Oh Dear, Tamil TV Serials!


(This post was prompted by another “duel” for the remote control on the horizon and yes, it is going to be with the same old aunty)

Read these first:-

The-Big-Bang-Theory-029

(One of the funniest and most educational TV sitcom to date – thanks to “mommy had him tested” Sheldon, who is by the way standing on the far right there – and I love every episode of it but why can’t the same winning formula be repeated in other places – places like the huge, extensive world of Indian entertainment industry where there is no short of talented, funny actors and scriptwriters? Why?  Image source: http://tvbreakroom.com)

It was a lazy Sunday evening (it was rather a very late evening) several weeks ago when I woke up from my slumber afternoon nap (with a baby in tow, afternoon naps are a luxury these days – some of you will know what I mean) and walked down downstairs where some kind of award show was on ASTRO with my grandma and my mum watching it.

It was the Sun Kudumbam Awards (if you have not heard of this, I don’t blame you) and I did not really catch the gist of the award until much later (yes, I was still in a daze from my afternoon nap) and realized that it was part of the Sun TV to award those in the TV serials “industry” in various categories. All the glitters and pompousness of a mega star studded award show with very revealing clothed dance performances was on the spot but looking at the various categories contested, it made little sense on the minds of the audience. I mean there was very little to shout for – all are TV serials with similar or overlapping story-lines and with categories like the best mother-in-law, best father-in-law and best brother-in-law, the whole award show seemed to be nothing but a well dress circus show. But still nothing happens without a sustained demand from the audience and the same happens here. The serials are there because of the demand from audience (likely to be housewives who have this for entertainment after a good day work of cleaning the house and cooking) and that is perfectly fine.

But certainly large entertainment corporation like SunTV with all it’s financial resources, creativity and talents (and a good pool of ready audience – both in India and internationally) can come up with Tamil serials on subjects other than on family problems, misery, back-stabbing, in-fighting between the in-laws and scheming, right? Just take a good look at some of the serials – see how long they drag the scene that in reality would probably take micro-seconds to complete – in the serials, they drag it to a point where it occupies the entire episode.

I saw one such nonsense some days ago – someone asking a lady if she can follow him to a place. In reality, we would have expected direct questions and answers – yes or no and perhaps why, where and when. But not in this serial! The background music somehow got more tense as the person looks at the lady in distress and the lady (as if she have committed some serious crime) looks back rather panicky and this goes on for a couple a minutes before the lady opens her mouth and asks why (even that took a couple of minutes before we got some kind of answer). Thank God, they are not doing western theme in Tamil Serials otherwise the quick duel with the pistols between 2 mean cowboys outside the bar would have been painfully long (laced with plenty of crying from the family members, emotional speeches and appearance of missing relatives at the last moment) and to a point, real cowboys would have gone back to the bar, order some root-beers and get themselves drunk like hell.

Certainty they can come up with serials that have a complete fast paced story within one episode (crying from start to end does not count here) whilst at the same time, having another bigger but slow paced story that needs one to keep up with all the episodes to know its final outcome. What they can do? What kind of TV serials that we can hope to see in the near future and where one does not need to (desperately) create award categories like best mother-in-law, best father-in-law and best brother-in-law just to keep the competition between the various serials stiff?

If they are scratching their head for a good theme, maybe they can look at these genres:-

Police & Law Enforcement

A story of a police station in a small town with colourful characters as the policemen on duty and led by a young, intelligent but inexperienced inspector. The focus of this story would be on the cases that the police station gets from the public and how the “men in blue” work their way to solve the crimes (I am sure they can pull success stories from the many police stations in the country). Added into this story are known criminals and corrupted politicians who are not happy on how close the police are getting in uncovering their criminal. The “SIDE” story in this serial would be the policemen interaction with their family. I say “side” because the last thing we want is for the family story to take the limelight and the actual policing work to be shown in the intermittent (if this is so, then we are back to square one).

Law

A story of 3 young lawyers who graduated from the same law school and are in the same law firm, each trying to impress all in their way up in civil suits to be senior partners of the firm whilst at the same time, maintaining the dignity and justice of the legal system. A good study would be made during the show on Indian legal systems, the various precedent judgements from the past court cases and perhaps suggestions to close the various loopholes in the system. It would be very highly educational for the common man to understand his rights and the implications under the law.

Paranormal

Short paranormal stories – it could be based on true story or fictional and to string all the short stories would be investigative reporter who goes around looking for paranormal incidents. One rule of thumb though – each case must start and end within the same episode and not not after 600++ episodes later. Zee TV already showing something similar (the show simply named “Fear Files“) in Hindi and it is quite good. Have something similar in Tamil and you are good to go.

Situation Comedy

It is a fact that there are way too many talented comedians in the entertainment industry so getting the right people for a situation comedy would not be so hard to do. There used to be one but it was laced with countdown to the top 10 songs for the week. They can start with something similar to The Big Bang Theory – a story of 4 bachelors who are well educated and living together in a small apartment in the city with multiple personalities including one that talks and acts like Sheldon.

Corporate Drama

A story of 2 business rivals who is trying to outdo each in business, not be scheming, backstabbing or by use of violence but rather by sound business decisions and making the right strategic moves. What are the best practices in business? How one inspires high productivity among his employees? How one deals with shortage of funds and insane call of order at the very last minute.

Farmer Story

Nothing beats seeing something very green on television – but then again, a story about a farmer means waking up early morning, a whole day nothing but hard work and putting the faith on a good weather and getting a harvest at the end of the day.

Historical Story

What was life of our ancestors or of great men & women in the early 1900s or 1800s or even BC? Wouldn’t that make an interesting story for the next generations? No special effects, no modern technology – just pure history studies. What they did for leisure? How they did their shopping and cooked their meals? What were the ancient games that the kids played when they are not busy with school or work at the fields.

Sci-Fi Story

We cannot talk about a futuristic Earth with warp speed spaceships here – I don’t think some of the housewives are ready for that yet but we can talk about an alternate reality, something along the line of women is the more pre-dominant gender and men are confined to homes to do the house chores and to cook (the housewives will love this). Or why not pick something sci-fi from Enthiran – what if the mad scientist also created other robots in secret – perhaps in form of small children.

Children Story

You don’t have to go far. Take Enid Bylton’s The Famous Five as the base of the storyline and put cute, witty kids in the key roles and you have a killer show for all generations. It has been done before and I am sure that an Indian version of it would be a hit too.

Mystery / Conspiracy Theory

Are all those in the Government aliens in disguise? Or the Government has a dark secret division which is doing out-of-world missions on a regular basis but no one knows about it (in likes of Men In Black)? Or what if someone had found something from ancient times that could change the future of mankind and they had to fend off the bad guys from getting it and use it for the wrong reasons? Yes, an Indian version of the X-Files!

At the end of the day, whilst we are fine with the entertainment side of TV serials, on a longer run it must also educate and inspire the viewer to see things from a different and positive perspective. The current (tiring) family themed TV serials are fine for its short term entertainment values but where are the long term positive points when at most of the time; it is nothing but family feuds, conspiracies and sabotage? What about family bonding, maintaining good relationship and positive inspiration? When we going to see them coming up soon on our local channels? I hope very, very soon. Viewers are getting more sophisticated and in more demands than ever (they should be – they are not paying small money for the satellite channels) and if they are not, the entertainment industry must be willing to be more innovative and realistic when it comes to making the viewers to be one.

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MIC’s Take On One School System


Oh dear, after all these years, they still clueless on why they took a hit in 2008?

(In the picture – MIC on the wrong side of the Tamil schools. No doubt Tamil schools have been the key factor when it comes to MIC and its claim that it is fighting for the community and yes, that they have helped out the schools in the past with financial assistances and others allocations but are they playing the crucial role in the next evolution of the education system in the country by looking at quality instead of quantity? Image source)

From theSun:-

Question: Why are Tamil schools so important to MIC? You yourself come from a national school and the majority of Indians are in national schools.

Answer: Tamil schools are part and parcel of Indian culture – they go to Tamil schools not only to learn Tamil, but also to learn culture and religion. If Tamil schools go away, then tradition and culture will also go.

Question: Why are young professionals shying away from MIC?

Answer: They don’t see MIC as a fun party – the president has plans to rejuvenate the party with younger representation – we have also Putra MIC for the youths. The young must be patient – MIC has only four parliamentary seats and seven state seats.

Question: Is the concept of catering to only one race not attractive?

Answer: Yes and no. But only in MIC one can write, speak and talk in Tamil – but even for non-Tamil speakers, they are not left out as some of the meetings are conducted in English and Bahasa.

Question: How has MIC been preparing for the next general election (GE), especially after the bitter defeat in 2008?

Answer: MIC has stressed that we must win back what we lost and retain those we won. We are doing everything that we can to get the numbers we had in 2004, we know it is difficult, it may not be possible. Compared with his predecessor (Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu), MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel is not much in the news. You cannot compare the two leaders. It is not easy to take up the leadership at this time especially after the bad showing in the 2008 election. His style of working is different. We are reported in the Tamil papers. Yes, it is not enough, and we have also put MIC TV available on YouTube and are also communicating with urban Tamils.

I could have just ignored the interview but there was one thing he said that made me stop in my thoughts and wonder.

I am referring to Kamalanathan’s “reason” on why we still need Tamil schools in this country. Kamalanathan is saying that without Tamil schools in this country, the tradition and culture will also go. No doubt Kamalanathan is looking from his point of view as one of the MIC’s leaders but there must be reality check somewhere there. It is important  to understand the role of the school these days. Is it to encourage and propagate tradition and culture? Or is it another means to get good education with a different language as the main base (due to students’ background and mastery of language)?

I think we need to get the priorities right – education & discipline should be confined to schools and tradition & culture (and religion) confined to temples and cultural centers (like the Temple of Fine Arts). The moment you start to mix the both, you going to get in trouble and leave room for abuse and misdirection – certainly not with young innocent minds. It is downright unfair too – what about other races who does not share the same tradition and culture, are we going to built separate schools for them? Surely they want to preserve their traditions and culture as well.

And why we are continuing to break-up the schools into various sectors and race when it is crucial to have one school, one language for all? If the concern is losing the hold of the tradition & culture, then we should relook into how we can fuse tradition and culture in our temples (we seems have too many of them) or cultural centres (and perhaps with more tradition & cultural segments on public media like TV and newspapers). There are alternatives on how we can continue to maintain the tradition and culture without going through the schools. But please, let’s keep the race, tradition, culture and religion crap out of schools.

The reason for it is rather simple – it defeats the progress to greater unity as reasoned below:-

Historically, the British built separate vernacular schools to maintain racial divide and prejudice to lord over us. It is indeed expedient and shrewd and one of the things that should have been kicked out right after Malaysia gained independence from the British if our leaders truly want to see a united Malaysia turn up without jeopardising our national language, our official religion, our monarchy and our Rukun Negara.

Vernacular schools impede national unity at the primordial stage; there is no room for vernacular school in a multi-racial society.

(Source)

And if the concern is losing the hold of the Tamil language (still remember the controversy on the extra language SPM papers?), this is because not enough attempts made to provide alternative language classes at national schools – all we need is the classes & qualified teachers in national schools (MIC can play a strong role here) and not a whole school with different emphasis, language, structure and funding. At this juncture, I must recap what OutSyed the Box said on the need to have common language (hence different schools in the same country) – it makes more sense than what Kamalanathan is trying to say:-

The time has also come where we must seriously consider merging the school system into just one school system i.e. based on Bahasa Malaysia and English only. We need to abolish the Chinese and Tamil language school system. The Chinese and Tamil language heroes say that if Chinese and Tamil schools are abolished, their language and culture will also disappear. Wrong.

There are 1.5 billion Chinese in China who will make sure that the Chinese language, culture and the Chinese people will never disappear from the face of the earth. The same argument applies for the 1.0 billion Indians in India. This however is Malaysia. It is not and cannot be China or India.

When Chinese, Indians and anyone else migrate to Australia they learn to speak English in a jiffy. No one asks for Tamil or Mandarin to be made national languages in Australia. No one sings the Waltzing Matilda in Tamil or Mandarin in Australia.

The same logic applies to Malaysia. It is high time non Malays in Malaysia learn to speak Malay like a native Malay. Getting straight As for Bahasa Malaysia in the SPM does not mean anything if you still say ‘saya api kereta naik mari’ or ‘saya naik keleta api mali sini.”

It is not cute anymore. Actually it is quite embarrassing. Please, let’s speak the language the way it should be spoken.

Now, coming back to the need for Tamil school – it is not an issue of losing tradition and culture if the Tamil schools are closed down that we need to fear of (yes, there will be some impact but not to the point where the future generations would be clueless on tradition and culture). Just look at the Indians in US and UK who are doing well in maintaining their tradition and culture despite going to a non-Indian language based schools.

There is a greater concern when a politician from a race based political party insists on preserving the Tamil schools – we fear that attempts to breakdown this segregation and forcing everyone to go to the same school and speak the language will be derailed or sabotaged by race based policies and race based political party who hold them as the trump cards to be still relevant. And this is what is happening in our education system – it has been screwed up to a point we are still having different schools in the country.

Surely there will be specific issues that will face certain communities more than others from time to time but we need to consider which one is more critical. If it is on education and national unity, let’s fight for the good of the country and not just for each others communities. Do that and you will earn our confidence and our votes in the next general elections.

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…