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| FRIDAY MAY 22 2009


speak up!
thesun says

Govt must review preventive laws
HOME MINISTER Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein should be congratulated for saying that the time is ripe to review our security laws. To be sure, many people are full of praise for him for saying so even though they know that it is politic for him to say so especially after the recent releases of those held under those laws. To be sure there are people who actually support the continued existence of these security laws in our statute books saying that most countries, no matter how democratic, have them. But from the public demonstration of protest, opposition and statements against the laws especially the ISA there is no denying a growing sense of disappointment and anger that the government is still dragging its feet in so far as the abolition of the ISA is concerned. There is a feeling that more and more people are becoming more disappointed and angry at the continued usage of the ISA and other preventive and detention laws despite numerous petitions for their abolishment over the years. It may not be too difficult for Hishammuddin to say what he said as after all his predecessors had been saying the same thing before him. His immediate predecessor, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, for instance, said so several times and on many occasions. Such that not many people put much stock in such statements by the home ministers any more. But there are also those who believe that this time it is different and that while the ISA may not be abolished it may actually come up for review and be amended to make it better administered, less draconian and with more safeguards against abuse during the life of this Parliament. They believe that Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak is a pro-reform prime minister who would prefer to have a more open and rakyatfriendly mechanism in place of the unpopular security laws. It could be that Hishammuddin had this at the back of his mind when he said that “the time is ripe” plus also the fact that more and more people are coming out to speak against the security laws. Whatever the argument there is certainly merit in the call for a new look at those laws and other laws under the purview of the Home Ministry and there are about 50 of them. Times have changed and with globalisation and the Internet, the way government operates must also change. There must be a paradigm shift in thinking. Among the other laws enforced by the Home Ministry are the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Official Secrets Act. They too need to be reviewed just as urgently as the ISA. Perhaps for a start the laws could be amended to once again allow the courts to review the decision of the home minister whenever it is felt that he had acted arbitrarily.


How many marks for an A1?
I READ with interest the letter, “Award scholarship to the best” (May 19). It is important to find out if international best practices have been followed in awarding A1. Is the A1 based on a no-compromise 95 marks and above? Or, does one draw a line at, say, 75, to allow a percentage of students to obtain A1? If the international best practice is adhered to strictly, then it is a positive sign that Malaysia has produced so many bright students. If otherwise, it will be difficult to establish who really are the cream of the crop, and who truly deserve the PSD scholarships. The public sector will also be denied of having top-notch students in its employment. If the grading system is belowstandard (this is not known, and only the Malaysian Examination Syndicate can provide irrefutable evidence, and better still, allow an independent audit of its marking and grading system), then it would allow many more students to score A1s and be eligible to apply for the PSD scholarships. The non-academic criteria used by PSD are far from ideal, as certain criteria such as co-curriculum leave much room for subjective evaluation – some teachers are strict while some practise favouritism. Further, the 10% weightage for co-curriculum is deemed too significant in the consideration for the PSD scholarship awards. It is hoped that the cabinet could seriously look into this issue of national importance, as the government is duty-bound to encourage the country’s bright and deserving students based on merit. Notwithstanding this, the government could set aside a meaningful budget for bright students (who may not necessarily score maximum A1s), but who come from poor or needy families. K. Bob Kuala Lumpur

Thank you, kind people
“MANY good souls out there” (Letters, May 20) opens a window for my family to say thank you to some very special people. On April 10, 2004, a nurse, Miss Liew, in Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s ward 13, told me to spend the night with my seriously ill father. He died knowing that I was at his side. Two years ago, my sister had to take care of her youngest son at UMMC. Not having any coins on her, she desperately went through her purse to find one. Some trainee doctors noticed her predicament and gave her some coins to call home. We will always remember these good souls who took the trouble and did not look away. Sam Chin Horng Petaling Jaya