Tag Archives: ipoh echo issue 155

Forum on Education Blueprint 2013-2025

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PAGE (Parent Action Group for Education) Ipoh ChapterPAGE (Parent Action Group for Education) Ipoh Chapter organised a forum at the Andersonian’s Club Cafeteria to discuss the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025. Dato’ Dr Anwar, Co-ordinator of Ipoh Chapter said that since the Education Ministry was not willing to have a public dialogue in Ipoh to discuss the report, PAGE has organised this forum.

Liong Kam Chong, a retired secondary school principal who was the guest speaker, explained the education blueprint in relation to Teaching of Science and Maths in English (PPSMI). He said there was not much of a problem with the high ranking officers in implementing the policy of soft landing of PPSMI. The problem was with the principals of the schools who set the policy in their schools. When principals are transferred there is a change in the policy. He added there were basically three categories of parents; English speaking families, those starting to speak English and those who trust the system.

Dr Anwar said that he was disappointed with the blueprint which omitted a number of important issues. Page Ipoh Chapter seeks to have the following proposals seriously considered by the Ministry of Education in finalising the preliminary blueprint.

  • Reinstate PPSMI or at least provide provision for it.
  • Establish permanent PPSMI schools.
  • Reinstate English-medium schools.
  • Moral Education should remain compulsory, but it should cease to be an examination subject.

There was a call that PAGE must be more aggressive and to show its disappointment, copies of the Report must be publicly burnt at various places in the country to attract the attention of the public, media and the authorities.

It was sad to note that in spite of the wide publicity given about the forum only about 50 parents turned up.

AJ

Legal Aid for AES Victims

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Automated Enforcement System (AES)Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) Perak, in a media conference on Monday, November 5 held at the party’s Medan Istana office, Ipoh, declared its willingness to provide free legal aid to motorists who run afoul of the controversial Automated Enforcement System (AES).

The system is essentially a speed trap and is installed along accident-prone areas in Perak, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. There have been calls, from both sides of the political divide, for a deferment pending a detailed study of the system. The controversy involves the outsourcing of the system to two companies believed to be cronies of the establishment.

Deputy Commissioner of PAS Perak, Ustaz Misbahul Munir Masduki stated that the stance taken by the party was in response to the Perak State Government’s refusal to delay the implementation of AES.

“Our panel of lawyers from the party’s Strategic and Issue Committee will undertake the responsibility of defending the victims in a court of law,” said Munir to reporters.

Zamri Ibrahim, Director of PAS Youth (Perak) Legal and Human Rights Department questioned the use of Section 79 (2) of the Road Transport Act 1987 to frame charges. “The section has nothing to do with speeding.” “We’ll call for a meeting soon of those who have asked for assistance and brief them on the procedures involved,” he added.

The committee is providing a hotline for those wishing to take the offer. The number to call is 013‑349 3848.

Ed

SeeFoon gets anaesthetised and enjoys it

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musings on food - food reviewsBy See Foon Chan-Koppen

I have always enjoyed spicy food, my taste for chillies having been honed from childhood. But it was only in my working life that I was first introduced to the mouthfeel of ‘Mah Lat’, that numbing sensation created by Szechuan peppercorns, ubiquitous in Szechuan province in China but not used as liberally outside.

Many people are surprised to learn that Szechuan peppercorn is not a pepper at all – the distinctive reddish-brown berries hail from the prickly ash tree. When married with chilli peppers (the other key ingredient in Szechuan cuisine), chefs believe this numbing effect reduces the chilli pepper’s heat, leaving diners free to appreciate the capsicum’s intense, fruity flavour.

Musings on food - See Foon Chan-KoppenMusings on food - See Foon Chan-KoppenMusings on food - See Foon Chan-KoppenStewart Hoo who invited me with some friends to try the newly-opened Xiang Man Lou at 1 Casuarina (next to Impiana Hotel) would beg to disagree as I found him spluttering and gulping down cold beer to help dissipate the fiery sensations caused by some of the dishes.

I, on the other hand simply revelled in the unique taste treats, hitherto unavailable here in Ipoh and one for which I have been hankering as I have not been to Szechuan province in quite a few years. Added to this was the abundance of offal on the menu and I found myself in eclectic gastronomic heaven.

In fact being the first to arrive, I couldn’t resist ordering an appetizer portion of their cold beef tripe while waiting for the others. Tripe here comes in many forms, the two which I had were wet and dry respectively, the former with chilli oil, sesame oil, Szechuan peppers and the latter was especially delectable and made a lovely snack – chewy slices of beef tripe sprinkled with again the ‘de riguer’ spices but with subtle hints of other herbs. Totally scrumptious – RM15 each.

Still on appetizers, the cold ‘mook yee’ or ‘wood ear’ was interesting, unlike our local monstrously large variety, these were petite, each a bite-sized piece and marinated with less fiery pungency, receiving favourable comments from around our table of 10 – RM12.

And while this was vegetarian, the next cold dish wasn’t, being the cold sliced pig’s ear, lean with little fat, cartilaginous, sliced appetizingly thin and doused in a similar marinade – RM15.

Musings on food - See Foon Chan-KoppenSo far, we had been indulging in appetizers, nuances of pungency and aromas celebrating the taste and textures of the ingredients on the plate. Next came the hot dishes beginning with the ‘Saliva Chicken’, basically a mild steamed chicken to appease the flaming taste buds at RM15 and followed by one of their signature dishes, the ‘Hao Yu’ or Sekap fish, sliced with skin intact, with tofu, and the larger bean sprouts called ‘Tai Dou Nga’ served in a searingly hot (both in mouthfeel and temperature as it comes with a burner) broth, the top smothered in dried red chillies. Although a few at our table were taken aback by the preponderance of floating chillies in the dish, on tasting, the broth was surprisingly not as spicy as it looked and the fish slices were velvety smooth as was the tofu – RM68. This for me was one dish worth coming back for.

Musings on food - See Foon Chan-KoppenMusings on food - See Foon Chan-KoppenMany other dishes followed, notably the fried pig’s large intestine which was served with vinegar and garlic – RM23 and the stoneware frog legs, not spicy which came piping hot in the stoneware bowl – RM30.

We finished off the meal with a Szechuan hotpot with a choice of spicy or herbal soup. We opted for the combination with separate sections for those who like their soup spicy or bland. With 30 different options in the meat and fish section and 18 vegetables as well as bean curd and noodles to choose from, one is spoilt for choice. The beef and mutton were thinly sliced, tender and flavourful – RM18 per plate and the combination soup RM20.

The menu at Xiang Man Lou is extensive, and it’ll take many visits to exhaust the selection. Some dishes are Hunanese in origin, emanating from the chef who hails from Hunan. Hunan food too is spicy and very robust but does not use Szechuan peppers. Nevertheless a new taste sensation for most people in Ipoh used to the more bland Cantonese style of cooking. Non-spicy regular fare is also available for the timid palate and one can also request for the fire to be toned down for any of the searing hot dishes.

The biggest advantage that this restaurant has over others is their opening hours from 11.30am to 4.30am. So a midnight supper or even later is definitely on the cards for all the Ipoh night owls looking for a pick me up after all the bars have closed.

Musings on food - See Foon Chan-KoppenXiang Man Lou
Block A-G-9, A-G-11,
Bangunan Perdagangan Casuarina 1,
Jalan Raja Dr Nazrin Shah.
Tel: 05 255 2873
Open 11.30am-4.30am

Trip of a Lifetime

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For the second year running “adoptees” of Chief Minister Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir were once again privileged to travel outside of Perak. The fortunate children visited historical Malacca, as part of the on-going motivational “travel and learn” programme undertaken by Yayasan Bina Upaya Darul Ridzuan (YBU).

The entourage, consisting of 98 school children from outlying areas of Perak and 50 teachers and staff of the foundation, left for Malacca in four coaches recently.

The first point of call was Kompleks Seri Negeri, the Chief Minister of Malacca’s office. They were then taken to the many historical sites in the city state such as Bukit Cina, A Famosa, Stadthuys, Town Padang, Jonker Street, zoo, planetarium and the famous crocodile farm. The kids got to see Malacca at night while cruising down the Malacca River.

On the whole, the two-day trip was so meaningful to the young visitors that it prompted  one to say, rather profoundly, that it was the trip of his lifetime.

RM

An Experiment in Speeding

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By Mariam Mokhtar

Not all government departments are inefficient. Late one Tuesday afternoon, a friend was caught speeding on a highway by an Automated Enforcement System (AES) camera. A few days later, on a Friday morning, a postman knocked at his front door and handed him a traffic summons. How’s that for speedy service? If only the local council and agencies of the state could be as efficient when ratepayers demand that their drains be cleared, their rubbish collected, and the arrest of Mat Rempits who race on residential roads.

Malaysians are more annoyed about the way in which the contracts to supply and operate the AES cameras were awarded, than they are with the eventual 831 cameras being deployed nationwide.

They are angry that the project, awarded to two private companies, involved a process that was neither transparent nor clear. Having experienced regular toll charge increases, they are afraid that the AES will be open to similar abuse.

They want monies from the fines to be diverted into programmes which will improve the transportation network, including the repair and maintenance of roads, and not be used to enrich individuals of the two AES companies.

A mainstream paper reported, in November, that the Road Safety Department director-general Leslie Leon said, “You say people are angry. Of course they are angry. Before this, people could do whatever they wanted on the roads but now with the AES, they can’t…”

This writer has seen vehicles reversing and making U-turns on the highway, parking or reversing on roundabouts and drivers who do not indicate. There are lorries and buses which do not use lights at night, have broken tail lights, belch thick, black smoke, and have number plates which are obscured with mud. Some lorry and bus-drivers overtake dangerously and some lorries can barely move because they are overladen.

Many of us have witnessed policemen driving their official cars recklessly and parking in dangerous places. Who dares report them, for fear of being harassed by the same people who should be setting a good example on the roads?

The AES only addresses speeding, it will do nothing to deter other selfish road users.

Leon also claimed that police statistics show that motorbike crashes involved speeding cars. He also claimed that the AES would make motorbike riders safer, because vehicles would slow down thus allowing more time to react, and avoid accidents.

It has been shown in England that speed is rarely a factor in crashes, but it is very easy to fine motorists for exceeding an arbitrarily enforced limit.

This writer was once driving at 30 mph, along a road, when a motorbike suddenly veered across her path to turn right, into a kampong. The rider, who was not wearing a helmet, did not indicate.

The villagers from the kampong surrounded my car and threatened me with parangs when I tried to swop insurance details with the rider. At the nearest police station in Batu Gajah, several hours were spent making a report.

The police investigating the crash replied many weeks later, to say that they could not (or would not?) prosecute. The motorbike rider was not the vehicle owner, nor was the motorbike insured and she did not have a valid driving licence. When the authorities are reluctant to prosecute offenders, few people will bother to report crimes, or traffic violations.

A young friend who drives to college stayed behind after normal school hours, to do some research. As she drove home, her vehicle was surrounded by several cars driven by young men, the equivalent of Mat Rempits in cars, who tried to force her off the road.

Shaken by the incident, she is now ferried to college by her parents. How does one instil independence and confidence in our youth when road bullies are allowed to get away with their crimes?

The AES will do nothing to improve the road manners of drivers, nor will it reveal uninsured vehicles, or un-roadworthy vehicles, or road bullies. The AES will not solve the problems caused by bad roads, poor road signs, inadequate lighting and badly timed traffic lights.

Instead of paying for the AES, the Ministry of Transport should spend money on educating road users and ensure there is strict traffic enforcement at all times, not just before a festival or the balik-kampong rush. The AES will not induce better road manners outside that particular speed-trap zone.

Malaysians who drive cars in Europe, America and Australia respect the highway codes for fear of prosecution. They realise that back home, the same enforcement does not exist and that there are easy ways to “settle” traffic violations.

Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and Selangor have opted to ban the AES, thus presenting Leon and the Ministry of Transport an opportunity to study trends in the behaviour of road-users.

A comparison of serious accidents and fatalities between the states which have, and states which do not have the AES may prove useful. The states which use AES are unlikely to show a reduction in serious accidents, but the directors of the two companies will be rich from speeding fines.

Zambry Awards Innovative Perakeans

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Anugerah Inovasi Menteri Besar - Chief Minister’s Innovation AwardConsidering that the 40-odd entries to this year’s Anugerah Inovasi Menteri Besar (Chief Minister’s Innovation Award) “were not up to scratch” (according to the selection committee), a new category was created named, “Anugerah Potensi Inovasi” (Potential Innovation Award). The award was won by Associate Professor Dr Ismail bin Zainol from Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris for his halal collagen and hydroxyapatite extracted from fish scales. The award came with a cash prize of RM10,000 and a trophy.

At the ceremony themed, “Sinergi Inovasi, Strategi Transformasi” and held at the State Secretariat Building in Ipoh recently, other awards presented were Anugerah Inovasi Pentadbiran Daerah dan Tanah (Land and District Administration Innovation Award) which was won by Kerian District Office, Anugerah Inovasi Pengurusan Teknologi Maklumat (Information Technology Management Innovation Award) won by the Treasury Department of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris and Anugerah Inovasi Pengurusan Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan (Local Authority Management Innovation Award) which was won by Teluk Intan Municipal Council.

Winners of these categories received RM5000 cash and a trophy while the first and second runners-up received RM4000 and RM3000 cash respectively.

Winner of Anugerah Tema Hari Inovasi Terbaik (Best Innovation Day Theme Award), Ahmad Sid Hijaz Md. Said, a lecturer at Politeknik Ungku Omar, took home a cash prize of RM300 for his winning theme.

The ceremony was officiated by Chief Minister, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir. In his speech, Zambry reminded that innovations do not necessarily mean an earth-shattering creation by scientists. Anyone can be innovators, as long as they keep improving on their lives and the way they work. It is all about translating ideas into innovations and applying them into daily life.

Emily

PCSH Reaches Out To Underprivileged Communities

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The Orang Asli community and other low-income groups living in rural areas will receive free medical treatment and medicines again through the Perak Community Specialist Hospital (PCSH) Mobile Health Clinic this year.

State Health Committee Chairman Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon said the initiative was an effort to help the rural community to gain medical care and treatment. “More private organisations, especially health institutions should organise similar efforts for the benefit of the community in remote areas,” he said after the launching of PCSH Mobile Health Clinic at Kg. Ulu Groh, Gopeng.

PCSH Chief Executive Officer, Rajindar Singh, said the project featured doctors and nurses providing free medical consultation, medicines and health screenings such as blood pressure, blood glucose, diet counselling and body mass index.

Rajindar said this is the second time that PCSH is conducting the project after a successful run last year.  Villagers who were found in need of further medical attention would then be brought to the PCSH for screening and treatment. “For example, we encountered a 29-year-old woman suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, who lost the use of both her legs last year. We have given her free treatment, including prostheses.”

The Mobile Health Clinic was funded by CIMB Foundation. Present at the launching were State Health Committee Chairman, Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon; The Perak Chinese Maternity Association President. Dato’ Lee Hau Hian; PCSH Chief Executive Office, Rajindar Singh and Jalan Raja Permaisuri Bainun CIMB Bank branch manager, Teng Tuck Oon.

Memory Lane Gets a Facelift – What Next?

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Memory Lane the flea market on Jalan Horley, acclaimed the biggest and well known all over the country, has had a facelift with new canopies. However, a number of traders are still using their own umbrellas, spoiling the efforts from the State Government to make the place attractive to tourists.

However, there are some set-backs and the place is becoming very congested with the addition of more traders. A few irresponsible traders have set up their business in the middle of the road, blocking the movement of people. The roads adjacent to the market are jammed and parking is a problem.

In contrast, there is a popular weekend market in Bangkok which attracts tourists and locals. It covers a very big area and even has a guide book. It is crowded, but not congested and is clean. Friends of mine had an unpleasant memory. One of them threw a piece of paper on the ground and was caught and fined on the spot. This is how enforcement works there. Our enforcement people could learn a lesson from Bangkok.

The flea market was relocated to this place from Peoples’ Park because of congestion. The time has come to move to a bigger place. An ideal place would be Medan Istana which is adjacent to the present site and is a large area and the surrounding roads are not busy. The authorities must look into this. Next year is Visit Malaysia Year; let us get prepared.

Meanwhile, we must be innovative and unique to attract tourists.

AJ

UTAR Holds First ICBSSR

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As part of its year-long 10th anniversary celebration, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FAS) held the first International Conference on Behavioural and Social Science Research (ICBSSR) 2012 at UTAR Perak Campus on November 2.

Themed ‘Celebrating Scholarly Connections from Global Interchange and Interdisciplinary Perspectives’, the conference aimed to provide the platform for academicians and researchers to present and exchange views on social and behavioral sciences and to bring together diverse avenues to explore theoretical and practical discussion to advance knowledge.

Officiating the conference, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malaysia, Dato’ Lee Chee Leong said, “With the advent of technology and innovation, holistic solutions take a myriad of perspectives and an inter-disciplinary approach.  It is thus an encouraging step that the faculty has taken to motivate interdisciplinary research in the field of behavioural and social science”.

Also present at the opening ceremony were UTAR President Ir Professor Academician Dato’ Dr Chuah Hean Teik, Vice President (Student Development and Alumni Relations) Assoc. Professor Dr Teh Chee Seng and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Assistant Professor Dr Sebastian K. Francis.

A total of 200 participants, presenters and paper reviewers from Malaysia, Singapore, China, USA, Hong Kong, Australia and other countries attended the one-day conference. There were 70 research papers presented at the conference.  Assoc. Professor Dr Teh Chee Seng, the keynote speaker at the conference, presented his paper on ‘Challenges and Current Issues in Behavioral and Social Science Research – Going the Way Forward’.

Renowned criminologist, Professor N. Prabha Unnithan, Director of the Center for the Study of Crime and Justice, Colorado State University and former editor of the Social Science Journal conducted a workshop on ‘How to publish in ISI-Indexed Journals’.

The conference covered a wide interdisciplinary discussion such as online teaching and learning issues, sustainable development, marginalized communities, universal cultures, cyber psychology, online behaviour, neuropsychology and others.

Meru Valley Charity Golf

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Meru Valley Golf and Country Club celebrated its 20th Anniversary by organising a charity golf tournament recently. The club’s intention was a noble one – to donate in kind to deserving social entities. The four fortunate bodies were Pertubuhan Wa Khiew Yi Shea, Pertubuhan Kebajikan Anak-Anak Yatim Ar Raudhah, Pertubuhan Kebajikan Anak-Anak Yatim Gembala Baik and Pertubuhan Kebajikan Kanak-Kanak Cacat Negeri Perak. They received RM2000, RM5000, RM5000 and RM8000 respectively. The size of the cheque was determined by the extent of their responsibilities.

Meru Valley Golf and Country ClubThe tournament, according to Shahzan Bahari, one of the directors of the private golf club, was to promote a healthy lifestyle through golfing. “We play and donate all at the same time,” he remarked in his opening speech during the presentation ceremony. A sum of RM20,000 was collected from participants and well-wishers. All were donated to charities.

Seasoned golfer, Hashim Naian (7), who scored 41 Stableford points, was adjudged the winner. Teh Chew Choong (4) beat Lee Keng Kah (11) on count back scoring an identical 37 points. The winners took home a trophy each and some attractive golfing equipment.

Secretary of the State Royal Council, Dato’ Ayob Hashim and Taiping High Court Judge, Dato’ Ahmad Nafsy Yasin were among the VIP golfers,

Sarah