Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mohd Zaidi - siapa?

In the newspaper yesterday. Does anyone know who is he? Never seen him before, although information from the paper, he lives just 2km away at most.

Click on the picture to read the paper.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Impending Economic and Food Crisis; what are we doing about it IV

gambar dirembat dari orang punya flickr site.

When I was a kid, my late grandmother Ros told me that people who lives in the hilly country where she came from, Java, Indonesia ate maize meal, not rice. Because they dont grow rice.
Now it makes sense. Rice is not cheap, and not everyone can afford it.

My late Grandma Ros had a plot of rice field in our village. When she was able, she never failed to go to her sawah. She like that rice variety called Malinja, because it tasted better than other varieties. She also have a small section set aside for late maturing pulut (sweet rice), the black and white variety.
Pulut white, she cooked for breakfast, eaten with hot coconut milk or roasted coconut. High cholesterol diet, but we worked hard back in the old days, by 10am you will be hungry if you work in the rice field, especially during harvest.
Pulut black, she set aside to make tapai and wajik (that sweet rice cake) that you get at kenduri kahwin. Tapai pulut and wajik were sweet treats indeed.
These days we cant grow pulut because they take about 6 months to mature, when rice season nowadays is only 4 months, so we bought them at the shop if we need them.

She had the padi stored in a hut next to her house, it was at least 2 meters from the ground, and not connected to any other building or tree, to deter rats. The surplus rice would sold to the farmers cooperative. She always dry her padi in her yard (halaman) before selling.
I remember my Uncle Mustakim complained that when the padi is dried, it weigh less. My Grandma lose money because of this, because the farmers cooperative deduct a percentage for wet padi.

My father dont have a rice field. But some years he made an arrangement with my auntie who owns 1.5 acres of rice land to work the season and get half of the harvest. So I also have the experience helping my father grew rice and harvesting. Most of the time my father just buy rice at the shop. We supplement our rice needs with ubikayu (tapioca), corn, keledek, keladi breadfruit and bananas.

Now that the nation cannot get enough rice at cheap price, I dont see why we could not supplement our rice requirement with tapioca, potatoes, corn, keledek, keladi and bananas. Those plants doesnt use much water like rice does.

READ THIS report in Malaysiakini of suggestion by ISIS director general that we should diversify our food. BUT the key here is PRICE.

No point asking Malaysians to diversify their food intake if the price of alternatives are much higher than rice.

SO instead of begging other nations to barter their rice with our palm oil, we should make contingency plan to grow corn, potatoes, keledek, bananas and what ever else on our idle lands. Corn and potatoes only take 3 months to mature. Keledek only takes 6 months.

The time to act is now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The impending economic and food crisis; what are we doing about it III

Title: The impending economic and food crisis; what are we doing about it III

So far as I can see, our Govt hasn’t done anything much. I suppose the PM is aware that this might sink the BN Govt. Yes PM has made statement that stockpiling food is priority and takes precedent to development.

That is the reason why some projects has been shelved, like the second Penang bridge and the development corridors. No, it hasn’t register to average Malaysians that price hike in fuel and food might be serious enough that we should start make some lifestyle changes.

To me, the answer to this food scarcity problem lies in the economics of food itself. Scarcity will result in price increase that is basic. The Prophet forbids Muslims from hoarding food during the time of scarcity, to profit from price increase. But did the prophet prescribe price control? Absolutely not. Instead the Prophet introduces the principle of sharing, and piety however little food we have.

So we should let the price of rice, flour, sugar and bread increase, because we will reduce consumption of these staple foods and replace them with other types of food, like tapioca, yam, bananas and breadfruit. Higher prices will encourage farmers to work on their lands. We all know that there are thousands of acres of idle lands in Peninsula not counting Sabah and Sarawak.
Previously, rice farming was not profitable. I know, I came from rice farming village in Tanjong Karang. The price of padi paid to the farmers is too low that it was not that profitable to grow padi. So if the price of rice is high, more farmers would work on their land to produce more rice for the nation. Idle lands would be used to grow corn, tapioca, bananas and yam to supplement our rice requirement.
So in the long term we would be self sufficient in our food supply.

What about short term? How would poor urban dwellers cope with inflation and savage price increases in food, transportation and other costs? As Pakatan Rakyat manifesto before PRU12, I support their suggestion for cash grants to low income Malaysian using profit money from Petronas, say at RM1000 per month per household, depending on how many in the family. We should also have minimum wage of RM900 per month for every worker with RM300 cost of living allowance as suggested by MTUC. Then low income household might be able to cope with price increases if price of goods and services is uncontrolled.

Let the market find the equilibrium in prices of goods, but we must also fairly compensate the low income earners. What this actually do is reduce the gap in purchasing power among us.

Petrol subsidy? Remove it. We could use the money to finance the cash grant above. People could make better decision if they are given money instead of consumption subsidy like the petrol subsidy. Some people might spend the cash grant to buy petrol, but some people might be better of cycling to work and save the money for other stuff.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Impending Economic and Food Crisis; what are we doing about it II

Without doubt, the problem is global. And we are just a small nation.

On the global scale, United Nation and super powers has to take lead.

Here is what Jeffrey Sach wrote in Time Magazine


I shall reproduce here;

How to End the Global Food Shortage
Thursday, Apr. 24, 2008 By JEFFREY D. SACHS Hands holding wheat seeds.
Article ToolsPrintEmailReprintsSphereAddThisRSSYahoo! Buzz The world economy has run into a brick wall. Despite countless warnings in recent years about the need to address a looming hunger crisis in poor countries and a looming energy crisis worldwide, world leaders failed to think ahead. The result is a global food crisis. Wheat, corn and rice prices have more than doubled in the past two years, and oil prices have more than tripled since the start of 2004. These food-price increases combined with soaring energy costs will slow if not stop economic growth in many parts of the world and will even undermine political stability, as evidenced by the protest riots that have erupted in places like Haiti, Bangladesh and Burkina Faso. Practical solutions to these growing woes do exist, but we'll have to start thinking ahead and acting globally.

The crisis has its roots in four interlinked trends. The first is the chronically low productivity of farmers in the poorest countries, caused by their inability to pay for seeds, fertilizers and irrigation. The second is the misguided policy in the U.S. and Europe of subsidizing the diversion of food crops to produce biofuels like corn-based ethanol. The third is climate change; take the recent droughts in Australia and Europe, which cut the global production of grain in 2005 and '06. The fourth is the growing global demand for food and feed grains brought on by swelling populations and incomes. In short, rising demand has hit a limited supply, with the poor taking the hardest blow.

So, what should be done? Here are three steps to ease the current crisis and avert the potential for a global disaster. The first is to scale-up the dramatic success of Malawi, a famine-prone country in southern Africa, which three years ago established a special fund to help its farmers get fertilizer and high-yield seeds. Malawi's harvest doubled after just one year. An international fund based on the Malawi model would cost a mere $10 per person annually in the rich world, or $10 billion in all. Such a fund could fight hunger as effectively as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is controlling those diseases.

Second, the U.S. and Europe should abandon their policies of subsidizing the conversion of food into biofuels. The U.S. government gives farmers a taxpayer-financed subsidy of 51¢ per gal. of ethanol to divert corn from the food and feed-grain supply. There may be a case for biofuels produced on lands that do not produce foods--tree crops (like palm oil), grasses and wood products--but there's no case for doling out subsidies to put the world's dinner into the gas tank.

Third, we urgently need to weatherproof the world's crops as soon and as effectively as possible. For a poor farmer, sometimes something as simple as a farm pond--which collects rainwater to be used for emergency irrigation in a dry spell--can make the difference between a bountiful crop and a famine. The world has already committed to establishing a Climate Adaptation Fund to help poor regions climate-proof vital economic activities such as food production and health care but has not yet acted upon the promise.

What is true for food will be true for energy, water and other increasingly scarce resources. We can combat these problems--as long as we act rapidly. New energy sources like solar thermal power and new energy-saving technologies like plug-in hybrid automobiles can be developed and mobilized within a few years. Environmentally sound fish-farming can relieve pressures on the oceans. The food crisis provides not only a warning but also an opportunity. We need to invest vastly more in sustainable development in order to achieve true global security and economic growth.

And here is from BBC,

Is setting up Task Force to address this issue enough?


Time Magazine running a Poll; Should USA INVADE Myanmar?

I wrote this in one of my previous posting a couple of days ago.


I have just checked TIME magazine website, they are running a poll;

Should USA INVADE Myanmar to distribute aids?

I would vote yes, but apparently most USA voters voted NO.

You can vote HERE.

The Impending Economic and Food Crisis; what are we doing about it.

The headline says, PM: Krisis Makanan Boleh Tumbangkan Kerajaan.
And that the Govt is discussing the issue.


So what are we going to do about it? Let me post what others have to say first.

A Malaysian in London wrote this short summary:

1. The current inflation and food crisis is a phenomenon that extends well beyond M'sia. What the gov should do is to provide subsidies, rebates and even outright cash to those in need.

2. But not surprisingly we can't do this. Why? Because we have been operating on a national budget deficit for some time now; this means the gov is already spending more than it collects from taxes etc. How come? Because Malaysia's economy is not really that healthy which means less money coming in from taxes and gov is wasting money through unnecessary projects, corruption and bad planning. How bad is Malaysia's economy? Some simple numbers: when I graduated from UM in 1996, my first salary was RM2,400 and a plate of nasi ayam around RM2.20. Today, a fresh grad gets around RM2,200 but nasi ayam is at least RM3.50. In 1996, one USD = around RM2.50, now one USD = RM3.20. Is this progress?

What are the immediate options? We can dip into our foreign reserves which stands at a healthy USD120 billion now. Bank Negara is actually doing a reasonably good job on the investment front. But spending our national savings now means less money for our children and our children's children. For the long term, we need to grow our economy to get more taxes. But how? Our education system really sucks now which means our students will not be competitive in terms of knowledge and skills and foreign companies will not want to come and set up a branch in Malaysia. Also note that our Trengganu oil reserves are finishing fast which means no more royalties from Petronas in less than 20 years. In short we are in deep shit. That's why I said whoever takes over will have a tough time.

The long term priorities should be the following:
1) Drastic reforms in the education system: Get the smartest Malaysians back as professors in our local universities and pay them well. Listen to them to revamp the primary and secondary education system. Pay teachers well. Remove as many 'dead wood' as possible.

2) Drastic reforms in the civil service. If you have idiots running the gov, nothing will help. Send our brightest students overseas on scholarships then make sure you bond them to serve in the gov. All races. MOST importantly, seriously clamp down on corruption. How? Make sure gov workers are paid decently. Do you know how little Malaysian policemen are paid? Maintain strict controls and send the offenders to long time in jail. Integrity and meritocracy should be key operating principles.

3) Drastic reforms in the economic/finance sectors. My proposals here would be quite technical.

When you have good people in gov, a strong education system and strong economic fundamentals, you can reasonably plan for the future. The problem? All these need money, where is the money coming from? You can raise money from gov bonds, borrow from foreigners etc but don't forget the interest payments. In short you can't do everything at once, you got to go step by step but any wrong step will result in one step forward, two step backwards. Of the 3 above, I think eradicating corruption is key, unless you have good honest people in the gov, everything will go to the drain.

Am I optimistic? Unfortunately not. I think my country has really too many deeply rooted problems and it takes at least 50 years before we can catch up with countries like S'pore. But as they say, hujan emas...

My 2 cents

Monday, May 12, 2008

Myanmar Cyclone Nargis: Death Toll 216,000, military junta ship rice to Bangladesh


There is more to this, 1.5 million people are exposed to the elements without food and water. Their source of water contaminated. Their source of food destroyed.
So the toll could be much higher in the days and months to come.

Did you know what the military junta did?
They prevent aid from coming in to Myanmar. they dont want foreign aid workers, but they want the food and medical aid. Once these aids land in Myanmar, they will relabel with their General names so as to get goodwill from their people.
So pathetic.

If no country, Asean or any other country invade Myanmar now, the suffering will continue, millions might perish...slowly.

Death toll in Myanmar could be 216,000
Sun, 11 May 2008 03:48p.m.

Aid workers now believe the true number of deaths in Myanmar could already be as high as 216,000. If accurate, that would make it one of the world's biggest natural disasters, almost on the scale of the Asian tsunami which killed 280,000 three years ago.

With the military junta refusing entry to outsiders - even aid workers - the delays are proving fatal on an overwhelming scale.

Hungry crowds of survivors stormed the few shops that opened in Myanmar's stricken Irrawaddy delta, where food and international aid has been scarce since a devastating cyclone hit. The top US diplomat in Myanmar says 100,000 may have died in cyclone and 95 percent of buildings in the affected area are demolished.

Corpses floated in salty flood waters and witnesses said survivors tried desperately to reach dry ground on boats using blankets as sails. The UN said some 1 million people were homeless in the Southeast Asian country, formerly known as Burma.

"Basically the entire lower delta region is under water," said Richard Horsey, Bangkok-based spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid.

"Teams are talking about bodies floating around in the water," he said. This is "a major, major disaster we're dealing with."

But internal UN documents obtained by The Associated Press showed growing frustrations at foot-dragging by the junta, which has kept the impoverished nation isolated for five decades to maintain its iron-fisted control.

"Visas are still a problem. It is not clear when it will be sorted out," according to the minutes of a meeting of the UN task force coordinating relief for Myanmar in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday.

It said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "will contact Myanmar" Wednesday to arrange a meeting with high-ranking officials on the issue.

State television in military-ruled Myanmar, though, said that the government would accept aid from any country and that help had arrived Wednesday from Japan, Bangladesh, Laos, Thailand, China, India and Singapore.

Nearly 23,000 people died when Cyclone Nargis blasted the country's western coast on Saturday and more than 42,000 others were missing, state media said. But Horsey predicted the number of fatalities could rise "dramatically."

Local aid workers started distributing water purification tablets, mosquito nets, plastic sheeting and basic medical supplies. But heavily flooded areas were accessible only by boat, with helicopters unable to deliver relief supplies there, Horsey said.

A few shops opened Wednesday in the delta but were quickly stormed by people, said Paul Risley, a spokesman for the UN World Food Program in Bangkok, quoting his agency's workers in the area.

"Fist fights are breaking out," he said.

The UN World Food Program said some villages were nearly destroyed and vast rice-growing areas wiped out. The Irrawaddy delta is considered Myanmar's rice bowl.

The military junta normally restricts the access of foreign officials and organizations to the country, and aid groups were struggling to deliver relief goods.

"Most urgent need is food and water," said Andrew Kirkwood, head of Save the Children in Yangon. "Many people are getting sick. The whole place is under salt water and there is nothing to drink. They can't use tablets to purify salt water," he said.

Save the Children distributed food, plastic sheeting, cooking utensils and chlorine tablets to 230,000 people in Yangon area. Trucks were sent to the delta on Wednesday, carrying rice, salt, sugar and tarpaulin.

A Yangon resident who returned home from the area said people are drinking coconut water because of lack of safe drinking water. He said many people were on boats using blankets as sails.

Local aid groups were distributing rice porridge, which people were collecting in dirty plastic shopping bags. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared getting into trouble with authorities for talking to a foreign news agency.

Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for UN relief efforts in Geneva, said the UN received permission to send nonfood supplies and that a cargo plane was being loaded in Brindisi, Italy, but it might be two days before it leaves.

The UN is trying to get permission for its experts to accompany the shipment, Byrs said. She said UN staff in Thailand were also awaiting visas so they could enter Myanmar to assess the damage.

Some aid workers have told the AP that the government wants the aid to be distributed by relief workers already in place, rather than through foreign staff brought into the country.

Relief teams and aid material are waiting to deploy from Thailand, Singapore, Italy, France, Sweden, Britain, South Korea, Australia, Israel, US, Poland and Japan, according to minutes from a UN relief meeting in Geneva that were obtained by the AP.

However, Myanmar state-run television said Wednesday that Japan had sent tents, while planes from Bangladesh and India brought medicine and clothing. China sent 1,300 pounds of dried bacon, while Thailand sent 1.2 million packets of noodles.

Britain has offered about $US9.8 million to help the crisis, and the US offered more than $US3 million in aid. President Bush said Washington was prepared to use the US Navy to help search for the dead and missing.

However, the Myanmar military, which regularly accuses the United States of trying to subvert its rule, was unlikely to accept US military presence in its territory.

The US military started positioning people and equipment as it awaited word from Myanmar's government. An Air Force C-130 cargo plane landed in Thailand and another was on the way, Air Force spokeswoman Megan Orton said Wednesday morning at the Pentagon.

"When they accept, or if they accept — and we know what supplies they need — those planes will be there to transport those," she said.

The Navy also has three ships participating in an exercise in the Gulf of Thailand that could help in any relief effort — the USS Essex, the USS Juneau and the USS Harper's Ferry — but Navy officials said they are still in a holding pattern.

The Essex is an amphibious assault ship with 23 helicopters aboard, including 19 that are capable of lifting cargo from ship to shore, as well as more than 1,500 Marines.

Because it would take the Essex more than four days to get into position for the relief effort, the Navy is considering sending some of its helicopters ahead, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was still in the planning stages. The aircraft would be able to arrive in a matter of hours, and the Essex could follow, he said.

In Yangon, many angry residents say they were given vague and incorrect information about the approaching storm and no instructions on how to cope when it struck.

Officials in India said they had warned Myanmar that Cyclone Nargis was headed for the country two days before it made landfall there.

The state-run Indian Meteorological Department had been keeping a close watch on the depression in the Bay of Bengal since it was first spotted on April 28 and sent regular updates to all the countries in its path, department spokesman B. P. Yadav said.

Myanmar told the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva that it warned people in newspapers, television and radio broadcasts of the impending storm, said Dieter Schiessl, director of the WMO's disaster risk reduction unit.

State television news quoted Yangon official Gen. Tha Aye on Wednesday as reassuring people that the situation was "returning to normal."

But city residents faced new challenges as markets doubled prices of rice, charcoal and bottled water.

At a market in the suburb of Kyimyindaing, a fish monger shouted to shoppers: "Come, come the fish is very fresh." But an angry woman snapped back: "Even if the fish is fresh, I have no water to cook it!"

Electricity was restored in a small portion of Yangon but most city residents, who rely on wells with electric pumps, had no water. Vendors sold bottled water at more than double the normal price. Price of rice and cooking oil also skyrocketed.

The cyclone came a week before a key referendum on a proposed constitution backed by the junta.

State radio said Saturday's vote would be delayed until May 24 in 40 of 45 townships in the Yangon area and seven in the Irrawaddy delta. But it indicated the balloting would proceed in other areas as scheduled.

A top US envoy to Southeast Asia said Wednesday that Myanmar's military junta should be focusing all its efforts on helping victims of a devastating cyclone, not pressing forward with a planned constitutional referendum.

"It's a huge crisis and it just seems odd to me that the government would go ahead with the referendum in this circumstance," said Scot Marciel, who was appointed last week as the first US ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962. Its government has been widely criticized for suppressing pro-democracy parties such as the one led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has been under house arrest for more than 12 of the past 18 years.

At least 31 people were killed and thousands more were detained in September when the military cracked down on peaceful protests led by Buddhist monks and democracy advocates.

AP and TV3

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Altantunya - main wayang in court.

Raja Petra has been released on bail from the Sg Buloh prison. And he bring out a story of being shouted at by the two accused in the murder of Altantunya, Chief Insp Azilah Hadri and Cpl Sirul Azhar Umar.


Hmmn, why do you think they shouted at Raja Petra?

In my opinion (hey, I might be wrong here) by highlighting the Altantunya case, and exploring the truth about the case, Raja Petra bring back the attention of the media and hence fellow Malaysians that a gross injustice would be passed in court. ie the two accused, Chief Insp Azilah Hadri and Cpl Sirul Azhar Umar would be found NOT GUILTY and the real person who directed them to commit murder wouldnt be exposed either.

In my view, Govt/police/Najib has shot themselves in their foot (kiasan) by charging Raja Petra with Sedition Act. Najib could have just say "I had nothing to do with it." and the case wouldnt have got that much attention. Now that the Govt has charged Raja Petra with sedition, they practically keep the spirit of BERSIH and protests alive. Public opinion certainly shifts against the Govt.

I am of the opinion that the court case is just a wayang. Keep it long enough, stretch the episodes and fill in with boring bits, people will lose interest and fall asleep. In the end they wouldnt care if the judgement is fair or not. The two accused might getaway with it on technicality or be handed down short jail sentence. As a sacrifice. And they would be compensated handsomely at a later date.
And the real culprit, the person who directed the murder would get away scot free.

Please End Burmese Suffering, INVADE Myanmar NOW

Photos from BBC website.

Lets forget Raja Petra, Najib and Abdullah Badawi for a moment. What is happening in Burma, or Myanmar merit our attention. Now the military regime doesnt want foreign aid, simply because they are afraid that the foreigners would influence Burmese to start a revolution, which is possible, given the human catastrophy there.

We Asean and other countries, cannot just stand here and do nothing. We must end this Burmese military nonsense and suffering of the people.
After the killings of the monks not so long ago, its clear that the Burmese people cannot do anything.
Burmese suffering has to end now. Asean, India, USA and whatever countries that care, should INVADE Burma NOW. ANd help the victims of cyclone Nargis.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Kabus Di Perbukitan Bicara Sastera UKM

My brother's novel Kabus DiPerbukitan was discussed in Bacara Karya Sastera at UKM.
This novel won a prize at Sayembara Novel DBP.

No I havent bought it yet.


Ilmu diterap dalam karya sastera
Oleh Nazmi Yaakub

MENGGALI KHAZANAH SASTERA: Sebahagian daripada pelajar yang mengikuti Bicara Karya Sastera Zon Tengah.

Kedudukan bahasa Melayu dalam Perkara 152, Perlembagaan Negara dan Akta Bahasa Kebangsaan 1997 dikesan dalam teks

BICARA Karya Sastera Zon Tengah di Pusat Pengajian Bahasa, Kesusasteraan dan Kebudayaan Melayu (PPBKKM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Bangi, baru-baru ini, menilai sastera sebagai karya yang tidak terpisah daripada unsur keilmuan dan penyelidikan.

Aspek psikologi dan perbezaan pandangan Barat dengan kaca mata Timur terhadap unsur eksotik Asia dalam tiga naskhah daripada genre berbeza, Naskhah Kabus di Perbukitan, Kumpulan Cerpen Masitah dan Kumpulan Puisi Permata Budi, turut ditinjau.

Pensyarah PPBKKM, Che Abdullah Che Ya, melihat Kabus di Perbukitan memperlihatkan hubungan akrab novel dengan pengarangnya, Mohamad Kholid Hamzah berdasarkan pemilihan latar dan pengaruh daripada pengetahuannya dalam bidang Psikologi.

“Pengalaman berkhidmat di kawasan tanah tinggi dengan persekitaran indah, mempengaruhi Mohamad Kholid untuk mengambil latar itu sehingga beliau melukiskan persekitaran Cameron Highlands tanpa sedar walaupun turut menggunakan Bukit Fraser sebagai latar penceritaan.

“Hal ini selari dengan konsep dan pendekatan psikologi yang menggariskan pandangan bahawa hasil kesusasteraan lahir daripada keadaan manusia yang berada dalam situasi bawah sedar,” katanya ketika membincangkan Kabus di Perbukitan: Lara Insan yang Kehilangan.

Bicara anjuran Bahagian Teori dan Kritikan Sastera, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) dengan kerjasama Persatuan Penulis Selangor (PPS), PPBKKM dan Kelab Persuratan Melayu UKM itu turut dihadiri Pengerusi PPBKKM, Prof Dr Zulkifley Hamid dan Ketua 1 PPS, Datuk Dr Anwar Ridhwan.

Selepas mendapat lakarannya, bahan karya itu disusun secara sedar, selain pengarang turut memperlihatkan pengetahuan sebagai lulusan diploma psikologi dalam bidang kaunseling apabila mengemukakan konflik emosi dalam diri watak.

“Pengarang berjaya mengolah psikologi watak dengan berkesan kerana kelebihan menguasai bidang terbabit yang banyak membantu beliau mengawal watak, sekali gus menunjukkan wataknya hidup dan terkawal. Hubungan roh antara watak Faridah dan Rohayu walaupun bersifat mistik boleh diterima akal kerana banyak misteri dalam sains yang belum terungkai di sebalik hubungan pasangan kembar,” katanya.

Bagaimanapun, Che Abdullah menegur kelemahan ketara yang membabitkan watak Rohayu yang tidak mengetahui kewujudan Faridah walaupun berpisah pada usia 7 tahun, sedangkan secara logiknya minda watak sudah cukup kuat untuk mengingati tempat tinggal kembar dan ibunya.

“Meskipun bahagian pertama novel menunjukkan kejayaan pengarang menjadikan penceritaannya kemas dan menarik, bahagian kedua pula memperlihatkan penumpuan pengarang kepada watak sampingan secara berlebihan sehingga hubungan pembaca dengan watak utama terputus,” katanya pada bicara yang dipengerusikan Pegawai Perancang Bahasa DBP, Saifullizan Yahaya.

Hakikat itu dapat dilihat terlalu banyak penumpuan kepada watak sampingan seperti Malina, Benny dan kenalannya dalam gerakan Islam, selain sorotan terhadap kehidupan Zain, sekali gus menyebabkan watak utama, Faridah tenggelam.

Pensyarah Universiti Hitosubashi di Jepun, Togari Yasuka, melihat watak berbangsa Jepun dalam Kumpulan Cerpen Masitah karya Dr Mawar Shafie, tidak berbeza daripada gambaran stereotaip dalam novel dan filem Barat seperti The Bridge on the River Kwai, Shogun, Black Rain, Rising Sun serta Last Samurai.

“Dalam filem yang mengambil fokus Jepun termasuk siri James Bond, ada kecenderungan berfokus kepada kebudayaan Jepun yang dianggap eksotik pada pandangan orang luar. Begitu juga filem yang menggambarkan imej Jepun masa kini seperti joshikosei,” katanya ketika meninjau Jepun dan Watak Jepun dalam Kumpulan Cerpen Masitah.

Joshikosei bermaksud pelajar sekolah menengah tinggi berpakaian seragam berkeliaran di kawasan hiburan dan yakuza, iaitu kumpulan penjenayah terancang, selain ahli perniagaan yang memakai kot serta jarang tersenyum.

Togari mengakui kekagumannya terhadap watak Jepun dalam Kumpulan Cerpen Masitah yang diberikan gambaran sejagat sehingga jika watak Jepun dimainkan oleh watak bukan Jepun, cerita itu dapat dijalankan juga.

“Kumpulan cerpen ini membayangkan watak yang merindukan ibu atau isteri sudah pergi atau seseorang yang menyayangi anaknya. Hal ini disebabkan watak orang Jepun berkahwin dengan warga asing dan menetap di luar negara sehingga sukar dikatakan sebagai orang Jepun tipikal,” katanya.

Pegawai Perancang Bahasa DBP, Shahrun Nizal Mohd Nor, pula mengangkat Kumpulan Puisi Permata Budi karya Ahmad Sarju sebagai mencerna pemikiran semangat patriotik, mengangkat isu bahasa dan alam sekitar serta melakukan introspeksi diri.

“Semangat patriotik mendominasi sajak yang terhimpun dalam buku ini, seolah-olah Ahmad menyeru pembaca untuk menyemai semangat itu, sekali gus menunjukkan penyair mempunyai suara dan harapan untuk dikongsi bersama,” katanya ketika membentangkan Antara Pemikiran dengan Estetika dalam Permata Budi.

Puisi bertema perjuangan memartabatkan bahasa turut mendominasi kumpulan puisi itu kerana pengarang melihat bahasa Melayu diperlekeh dan dipinggirkan di tanah air sendiri meskipun kedudukannya sudah dijamin dalam Perkara 152 Perlembagaan dan Akta Bahasa Kebangsaan 1967.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Good News, Melanie Won The Winding Road Trust Scholarship

My firstborn got a scholarship from The Winding Road Trust. That will pay for her schooling up to 3 years of university studies. Thats a total of 6 years, 3 more years at high school.
Depending on what course she is pursuing in the future, at least her first 3 years at Uni will be taken care of.

It was her and another girl from who got the scholarship.