Saturday, September 29, 2012

Appointment of Prime Minister By Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi - The STAR

When the House has no one commanding a majority, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s discretion can change the course of the nation’s history.
OF all the constitutional functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the most critical and controversial is the appointment of the Prime Minister.
In exercising this function, His Majesty is bound by Article 43(2)(a) which imposes two requirements: the PM designate must be a member of and have the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.
Membership: Unlike in Australia where the PM can belong either to the House of Representatives or the Senate, our PM must be an MP in the Dewan Rakyat.
It is conceivable, however, that in some extreme circumstances we may follow the Douglas Home precedent from the UK.
In the 60s, Sir Alec Douglas Home, a peer in the House of Lords, was elected leader of the Conservative Party.
When his party won the elections, he resigned his peerage and was appointed PM. Soon thereafter, a vacancy was created in the Commons which he contested and won.
In Selangor in the 80s, Datuk Abu Hassan was similarly appointed Mentri Besar of Selangor even before he was elected to the State Assembly.
Confidence: The wording in Article 43(2) that the PM must be a person who, in the opinion of the monarch, enjoys the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat, creates the impression that the King has a wide, subjective discretion to anoint any MP with the premier’s post. The truth is quite different.
If there is a party or coalition enjoying an absolute majority in the Dewan Rakyat, the King has no choice but to appoint its leader as the PM.
Unlike the Constitutions of nine states with Malay Rulers where the basic law explicitly mentions that the MB must be a Malay/Muslim, the Federal Constitution imposes no requirement of race, religion or region.
However, there is a constitutional convention in favour of a Malay appointee. Conven­tions are not rules of law and this convention may face pressure in the future from a bumiputra aspirant from Sabah or Sarawak. We must remember that the two states together possess 56 parliamentary seats.
In the appointment of a PM, his support in the Dewan Negara is irrelevant. His party’s or coalition’s total popular vote at the elections does not count. It is his seats in the Dewan Rakyat that determine the King’s choice. Some factors that may trigger the King’s personal discretion are as follows:
Death or illness of the PM: If a vacancy arises in the office of the PM due to death or illness (as happened on the demise of Tun Razak in January 1976), the proper course for the monarch would be to wait for the ruling party or coalition to choose its new leader.
However, His Majesty may elevate the Deputy to the top post right away without waiting for the party leadership decision.
Lack of unanimity: If the ruling party is hopelessly divided on the choice of a leader, it is conceivable that the monarch may make a personal choice from the parliamentary party. Alternatively, as in Australia many times, the King may appoint a person from another party to hold the post temporarily till the majority party makes up its mind.

Caretaker government: Malaysia follows the British convention that the PM who advised dissolution, and his Cabinet, remains in office in a caretaker capacity without the need for a new swearing-in.
However, if during the dissolution, the PM dies or suffers serious illness, then Article 43(2) permits the Yang di-Pertuan Agong wide discretion to appoint any person who was a member of the last House of Representatives to helm the nation.
Hung Parliament: A hung Parliament is one in which no party or coalition commands an absolute majority in the House of Repre­sentatives.
The government in power can lose its majority in the House for a number of reasons. It may suffer deaths, resignations or defections causing its membership to dip below the 50% + 1 vote. Or, the general election may result in a stalemate and no party or grouping may emerge a clear victor.
In such a situation when the House has no one commanding a majority, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s discretion assumes a critical, central role and his decision can change the course of the nation’s history. What are his choices?
First, he cannot run the country on his own. That would be contrary to the overall spirit of the Constitution.
Second, His Majesty cannot order another general election after the just completed indecisive one.
The Constitution is clear in Article 55(4) that after a dissolution, the new parliament shall be summoned not later than 120 days. This means that after an election, a PM must be appointed, the House must meet, and a vote of confidence must be taken.
Third, if election results are indecisive and no majority government can be installed, the King can follow the “incumbency rule” and allow the caretaker PM to remain at the helm till Parliament is summoned within the 120 day rule.
Fourth, in some countries like Nepal the rule is that in hung Parliaments the party with the largest number of seats is given the first chance to form a coalition government.
The fifth choice for the monarch is to indulge in broad consultation with all parliamentary factions to see if any one of them can form a viable coalition government capable of enacting the budget and pushing through critical legislation.
In such a scenario it is not uncommon for the head of state to require the PM-designate to supply written lists or letters to prove his support and to subject himself to a vote of confidence within a stated period.
If no viable coalition can be cobbled together, the sixth choice for the monarch is to allow a minority government or a unity government to lead the nation till new elections are called.

This article is taken from The STAR 

Friday, September 21, 2012

#AskAnas On the Spot live tweet session

taken from STAR Ipad facebook website

Unity in diversity ; #AskAnas adds value to discourse in Twitterjaya by MICHELLE TAM 

PRINCIPLE consultant and founder of zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd, Anas Zubedy, joined us for an On The Spot session on September 15 - just one day after his company’s Malaysia Day event - and the session stretched into the day when the nation celebrates the establishment of the Malaysian Federation in 1963.

As befitting his diverse background, the marketing consultant, trainer, and author received various questions on wide-ranging themes such as unity and change, to business and politics. 

One day before the session saw Anas tweeting “Yo Every1! Tomorrow is #AskAnas - send your questions. 30 questions will be chosen for me to answer. Have fun with your questions :)”. He would later both begin and end his session with a greeting of peace.

Software developer Patrick Lum (@patricklsk), 34, stepped up to the plate as moderator and selected the top questions for Anas to answer.

Here are the highlights from the live question and answer session. Tweets are slightly edited for clarity, brevity and continuity.

As an advocate for unity in diversity, Anas received many questions relevant to his cause and with regards to Malaysian society.

‏@smellykatemoss: #AskAnas how is your concept of “bangsa malaysia” different from “malaysian malaysia”?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas It is hard to comment about Malaysian Malaysia as we do not have a document outlining what it really is. I have written various times to DAP but have yet to receive any answers. While DAP’s 1st objective points to MM, no details are given. The buku Jingga does not have a mention of the concept either. I can only base what I know from what others commented about it. If MM is to equalise the Malay culture & indigenous cultures of Sabah & Sarawak with the other cultures, it is against history & the constitution. My idea of Bangsa M’sia dances with the constitution, history & Rukun Negara. That is, the Malay & indigenous customs form the core culture of our unique M’sian brand & chinese, indian & other cultures are part & parcel & add value. It will be good if DAP or PR can together produce a Malaysian Malaysia document perhaps as a comparison with BN’s 1Malaysia so we the rakyat can compare and make our choice :)

@_charis: #AskAnas Is talking about unity / positivity enough to get a united/positve m’sia? What must happen for us to BE united in reality?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Definitely not! We need to 1) Want, 2) Believe, 3) Understand, 4) Practice & 5) Celebrate. We will not be United in every way, but we must have some form of minimum standard requirement - values that we all practice. The number 1 - 5 suggested earlier regardless of our race, location, background & religion.

@aizatroslan: #AskAnas Question: where did you get the inspiration for your unity cause? when did it start?

‏@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Naturally. It is like a call from within. Perhaps because I grew up in Penang as a minority. It started early - primary school. My reading of the Quran, having understood the universal essence of the Book, enhanced & shaped the practice of Unity giving it much depth and vocation. Furthermore, Msia can’t but build a universal child if only one allows his/her heart to flow with the goodness of the rakyat. How not to see the beauty of Unity in diversity while growing up in Penang? Malaysia? One need to be blind at heart to have missed it ... for we are Many Colours, One Race. By law, I am a Malay, but ancestry I am Malay-Arab mixed, by choice I am Malaysian, but in the heart I belong to the human race. TQ, Peace :)

As a social entrepreneur, Anas also entertained questions on business and economics.

@aafaizli: #AskAnas What is your take on the fuel subsidy (approx RM15B this year) and the car excise duty collection (approx RM7B this year)?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas I do not not agree with blanket subsidy, subsidy for fuel included. Pls read here  I am ok with the current car excise duty. I pay a big tax for my luxury car. But, tax the rich, help the poor. But that does not mean I agree with allowing our local made cars to be of poor quality. It is a separate issue altho connected.  Quality depends more than just protection. It is a culture. Many other industries are protected - why only focus on cars? The belief that free market is the way to build an industry is a big lie. Anyone who reads economic history will tell you otherwise. I have written a short article about it here

@nughol: What is your take on minimum wage policy? #AskAnas

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas It is very hard to implement without taking consideration of locality, nationality & industry. We may want to ask ... how much we should pay the foreign labourers, our own people, etc. We must ensure that we pay our workers a decent salary without killing the business. I find it hard to decide a quantum nationwide. Some businesses can afford more, some can’t. It must also tie up with productivity & minimum standard requirement.  For example, do everyone spent bulat-bulat (exactly) 8 hours doing their job or do they mengulat (Missing In Action)? So what I do is, I stop asking others to pay a min wage, but practice it at zubedy my own company. The Indonesian worker that work here is paid a local salary, we provide tuition $ for her children & arrange her housing - because she is very hard working. Business leaders perhaps want to do the same. No one policy for all is my recommendation :)

@_charis: #AskAnas How can businesses practice social duty while still keeping business goals (i.e. making best profit possible)?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas A business’s number one social duty is to make a profit within ethical means. That is a business’s most important CSR. Only when an organisation makes profit, they survive - provide jobs, product & services that make the world a better place. The number one purpose of a business org is to create customers. If they do that well, they are practicing CSR. All other CSR measures must also create customers, build the company brand & help the company makes profit. Any other reasons is going against the purpose of business, and as such is doing a disservice to mankind.

Time waits for no man: others were eager for Anas to spill the beans on what he thinks the future holds.

@CikSyuza: #AskAnas Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas At 50 ( thats 1 and 1/2 years from now) I will decide my next career options. Currently I am thinking of various options. 1) Make millions of ringgit - i.e. be focused on making $ & set new $ making business, no. 2) jump into politics & sell the politics of middle path & unity in diversity as I have been advocating, 3) focus on writing especially on religion & management. I hope by then I should be married too, people are beginning to wonder if i am straight even when I do not wear V -Necks LOL!!! So, in 5 - 10 years time … it will depend on the above :)

‏@_charis: #AskAnas Where do you see our nation, as a people, today and in the next 10, 15 years?

‏@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas in the next 10-15 years I would assume Msians will no longer be excited to support #BodohPolitik (#StupidPolitics). We would have grown up although new recruits & leaders to #BodohPolitik will continue to irritate our landscape. But, I have hope that we will be better & achieve Vision 2020. Our economy will be better, our nation smarter, our sport people will win more international competition & Tun Mahathir will still say his piece :)

As with any discussion in Malaysia, politics also entered the conversation.

@Mirafirda: #AskAnas will we have more bipartisan Malaysian or will Malaysia become a polarised society?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas I am assuming you are asking if we are going to be more polarised. Sadly, in the near future the answer is a Yes. This is because our politics has become more partisan. Many are supporting ideas/policies not based on what is right but who says it. But, I am positive that within the next few GEs, M’sians will realise this mistake & grow more mature & see that right is right, wrong is wrong, no matter who does it.

‏@kian_ong: #AskAnas How do we make people realise that we CAN disagree politically AND still work together, be friends?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Ong, this is difficult to do. Precursor to that is maturity. So we will need to wait. We need to start them young. To LA2D. LA2D is the acronym for Let’s Agree To Disagree. We produced a teen talk show with the same title a few years ago, now still being aired by RTM 2. Unfortunately, I cannot understand the logic of RTM2 airing the show at 6am in the morning LOL! When teens are still much asleep! We need to go back to the family institution, school & activities to inculcate LA2D mentality.

‏@we2020: #AskAnas CROSSROAD - if unsure who to vote, is it ok to not vote?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Not going out to vote is also a democratic right. But it would be rather a waste. So pls choose the lesser evil if we must. But if your conscience tells you not to vote any, follow it :)

‏@Phatkor: #AskAnas So you think there is sincerity in both the ruling & opposition parties in wanting to represent the people’s interest?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Yes. Both BN & PR have good people with sincerity or else our nation will not be where we are today. Remember that we are doing well but we want to be better. While there are shortcomings, we have done well. The trick is to see the facts, be balanced. Take the NEP: you can read my article here & see we have moved millions out of poverty. That can only take place with sincerity Read about our Mr Opposition, the late Tan Sri David Tan & you will clearly see sincerity: go here Although there are some of our politicians who we can consider not up to mark, many are ok. The trick is to ensure we do not vote those who practice #BodohPolitik (#StupidPolitics) in the next GE. Vote only sincere ones in, kick the nonsensical ones out; regardless of political party :)

Many tweeters sought his thoughts on all things to do with learning and education.

‏@aafaizli: #AskAnas Will 1School for all races that offer all required subject (language, religion) for all can be realistically implemented in Malaysia?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas POSSIBLE, but without forcing the closure of the current vernacular/agama (religion) schools & at the same time making sure better quality 1School. Parents look for quality education that ensures their kids have a good future - both here & the hereafter :) If Tamil schools can offer that better than the Chinese ones, Chinese parents will flock their children there. The way to get there is serious focus in making 1SCHOOL the school of choice: Best People, Process & Structure for schools. Pay the best people to teach in 1SCHOOL, be fair to all students, active parent engagement, holistic approach etc.  I dream to see this happen in my lifetime :)

@nughol: What is the most important thing that can be improved on our current education system? #AskAnas

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas If we need & can only choose one and only one way to improve our education system, I suggest we focus on getting the best TEACHERS! A really good teacher with heart, mind & soul in his/her job will make do with whatever situation & give the best. Students cannot but love learning, studying & being their best when they have the best of teachers. We should focus here :)

@aafaizli: #AskAnas What is the best to promote and ingrain reading and writing culture among Malaysians? Do you agree we need more concerned citizens?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas I have written an article entitled ‘Instead of the keris, use a book’ it is worth reading here Yes, we should be VERY concerned about reading & writing. Here are some ideas (besides the ones in the article earlier). Reading should be part of all our KPI at work. All management staff must at least read Peter Drucker’s idea, here are some samples. Sample 1, what makes an effective executive - Sample 2 ‘managing oneself’: We must make a national culture and set 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm daily except Saturdays as reading and studying time :) Muslim leaders must add READING as one of the pillars of Islam as it is ironic that the 1st word delivered to the Prophet is to ‘Read’. Find ways to make books cheaper by relooking into the publishing business in total. Build comfy, cool & safe reading corners all over the country. Corp org must also play an active role. So many more ... but will stop here :)

@cheongchew: #AskAnas Polarized society, whose fault? Is it racial based political parties or vernacular school?

‏@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas We are polarised for many reasons, not just those two. However, I do see the current race/religious based parties while is pragmatic at this time, but a major contributor to d problem. Because politics do define society. How we organise our politics will have direct impact on the rakyat. Best we nudge slowly away from such politics. But the rakyat must WANT it. As for vernacular/agama (religion) schools etc - segregating our kids at such an early age does not help either. Many still socialise in silo. But we must not make a mistake by saying such schools promote polarization e.g. many do not know that a big portion of teachers in Chinese vernacular schools are non-Chinese. The problem is socialization. We need to get our kids to mix, play, quarrel etc and learn to deal with each other as early as possible :)

In one answer, Anas also revealed himself to be a devoted Trekkie or Star Trek fan!

‏@aafaizli: #AskAnas do you agree to promote Unity we should have more common restaurants versus current Chinese, Malay, Mamak and Indian ones?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Anas, i like your name LOL! No bro. We want Unity in diversity, not to wipe out ethnicity. In fact that is our unique brand. It is important that while we move towards Bangsa Malaysia we must remember that all the various races are part of the larger brand. We must not even lose a culture from a small tribe in Sabah or Sarawak in our quest for 1Malaysia. I recommend all to watch Star Trek. Captain Picard will mati-mati (to the death) defend the rights of a culture even if he has to lose his position - check out

Anas also revealed a little-known facet of himself in the following exchange.

@dean_armora: I’d also like to #AskAnas his take on the claim that Malaysia is safe. Is the fear that it isn’t valid or just a perception?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Yes, Malaysia is safe. We are blessed with a home that does not face major calamities like earthquakes, living volcanoes, etc. The only way we can screw things up, is when we do it ourselves. As for crime, I trust Idris Jala to tell the truth plus minus 5 % margin of error with his stats. But social media helps highlight cases. So our awareness of crime is much higher. We need to deal with our own anxiety. As I am a ‘victim’ of anxiety disorder who has managed to deal with the problem of panic attack the last 9 years, I feel the country as a whole has to learn to deal with a national level anxiety disorder. Simply put it, our mind magnify the problem more than it is. Our mind is our own enemy. That does not mean crime is not real. But, the mind exaggerates - you need to be aware of it. Here is a wiki link Perhaps we may need a ‘ISN - Institut Shrink Negara’ LOL ! But seriously fear can breed fear itself. Be aware :)

The session was not short on fun questions as well.

@Aisehman: #AskAnasThat stick figure in your ads. Who drew it?

‏@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas I drew it back in 1994. That is the best I can do LOL! I am a writer but not an artist. But the zubedy stickman has a story to it :) 1) It was based on my stickman drawing about Somalia - people dying in drought & poverty. Many liked the drawings. so when I set up a company, I just incorporate the style into a logo :)

@cheongchew: #AskAnas Among present living local politicians, who can you trust with your life?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas CCC, do not trust anyone with your life be they politicians or otherwise. Only trust yourself, those who love you unconditionally, a very good doctor or lawyer when your life depends on them and GOD :)

‏@nughol: What is a life of contentment to you? #AskAnas

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas I am one of those who is likely not to retire till the day I die. There will be always something to do. Contentment is a work in progress, one contentment will breed another. It is the feeling of contentment that makes you move forward. When we do a good job and work hard, we can relax with contentment. That is the ability to do nothing & not feel guilty. That is a gift that I profusely thank to God :)

The subject of change was on quite a few minds.

‏@janet7gc: #AskAnas How extensive an organisation transformation got to be to form a group of change agent?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas any transformation program must be holistic that covers People, Structure -administration, Empowerment-decision making & Unity systems. It is not enough to have a group of change agents. That is a misunderstanding. All key personnel must be in it eventually. As time, plan to slowly but surely convert the entire group of stakeholders must be organised & followed through. A popular approach is to use the law of Diffusion of Innovation as a rough guide go here A good place to hear an explanation can be found in this video A change initiative has lots of things to do but must cover the following five. 1) change is knowledge/skills, 2) change in attitude 3) change in behaviour, 4) change in group behavior and 5) the awareness to all the above. A good book to read is by Daryl R Conner go here

@ellifamira: What do you think is the wisest way to gain faith from nowadays generation in our nation again? They don’t seem to care. #AskAnas

‏@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas The younger generation is different in a way that many are not confined to a nation state. They are larger in their perspective. For most of them, the global world is their playground - may not be physically, but via modern communications - like the internet. They have the choice of throwing their interest in more places. That is ok. We are, at the end of the day, children of the earth.  However, if we want to get their interest, we must listen to them & try to bridge the old & d new. To make them care, we must care more.

“Thank you for the experience. I like the idea that The Star is up to date with new media – blending the old and the new media in a cool fashion. Hope more of such efforts will be forthcoming,” said Anas after the four-hour tweet session. 

As he had a very busy week, he found the most challenging part of #AskAnas being the lack of time to prepare, and noted that it would be good if he had time before it began to ponder upon the questions! 
Thankfully, he still enjoyed himself, as he “got to respond to important issues affecting the nation via new media and eat satay in between questions”.

Anas finds the On The Spot sessions “a great initiative that adds depth in Twitterjaya (TJ). It will be good to have more of such initiatives”. 

The 48-year-old also suggested increasing the connection between The Star and Twitterjaya by encouraging readers - who are not yet part of the local Twitter scene - to set up an account and participate, and conducting more prominent communication within and outside Twitterjaya about the sessions, as it would benefit both the nation and the paper.

With regards to the queries received, Anas said he would be happier if there were more questions about business, religion, change, management, marketing, and Gen Y issues, among others, as “most of the topics need more discussion – a real forum perhaps”.

As most Malaysians know of Anas and his company through their muhibbah advertisements, I asked him to share on the subject. 

“Our most recent advert, on September 14 – our Hari Malaysia advert - chats about leadership. At zubedy, we try hard to make our advertising message current yet universal. So the topics we choose deal with current affairs but offer solutions that are based on timeless core values,” he said. 

“We try to be the bridge builder between opposing segments to find shared values that we all can agree with. Our #SaySomethingNice campaign seeks to bring extreme politics to a more balanced approach. To cut down the exaggerations and the noise and see things as they are.”

What goes into the creation of each advert?

“We have a team of people working on the adverts. We identify the message, brainstorm, research, and write the final copy. One of the key elements is to choose the right ‘hero’ from history that can represent our message – someone who lived a life that embodies the message,” said Anas. 

“The next advert will be for Deepavali. We will be continuing with the ‘Choose the Middle Path’ theme, where we will chat about how to take Middle Path action,” he added. 

As for the year ahead, many developments are afoot for Anas and team, with interesting projects for 2013 already being outlined: among them are books, campaigns, and GOYFU (Gathering of Youth for Unity), to name a few.

“Next year, we are planning to prepare a bigger action plan for the #SaySomethingNice campaign. We hope to target and reach 50 bloggers, two news daily each from old and new media, hundreds of other opinion makers, and one million Malaysians,” said the passionate social entrepreneur.

The Hari Malaysia celebration hosted by zubedy on September 14 also acted as the culmination of their #SaySomethingNice campaign, which was launched on August 31, 2012. The 12-year-old event, which first began in 2001, featured a traditional kukur kelapa (coconut scraping) demonstration and special performances. Also present was delicious rojak and cendol, in accordance to the event’s theme, which served as a reminder of how even life’s simplest things - like the food we love - can and has always brought us together in unity. 

As for future On The Spot sessions, Anas would like Dr G. Bala of the Planet of The Monyet blog to take part and say his piece.

Anas also echoed his answer to a question by @suffianrk - who enquired about the first thing he’d do if he was Prime Minister of Malaysia - as his parting words.

His answer was: “Fervently and constantly ask God for guidance to be able to lead with love, logic and wisdom.”

As to why: “May all of us guide ourselves with love, logic and wisdom. Love, because love makes us fair with our hearts; Logic, because logic makes us fair with our minds; and Wisdom, because wisdom leads us to combine our love and logic in the way of God and for the benefit of Mankind.”

The next On The Spot session is #AskCIJ with Masjaliza Hamzah, executive officer of the Centre for Independent Journalism, at 11am on September 21.

Other upcoming personalities include RandomAlphabets’ Zain HD, the Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah, and journalist and social media enthusiast Niki Cheong.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

#SaySomethingNice - Malaysian architecture

A true melting pot, our Malaysian culture has assimilated influences both from the East and West. The mixture of these different entities is eminent in our food, the way we dress, the way we communicate, and certainly, our buildings. Although we have the traditional Malay house, our streets and kampongs are entrenched with Arabian, European, Indian, and other types of architecture.

Astaka Morrocco, Putrajaya
With a large portion of Malaysians being Muslims, it is only natural that we are able to see strong influences from the Middle East in our buildings. Mosques all over the country incorporate the traditional and modern Islamic designs such as the dome, the minarets, and the arches. The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia is an epitome of such beauty. The influences of Islamic architecture come from cultures such as Moroccan, Persian, and North Indian.

Minangkabau House
The Minangkabau house, or rumah gadang, is a unique architectural splendor that originates from Sumatera, Indonesia. Dominantly seen in Negeri Sembilan where the Minangkabaus mostly reside in, the rumah gadang is quickly recognized by its dramatic, upsweeping gables that form horn-like ends.

Old architecture influenced by the Chinese architecture
 with European Characteristics.
The streets of Malacca and Penang are embedded with rows of town houses, constructed during the Dutch Colonial period. The town house bears designs from the Doric and Corinthian in its columns and pillars, Venetian windows, and European solid shutters. These town houses were modeled from the Chinese architecture, with European characteristics.

KL shop houses 
Kuala Lumpur itself endorses strong European traits when the Chinese tin-miners migrated there in 1850s. The tin-miners adopted the houses from Malacca and Penang, using similar styles of European architecture. The Kuala Lumpur shop houses were 3-storey high with large single wooden beams and held up by heavy pillars. Utilitarian and neo-classical designs from Europe form the shop houses of Kuala Lumpur.

From said influences and many more, our architecture has bred into inimitable structural designs such as the Chinese Baroque, Chitya Indian Vernacular, Colonial, and right into our modern styles. And I say, this is one of the nice things we Malaysians have.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

#SaySomethingNice - Brain Gain

In improving our seemingly lacklustre education system, which is accused of hampering the development of exceptional human capital, The National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 was recently announced.

The blueprint has many supporters and detractors. Some claim it to be the right push in the right decision. And there are also those who pointed out its shortcomings like the lack of emphasis on the PPSMI issue and the trend of flip-flopping between policies.

But in the spirit of being positive and saying nice things, let us have a look at some of the best that our education system has produced.

Nur Amalina Che Bakri, a student of the University of Edinburgh, has for instance proved her worth in the field of medicine and was recently given the honour of being one of the presenters in the British Gynaecological Cancer Society Annual Meeting.

Dhruva Murugasu, who studied Economics at the University of Cambridge, was the top student in his faculty for three consecutive years. On top of that, he is also the proud winner of the Adam Smith Prize. Previous winners include big names like John Maynard Keynes, Amartya Sen and India’s current Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

Several years back in 2005, Najmil Faiz Mohamed Aris was given the opportunity to present his studies in nano technology to the British Parliament. And his research has also won the Best Research of Good Prospect award.

All of them most definitely have done us proud. Their brilliant minds are truly things to be proud of. All we need now is to make sure these gifted minds keep making us proud and keep contributing to the country.

Our education system, while in many ways flawed, does still produce quality students who have made a name for themselves as well as for the country.

And I say, this is one of the nice things about Malaysians. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

#SaySomethingNice - Record-breaking food.

As a young nation of 57 years old, we have quite a few things to be corrected, but there is one thing we Malaysians always do it right – food. In the Malaysia Book Of Record, among many feats such conquering the Mount Everest and a sprinter who broke the World Record twice in a day, we also have Malaysians making big food that could literally feed a giant. Here are some of my favorites.

Longest Pizza
In 2006, Rajesh Kanna with six assistant chefs of the Westin Hotel set the record for the longest pizza in Malaysia. Measuring at 157 meters, the pizza was actually a record-breaker for their previously longest Malaysian pizza at 83 meters. The current longest pizza in Malaysia took 5 hours to cook, with 150 kg of flour, 105 kg of mozzarella, and 70 liters of tomato sauce. The pizzas were rectangular and cooked through a conveyor oven, were lined up on the tables were they fused with blowtorches to cover each seam. The longest pizza was then sold to the watching crowd and the proceeds went to charity. 

In the same year, 200 KPJ Ipoh employees rolled 18,000 spring rolls. They took 3 hours to complete the unbelievable deed, where the rolls were again lined up on tables. The total length of the spring rolls was 2,000, to emulate the length of Sultan Azlan Shah Airport runway, although the spring roll formation could not be laid in a single line as it would have been impractical.

Bubur Lambuk

Another tasty addition to Malaysia Book of Records is Masjid Jamek Kg. Baru’s Bubur Lambuk. In Ramadhan 2005, 120 large pots of it were cooked, making it the largest amount of bubur cooked in one sitting ever. This Bubur Lambak affair epitomizes Malay’s gotong-royong culture, I think,

Roti John
January 2011 saw the making of Malaysia’s longest Roti John. Carrefour Sri Petaling participated under the Malaysia Book of Records Project. The project was held to raise funds for a Cheras orphanage, Rumah Bodhi. The famous line formation was again used to achieve this; the breads were spread in 2 linear lines measuring 
to 200 meters. To celebrate their effort, the organizer made kids from the orphanage perform a traditional drumming number.

Kuih Apam
Another Malaysian favorite kuih was made the main ingredient of another national food record. In January 2010, 200 Hospitality and Culinary Art students of PTPL College baked 30,000 kuih apam and used them to form the 1Malaysia logo. The students spent two days baking. Another 4 hours were spent arranging all the kuih apam in the middle of an open field under the hot sun, and their effort proved worthwhile as they are now in the Malaysia Book of Record. At least these youngsters have something different to boast about to their               friends.

You know how people always say, “Go hard or go home”? We are certainly not “going home” when it comes to our food. We love our food in a big, and of course, long way.

And I say, this is one of the nice things we Malaysians do. 

Azmi Khalid ; A revered man of human rights.

Azmi Khalid was a strong advocate of human rights during his lifetime, and was one of Aliran’s right arms. He was born into a family of ten, and spent most of his childhood in Melaka. Educated partially at Sultan Abdul Hamid College in Alor Star and later the Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur, Azmi went on to pursue his legal studies at the London School of Economics (LSE) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Upon his return, Azmi joined the Faculty of Law at Universiti Malaya and began his teaching career in the area of Public International Law and Constitutional Law. He, among others, paved the way for human rights courses at UM. His passion concerning human rights stretched over his teaching where in 1975 he attempted to register a human rights society, Persatuan Hak Asasi Kebangsaan Malaysia (HAKAM) — a society which was eventually registered in August 1990.
Meanwhile, Azmi joined Aliran in 1978. Azmi introduced the column “Human Rights Round-up” in the Aliran’s Quarterly where he wrote many articles about human rights issue and partook in human rights seminars for many years. Azmi’s vigorous involvement lead to many changes in the country’s human rights course, such as the amendments to the Societies Act in 198, which was also a turning point for Aliran. During the Operation Lalang in 1982, Azmi managed to secure the release of some detainees through applications of the writ of habeas corpus, although his health was already declining.

Before passing away at the age of 42 in 1992 from a fatal disease, Azmi Khalid had to slow down his involvement, but not his conviction. Azmi’s passion poured onto others whose lives he had touched, such as his students who have grown to become lawyers with a deep sense of social responsibility. Azmi Khalid is remembered by his family and friends as a loving and dedicated husband, father, comrade, and teacher.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Have a Meaningful Hari Malaysia - tomorrow in The STAR

Azmi Khalid (1949 – 1992); 
an unsung hero in our land, with quiet courage and sincere purpose, who strived to make Malaysia a better place. 

Choose the middle path:  Leadership that is firm, gentle, and berbudi bahasa.

We have been blessed with good leaders since Merdeka 1957 and the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Our leaders have been firm, gentle, and berbudi bahasa.

As our nation moves into the future, we will experience changes and face new challenges. We will need to interact with new situations. Our leadership beliefs will be tested. It is important that when we deal with these, we do not forget the importance of a well-balanced leadership. We cannot compromise the firmness to make things happen, the gentleness to cushion the pain, and our budi bahasa to keep our nation grounded.

Azmi Khalid was an embodiment of a well-balanced leadership. Passionate in fighting for his cause, cultured in his manners, firm with his goal, yet gentle in his methods.

Let us develop leaders;

Who do not claim that God is on their side, but are always on God’s side.

Who respect and uphold the Constitution; able to breathe new spirit through it without compromising its essence.

Who know how to balance between profit and the need for social responsibility.

Who do not compromise the future for short-term gains; the means to achieve the end.

Who can stretch our limits, but won’t kill us in the process.

Who can reflect and practice the power of doubt.

Who are able to define reality and do a genuine situation analysis, and not one who syok sendiri.
Who see wrong as wrong, and right as right, regardless of who does it.

Whose visions do not outpace our capacity to take action.

Leaders set the tone of a country, an organization, and a family. It is vital that we agree on what is good leadership. The young generation models the leaders and emulates what the leaders do or say. Transference then takes place and the chain reaction is reinforced. If our leaders portray unfavorable leadership conducts, their followers will act accordingly.

Let us continue our leadership heritage of being firm, gentle, and berbudi bahasa. And as we ask our leaders to be of the best example, we too must expect the same from ourselves.

At zubedy, our programs draw strength from shared values and traditions. We believe that at heart, all Malaysians want good things for themselves and for their brother and sister Malaysians, simply because our nation cannot prosper as a whole if some of us are left behind.

Let us be first and foremost Malaysians.

Let us add value,
Have A Meaningful Hari Malaysia.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

#SaySomethingNice - Cartoons

While we gawk at Hollywood CGI and animation movies such as Tranformers, Avatar, Thor, and the Final Fantasy installments, let’s not forget that we are not doing too bad ourselves. Of the past 4 years, Malaysians have produced animation movies and animated TV series such as Supa Strikas, Upin & Ipin, Boboi Boy, and Bola Kampung.

The most recently released animation feature, SeeFood, is actually a third of its Malaysian kind. The other two being Geng: The Adventure Begins and Bala Bowl. SeeFood has received warm response internationally, where it has secured multiple distribution deals that is worth over USD 2 million.

Local animation houses such as Animasia, Les’ Copaque, and Shock3D are leading the animation industry but releasing the movies and animated series, and many Malaysians such as I, are proud of this achievement. Our own powerhouse in CGI movies, KRU Studios, who have been using CGI effects in their movies such as Cicakman and Merong Mahawangsa, are doing their own bits to elevate the industry. KRU Studios offer scholarship programs for those are passionate to pursue a career in the industry. 

We were ecstatic when Lat’s Kampung Boy came to our television in 1997, and Malaysians are just as proud with our current animation innovation. Others have criticized these local products of, well, being “local”, but I say; let’s take one step at a time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

#SaySomethingNice – Our Gunung and Parks

Unesco has named 4 sites in Malaysia as World Heritages, and Gunung Mulu National Park is one of them. Lesser known than its counterparts; Taman Negara or Endau Rompin National Parks, Gunung Mulu National Park is a Bornean wonder.

Gunung Mulu National Park has been found to be the habitat of eight species of hornbills including the Sarawak state emblem, the White-crowned Hornbill. The only bear known in South-East Asia, the Malaysian sun bear, has been spotted. Also, twenty seven bat species, the bearded pigs, shrews, tarsiers, macaques, squirrels, and three types of deer have been identified as inhabitants of the national park.

The park resides the biggest natural cave chamber, named Sarawak Chamber. The formation of the limestone chamber is so huge that it can fit in around 40 Boeing 747s. Nearby there is the Deer Cave, which has been regarded as having the largest single cave passage in the world for many years.

Named after the adjacent Mount Mulu, the national park is famous for its limestone karts formation. 2377 meters in sandstone height, Gunung Mulu features are gargantuan caves, cave networks, rock pinnacles, cliffs, and gorges. Regarded as a world’s wonder, in 1977, 100 scientists from the Royal Geographical Society of Britain spent 15 months there on their field research.