Category Archives: Perspective

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle


“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

That is Mother. She is the guiding light; the embodiment of care and love. She is an enigma; tender yet strong; fragile yet unbreakable. A home is not home without mother. She is sacred and a very important figure in the family. Her devotion to her family knows no bounds and her unconditional love is mind-boggling.

Where would you be without her? She is the one who brings you into the world, then nurtures, protects, supports and guides you. She is happy when you are happy. She cries when you cry. You learn right from wrong at your mother’s knee.

Mother’s Day which falls on Sunday, May 9, is of great significance. This is the day you honour your mother, the special person in your life. Capture this momentous occasion, put a smile on her face and joy in her heart. On this memorable day, show your gratitude to her. It is a small way to thank her for all the sacrifices, big and small, she has made so that you could be comfortable, sensible and sound as you make your way through the ups and downs of life.

There are a million ways to honour your mother and give her that wonderful feeling that she is indeed special. Let her know through words and deeds that you appreciate all her efforts so that she will cherish Mother’s Day for a long, long time.

She does not ask for the moon; she only wants to know that her struggles are not in vain. Most importantly, tell her you love her, not only on Mother’s Day, but at every opportunity that comes your way.

Your mother is your soul-mate. She is unique and therefore, irreplaceable. But she cannot be around throughout your life. When the time comes for her to bid you farewell you would be ready to carry on her mammoth task and be a great mother yourself. This is legacy you will receive.

A mother’s rapport with her son or daughter is a wondrous gift that Nature has bestowed upon us. No one can forget such a special bond with such a special person.

We are truly blessed that mothers walk the earth.

“Happy Mother’s Day!” to all mothers.

We love you. We salute you.

Plight of a Forgotten La Salle Brother


By Koon Yew Yin

Brother Vincent Corkery, who had served a span of over 60 years in educating thousands of our citizens, only wishes to be a Malaysian Citizen and spend the rest of his life in this country.

However, his application for citizenship was rejected some years ago without explanation in spite of him having obtained the necessary pass in written and oral Malay.

The 82-year-old Brother Vincent, the former principal of St Michael’s Institution, Ipoh, was admitted to Fatimah Hospital just before Christmas last year and was discharged after a three-week stay.

He had a rare bacterial infection between the toes of his left foot. Before this problem could be cleared up, his right foot developed the same problem.

He then decided to seek treatment in the Ipoh General Hospital. He was admitted on March 1 and was discharged a few days ago after a 27-day stay. Now he has to go back daily for treatment as an outpatient.

I have been visiting him quite frequently and almost on all occasions I was the only visitor. It seems that the La Salle Brothers have been forgotten.

Several of our important leaders of the nation, including our Prime Minister Abdul Najib Razak, Home Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Sultan of Selangor, Raja Muda of Perak Raja Nazrin Shah and many others have had their education in my alma mater St. John Institution, Kuala Lumpur.

I am sure that if they are aware of the plight of Brother Vincent, they will act promptly to remedy it.

Dedicating To Education

Brother Vincent came from Ireland in 1948. His main contribution has been to St Michael’s Institution in Ipoh where he served since 1958. In addition, he took an active interest in Malaysian education.

In the 1960s, he was the state supervisor for oral English, and served in the early 1970s as secretary-general of the national conference of the Heads of Secondary Schools. For some years he was an active member of the Malaysian Historical Society.

As with other Brothers who taught in Malaysia, the financial remuneration to him has been barely adequate. His last drawn monthly salary as Principal was RM1,000, and when he retired in 1988, he did not qualify for a pension or for other retirement benefits. Since retirement, the La Sallian communal fund has provided him RM1,000 a month for his food and car maintenance.

In retirement, he heads a centre for programmes for student leadership and for staff groups at La Salle Centre in Ipoh, and serves as secretary for the Brothers Councils for Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

During the Japanese Occupation

The La Salle Brothers made their first appearance in Asia in 1852 when they founded St Xavier’s Institution in Penang. Since then a network of Lasallian schools has developed throughout the country. When the British left Malaya, the Lasallian Brothers stayed on to manage their schools.

During the Japanese occupation of the country all the foreign brothers were imprisoned. My old teacher, Brother Lawrence Spitzig, a Canadian, was imprisoned in Changi, Singapore. Brother Lawrence retired as principal of my alma mater, St. John’s Institution and died last year on August 18 in Assunta Hospital, Petaling Jaya, at the age of 92 after long service to the nation.

These Catholic schools have continued to flourish even when the Brothers have greatly diminished in number. The foundations were well laid, and Lasallian education continues to be an important part of our education system even in these changing times.

In terms of their service and loyalty to the country and the various communities, the Brothers hold a torch that is second to none. Their dedication and commitment to the country was perhaps most evident during the Japanese Occupation period. Despite the warnings of many friends that they would be perceived as enemy aliens by the Japanese and of the dire consequences following, the Brothers opted to stay with the people. They paid a horrific price for this loyalty.

The consequences included incarceration in Changi prison where 15 Brothers were held; Taiping and Pudu jails where 12 were held; and at Bahau, in Negri Sembilan, where some 30 were held under primitive conditions in a mosquito-infested jungle settlement, surviving only on the food they managed to grow.

Once the Japanese surrendered, in spite of what they had endured, the Brothers returned to their posts and reopened their schools without delay. The fact that they had not run away but had chosen to stay with the people and share their pain, greatly enhanced their standing in the post-war years but this seems to count for little today.

I urge the authorities to do the right thing for Brother Vincent and for all other LaSallian and missionary educators who have sacrificed so much for our country. Provision of a gratuity and a pension, automatic approval of citizenship, appropriate medical and other civil service benefits – surely the country can afford this minimal humanitarian assistance.

Lethal Lessons Indeed


by Yusuf Martin

You shout at that idiot, who blatantly continues to use his mobile phone while the cinema film is coming on.  You tell the couple, in the row behind, that you really do not want to hear all about the intimacies of their family life, but would much rather listen to the film.  Finally, after you have picked up the dropped box of popcorn, you are faced with the extremely loud advert produced by the Motion Picture Association of America, placed poignantly before the main film.  The advert states:-

You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a handbag. You wouldn’t steal a mobile phone. You wouldn’t steal a DVD. Downloading pirated films is stealing………..” 

Downloading pirated films may be stealing and it may be, of course, necessary to remind people of that while about to watch a film. Unfortunately, books do not have a similar advert placed inside their front covers.  However, judging by the increasing number of unscrupulous, or simply misled, people there are around, perhaps books should have an anti-plagiarism warning, read on… 

Recently, a local young author has had to withdraw a collection of her short stories from sale, due to the plagiarising of at least one story in her book ‘Lethal Lessons and other stories’. Adeline Lee Zhia Ern, has apologised, through her publisher – Silverfish Books, claiming;

 “I now realize that I have made a mistake for not informing my publisher about the inclusion of the story in my book.  I did not in any way intend to deceive my readers, as at that point in time I liked the story so much that I thought that I would like to share it with my readers.”

It is curious, then, that the story – ‘Define Happiness’, purportedly by Ms Ern, has some small alterations in the text, ‘butterfly’ changed to ‘moth’ etc.; not enough to mask that it has been plagiarised from ‘Happiness’ written by Sarah Provencal, for Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV, by Jack Canfield et. al., published in 2004.  However, it is enough to indicate a sense of purposefulness, a deceit, about the whole endeavour.

Plagiarism is theft. It is theft of ideas, theft of the written material created by other people. Sadly, with the advent of the new digital media, a cut and paste culture has developed in places once praised for their learning.  This new post-modern, mix and match, digital culture, is a culture in which people tend to see other people’s words, sentences, paragraphs, and sometimes even whole stories as fair game.  Students, though endlessly warned that plagiarism is, in fact, theft, will cut, sometimes-whole sentences from the work of several others, jumble them together, paste them into their own work and appear erudite in their studies.

Unfortunately, having gotten away with such behaviour at an earlier age, this modus operandi often continues into tertiary education, and beyond.

In academia, plagiarism is treated very seriously, so seriously that people found plagiarising often find themselves losing scholarships, or even tenures.  Sadly, many young academics in Malaysian institutions are under tremendous pressure to ‘publish’, and to publish on a regular basis.  The pressure of coming up with original work, the easy access of the internet, and the thought that no one will know, may lead a stressed lecturer, or PhD student, to ‘borrow’ work from another, or several others.

In the recent past, careless Malaysian students from the Wira Institut in Kuala Lumpur, were embroiled in a plagiarism scandal, and, more recently, slipshod lecturers at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) were involved in the use of other people’s material for a guide book, on writing effective resumes. 

Nevertheless, plagiarism in Malaysia is not just confined to learning institutions. An editor, of the previous illustrious, New Straits Times – Brendan Pereira, had to step out of his post due to the plagiarising of work by an American journalist – Mitch Albom.  Just as in the Adeline Lee Zhia Ern case, Pereira and Albom’s works were considered side by side, comparisons made, and no doubt left that the one work was taken from the other.

It is a hard lesson to learn.  Nevertheless, stealing other people’s written work is no less a crime than stealing their mobile phone, car or any other materialistic appendage you care to name. The more serious crime, I believe, is the ethical crime involved with plagiarising; the lack of thought that taking another person’s creative endeavour, publishing it as one’s own, gaining plaudits for it, might be wrong.

Moral standards seem to be slipping everywhere. There is a lack of respect for other people, their property and now their creative (written) endeavours.  It must be emphasised that stealing, in any shape, sense, or form, is wrong and should be punished – that includes another’s written work.

Ipoh Echo interviewed Adeline in Issue 80.