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Archive for June 16th, 2012

One night after dinner, I ran out to look for Dad. He was sitting at the front counter, counting the day’s take.

“Dad, are we going to Park again?” I asked him eagerly. Jubilee Park at Cowan Street was quite a mouthful for a six years old girl, so I simply called it “Park”.

It was a place I loved to go to – for its carousel and Ferris wheel. It used to be the happening place in Ipoh, for both children and adults.

“No, tonight we’re going to a different place, to Durian Street. I need to buy something there!” Dad replied as he puts the old abacus away. “I’m going to bring you there to see some snakes and monkeys!” he laughed enticingly and I can’t contained my excitement.

So off we went to Osborne Street that night. It was also known as Durian Street. Yes, you can get all the durians, rambutans and mangosteens you wanted from this street. But we went there for something else.

You see, Dad used to have piles and he heard that some herbs and creams from the roadside peddlers might help. They usually operate at night and their products can help cure some ailments from migraine to arthritis. Such treatments usually came in the forms of herbs, lotions or creams. Most of the customers are from the lower-income group who could not afford expensive medications from western pharmacies; thus they seek out cheap alternative treatments from the roadside.

When we reached there, the show had already started. Some people were squatting while many others were standing. I saw an old van parked beside the pavement near the entrance of the old Foh San Restaurant. At the side of the van stood a small wooden table and on top of this table, you can see packets of herbs, bottles of lotions and jars of creams all being neatly arranged in rows.

As the medicine man described his products using a loud-hailer, his two young sons helped out. One was busy selling the wares to some customers while another boy clashed the two cymbals in his hands each time his father sang out the effects of his products. His humourous way got many in laughter.

The highlight of the show came when the medicine man took out a square rattan case and out glide a big albino python! The sight of this rare creature took the spectators’ breathe away. He swiftly took it and hung it over his neck. I was completely awed that I stood rooted there for a moment. This is the first time I saw a live snake!

And much to my delight, next, two little monkeys dressed in red jerseys cycled out in circles, chewing on bananas and waving to the crowd. Many burst out in laughter and gees. I had such a wonderful time watching these adorable animals with their mischievous antics and before I realized it, the show was over and it was time for the medicine man to clear his things up.

“Do you like it?” Dad asked as we walked home. He had bought a few packets of herbs and a jar of cream.

“Yes, I loved it and I wanted to see it again!” I told him happily. He nodded smilingly.

“Let’s pack some fried noodles for your mom!” he said, “at least we have something for her too!” What a night!

 Sadly, such shows can no longer be found again at Osborne Street.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and this memory suddenly came to my mind as I was thinking of Dad. It brought a smile to my lips.

Thank you Dad, for everything! I loved you and still missed you a lot, as usual.

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I am the mother of two lower secondary students. I often have them coming home lamenting to me, “Mom, I’ve failed my Moral Studies again!” Honestly, I do not remember them passing it, ever!

But I was like, “What the heck!” After all, they usually passed the core subjects and that is what matters to me. “Most of my classmates failed too, including the top students!” Ah, that completely took away whatever little doubts that swirl in my head! Typical mentality of a mother, right?  🙂

“I really hated this subject, it’s so boring!” that is how my daughter described Moral Studies.

“I can’t be bother with it. Anyway, the teacher for this subject seldom turned up and even if she does, she just gave us some notes and asked us to memorize them. In the end, nobody does!” my son told me.

I think my children are not the only ones who are not interested in Moral Studies. How can you expect some boisterous teenagers to sit down and memorize more than thirty values and their lengthy definitions? And then regurgitate them word by word in their examinations? Not a word more, not a word less? This is outright ridiculous, almost bordering madness! No teenager in his or her right mind would bother. I know I won’t if I am a teenager.

As a mother, I am more than happy if my children knew and practice a few universal morals like being humble, honest, kind, hardworking and grateful. I am at a lost at how and from where these people who wrote Moral Studies’ textbooks plucked the rest of the values from! Thirty six moral values are simply mind-boggling.

If ever there is anyone who need to study more moral values, it should be the politicians from the ruling party and civil servants of this country; not our poor kids. The whole world knew how corrupted they are, from the top to the bottom.

So can you imagine how glad I was to read the article below that a group of concerned parents are demanding a stop to this madness? It really makes my day! 🙂

Here is the article that appeared in Malayiakini yesterday:-

Remove Moral Studies from the SPM
Foreword by Centre for Policy Iniatives

A group of concerned parents are making a representation to Suhakam with regard to many longstanding complaints about Moral Studies taught in upper secondary school.

For many years now, the exam format of this subject has been so rigid that students are forced to strictly memorize 36 ‘values’ and definitions. They are then required to regurgitate word for word what they’ve memorised when sitting the SPM paper.

Such a method of testing morality is best suited to training parrots and appears to be designed by monkeys.

Who are these monkeys that have been instrumental in designing the examination and how have they been allowed to get away with their monkey business for so long?

Any youth who has been educated to think critically might well ask, why 36 values, and why not 35 or 37? Who defines these ‘values’?

Why must definitions drafted by some textbook writers be so stringent that not a word is to be changed?

Even the 10 Commandments handed down by God from atop Mount Sinai allow more flexibility in their wording.

Poor SPM results in Moral Studies have penalised non-Muslim students who otherwise had scored straight As or A+ in their other subjects.

In comparison, Muslim students who are exempted from Moral Studies but instead take the Islamic Studies papers do not have to risk their SPM balance sheet being pulled down due to below-par performance in this one subject alone.

Even within the national examination system, there exists a two-tier streaming based on religion which has prompted non-Muslim parents to cry foul.

While there is nothing objectionable to having Moral Studies in the syllabus, it should nonetheless be removed from the SPM slate.

The non-Muslim parents are representing to Suhakam that their children’s education right to a fair exam assessment is being compromised by this compulsory paper that discriminates on the basis of religion.

Beyond this petition, there are key questions and concerns that need to be posed and answered. How can Malay/Muslim-oriented public systems run by Malay elites be made to be transparent and accountable so that they do not discriminate or penalize non-Malays and non-Muslims?

Why are such policies of clear discrimination and prejudice against certain segments of Malaysians persisting and how do we ensure that they do not recur?

This entire episode needs to be opened up for full public discussion and scrutiny. It may be the tip of the iceberg of a structural deformity within our public service that needs to be exposed, operated on and excised.

The CPI team looks forward to hearing more from the public on this and similar unconscionable policies especially affecting our young.

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