Writers should not be threatened with police reports



Writers should not be threatened by police reports
By Zan Azlee

The recent police report made by a chairman of an NGO against online columnist Mariam Mokhtar for an opinion piece she wrote is a worrying precedence.

As is the case in Malaysia, every single expression that could slightly offend someone can be made into a police report in order to intimidate the person making that expression.

For someone to have to resort to making a police report over a piece of writing, it just goes to show that he does not have the ability to engage with the writer in the most appropriate way.

Personally, I have read many things that I find offensive written by many people (such as Ridhuan Tee and the likes) in many publications, online and in print.
But I do not make police reports against these writers because I believe that they have a right to express whatever their thoughts and opinions are, no matter how absurd.

But what I would do, and have done many times, is to engage writers by writing my own thoughts and opinions to counter what I disagree with.

In fact, there have been times where another writer and I had a go for several weeks criticising and having a blow with each other in our weekly columns. No reports were made.

And that is exactly how it should be because that is what a rational discourse is supposed to be like, with the public chipping in and making up their own minds as well.

No good ever comes from shutting people up through force rather than logic and reasoning. And that is why I will continue to advocate for no censorship.

If police reports are continuously made against writers because of their writing, then it would be a matter of time before there will no longer be thought-provoking writing to push society. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Yes, caning and smacking children should be illegal



Yes, caning and smacking children should be illegal
By Zan Azlee

Finally, some sense is being spoken when it comes to disciplining children and their rights in Malaysia with the government introducing a new act that will make it illegal to cane a child.

Being a parent, I have never been agreeable with any form of physical punishment such as smacking or caning to educate and keep my child in line.

And as a child many many years ago, my parents had never resorted to any punishment of that sort either. It was always talking and reasoning (with the occasional screaming!).

Sure caning and smacking may have been the norm decades ago, but with more research and education in the field of child psychology, we need to improve things.

It goes without saying that it is common knowledge that corporal punishment for children result in negative psychological effects (or maybe it isn’t common knowledge?).

It promotes violence as a means to solve problems, increases bullying, the fear of pain rather than learning right from wrong, and much much more.

So when other parties start getting angry saying that the new act is wrong and needs to be looked at again to consider the view of parents, I got worked up.

Many are saying that hitting a child is a correct way of educating and disciplining them, even in this day and age. And of course, a majority of them are using religion (ie: Islam) as an excuse.

But of course, that is all an excuse. Because Islam does not outrightly say that you must hit your child. In fact, Prophet Muhammad had never in his entire life hit a child.

So what does it say about society in Malaysia if they so vocally want to defend their right to be able to use corporal punishment to discipline their children? [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

5 things that thrive during a currency recession


5 things that thrive during a currency recession
By Zan Azlee

Malaysia’s currency, the ringgit, has been dropping at a constant rate these past few weeks and many people are saying that it could even go lower that what it was during the 1997/98 financial crisis.

It is now at 3.56 to the US dollar (at the time of writing) and the lowest it got in 1998 was 4.88. It was then that the Prime Minister at that time, Tun Mahathir Mohamed, capped it at 3.8.

Why has our currency been dropping of late? There are many details to why it is so, but the main reason has to be the slump in crude oil prices which is US$48.36 (at the time of writing).

Our country’s economy is highly dependant on oil because Petronas’ revenue contributes about 40 per cent of the government’s revenue. So you can imagine the significance of oil prices.

Although many would see the drop in our currency as something that is detrimental (it actually is if prolonged), there are advantages to. We just need to understand where and how to benefit from it. [Click to read the full article at KopitiemEkonomi.Com]

Change our perception of protests and demonstrations



Change our perception of protests and demonstrations
By Zan Azlee

Malaysia began its journey as an independent nation through protests and demonstrations organised by our founding fathers against the colonial masters.

It was democratic and peaceful, but the message the entire country sent to the British was powerful. They were not happy and tried as much as they could to suppress the dissent.

But of course, as we all know, they were unsuccessful and in August 1957, the British were forced to let go of our nation.

Unfortunately, the perception of this sacred democratic act today has been relegated to something negative, uncivilised and barbaric.
Those who partake in protests and demonstrations are labelled as hooligans and troublemakers, intent on destroying the daily lives of the rakyat.

Ironically, the same party that organised the protests and demonstrations to free our glorious nation are now stifling that same democratic element.

Is it just because now, these activities are mainly done to protest and demonstrate against them? So have the tides turned that they are now forced to suppress dissent?

Shouldn’t they embrace the tradition that brought us to independence instead of totally erasing it from their memories? Isn’t that a form of ungratefulness?

So many of the great nations in the world have attained independence and progressed due to the democratic process of protests and demonstrations. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

We need free tertiary education for all



We need free tertiary education for all
By Zan Azlee

Listening to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, give his State of the Union address can be pretty entertaining and boring at the same time.

It’s basically a time when the president of the country tells Congress everything that is right with this country, hence, the state of the Union. But sometimes, he outlines his annual agenda as well.

And one of the things that struck out to me in his speech last Tuesday is the fact that he is trying to persuade Congress to approve free education for community college students.

I have been an advocate for free education for quite a while now (ever since I’ve been a student!) and I think it makes sense because education is a right and not a privilege.

It seems that in Malaysia, education is almost like a privilege. Not all schools are equal and alike. Some are better than others in terms of infrastructure and teachers.

We have normal public schools, fully-residential schools, Mara Junior Colleges, BESTARIs and whatever not that polarises the education system instead of making all schools equal.

People resort to all kinds of ways to get into a school of their choice, like ‘borrowing’ different residential addresses, appealing to officials to be admitted into certain schools, etc.

And then there’s tertiary education in Malaysia. Although there are many scholarships to be obtained, they are still limited and not to mention that many follow racial quotas.

Even the entry to public universities are perceived to follow racial quotas and so many who aren’t included in the quota are forced to study in private institutions that cost even more.

And because of the cost, many will also be forced to forego tertiary education and head straight into the workforce. And that is not fair to the people. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]


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