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SELAMAT Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all my Muslim brothers and sisters. For me, Islam is a great religion of love, understanding and peace. Over 65% of the Malaysian population are Muslims and definitely the Aidilfitri celebration will always be merrier than other festive seasons. Moreover, the victory in fasting the whole of Ramadan makes Syawal even more meaningful.

This year, however, the incident in Low Yat Plaza may somewhat dampen the festive spirit. But it serves as a great lesson for all of us.

First of all, we know that Malaysians believe postings on social media too easily, especially those with racial sentiments that arouse our emotions. It is a general perception that if a topic is being discussed repeatedly at large and when hatred is sown, then the issue could be considered true and real.

Sometimes, topics discussed on social media are neither true nor correct. Even the explanation by the Inspector General of Police, which was widely published in the media, can be refuted by the counsel to the young man suspected of the theft. How then can we truly believe all the words and news reports without being an eye witness to the real situation?

Thus, the main lesson for us is to determine the authenticity of any news before sharing them in social media, otherwise restrict them for discussion only.

Freedom of expression, assembly and the right to form associations is provided for in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, and we must wisely make full use of this freedom, especially in social media. Discussion through social media is a healthy platform to sharpen our minds and express views. However, just like any seminar or conference will have a moderator to guide the discussions, I feel that the owner of the post or sharing on social media should also stand as a moderator to control the situation before things get out of hand.

Many online forums have just that – moderators to guide a forum for discussion. If we can be self-moderated in the space of social media and act wisely upon unwanted conversations, there should not arise the question of whether social media should be curbed and controlled.

Secondly, I feel that the suspected theft case in Low Yat was merely a very little spark that, when mixed with stories of racism, cheating and aided by news spread widely through social media and so swiftly, ignited a huge burn in the hearts of people. To add fuel to the fire, a blogger was suspected to have written a blog that misled and caused the subsequent events, leading to a car being badly damaged and injuries to a few innocent people.

After that, there was also a viral spread of messages that the surrounding areas of Bukit Bintang, a tourist hotspot, were no longer safe to visit. I work at Yayasan Usman Awang where our office is at the Sun Complex and I find no threat going to and from work every day. It is very clear that unity in our country is so fragile, our people are easily poisoned by fear and this situation is not healthy for development, especially when we are on the final lap to achieve the status of a developed country.

What will the Government do next to deal with such cases so that it does not happen again? Are we Malaysians also responsible for this incident? Those who spread inaccurate news, which was thought to be true and interesting, through the social media, rarely apologise for their mistakes.

It is rare to see someone withdraw their wrong arguments through social media and face up bravely to a shameful situation. Many chose to hide behind their computers and keyboard and stay as shadowless warriors that way.

Datuk Seri Nazir Razak suggested making racism a crime. Although I do not personally agree with the proposal, I feel there is a need for all of us to learn and increase our level of maturity after this incident at Low Yat Plaza. If we, the younger generation, have never felt the pain of the May 13 incident, let this Low Yat Plaza fracas be a gentle reminder of the importance of national unity and maturity of minds.

Let bygones be bygones. As the Malays say, “ambil yang jernih, buang yang keruh”. We keep that in mind, and the lessons learnt from this incident, and forget the differences among us.

To apologise and to forgive is our culture. I feel that the Low Yat Plaza fracas would not have happened if the theft suspect and the shop salesmen could forgive and forget. The young men who were beaten on the night after the fracas did not hold grudges against the youths who beat them. I feel that the youths responsible for the fight should also be given a chance to apologise.

For this year’s Aidilfitri, let us visit our Muslim friends to celebrate the occasion. If you do not have a Muslim friend, just walk over to a Malay neighbour to wish them Selamat Hari Raya. As far as I know, Malays are known to be always warm, welcoming and friendly.

Chief Executive Officer, Yayasan Usman Awang

(Published in Letters, The Star, July 17, 2015)

I REFER to the report “Rohani: Flexi-hours key to getting women back to work” (The Star, July 10).

Women and men need time to juggle the family, especially after welcoming a child to the family.

Working Malaysians are only entitled to maternity leave and not paternity leave.

Perhaps it is time to review the parental leave policy.

Research has shown that women find it difficult to get a similar position and pay cheque after a long absence from the workforce.

In Australia, an employee who works at least 12 months in an organisation may be entitled to up to 52 weeks unpaid parental leave.

The provision also allows the employee to be back at work with the same position or a similar post, and with the nearest in pay and status to her original job prior to taking leave.

Many couples take turns for parental leave. While one works, the other spouse takes care of the children at home.

Secondly, it is now very common to see men taking over the women’s role at home.

Working couples may decide that the husband takes leave for the child, worrying that women may find it more difficult to get back to work after a long period.

In some cases, a husband may choose to take care of a child at home if the wife is making more money than him.

In this case, Malaysians should be allowed the flexibility of paternity leave as well. This will allow continuity of a woman at work.

Some European countries allow the parents to choose from two, three or four years of maternity leave.

However, such a long absence from work may further deter women from re-entering the workforce and losing her competitive edge.

In this case, I suggest women under maternity leave be entitiled for short, flexible-hour courses during maternity leave.

This could help them gain more soft skills while taking time off to take care of their children.

When they get back to work, these additional skills will come in handy to cope with new changes within their organisation.

It is high time to study a better parental policy for Malaysians.

A better parental policy does not only ease women back into the workforce, it also provides better growing time for children.

President, Voice of Women
Kuala Lumpur


Published: Thursday July 11, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday July 11, 2013 MYT 7:24:02 AM

 THE general election has created much racial tension with both sides of the divide bringing up racial sentiments. But the programmes spurred by youths like Kamilah Malaysia and SayaMauPicnic are great initiatives. Youths know better what Malaysians want, not Malays, not Chinese, not Indians. Just Malaysians.

The 1Malaysia slogan for years has not brought about this kind of momentum for unity nationwide. Yet, at a time when we are heading towards racial barriers, these unity programmes have started a process of healing.

In the past it would have been worrying when the cabinet was without Chinese representation but now, the people can readily accept the fact and trust that a Malay or Indian cabinet member will take care of the Chinese as well.

Let’s unite, move on and create a better Malaysia. We are all Malaysians.

Chew Hoong Ling
Petaling Jaya








I REFER to the current reports on making it compulsory to pass English in SPM. It is welcoming news indeed that we want to raise the standard of English in the country.

And I do agree that making the subject a compulsory pass will force students to improve their command of the language.

The standard of English among the young is really embarrassing. It has reached a stage where they cannot write proper sentences with correct grammar or spell correctly.

I was blessed to be a student at SMK Convent, Teluk Intan, when we were taught by the last batch of English teachers from the British era.

My English teachers, I still remember, sometimes forced us to refer to the dictionary. In fact, my teacher practically memorised the whole dictionary and could point out our mistakes easily.

Another teacher made us sit in pairs during his lessons – one student with a better score in English and the other with a lower score, so that the better student could help the other.

You cannot master a language overnight. It is learnt through reading, listening and speaking frequently.

I have attempted to learn Japanese but I never made much progress as I was not able to find the people to converse with.

While there are many measures taken by the Education Ministry to improve the standard of English, I would like to point out a few weaknesses and in turn provide a few suggestions.

Firstly, if the current English teachers are not trained with proper English, how would they teach correctly? I am in no position to humiliate teachers. There are really good ones, too.

Secondly, “importing” English teachers from overseas will not solve the problem unless we replace the incompetent teachers.

Thirdly, by the time we train up teachers, students may not be able to benefit as soon as we wish to.

There are still many retired teachers from the British times who have a very strong command of English.

I recall a politician suggesting that the ministry consider recruiting them as part-time teachers or tutors.

These teachers could also be English trainers for the current English teachers.

Then there are the efforts by English newspapers like The Star through its Newspaper-in-Education programme to help improve English in schools by providing newspapers as a teaching tool.

The ministry could look into developing language learning as a fun and interactive session.

Reading is also an essential practice for improvement in any language.

Therefore, schools perhaps could allocate time periods for students to read in the library.

Lastly, I’d like to suggest that students should re-sit language papers until they pass. If they fail the language subjects in Form One, they should not attempt to learn the Form Two syllabus until they have passed Form One.

This will ensure that their weakness in the language will not be dragged on from the first year of secondary school until they leave school, which is what is happening now.

I hope these humble suggestions could be taken into consideration and I thank the Education Ministry for its continuous efforts to improve the standard of education in the country.

Voice of Women Association


Published: Thursday March 14, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday April 18, 2013 MYT 12:52:03 AM

WITH less than 1% of organ pledgers in Malaysia and less than 50 organ donors, it is rare to see grieving family members giving their consent to donate organs of loved ones.

The family of Tan Ching Chin, who was killed on Valentine’s Day, has done a noble act by agreeing to donate her organs. I hope more people will follow this courageous act.

To ease family members’ grief in making the decision on your behalf, please pledge your organs. You can make your pledge online at

Chew Hoong Ling
Petaling Jaya

Published in The Sun 20 February 2013 – 05:05am


Online way to make the pledge

WITH less than 1% organ pledgers in Malaysia and only fewer than 50 actual organ donors emerging each year, it is rare to see grieving family members agree to donating the organs of their loved ones.

The family of Tan Ching Chin, who was killed on Valentine’s Day, has done a noble act in agreeing to donate her organs. Ching Chin’s wish has been fulfilled and may she rest in peace.

I hope more people will make the pledge to become organ donors.

Pledges can also be done online at

Petaling Jaya

Published in The Star Wednesday February 20, 2013


ORGAN DONATION: Noble act that will save lives
By Chew Hoong Ling, member, Public Awareness Action Committee for Organ and Tissue Donation

With only less than one per cent organ pledgers in Malaysia, it is rare to see grieving family members give the nod to parting with organs of their loved ones.

The family of Tan Ching Chin who was killed on Valentine’s Day, has done a noble act by agreeing to organ donation.

I hope more people will come forward to do so. Organ pledges can be done online at http://

Published in NST 20 February 2013
Read more: ORGAN DONATION: Noble act that will save lives – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times

I REFER to BR1M payments to the disabled. I suggest that the Inland Revenue Board work with the Welfare Department to ensure direct banking in of the BR1M payout to the disabled.

Most of the venues for BR1M payouts are difficult for the disabled to access.

As a volunteer at the BR1M payout sessions in Petaling Jaya, I had witnessed long queues and chaotic situations occurring, despite the organisers trying their best to control the crowd.

Most of the BR1M RM500 recipients are senior citizens and have difficulty walking.

Since the disabled already have their monthly aid channelled to them directly, I suggest that senior citizens receive their payout the same way too.

Chew Hoong Ling
Voice of Women Association

Published: The Sun 19 February 2013 – 05:06am

Dear Editor,
The national bowler charged with statutory rape, is standing a free man. The outspread of news gives us opportunity to revisit such cases. Many groups merely urged the courts to review the case thinking that it was too lenient to let go of a “rapist”. The word “rape” and being a “rapist” sends a strong signal to activist groups, rallying support to jail the “rapist” and punish the national bowler heavily.
Yet, many forgot to ask what happened to the girl, who may now waiting to sit for the SPM exams soon. How does she feel when these news on her “lover” gained such widespread publicity? Will she be called a “victim” of a rape case and be ridiculed in school? How will she face her peers in school and study peacefully? What is being done to ensure the girl’s welfare and emotions are well taken care of? I also hope that when cases like these happen, young “victims” and their family members should be given counselling, proper guidance and be allowed to carry on her life as usual.
The ultimate question – why do young couple have sex at such young age and will stricter laws ensure teen sex will not happen? There are many reasons why teens succumb to sex. Could it be curiosity and lack of sex education in school or it could be peer pressure and problems at home.
Finding the root cause of the main issue of teen sex and solving the problem from the root could be a better answer rather than asking for stricter laws and sending these “rapist” to jail. Let us ponder.
(Sent to news editors)

Published on NST: Click Here

Published in the NST