MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST SAYS TRUTH IS DEAD – WE ARE NOW DROWNED OUT BY HALF TRUTHS, LIES AND FAKE NEWS!

‘The truth – I do not think so because truth has been sacrificed on the altars of deep pockets, greed, and personal and private interests and profits!’

MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST SAYS TRUTH IS DEAD – WE ARE NOW DROWNED OUT BY HALF TRUTHS, LIES AND FAKE NEWS!

Recently, Jane Pauley asked Hillary Clinton a simple question during a sit-down on CBS’ “Sunday Morning”: Were there mistakes she made that led to her loss in the 2016 presidential race?

Hillary’s response was telling.

“I think the — the most important of the mistakes I made was using personal email,” she acknowledged.

“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, that was my responsibility.
It was presented in such a really negative way, and I never could get out from under it.

And it never stopped.”

Those who brought me up from the late 50’s in Sungei Petani, Kedah were very good and honest people!

They instilled in me from a young age that always say the truth!
It sets you free!

It is always better to tell the truth and shame the devil!

This same concept holds true in journalism today and writers in online media!

Of course, the ‘devil’ these days perhaps, that person (s) who can by seconds make certain you will never have any financial, position, honorific or other worries – period and all that you need to do is compromise, spin, create a doubt, write an alternate narrative and at best get so many versions out there that the truth gets lost in the process?

But for me at the twilight of this journey we call life, I believe that in order for a journalist and anyone else that includes me as opinion shapers, and I am that, having done so for the last 40 years of my life as Malaysia, ASEAN/APEC Lead Consumerist to gain respect, credibility and trust from their audience, we must report the truth.

Certainly, there are ethical guidelines in place for journalists to follow to enable them to gain trust and respect from their audiences.

Like all professionals be they doctors, lawyers, engineers, journalists have their set of codes of ethics to follow.

And providing true information to the public is on the top of each of these lists.

These codes of ethics are a platform for journalists to go off of.
In order to be an ethical journalist, you must always focus on telling the truth.

But why Tell the Truth?

It is important for journalists to tell the truth because the public depends on them.

The public depends on journalist’s every day for information to update and enlighten them on what is going on in society, good, bad and ugly so that they can make informed decisions!

If the public cannot trust journalists to give them true news information, then who can they trust?

It is the duty of journalists to take the time to gather true information before they report on a story.

Once journalists start reporting on things that are not true, their credibility is lost.

But the truth these days where journalists can be bought as can their top editors and even media companies are beholden to political patronage/ownership anything is possible!

But that never gets off from the ethical principle these days lost that the duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.

Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty.

Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.

Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

CASSA’S 18 POINT ADVICE TO SCRIBES:

1. Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error.

2. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

3. Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

4. Identify sources whenever feasible. The readers/public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.

5. Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.

6. Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

7. Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.

8. Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.

9. Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story

10. Never plagiarize.

11. Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.

12. Examine their own cultural/religious values and avoid imposing those values on others.

13. Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.

14. Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

15. Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.

16. Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

17. Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

18. Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and with accountability, transparency and with good governance as cornerstones!

Is it possible in 2017?

The truth – I do not think so because truth has been sacrificed on the altars of deep pockets, greed, and personal and private interests and profits!

MALAYSIAN ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE ASKS – SAFETY SECURITY AND SCHOOLS – HAVE WE FAILED TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP?

‘We as parents cannot forget, we have a responsibility, a duty of care and if we fail it, especially in many civilized, progressive jurisdictions, we will have action taken on us, by the state!

I have witnessed this in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, Europe and the US!’

MALAYSIAN ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE ASKS – SAFETY SECURITY AND SCHOOLS – HAVE WE FAILED TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP?

I am a lawyer by profession!

I am involved in international crisis management strategies and as a keynote speaker who has participated in hundreds of national and international media events, in conferences and other meets in my tenure as the Founder/President of the Consumers Association of Subang & Shah Alam Selangor (CASSA) and lead Consumerist/Adviser in the ASEAN/APEC Sector, a crisis management consultant.

I am known for my integrity, hard work, no nonsense approach, developed a worldwide reputation in advocacy, human rights, for integrity, accountability, ethics in crisis management, planning and training by helping global brands, communities, NGOs, and governments prevent and manage a wide range of issues and crises.

And in all those events I was truly ashamed when questions were asked of controversies in my country or of failures, shortcomings, idiocy, incompetence, lack of integrity, or in upholding universal principals of good governance, on both minor and major public policy initiatives!

Why go so far – let’s address MH370 again!

You want the truth, answers, closure but did you get it?

Let me put it simply, if one is incompetent in one’s office on domestic tragedies and wrongs, or cover ups, the result at worst, is a slap on the wrist – how do you expect the same individuals to fulfill the aspirations of what is right and wrong, in the international arena?

For example why the eerie silence at the new killing fields and an illegal war in Yemen overshadowed by the Syrian conflict?

These political shenanigans love to be in the media limelight but do not realize by their mannerism, body language, and response they have just confirmed their incompetence!

That is the reality!

To show how large and deep the swamp is or the reservoir of stupidity, inaction, lack of apathy and incompetence, let me use as example, the tragedy of deaths in our Malaysian religious schools and the response from stakeholders who are expected in law and convention to act, but have they?

The list of tragedies I enclose herein is a litany of the outbreak of a disease called incompetence, inaction and lack of accountability!

If these statistics did not result in a comprehensive investigation and guidelines and protocols put through, under an oversight task force, I wonder what is.

And it is absolute madness, plain unadulterated lunacy for anyone to say that the federal government has no powers of oversight vis a vis safety, security and internal security of citizens!

Now let us look at the frequency of the incidents of these outrageous events!

2017
• Jan 13: A tahfiz student sustained injuries in a fire at the hostel of Pondok Nurul Iman in Kampung Tanjung Batu, Nenasi in Pekan, Pahang.

• Jan 16: The An-Nuur Islamic Education Centre, better known as Pondok an-Nuur in Pantai Sepat, Kuantan, Pahang that housed 113 students was razed to the ground.

• Feb 7: A total of 73 female religious school students in Maran, Pahang were left with just the clothes on their backs when a fire destroyed their hostel. This was the second incident after the first in 2006, which also razed the students’ hostel.

• Feb 28: Pondok Al-Baghdadi in Tumpat, Kelantan that accommodated 100 students 15 and 30 years old, was destroyed in a fire. No casualties were reported.

• April 17: Ten residential buildings of Pondok Seri Permai in Pasir Puteh, Kelantan were destroyed in a fire, incurring losses estimated at RM161,000.

• April 30: Thirty students of Mahaad Tahfiz Al-Quran Al-Ismailiyah Mukim Lalang, Banggol Chicha, Pasir Mas, Kelantan saw their hostel reduced to ashes in a blaze.

• July 3: The store room of the Al-Islah residential religious school in Teluk Intan, Perak, which accomodated 68 students, was destroyed in a fire.

• July 4: The Addiniah Al-Latifiah residential religious school in Pengkalan Hulu, Perak, which had 66 students, was destroyed in a fire.

• July 30: Two hostel blocks of Maahad Tahfiz Al-Barakah in Sepang, Selangor which housed 100 male students were razed in a fire.

• Sept 14: A total of 22 students and two teachers were killed in a fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah in the federal capital at 5.15am.
2016

• Jan 18: The two-storey building which housed 30 students of the Al-Redzuan residential religious school in Kampung Dato Ahmad Razali, Dengkil, Selangor was razed in a fire.

• March 7: A total of 60 students of Darul Itqan Al-Muhammadi residential religious school in Kampung Batu 40, Sabak Bernam, Selangor lost their hostel to a fire.

• March 3: The hostel of Maahad Tahfiz at-Tijarah at Jalan Bukit Idaman 8, Bukit Idaman in Selayang, Selangor was among the premises destroyed in a fire.

• May 11: Madrasah Tahfiz Al-Quran Raudhatul Ulum, Bagan Selat, in Butterworth, Penang was destroyed in a fire. No casualties were reported.

• June 18: The hostel of Madrasah Diniah Bakriah Pondok Pasir Tumboh, which housed more than 50 students was razed in a fire. No casualties were reported.

• Sept 22: Maahad Tahfiz Daril Naim in Pangkal Kala, Melor, Kota Bharu in Kelantan was razed in a fire. According to the Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department, this was its second fire-related incident. The first was on July 2016.

2015
• May 6: The premises that housed the essential items of the students of Ribat Assyafie residential school in Taman Murni Perdana, Dungun, Terengganu was destroyed in a fire.

• May 13: The hostel of Tahfiz Khairul Kalam in Jalan Kebun, Shah Alam, Selangor that had 26 students, was destroyed in a fire.

• July 29: Three students of Raudhatut Tahfiz residential religious school in Km2, Jalan Gunung Jerai in Guar Cempedak, Kedah suffered burns when a fire broke out at their hostel.

• Aug 28: The hostel of Madrasah Tahfiz Al-Zahra in Kampung Ladang, Gelang Patah in Johor Baharu, Johor was razed in fire about 6am.
• Oct 21: A fire destroyed 70% of the Al Ummi religious school in Labuan. There were no casualties.

2014

• Feb 14: Seventeen students of Maahad Tahfiz Muhammadiah, Bukit Rangin in Kuantan, were left without their two-storey school because of a blaze.

2013

• June 15: A student of Maahad Tahfiz Al-Barakah (Mantab), Kampung Masjid, Tikam Batu, near Sungai Petani, Kedah was found burnt to death, and two others injured when a fire destroyed their hostel.

• July 4: A total of 81 students of the Kunak religious school in Sabah lost their belongings when their temporary hostel for male students was destroyed in a blaze.

2012

• Sept 9: The second floor of the Assyifa residential religious school in Kampung Kolam, Kuala Ibai in Terengganu, that housed 25 students, was destroyed in a fire while the students performed Zohor prayers at a nearby surau.

• Jan 25: A hostel for male students at the Sekolah Menengah Agama Nadzah, Bukit Besar in Yan, Kedah was destroyed in a fire believed to have been caused by a short circuit. Fire had also broke out in 1996 and 2005 at the same school.

2011

• Jan 16: The top floor of the two-storey Maahad Qiraat Al-Azhar Amal Aimy Zdalifah at Km3, Jalan Sungai Korok, Sultan Abdul Halim Highway in Alor Setar, Kedah was destroyed in a fire at about 10.50am.

2010
• Jan 22: Sekolah Pondok Lubuk Tapah, Kelantan’s oldest religious and educational centre was destroyed in a fire.

• July 25: An eight-year-old student of a private religious school in Hulu Langat, Selangor was burnt to death in a 1.30am fire.
2009

• Jan 1: A fire which broke out at Sekolah Madrasah Darul Hikmah in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah left damage estimated at about RM200,000. However, no casualties were reported.

2007

• Aug 7: Twelve students of Sekolah Menengah Agama Darul Makmur in Pekan, Pahang, were unable to sit for an examination after their school building was destroyed in a fire.

• Sept 22: A fire destroyed Sekolah Pondok Bandar Hilir in Teloi, Sik, Kedah, However, there were no casualties as the incident occurred during a school holiday.

• Oct 22: A hostel block which housed 96 students of Sekolah Nurul Hidayah Al-Quran Maahad Tahfiz Pasir Puteh, Kelantan was destroyed in a fire.

After the last tragedy barely 24 hrs ago, that took the lives of 22 children, 2 teachers and where 11 are still seeking treatment, I am asking what is next?

Is it business as usual?

A mother has gone on record saying she does not want any of her children to die a martyr.

She wants them to grow up and have full and happy lives, and for them to be able to contribute to society in any way that is fitting for them.

She wants to spend time with them, and enjoy their company and love.

However, it is beyond words, intelligence and a sense of responsibility and accountability to hear Tahfiz Darul Quran Iftifaqiyyah school Principal Muhammad Zahid Mahmud say that we should ‘all assume that the students who perished in the early morning blaze yesterday died as martyrs.’

He said that ‘these children were willing to live separately from their parents and family just so that they could gain an education and better understanding of the religion. And so, god willing, they are all going to heaven.’

The horror and reality that faced firefighters was finding 22 students ranging from the ages seven to 17 dead along with two teachers, their bodies piled up in the corners of the room near the windows.

Legally, the school was operating illegally failing all administrative and local council protocols!

But, ironically to the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government, Minister Noh Omar, who is reported to have stated that no action would be taken against the school because they had already suffered so much with the fire and the deaths.

Are these operators above the law, I ask?

Can you understand that logic and interpretation, from whatever jurisdiction in the global village you come from?

This is a minister speaking!

Initially, before Noh made his statement, my dear friend, Kuala Lumpur, police chief Amar Singh said that the police would open investigations and probe the school for its blatant disregard of the law.

But will the minister’s word trumps his now (Pray Not!) or will public interest now pressure that chargers be initiated under Malaysian Penal Code – Murder (S300), Culpable homicide (S299), or Causing death by negligence (304A)?

Deputy Prime Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had expressed concern over safety issues involving these schools.

But concern must interpret as action and punishing those behind these fatalities, in the public interest!

There have been enough photo shoots, political statements and media circus!

As for parents being distraught and upset are understandable but they must act to set a standard and example that this does not repeat!

Parents must be more responsible and participate in all matters pertaining to the lives of the children, not just breeding!

You cannot outsource this!

We as parents cannot forget we have a responsibility, a duty of care and if we fail it, in many civilized, progressive jurisdictions we will have action taken on us by the state!

Even for sending your children to a school without first checking if all the necessary safety rules have been complied with.
I take leave of this matter till the next fire incident and its fatalities!

I am just lost for words!

 

TAHFIZ SCHOOLS: CASSA CHIEF SLAMS DEPUTY EDUCATION MINISTER TO MIND HIS OWN BUSINESS!

TAHFIZ SCHOOLS:CASSA CHIEF SLAMS DEPUTY EDUCATION MINISTER TO MIND HIS OWN BUSINESS!

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan came under fire and told to mind his own business and work towards upgrading the status and delivery system of the education ministry so that education institutions would be professionally and competently run instead of trying to get media attention on the religious school tragedy unfolding!

The deputy minister should clean up his own turf before attempting to advice others!

He should be concentrating on efforts at introducing policies
that create bridges of friendship, professionalism, competency and a equal working environment free of racial, religious, fascism, bigorty and prejudice among teachers!

What about promotions for educators?

Are they free and fair and without prejudice?

For students, has there been any progress in eradicating extreme polarization at our schools and the further divide along racial and religious lives of our students?

Are all schools today a safe haven free from criminals, gangsterism and other socially ill activities not just among male but female students?

What about the food policies at the canteens and the process of service providers from all walks of Malaysians instead of a monopoly given to certain providers?

Recent controversies that have erupted and the manner the deputy minister had addressed those issues shows not just incompetence but a lack of transparency, accountability, ethics and fair play.

I am certain his work load is cut up for him without him being a busy body and interfering in jurisdictions that are covered by Malaysia’s religious agencies and authorities!

MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE ASKS – IS IT ABOUT TIME THAT TAHFIZ SCHOOLS COME UNDER GREATER SCRUTINY AND OVERSIGHT OF THE AUTHORITIES?

 

I refer to the article on the tahfiz school fire, which quotes The Star as saying that there have been 211 fire incidents involving tahfiz schools nationwide between 2015 and last month.

If those statistics do not call for a comprehensive investigation to be carried out, as well as the introduction of guidelines and protocols under an oversight task force, I wonder what is.

But Housing Minister Noh Omar says that the tahfiz school that caught fire early this morning did not have a valid permit from the Fire and Rescue Department for the building to be occupied.

Interestingly, Deputy Federal Territories Minister Loga Bala Mohan says he sympathises with the families, and accepts that it is one of the worst fires involving in the capital in recent years.

Does no one have the political or moral courage to resign from office for failing in their duty of care?

Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan whose track record at handling scandals and fiascos have not been impressive let alone competent wants tahfiz under the education ministry!

Tomorrow, it will go back to business as usual.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Comm Amar Singh, meanwhile, stated the charred remains of the victims were found piled on top of another in the room they were trapped in after the fire broke out. He further confirmed that the fire was believed to have started right outside the door of the room, preventing any chance of escape.

At the time of writing, this tragic fire took the lives of more than 23 students and 2 adults and 11 injured. The tragedy has now gained notoriety, and brought the nation once again into the scrutiny of the international media, which includes CNN.

We cannot deny that despite recent issues where there are various allegations surrounding the lack of oversight on the mushrooming of religious schools, the question on everyone’s lips is: where and when will be the next tragedy be?

The word on the ground is that the Fire and Rescue Department lacked the resources to check on every school. The local government, whose jurisdictions the school fall under, is said to be facing the same predicament.

The reality is that after all the media hype, statements and promises of politicians and members of the agencies that are expected to carry their responsibilities with professionalism and competence, how long before the next tragedy?

The fact remains that with schools coming up out of nowhere, mostly within housing estates without proper due diligence, the detailed licensing protocols and safety precautions put in place are just lulls before the next tragedy.

That has been always the case in Malaysia, sadly.

MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE LAUDS THE ENTRY OF SINGAPORE’S NEW PRESIDENT HE HALIMAH YACOB!

“In a region with peddlers of fascism, religious bigots, religious pretenders, proponents of race and religious superiority (Orang Kita Psyche) and extremists who double speak, it was simple and penetrating to hear HE speak about “doing good and together!”

MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE LAUDS THE ENTRY OF SINGAPORE’S NEW PRESIDENT HE HALIMAH YACOB!

In several jurisdiction around the world even today, despite huge progress made in gender equality, women are undermined, their full person hood and equal participation in society puts them at an increased risk and violence from both state and religious actors!

Family matters in countries as diverse as Iran, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are governed by religion-based personal status codes.

Many of these laws treat women essentially as legal minors under the eternal guardianship of their male family members.

Family decision-making is thought to be the exclusive domain of men, who enjoy by default the legal status of “head of household.”

These notions are supported by both by respective religious and family courts in the region that often reinforce the primacy of male decision-making power.

Are the trend and narrow archaic view to fetter and caveat women so that they remain just to be confined to the kitchen, for procreation and for sex?

Inexplicably, in some jurisdictions, since women are more qualified and educated, they are encouraged or allowed to work so that the partner can live off her, it is alleged!

This to this day and time, despite so many women having served as Presidents or Prime Ministers!

These actors are caught in a time warp no doubt!

Inexplicably, like their counterparts some were highly controversial; some were compromise candidates.
Some presided over peace; others over war.

Some were elected; some were appointed.

Some served briefly; others were elected; one, though elected, was prevented from serving.

There were cases where many followed into office their fathers or husbands; others were elected or appointed on their own reputations and political contributions.

One even followed her mother into politics, and her mother served a third term as prime minister, filling the office left vacant when the daughter took office as president!

Among these greats were Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Lady Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan Prime Minister,Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar – despite winning prevented in assuming office!

Then there was both Khaleda Zia, and Sheikh Hasina Wajed,both taking office in Bangladesh, in turns.

And closer to home, were Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of founding head of state Sukarno, was selected as Indonesia’s fifth president in 2001,President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, of course, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Nepal, President, Park Geun-hye, South Korea Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand, President Pratibha Patil of India, Prime Minister Han Myung-sook of South Korea among some.

So to hear confirmation that former Speaker of Parliament, Halimah Yacob is Singapore’s first female Malay president in more than 47 years, across the causeway is very exciting indeed!

Halimah, 62, is a great choice no doubt, with her vast experience and track record as a Speaker of Parliament for more than three years.

For the record, this year’s Presidential Election has been reserved for the Malay community, following changes to the Elected Presidency scheme passed by Parliament last November.

The changes allow for the election to be reserved for a particular ethnicity that has not had an elected representative for five consecutive terms.

President Yusof Ishak was Singapore’s first President and the only Malay to have held the office till he died in 1970.

I was rather touched by her sincerity when she remarked:
“I can only say that I promise to do the best that I can to serve the people of Singapore, and that doesn’t change whether there is an election or no election,” she told reporters Monday after she was certified as the only eligible candidate.

I was rather touched again by the simplicity and honesty of her campaign slogan — “Do Good, Do Together” — was widely panned by some as ungrammatical. She defended it as “very impactful.”

To me it was a genuine heartwarming reaching out to multi-racial religious Singapore and present challenging political atmosphere in the region and what better than to say- “Do Good, Do Together!”

In a region with peddlers of fascism, religious bigots, religious pretenders, proponents of race and religious superiority (Orang Kita Psyche) and extremists who double speak, it was simple and penetrating to hear HE speak about “doing good and together!”

It was political freshness no doubt!

I am rather excited and hope I get a chance to meet her during her term in office!