30 July 2012

Y.A.B. Cartoon


Title: Transformasi Najib
Author: Akmar Hisham Mokhles
Genre: Politics/History
ISBN: 978-967-5702-04-4
Publisher: Qalif Umar Creative
Year: 2011

I have never heard of any Prime Minister in this world who uses comic to reach out to the public, particularly youth. The closest I've heard would be Bill Clinton with his Clinton Hamburgers

ajib Razak (Y.A.B. Dato' Seri Prime Minister (PM)) never failed to attract my attention. This time with his comic, Transformasi Najib, by Akmar Hisham Mokhles. Where did I get it from? Well, One night, coming back from work late, I joined a group of friends for early Sahur (Supper) at Syed Section 11 Shah Alam. One of them handed me a pile of publications which included, amongst others, a Hari Raya card from our Prime Minister (addressed to the public), a book by some Professor Khairil Annas of which, the title was too long to be remembered; and a comic,.... a comic of the PM himself! I asked "Where did you get these from?", and my friend answered, "From the 1M4U launch. It is the shortform for 1Malaysia for Youth". Hmmmm.... no wonder there is a comic. It is for youth! Last I understood, youth in Malaysia (politically) ranges from 18 to 40 years old. The comic must have been for those aged 18 to early 20's, I figured.

Anyway, that comic facinated me. I have never heard of any Prime Minister in this world who uses comic to reach out to the public, particularly youth. The closest I've heard would be Bill Clinton with his Clinton Hamburgers as mocked by David Letterman. Amusing? Yes! Effective? Well, Yes indeed! Imagine this, youth from all over Malaysia who reads this comic will be able to understand what he (Najib) is trying to do for the country. So I put myself in the shoes of those youth. If I am to read the comic, what message will be conveyed across to me (to the youth)? This, in my mind, can be a powerful tool especially when the General Election is expected to be held late 2012 or early 2013. The new generation of voters can be influenced quite intelligently by this method of mass communication. Maybe the PM should commisssion Lat to come out with a set of publication from time to time because I believe that he (Lat) managed to convey Tun Mahathir's messages to the public via his cartoons quite briliantly. So, I took away that comic and read it during the weekend.

.... a Pakcik next to me said, "Hmmmm.... apa tu lagi si Najib nak buat tu? Kartun pun dia buat jugak? Pakcik cuma mau RM500 duit raya tahun ni. Rasa-rasa dia nak bagi tak?"

The comic is in Malay and it is easy for any Malaysian to understand. The language is clear and easy. The cartoon characters are identifiable to its real life characters and the message throughout the comic is political yet not overly done. I must say that this is a brilliant piece of work. However, as I was reading it while waiting for my car to be washed at Shine Shine, a Pakcik (elderly man) next to me said, "Hmmmm.... apa tu lagi si Najib nak buat tu? Kartun pun dia buat jugak? Pakcik cuma mau RM500 duit raya tahun ni. Rasa-rasa dia nak bagi tak?" [In English: What is Najib up to with all these cartoons? All I want is the token of RM500 for the festive season. Do you think he will give?]. What is wrong with Malaysians nowadays? All they want is just short term money like that? I truly feel sad. While the non-Bumis fight for their education, economic access and equal opportunities, the Bumis talk about getting Duit Raya (token) from the Prime Minister? What a nut case. I sure hope that the youth of today will not grow to be such narrow minded people. This comic, I believe, have got the strength to shape the young minds. F*** the Pakciks who have no sense.

So what message did the comic conveyed to its readers? It tells the story about Najib's birth, his early years and all the way to his current life. The story of his early life alone contains many political messages as it introduces stories about what Tun Razak (Najib's father who was the 2nd Prime Minister) started for Malaysia. It provides the foundation to what Najib is doing now as a continuation of his father's legacy. Things like abolishing poverty, developing the nation and being close to the community. Basically, it opens up the opportunity for people to know Najib without even meeting him. Brilliant approach. Of course the comic never miss important events that mark Najib's career progression as a politician: Everything from being a Member of Parliament at the age of 22 all the way until holding the highest post in the country's administration. One amusing bit out of all these would be the page on how Tun Mahathir declared his resignation. I remembered watching it on the TV (very dramatic) and now the author/cartoonist is trying to express the same mood in the comic including a cartoon character of Rafidah (The Minister of Trade back then) with a speech box that says, "Why? Why?" responding to Tun's resignation declaration.

So, what message that Najib conveyed in this comic? For a start, he made clear what his expectations are for the current political leaders: (1) Loyalty, (2) Integrity, (3) Capability; and (4) Dedication. This is further reinforced by the appointment of a special minister from the corporate world to monitor the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) of the ministers in the cabinet. Truly a strong message sent across to the public to say that he means business for his Manifestos to the Rakyat (citizens) to the extent that his own ministers are held accountable for their own performances.

The comic further revealed Najib's slogan for 1Malaysia "Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan" which means People First Achievements Prioritised. In driving this 1Malaysia concept, 8 values have been identified as follows:

1. Excellence Culture
2. Courage
3. Acceptance
4. Education
5. Integrity
6. Meritocracy
7. Humility
8. Loyalty

The comic then showcases his humility whereby the Prime Minister had appeared in various public spaces to be closer to the public. Some of those places visited were restaurants at Brickfields, street shops at Petaling Street and the village Kampung Baru in Kuala Lumpur. The visits were inpromptu, informal, casual and unexpected by the public. It was positively accepted by the public. To ensure that the youth understand what he is trying to achieve for the nation, the comic listed his plans and strategies based on the 2012 Budget. Some of those that may get significant attention from the youth are as follows:

1. RM2.5 billion assistance for new entrepreneurs
2. RM1 billion for school upgrade programmes
3. RM100 for all schooling students
4. Voucher for books of tertiary education
5. RM200 million funding for seeding start up companies under ValueCap Sdn Bhd
6. Subsidy of RM500 for those earning RM3,000 and below per month
7. Cheap priced goods groceries stores, Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M)
8. Introduction of 4,500 agricultural entrepreneurship contracts
9. Cheap housing scheme, Perumahan Rakyat 1Malaysia (PR1MA)
10. Micro financing totalling RM2.1 billion for entrepreneurs
11. Youth technical training provision of RM200 million
12. RM15 million for the construction of 150 futsal courts
13. RM50 million for the development of sports centres
14. RM30 million to train young athletes
15. RM200 million for the establishment of a venture capital for the creative industry

The comic went further to show how lives of Malaysians were made easier with the establishment 1Malaysia Moving Medical Clinics, laptops for schools and many more. On the last page, the publication appropriately ends with a message from Y.A.B. Dato' Seri Najib Razak which sounded as follows:

"Adat memegang kepercayaan orang
Jangtan sekali-kali menikam belakang
Adat memegang kekuasaan
Jangan sekali-kali merosak binasakan
Adat memegang kebebasan
Jangan sekali-kali lupa batasan"

[In English: The ethics of trust is loyalty,
of power is anti-destructive,
of freedom is tolerable limits]

Quotation by Y.A.B. Dato' Seri Najib Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia

* kopihangtuah

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20 July 2012

Ramadhan, a 15 days Equivalent Annual Leave


amadhan is here again. Tomorrow Muslims all over the world will start their annual ritual of fasting, the third pillar of Islam after the Declaration of Faith (Shahadah) and the act of praying to the Almighty (Solat). What is the significance of fasting? I don't intend to explain this like a religious teacher because my blog is for all, Muslims and Non-Muslims. So let's not talk about religion for now as I am sure you will find plenty especially on this topic at this moment.

Fasting is natural. Fasting is logical. Fasting is healthy. Fasting is medical. Fasting is purifying. Fasting is scientific. Fasting is psychological. Fasting is strength. Fasting is endurance. Fasting is realisation. Fasting is sacrifice. Fasting is patience. Fasting is enlightening. Fasting is liberating. Fasting is humility. Fasting is nobility. Fasting is divine. Fasting is love.

O.K. You are now saying "Stop this poetry and straight to the point!" Well, you have to start with poetic expression because fasting is.... sublime! It is symbolic of greatness. Let me tell you why.

How many days do you work in a year? You work only half a day assuming 9am to 5pm.... errrr not even,... its only 7 to 8 hours a day for 5 days a week. You get the weekend off. On top of that, you get public holidays,.. including some stupid holidays when the country wins some sports or some national hero reached the top of a mountain. When somebody in your family dies, you get compassionate leave of, say, 3 days. You get paternity or maternity leave if you are delivering in that year. You get sick leave if you are sick. To cut a story short (as what Archer would say), you get plenty of leave. Oh ya,.. I forget! you get annual leave as well!

Imagine your tummy and the whole digestive system. That organic machine of yours works 24 hours non-stop for 365 days. They don't get any leave? Everyone, or rather, everything needs a break! If you care so much about your car that you send it for overhaul or maintenance service every 3 months, why wouldn't you care about the machine in your body? Give your body a break! A break that it needs! The Muslims fast for 30 days from the time the amberdawn appears to the time when the sun sets in the west. They give their a digestive system a break for half a day for 30 days. That is 15 equivalent days of break.... the so called annual leave for the body.

So, really, it is natural as I mentioned earlier. Why must we debate about it only trying to prove each others' religion wrong? In fact, not only Muslims, the Jews, Hindus and Buddhists do fast, in their own way. It is easy to comprehend why we fast. It is simply a break. A time to recover. To rest. To ensure that you are ready for the next 335 days. The Muslims believe that even the Satans, Devils, whatever you call them, take a break for that 30 days from seducing humankind. Hmmmm... even the Devils know how to take a rest! Imagine working for 24 hours a day non-stop for 365 days! You know what,... make it 335 days. Take that 30 days of leave. Even that you won't subscribe to. I rest my case.

So, to all, Happy Ramadhan! God Bless!

* kopihangtuah

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10 July 2012

Get Into the Habit of 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle


We will be talking to our kids about turtles, whales and other marine animals as if these are "myths". These animals are at risk of extinction.

Rs: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle, is what we all must be in the habit of. Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, in his article in the NST on 8 May 2012, preaches that we ought to make 3Rs a way of life. This is an education matter. It should start from the lowest level, i.e. elementary all the way up to professional level. We have been talking about sustainability in a higher technological manner such as green building, renewable energy and what not, but we fail to understand that it is not a matter of technological shout! it is a matter of human behaviour. Hence, educational in perspective.

Tan Sri Lee said "3Rs is not difficult. just be a smart shopper, disciplined home owners and helpful/caring neighbour". This sounds sweet and all but I think we should take a more bold action. We should look at the educational system and ensure that adequate material is effectively conveyed to children of today. The kindergarten that my son goes to has 3 of those huge rubbish bin. I think green, orange and blue. I cannot remember. One for paper, one for bottles and the other for plastics I think. This is a bold step. From thereon, something more advance should be taught at primary schools and then secondary schools. A more intellectual discussion should be introduced at tertiary level and implementative actions seriously considered at professional level.

... over 250 species of marine animals are known to have ingested or become tangled in plastic. Animals often mistake rubbish for their prey, such as jellyfish, and they choke on rubbish

On a more serious note, rubbish can be lethal. It will destroy our beloved Earth if not managed appropriately. I don't have a proper statistic for the world but I do have some information from the NST 10 May 2012 in an article "Plastic Soup Endangering Ocean Life".

35 billion plastic bottles are thrown away in the ocean a year in the US. 500 billion plastic bags used annually worldwide. Over 40% of plastic usage is in packaging. 8% of world's oil production goes into plastic manufacturing. A 2002 UN study estimated USD7 trillion a year of economic risk from plastic pollution. And the saddest of all, over 250 species of marine animals are known to have ingested or become tangled in plastic. Animals often mistake rubbish for their prey, such as jellyfish, and they choke on rubbish.

There is a swirling mass of waste in the Pacific and it has grown 100-fold in 40 years threatening the ecology. Scientists warned that the killer soup of microplastic (particles smaller than 5mm) are accumulating in 2 mega patches formed by the ocean and wind currents, one in the West of Pacific Ocean and the other in the East. Scientists estimate that the patches are the size of Texas each. The garbage patch cannot be seen by satellite as most are of confetti sized flecks spreading over thousands of kilometres across the ocean. Such size is the consequence of the rubbish being broken into pieces by way of natural forces such as pressure from ocean currents. All these disturbing news came from University of California as reported by NST on 10 May 2012 article "Plastic Soup Endangering Ocean Life".

The article further reported that such patches provide new habitat for ocean insects called Sea-Skaters, which preyed on plankton and fish eggs. I repeat, preyed on plankton and fish eggs. These insects spend its entire life at sea and lays eggs on the flecks from rubbish, which was previously limited, but now being made available widely. What a disastrous evolution. Are we saying that fish will be extinct by this double sworded ecology development, i.e. death of their eggs and death of their source of food, i.e. planktons?! The plankton and fish eggs were fed on by seabirds, turtles and other fish species. With the increase in population of the Sea-Skaters, it will disrupt the food source of other marine animals which have been living in the habitat for thousands of years.

I cannot imagine how the world would be, say 5 decades from now. Ya! only 5 decades, it'll all be different for our kids. We will be talking to our kids about turtles, whales and other marine animals as if these are "myths". These animals are at risk of extinction. At a very, very high risk actually. It will be really sad that our kids will not be able to see real life dolphins, turtles, seals and many other beautiful creatures of God's creation. In fact, our kids may also know the world in a manner that we have never imagined before. For example, they may understand that Hermit the Crab only uses man-made bottles as their home! Why not? It is possible! If not, how on Earth would I be able to get this image (above) of Hermit the Crab using the bottle as its home? Fascinating! Horrifying! I hope we will not be forced to use rubbish as our home, like the Hermit.

* kopihangtuah

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