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!

MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE SAYS MH370 AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS NIGHTMARE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN AVERTED!

MH370 MALAYSIANS NIGHTMARE AND CORK UP & PREDATORS/BLOGGERS SPIN GROUND!

Let us look at the facts so far!

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370/MAS370), registered as 9M-MRO, was a scheduled international passenger flight that disappeared on 8 March 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to its destination, Beijing Capital International Airport in China.

The said plane a Boeing 777-200ER was operated by Malaysia Airlines.

According to reports, it made its last voice contact with air traffic control at 01:19 MYT, 8 March (17:19 UTC, 7 March) when it was over the South China Sea, less than an hour inexplicably after takeoff.

According to reports and claims MH370 disappeared from air traffic controllers’ radar screens at 01:22 MYT.

Ironically a fact that came later was that Flight 370 was still tracked on Malaysia’s military radar as it deviated westwards from its planned flight path and crossed the Malay Peninsula.
It left the range of Malaysian military radar at 02:22 while over the Andaman Sea, 200 nautical miles (370 km) north-west of Penang in north-western Malaysia.

MH370 was carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 15 nations.

Without an iota of doubt this matter was a total communication nightmare, a cork up for the Malaysian authorities who failed miserably crisis managing all the stakeholders, the data, message and plan of action going forward.

They paid then and still do a huge price for underestimating the power and intelligence of the international media and the resolve of the stakeholders!

There were major negative communication episodes with the families of those on MH370 both here and in China.

No one denies the home team worked hard but did they disclose all, were transparent, accountable, work smart and used the best communication and strategic individual well respected in the land and globally in the process?

No, despite his offer!

As a result after a never ending – ‘yes we found it no, we did not episodes’ a multinational search effort for the aircraft, the largest and most expensive in aviation history was launched creating expectation from all stakeholders wanting the truth to come out and others closure!

This writer met many of them personally both here and abroad!

And expectations ran high despite my dear friends in high places – the Vietnamese being really pissed off with us for our incompetence in this matter!

The search which began in the early days of super chaos and disinformation, post March 8, at the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, where the aircraft’s signal was last detected on secondary surveillance radar, and extended to the Strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea began to be extended elsewhere.

Why?

‘Great minds or idiots’ – tell us that the analysis of satellite communications between the aircraft and Inmarsat’s satellite communications network concluded that the flight continued until at least 08:19 and flew south into the southern Indian Ocean, although the precise location cannot be determined.

Seriously?

For some unthinkable reasons, Australia then took charge of the search on 17 March when the search moved to the southern Indian Ocean.

Again for some unthinkable and inexplicable reason, on 24 March, the Malaysian government noted that the final location determined by the satellite communication is far from any possible landing sites, and concluded that “Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

For the record, we now know that from October 2014 to January 2017, a comprehensive survey of 120,000 km2 (46,000 sq mi) of sea floor about 1,800 km (1,100 mi) south-west of Perth, Western Australia yielded no evidence of the aircraft.

But thanks to ocean drifts, several pieces of marine debris found on the coast of Africa and on Indian Ocean islands off the coast of Africa—the first discovered on 29 July 2015 on Réunion—have been confirmed as pieces of Flight 370.

Were they planted or not remains at this time illusive!

The fact is, the bulk of the aircraft has still not been located, prompting many theories about its disappearance.

My friends and I managing a global network of stakeholders and volunteers on the recovery effort offered data and information but the system is more interested on our motivations and background rather than entertaining our feedback!

At the same time – Malaysia established the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the incident, working with foreign aviation authorities and experts. Malaysia has stated that a final report on Flight 370 will be released by the end of 2017.

The puzzle and dilemma is, neither the crew nor the aircraft’s communication systems relayed a distress signal, indications of bad weather, or technical problems before the aircraft vanished.

This was super-efficient!

And because the Malaysian authorities were incompetent managing this crisis from day 1, it led to many conspiracies; it led third parties going on a journey high jacking this tragedy for their personal agenda and publicity!

We had individuals masquerading as FBI agents, lawyers, investigators, insurance brokers visiting several destinations speaking and manipulating news and individuals!

In many cases, monies were alleged to have changed hands, with further monies coming, while in others not, forcing these parasites that were promised to go to third parties with all kinds of allegations on the personalities making the offers!

They wanted to make it big financially, through the misfortune and tragedy of MH370?

There were also information and publicity seeking individuals, who were trying to position their stories, spin and meet heads of governments with their own versions and among them, the murder of Zahid Raza, Honorary Consul of Malaysia, who was shot dead in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, recently!

These same media attention seeking desperadoes, then went on a spin that there was a link between our Honorary Consul’s murder and links to the doomed Malaysian Airlines flight.

I can categorically state there is none!

But the danger is, because we were slow in responding to his murder – the rumor mill operators, spin masters and both bloggers and professional shenanigans are having a field day using the tragedy of MH370 for their own interests and further damage done to an already tattered image?

Next: The Importance of Fast Track Communication Response & Where is MH370?