally


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(The first night of the protest was bad with tear gas & pepper spray on the protestors and this prompted a greater support for the rally but it is not something new here. Image source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk)

Well thing for sure, my trip this time has been screwed up big time and need to be rescheduled. There’s plenty of work need to be done and the last thing I need now is for a prolonged public protest and plenty of uncertainty.

Couple of days before my departure, I managed to get my watch fixed and change the “leather” strap to the original strap that I had ordered online. Finally it was comfortable wearing my chronograph. The flight from KL was good as usual and this time, I even had plenty of space to my side, thanks to the flight not being that too full (I opted for a seat at the back and managed to lose the crowd in the process).

I was not aware of the protest and thought it will be the usual breeze reaching my apartment after I had landed in Hong Kong but thanks to a friend who had been keeping tab on the protest and the traffic situation, he managed to inform me of the latest situation and I had to ditch the idea of taking the taxi from the Hong Kong MTR station and instead had to change train to another station where the roads were not blocked and outside the protest areas. It was not easy taking the my heavy luggage bag up and down the escalators. It was even worse when doing it in a station packed like sardine (many probably missed their bus or could not get a taxi). My friend who just happened to be outside visiting another friend was also caught in the chaos and had problem getting taxi or bus. We decided to meet up at the last train station and get the taxi from there (where the queue was long as well).

As Malaysians, we are no stranger to street protest having seen Hindraf and Bersih rallies in the past but we did not cause major disruption to others’ daily routine for more than 1 day (other than perhaps, the usual police road blocks few nights before). And to ensure that we do not disrupt our weekdays too much, we usually have it on the weekends where a majority of Malaysians are happily resting at home. Getting prior notice of the expected traffic jam and road closures from the organisers and the police helps a lot too. And when it comes Monday, everything goes back to normal with hardly any evidence of the street protests on the weekend, other than on Facebook pages and blogs. For that alone, I guess we need to salute Malaysian street protestors.

In Hong Kong, the protests that crippled the financial district is coming to almost 2 weeks now and there is no definite date for the end of the protest even though everyone involved is very tired of the protest. Given the fact that some seems distrust the Government, some even saying that it will be weeks or months before things go back to normal. Bus service have been badly affected and in a country where people rely very much on public transportation to get from Point A to B, a lock down of a key road in the island has been very damaging. Some temporary arrangements have been made but the bus services have yet to come back to a more normal level.

According to the administration, top officials were still working from other locations because of safety concerns. Courier service for internal documents and office supplies remained suspended, off-site meetings were cancelled and disabled staffers were still unable to get to their workplaces.

The police reported at a press conference that at 8:45 am, there was a whopping 9-kilometer-long line of traffic backed up along the coastal highway from the piers at Central to the Shau Kei Wan area in the east.

Traffic blockages have been most acute on the Hong Kong Island, but commuters in Kowloon also suffered badly. Some were stuck in a 7-kilometer-long standstill as vehicles attempted to reach the harbour crossing. Others were stranded in a 6-kilometer traffic jam on the Mongkok-bound thoroughfare.

With 30 kilometers of heavy traffic lining up on trunk roads in the morning rush, the Transport Department concluded that traffic conditions on Monday were the worst since the protests broke out eight days ago. It warned that the situation could worsen as more businesses resume operations during the week.

(Source)

And despite the long hold up by the protestors (who mainly consists of students), there are some things that one could only see in Hong Kong (and no where else) as this compilation from BBC clearly shows:-

Doing your homework
Perhaps it isn’t actually anarchic but it is definitely one of the biggest protests in Hong Kong for years. And yet students – some of whom were at the vanguard of this movement – find time to sit down and do their homework.

Apologising for the barricade you put up
An entrance to the Causeway Bay MTR station was barricaded and emblazoned with signs shouting out for democracy. In the middle was a small cardboard sign – also written by the protesters: “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Concern for how fragrant fellow protesters are
Hong-Kong-based journalist Tom Grundy tweeted a picture of a protester proffering free shirt-fresheners. At times the temperature has been sweltering and amid the crowds things are bound to get a little bit sweaty.

Shirt freshener anyone? And while on the streets with the protesters, the BBC’s Martin Yip witnessed volunteer armies spraying people with water to keep them cool and fresh.

Keeping off the well cut grass lawn when asked by a cardboard sign
A picture on the live page of the South China Morning Post showed a sea of protesters who it noted had parted for the grass courtyard where Hong Kong’s cenotaph is located. Protesters still obeyed signs telling them to keep off the grass at the monument, putting the “civil” into civil disobedience.

“Despite the crowds around the war memorial in Central, not one person is standing or sitting on the grass. There’s a new cardboard sign over the usual sign telling people not to go on the grass,” the Hong Kong-based paper wrote.

Being the tidiest protesters on the block
The BBC’s Saira Asher reports on how diligently the protesters cleared up after themselves. “The morning is being spent mostly removing rubbish left over from last night’s huge crowd. Students are picking up cigarette butts and plastic bottles, others are distributing breakfast buns. That is why those on the street are being called ‘the politest protesters’ by some on social media.”

Recycling has also been organised by those on the streets. Many agree that the world hasn’t seen organised and tidy protests quite like this before.

There were even photos of the protestors shielding the policemen who been manning the barricades from the rain and there are also photos of the policeman helping out protestors hit by tear gas.

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(Helping each other during the protest – It is something we can deploy in the next BERSIH rally which I expect will happen before the next general elections. We had not seen any improvements in governance since the last general elections. Images: Google/AFP)

But still, continuing to protest on something that will not happen is going a bit too far.

Unlike in Malaysia, where street protests in the past had dented the creditability of the Government and had seen them losing valuable votes in the general elections, there is little that the protestors in HK can expect to achieve, more so when it is not a free country on it’s own.

Look it from the Chinese Government point of view – to accede to the protestors’ demands now would be to open the Pandora’s box and it is something that the Chinese Government is not willing to accept for the time being. The fear that once the Government gives in due to protests, it will cause similar protests in other side of China. And the those who are protesting in HK knows this all too well.

Sadly, Occupy Central is doomed to fail. The Chinese government will not accept the protesters’ demands.

Beijing has already made it clear that it views free and fair elections in Hong Kong to be a threat to one-party rule in the country. At most, it will allow Hongkongers to select one of the candidates that it pre-approves.

It has also deemed Occupy Central illegal. In other words, the Chinese Communist Party views the issue as one of its “core interests,” and it hasn’t stayed in power this long by compromising on issues that it views as threats to its survival.

(Source)

Protestors know this would be the ultimate outcome of their week long protests and it is time to end it quietly and peacefully. They have made their point loud and clear and if they hope that the Chinese Government will ponder on this, enough room must be given without pushing them to a corner, forcing them to respond with drastic measures.

Businesses have been suffering from huge losses and must be allowed to get back on their routine business before they lose more and goes  bankrupt. Some sense of normalcy must return as well. In Malaysia, we too protests passionately on what we think is the right thing to do but not to the extent it causes huge losses or inconvenience to others on a long run. And do it in a way where the Government has enough lee-way to introduces some small changes to appease the protestors without giving in too much and knowing that if not much is done, they can expect more protests and this ultimately will come to haunt them in the near future.

 

One School System Revisited


Read previous posts on the One School System & National Language:-

JMD raised something rather interesting in his post “One School System – It’s now or never

In one hand, those who desire to see a more unified and integrated society are labeled as racists while on the other hand, those who support the Chinese and Tamil schools had labeled themselves as victims. Never mind the fact that Chinese and Tamil schools are in fact, schools that were established based fundamentally and historically on racial grounds. But according to these opposition members, vernacular schools are not racist. The One School system is!

Are we racist in trying to get all our children to be together? I am sure we are not.

It is just a matter of time when we have a complete segregation of society where the two main race will not interact with one another in a lifetime. Do we really want this?

Anthony Loke must be delusional if he still wants to blame the government for not giving assistance for the students in Chinese vernacular schools to increase their proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia. But then again it is not vintage DAP if they do not blame the government for everything.

The most cost effective way is for everyone to enroll in national school where Bahasa Malaysia is the main medium of instruction.

(Read further and we may understand now why the Opposition may not be ready to run the country yet)

When my son was about embark his journey into primary school early this year, one of the tougher decision that faced me and my wife was whether we should enroll him into national school or a nearby more prominent Chinese school.

I say “tough” because the dilemma was presented to us by our family members, close relatives and family friends. Between me and wife, the decision was all too simple and easy – we already opted for national school for our kids many, many years before. After all, we too went through national school when we were young and I guess we did alright when we left school. Further, there is no other better place to learn up the national language and interaction with fellow Malaysians than in national schools.

For us, education is a matter of effort, preference and options – it does not necessary that you need to go to a Chinese or Tamil school to get good education (going to private schools will of course be another ball game but then how many ordinary Malaysians are well off to send their kids to private schools?) and in this high-tech age, it comes from Internet and other avenues as well.

So, we dismissed our relatives’ concerns and enrolled our son in a national school. When we went to his school during the first day, we noticed that in my son’s class; almost 98% of students were Malay students. We gathered that the missing non Malay students were in the nearby Chinese and Tamil schools. The remaining non Malay students in the class including my son had trouble speaking Bahasa Malaysia fluently and had to contend with speaking only English with the other fellow students and not mingle well with the rest who only spoke Bahasa Malaysia.

It looked like a problem to us and my wife even insisted on sending our son for tuition on Bahasa so that he can pick up fast and not left out on the education and interactions with fellow students and teachers. But I decided that sending our son to tuition would be a waste of time (and money) as we were sure that although he may struggle for a few months, he will pick up the language on his own. Now, he can speak and write Bahasa fairly good and get well with rest of his fellow classmates. So there is really no issue with language at national schools.

So, what is stopping us from going to the same school, learning to interact with each other and strive for the betterment of our beloved nation? Why the different schools and the sorry excuse that Bahasa Malaysia, being our national language is not important for advancement in career and further studies? Doesn’t speaking in one language means we will be more united?

Before we put the blame on cheap politics, we also need to address the concerns of the parents who still send their kids to Chinese and Tamil schools. It is not much and it is not impossible for the Government address them, considering that education system in this country forms the back bone of nation building.

What are the concerns?

1. Quality of teaching and teachers.

When we wanted our son to go to national school, the main concern raised by our relatives was the quality of teachers in national school. Some, I am afraid have not even mastered the other main language – English. Chinese school on the other hand may not have fared better (you need to master Mandarin instead) but they seems to have better teachers. They even have programs for students for the weekends and the amount of homework given may even frighten the bolder ones. When it comes to education policies in our national schools, we seem to have gone backwards with not teaching Mathematics and Science in English.

But that seems to be changing – in 2011, the Government introduced KSSR (Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah) and one of the thrust of the new curriculum which focuses on six key areas namely communication, spiritual attitude and values, humanitarianism, literacy in science and technology, physical and personal development is to produce holistic individuals

And what I have seen so far from the books and methods of teaching in Standard 1, it looks like we are on the right path. We may need to fine tune the curriculum here and there in the future but I won’t say it is worse than before. It looks in par with Chinese and Tamil schools but less stressful (excluding the stress that my son gets at home, of course)

2. Preservation of Chinese and Tamil language in schools

Frankly speaking, I don’t see how Chinese and Tamil students will lose touch of their own language by going to national schools if efforts are done to have special classes on the said language. Tamil school was my last option for my son but even after enrolled in national school, he picked up the Tamil language fairly better than the rest of us. The school has dedicated teachers for Chinese and Tamil language and the non Malay students are made to participate in these classes without any negative impact on the core syllabus and mastery of the Bahasa Malaysia and English.

But there is no point mastering Chinese and Tamil if one cannot master the national language, Bahasa Malaysia and English first. As true blood Malaysian, it is rather shameful if you are still struggling to speak and write in Bahasa long after you have left school.

As of many things in this world, when we start with something new or radical, we are going to face problems. But if that new and radical thing will ultimately solve sticky situations like racial tolerance, unity, etc, then we should strive for it. One School System is the best solution for national integration, no doubt about that – the question remains, for how long we are going to keep our national treasures, our young ones grossly segregated.

Indeed, One School System – It’s now or never…

Kids Safe Schools


(One post before the long holidays ahead – I wish everyone Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Holidays. Plenty of traveling as usual in the next days, backed by dedicated GPS navigation on my N8)

(What makes a school really safe? An old guard at the front, high walls and strict rules? Or something more?.Notice source: http://www.dhs.state.il.us)

They sure don’t make schools as how it used to be…

Whilst the “Indians” fight on the “Interlok” case (for reasons I still trying to understand, perhaps MIC want to be relevant again, perhaps it is due to Tenang, I don’t know), here is something that I read several days ago which is more serious than the “P” word:-

After only three weeks in school, Year One pupil S. Shanya, seven, dreads putting on her uniform and attending class — all because she does not want a repeat of the abusive treatment she allegedly received from a teacher last Wednesday.

It is understood Shanya received similar treatment twice before

Shanya was allegedly thumped on her head, hit on her chest and had her ears pulled because she was standing in the wrong line before going back to class after recess.

(Source: The Malay Mail)

We may have made schools safe from outsiders with security guards (albeit old pak guard), strict school rules (even parents have hard time walking in to see their kids) and high walls but what about within the school itself? Having a teacher losing his / her patience and shouting at their students is nothing new (we even have teachers who used derogatory words in the past but they were let off easy). But is it reasonable for losing it and taking it on a Standard 1 student?

I still recall when I was in Standard 1, it did not take long for the class teacher to punish some of the naughtier bunch of us with myself getting the long end of the wooden ruler on my palm but then again, it was nothing new. Punishment at home was even harsher than the one we were getting from our teachers. And to their credit, teachers do then tend to look at the other side when we were very mischief and hard to control. They need not take the cane and whack us up – not when they have a better method to punish us. All they need to do is to pass this piece of information to our parents who will not hesitate to hang us on the spot.

But that was almost 20 years ago.

Fast forward to the present time, things have changed a lot. As parents we are more concerned about our kids. If they are mischief, instead of taking the thick rotan as how our parents did, we choose to do one-to-one consultations. We worry lot about our kids even when they are at home, right under our close supervision. I lost count of the times when me and my wife shouted at my son, not to jump on the sofa and run up the staircase.

I know, perhaps it is unreasonable and may end up making our kid less resilient. Especially when our parents let us to climb tress way before we went to school and did not bother much when we fell and hurt ourselves (sometimes we get whacked due to this). It is part of learning to grow up, our parents used to say.

So, when the day came to send our kids to school, our worries on the safety of our kids continue to follow.

At the first day of school, some parents even got worried when they noticed their kids’ classroom is not the ground floor – they worry that their kids may get trampled by the bigger kids when they are going down or up the stairs or they may slip and fall down (even though they use the stairs at home all the time). They worry about their kids getting lost within the school compound, so they stay up all day long, keeping an eye on their kids from far. They worry their kids may buy the wrong things from the canteen so the parents wake up very early in the morning to prepare healthy, difficult to prepare packed lunch.

Coming to the above incident, no doubt teachers are just humans with the usual shortcomings but it is rather unprofessional of the teacher to be abusive of the Standard 1 students – they are just coming from the stage of nursery and into the age of normal schooling (some even come in without going through nursery and have been dependent on their parents for many things). At Standard 1, they are left to their own device – with their parents not standing next to them and the teacher not having the time to give that personal attention (with almost 30 students per class, there is very little the teachers can do when it comes to personal attention) – they too having a tough time at school.

No doubt it is high time for them to grow up and be more independent – it is part of cycle that everyone has to go through at one point of their life. The last thing they need is for some teacher to lose their cool and start whacking them for reasons the young Standard 1 student yet to comprehend. School must be a fun, safe place to be, not the other way around.

Read Also

Teaching Maths to Kids

Creating Safe Schools