Letter Of The Day Letter Of The Day en Why use flammable cladding?
We have stringent and high fire safety standards and fire safety requirements in the building industry. The Fire and Rescue Department in all the states regularly conducts fire safety awareness campaigns in schools and public buildings to prevent loss of life and minimise damage to property. All buildings are required to comply with the fire requirements as specified in the Uniform Building By-Laws.

The department has reported that preliminary investigations indicated the cladding on the block that caught fire did not adhere to safety regulations.

Under the Fire Services Act, designated buildings are subjected to an annual inspection by the department for a fire certification that the premises "comply with the life safety, fire prevention, fire protection and fire-fighting requirements".

Why was this issue of easily flammable cladding not detected during the annual inspection?

We need to quickly identify any short fall or mistakes and correct them to prevent a recurrence.

Inspections must be strict and buildings must comply with all requirements. The inspections must be conducted by qualified professionals including professional engineers with expertise in fire protection.

Ir Wong Chee Fui
Kuala Lumpur]]>
Letters Wed, 14 Feb 2018 08:52:01 +0000 theSundaily 526290 at
Why deport refugees?
This principle binds all countries. In March 2015, a minister declared in Parliament that the government readily complies with this principle. The minister repeated this assurance in December 2017.

Malaysia recently deported 11 Uighur to China. The repressive action against the Uighur who are a Muslim minority group is well-documented. Human Rights Watch had reported on the disappearance of a group of 20 Uighur in China, after Cambodia deported them.

Also, the deportation of Turkish academic Dr Ismet Özcelik and two others in May 2017. This was despite reports of him being recognised as a refugee.

Turkey claimed that Özcelik was affiliated with the Gülen movement, which was said to be behind an attempted coup in Turkey. Persons affiliated with the movement were purged, arrested and detained.

Has Malaysia complied with the principle of non-refoulement. Would this be a good time to reflect on how official statements have measured up to legally binding principles?

Letters Tue, 13 Feb 2018 11:09:52 +0000 theSundaily 526053 at
Unsafe cycling lanes
I have lived in Vancouver, Melbourne and Vienna. These liveable cities have dedicated cycling lanes and I often used to cycle around.

I recently decided to try the new cycling lanes in KL and I was shocked and disappointed. I have cycled in many dedicated cycling lanes but the cycling lanes in KL have got to be the worst and perhaps the most dangerous so called dedicated lanes I've ever come across.

One can't comprehend how DBKL spent RM4 million of ratepayers' money to design and build the lanes. It's awful and dangerous.

First, it's obvious the lane was not designed from a cyclist's perspective. One would have thought with RM4 million, DBKL would have built a separate proper lane but all they did was just repaint a dedicated section of busy roads and walkways and proudly proclaim it's a "dedicated cycling lane". The paint on some stretches has already faded after barely a month.

I was surprised on how DBKL can even have any logical sense to use pedestrian walkway as a cycling lane. Don't they get it? Pedestrian walkways are meant for pedestrians and not cyclists.

I saw cyclists swerving dangerously to avoid pedestrians on the walkway. Whose fault is it if an accident happens?

I was amused when I read a news report that KL MPs are proposing that the cycling lane should be shared with pedestrian walkways. With these mentality and bizarre thinking that our MPs have no wonder KL can never be a developed city.

A pedestrian walkway should be strictly for pedestrians.

The cycling lanes also overlapped on several dangerous intersections of busy roads.

Why did DBKL not plan the routes first before painting the cycling lanes? The cycling lane is too dangerous and I hope the relevant agencies will consider banning cyclists from using the lanes till the flaws are fixed.

Cities like Vancouver have a dedicated cycling lane that's built separately from pedestrian walkways or busy roads. Cyclists need not share the lanes with anyone else. That's all I'm asking DBKL. Just keep it simple.

I also suggest DBKL install bicycle locking areas at certain stretches along the cycling lanes.

Perhaps in future DBKL should hire a foreign consultant from a liveable city to advise them on how to properly build a world-class cycling lane. The current lane reflects on our "tidak apa" mentality and it's pathetic.

Subang Jaya]]>
Letters Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:52:06 +0000 theSundaily 525781 at
Welcome to mature politics
So let me shed some light on the matter – many of us in #undirosak will never vote for the government. But we will also not vote for an opposition over the flimsy excuse of being "better than BN".

As such, instead of having Bersih and even the IRF going on a fear mongering quest to scare the public over less than 20 loud people on Twitter and Facebook, maybe the opposition should just read through our politely worded requests.

There are quite a few, from ensuring housewives get a basic income to perhaps even electoral reform.

For myself, I am not going to give Pakatan Harapan my vote without a large list in their manifesto. It's not an irrational request especially since I can't take them to court if they fail – manifestos are not legally binding.

The first part is electoral reforms. Bersih chief Maria Chin Abdullah wrote a brilliant letter discussing different electoral systems as well as the "None of The Above" (Nota) vote, that the opposition should consider for their manifesto, but I would like to add two more requests in the name of democracy.

First, if any constituency has more than 60% Nota votes, the seat will remain void until a special election must be called within 60 days with different candidates. It is a clear sign that the people of that constituency don't like either candidate, thus it is up to the political parties to try again with new people.

Second, any seat in the state assembly or parliament can be subject to a recall election. Farouk Musa of the IRF believes we should give Pakatan Harapan five years to get their act together. I believe Malaysians should not have to wait five years for any member of parliament or state assemblyman to be held accountable for stupid remarks or actions.

Thus, if any constituent tells the Electoral Commission (EC) that they wish to petition for a recall election, they have 90 days to collect the signatures of 51% of the constituents to do so. If they meet the EC's scrutiny, the seat is therefore declared void and a recall election is called within 60 days of the announcement.

No more Langkah Kajang's, no more waiting five years to change leadership and elected representatives. After all, lawyers are so keen to say "justice delayed is justice denied", and we believe democracy delayed is democracy denied.

The spoiled votes campaign is pretty much a motley crew of random people who just want politics to represent them rather than continually be a lambasting session against the other side. We want a campaign that provides clarity, to have change explained down to the nitty gritty details and not be treated simply as kids with just a "do as I say" attitude.

After all, wasn't it Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin himself who said "Malaysians aren't stupid" before he was shunned by Umno?

So no, Pakatan Harapan, we are not stupid, we are not "otak rosak", we will not be swayed by emotional arguments, nor will we be swayed by just being lesser of two evils. Give us clarity, give us policies, give us a timeline for your implementation of change, and maybe, just maybe, we will give you our votes.

That decision is purely in your hands. Are we being stubborn? Are we being irrational? Are we being selfish?

Perhaps, but this is politics.

And in our democracy as it is, you either list out what we have requested or we will spoil our votes. You may still win the general election, or you may lose it, that's entirely on whether you can convince the other voters.

Welcome to mature politicking.

We will not be cowed simply because you got Bersih and the IRF to speak on your behalf. In fact, I'd personally push that you include whatever demands Bersih wants to be added into your manifesto as well.

And with this, I will now shut up in the press and just wait till your manifesto is released next week.

Hafidz Baharom
Kuala Lumpur]]>
Letters Thu, 08 Feb 2018 10:01:58 +0000 theSundaily 524997 at
Allow form 2 students to join DLP class
Besides Form 1, Form 2 is the perfect time to let students transfer to DLP class. There is no major exam in Form 2 and PT3 exam is still two years away. Students will have more than enough time to master Maths and Science in English before the PT3 exam.

Don't enforce a blanket ban on Form 2 students. At the very least transfer those who have a good command of English.

If the Education Ministry is confident that DLP is good for the country and a student's future then don't hesitate anymore. The ministry can start by instructing all secondary schools to conduct a survey among Form 2 students, to check how many of them would like to study in DLP. Then make the necessary transfer arrangements before the first school term break in March, especially in secondary schools that have both DLP and Non-DLP classes.

I hope the Education Ministry will take this issue seriously and address it urgently, and be decisive. Give every student who wants to study in DLP the opportunity to do so.

Form 2 student's parent]]>
Letters Wed, 07 Feb 2018 12:08:45 +0000 theSundaily 524676 at
Lights please at Bukit Jalil park
The lamp-posts in the park are usually lighted up and it is very popular for people to go there for their exercise, walk, jog and breathe the fresh air. Unfortunately, the past several weeks, many lamp posts were either not switched on or the bulbs had fused.

Some visitors have to bring along torchlights while walking or jogging inside the park as it is still dark at 7.30am. There have been a few incidents where joggers have stumbled in the darkness as they could not see the small hump on a pathway.

On Sunday, a senior citizen tripped on the uneven path and injured his hand, elbow and leg. Last week a young man also tripped over a pile of sand left on the road and ended up with lacerations to his chin, lips, palm and arm. All the incidents happened in the darkness before dawn.

Besides the malfunctioning lamp-posts, cracks on the paths and potholes need to be repaired. At the playground some of the outdoor gym equipment is badly in need of repairs or upgrading.

DBKL officers should investigate and take corrective measures.

K. P. Lim
Kuala Lumpur]]>
Letters Tue, 06 Feb 2018 11:14:34 +0000 theSundaily 524417 at
Hindu-Buddhist influence downplayed in History textbook
This is regarding the insufficient and inconsistent treatment on the content of the Hindu-Buddhist influences on early Malay kingdoms.

Although I was not one of the consultants for this textbook, I am academically obliged to bring to light certain flaws and possible elements of confusion in it, which then need to be addressed by the authors and the ministry.

The textbook contains 10 chapters focusing mainly on early Malay kingdoms and Malay heritages in the Malay Archipelago.

It is startling for historians like myself that the first four chapters have failed to acknowledge the historical fact that such kingdoms were heavily influenced by Hindu-Buddhist culture, which evidently characterised the period of Southeast Asian history including that of the early Malay kingdoms from around the first century BCE until the end of the 13th century.

This period in the Malay Archipelago is known as the period of proto-history, starting with the arrival of cultural influences from India.

Peter Bellwood, in his Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago, which is one of the comprehensive studies on the subject, opines that Hindu and Buddhist beliefs chiefly from India built the foundation upon which the early kingdoms were founded in the region in the latter part of the first millennium.

These beliefs, according to Bellwood, were quite certainly propagated through Hindu Brahmans and learned Buddhists; the former might have been invited by native rulers to learn how to reinforce their authority and thus legitimise their rule.

The result of which was the process of Indianisation, which George Coedes, an eminent French scholar of Southeast Asian archaeology and history, describes as one that was based upon the "Indian conception of royalty", characterised by "Hinduist and Buddhist cults" used by the rulers to divinise their kingship.

Scholars also believe that Indian influences in arts and on numerology was spread by Brahmins employed by local Malay princes on their courts. Cultural transmission in this regard also took place through traders, especially those adhering to the Buddhist religion, who travelled throughout Southeast Asia bringing with them not only trade products but also their way of life.

During this time, there emerged Hindu-Buddhist or "Indianised" polities such as Funan, Chenla and Angkor in mainland Southeast Asia and Langkasuka, Tambralinga, Tan-tan, Kedah Tua and Gangga Negara in the Malay Peninsula. Although Indianisation is clearly a crucial concept in the study of early Malay kingdoms, it has been left out in the Form 2 History Textbook.

Therefore, long before the arrival of Islam in the 15th century, the Malay states were very much influenced by the religious and cultural practices of Hindu-Buddhists.

The most important of which was the kingdom of Srivijaya from where artifacts of Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism had probably originated and some can be found in the Bujang Valley, Kedah.

These artifacts in Kedah are a crucial component of the state's history, which could stretch as far back as 1,500 years.

The spread of the Hindu-Buddhist culture in Southeast Asia is a known fact and has been highlighted by scholars in the field.

As far as the Bujang Valley is concerned, archaeologist Dr Supian Sabtu had clearly described the site as one that belonged under the Hindu-Buddhist period in many of his writings including his dissertation entitled "Zaman Hindu-Buddha di Lembah Bujang: Satu Penilaian Berdasarkan Data Arkeologi".

Further, scholars like Abdul Rahman Haji Abdullah, Mohd Dahlan Mansoer, Abu Talib Ahmad and Nik Hassan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman and many others have established an intellectual foundation in their research to corroborate the Hindu-Buddhist role in the formation of early Malay states.

However, this is not stated in the textbook and students might be misled and remain uninformed of its far-reaching influence. Although the matter is somewhat discussed from page 1 to 17 and across chapter 3 to 4 (pp 38-69) but the absence of a straightforward and precise recognition of the fact that the early Malay kingdoms had Hindu-Buddhist characteristics is baffling.

It was only on page 60 of the textbook that the authors acknowledge that the rulers were once acclaimed as god and which was the result of Hindu-Buddhist influence. If that is the case, why not clarify it from the outset on page 2?

As the textbook clearly intends to highlight the achievement of local geniuses, as it was their role that made "Indianised" features as essentially more local in character, "Indianisation" is certainly the most important prerequisite to do so.

I urge the ministry to include this fact in the first chapter of the textbook to avoid confusion.

What is even stranger is that the textbook authors do seem to refer to works done by D. G. E. Hall, Nicholas Tarling and George Coedes, all who clearly subscribe to the fact that the early Malay polities were indeed characteristically Indianised kingdoms.

In fact, the textbook authors seem to have referred to Coedes's The Indianized States of Southeast Asia in which the latter has discussed the role Indian trading settlements in Malay port cities as diffusion centres of Indian influences and facilitated by the arrival of Brahmins who brought with them literature and sacred texts from India.

The Indians, he says, probably traded gold as their chief merchandise when they lost their access to the principal source for metal in West Asia.

Although Coedes's views are criticised by scholars for failing to recognise the role of participants (local geniuses), whom the former characterises as passive recipients, it remains a general consensus among scholars that it was through trade that vital contacts were made up to the court level.

Established facts such as the historical reality of Hindu-Buddhist influences and the Indianisation process should not be tampered or deliberately downplayed. This is what has been taught in Malaysian schools ever since the 1970s until today but the present practice of distorting facts is rather worrying.

School teachers who had learnt these facts in their university days would now have to confront with misinterpreted facts. This will definitely cause confusion among teachers and they may end up doing a disservice to their profession.

I would like to reiterate again to all concerned parties to clearly establish in the Form 2 History Textbook the reality of Hindu-Buddhist influences lest downplaying the significance of pre-Malacca and pre-Islamic periods in the history of the country.

Associate Professor
Dr Sivachandralingam Sundara Raja
Department of History
University of Malaya]]>
Letters Mon, 05 Feb 2018 12:05:23 +0000 theSundaily 524131 at
Cheaper petrol without subsidies
It costs money to run a competition. Why not use the same resources to lower prices?

The controlled weekly prices should be the maximum charged. If any petrol station owner wishes to sell at a lower price, why stop them. There is no need to do so especially when the consumer benefits and it helps to reduce the rising cost of living.

Besides, the petrol station will have to offer superior service to draw more customers in addition to lower fuel prices.

Why are we restricting competition? The inefficient petrol stations will be forced out of business in a competitive environment unless they buck up.

Another way to reduce petrol prices is to allow supermarkets to sell petrol as widely practised in the UK ​where supermarkets sell almost half of all petrol sold in ​the country​.

Wouldn't it be convenient for the public to buy their groceries and then fill up their tanks after shopping in the same premises?

Supermarkets do have the incentive to sell (cheaper) petrol at a lower profit margin. After all, their core business is selling groceries and that's where their profits come from. They would not mind selling petrol at lower prices or even as a loss leader to attract more customers.

The government should seriously consider both the options to reduce the price of petrol without the need for more subsidies.

Pola Singh
Kuala Lumpur]]>
Letters Sun, 04 Feb 2018 13:02:34 +0000 theSundaily 523895 at
Caught in the middle-income trap
And pundits are raising important issues worthy of consideration by voters and those who seek election or re-election.

One that hasn't been given too much attention however is whether Malaysia actually is seeking to and wants to become a fully developed or industrialised country. Although the government has such a plan and often repeats the mantra that Malaysia is on track, the reality is different.

Malaysia is within a middle-income trap in which a country, after making good grounds in increasing standard of living and economic activity over the years, then tends to stagnate and not reach fully developed status.

This is due to the economy and economic actors being unable to properly compete with the more developed and sophisticated fully-industrialised countries.

In 2016 the World Bank listed Malaysia between Maldives and Mauritius and slightly ahead of Russia on income per capita, joining the likes of Brazil and South Africa in a similar predicament.

There are many causes and indicators of this state of affair, including reliance on existing technologies without aggressively pursuing improvements, reliance on resource and primary industries as well as rent-seeking businesses, reliance on unskilled labour – particularly foreign, mismatch of education with industry needs, the exodus of skilled workers to "greener pastures" – the brain drain, inefficiencies in the macro (economic policy) and micro (specific industry policy) economies and last but by no means least, continuing high income inequality of citizens compared with Asean countries.

Malaysia can easily be contrasted with other countries in the East and Southeast Asian regions that once were as poor or even poorer than Malaysia but have now developed to fully industrialised status such as Singapore, Hong Kong (SAR) and South Korea (listed 9th, 16th and 23rd respectively on the 2016 World Bank index of income per capita).

At the excellent Jeffrey Cheah Institute Economic Series at Sunway University last year, some of the best national and international economists discussed the future of Malaysia and their recommended solutions were clear and cogent:

» Government policy must reward and encourage innovation and research and technological development in the private and GLC sectors. Currently R&D lags at 1% of GNI but must increase to 4%.

» Productivity growth must be encouraged instead of continuing support for low-cost foreign labour.

» Education policy must be pursued to increase Malaysia as a higher performing nation and greater effort must be made to retain students/graduates tempted to find tertiary study/work off-shore.

» Labour must be given an increasing share of the national wealth. Currently it lags at 40% of GNI which is much lower than developed countries.

But having said that, it is necessary to acknowledge that high-income status is not the be all and end all either – although low-income members of the community will benefit the most as Malaysia approaches fully developed status, would anyone say that in general Singaporeans are considerably happier as a people than Malaysians?

For example in the 2006 Life Satisfaction Index Malaysia ranked 17th compared with Singapore struggling at 53rd.

And on a personal note, as a western immigrant/expat, I've always been happy to make Malaysia my second home and rarely have I considered Singapore as more attractive.

Adam Lee
Petaling Jaya]]>
Letters Sun, 04 Feb 2018 11:27:01 +0000 theSundaily 523891 at
Never too late to register to vote
About 3.8 million Malaysians had not registered to vote as at last September. Why have the largely young eligible voters not exercised their responsibility? Is it indifference? Do they see no difference between policies of the government and the opposition? Do they see no differences between the quality, performance, commitment to serve sincerely and honestly, among all politicians? Then why not register to vote for the candidates and not the parties?

There are many political leaders who are just, fair and dedicated to serve their voters. Of course there are "dirty politicians". But that does not mean that we should abdicate our sacred responsibility to register to vote or spoil our votes.

Spoiling the votes is destructive and disruptive to the election exercise.

We appeal to those who have not registered or who plan to spoil their votes to support and strengthen the electoral process and to enhance our democracy.

Please rush to the nearest post office or EC office to register.

The EC must go all out to win over those who have not registered. It could for instance:
» Employ more registrars and assistants.
» Step up its promotion campaign.
» Educate eligible voters to fulfil their duty.
» Take it as a challenge to achieve higher voter targets and less vote spoiling.
» Ensure that the independence of the EC is maintained.
» Counter the claims of gerrymandering and mal-appropriation of votes.
It's never too late to register to vote and please don't boycott the elections or spoil your vote.

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam
Asli Centre for Public Policy Studies]]>
Letters Mon, 29 Jan 2018 12:06:12 +0000 theSundaily 522461 at