Friday, January 28, 2011

Mini train

One Sunday couple of weeks ago, we had fun taking ride on this miniature train. Called as Diamond Valley Miniature Railway Eltham, it is located at Eltham Lower Park, about 20 minutes drive from our home.

The trains look like real trains except the passenger carriages. The railway is completed with whistles and signals.

The cost is only $3.00 per person. The ride takes about 15 minutes going round the park, through tunnels, up and downhill. So we really enjoyed the scenery. It is really a great day out for the family. 


On the way back from Bacchus Marsh last month for the cherry picking, we dropped by to photograph this windmill. The kids said it was the windmill in "Thomas and Friends". 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The simply ‘you’

This week, I am preparing for the ethic approval application form. In preparing certain necessary translation from English to Malay for some documents, I am stuck with determining the most suitable word to replace the simple word ‘you’. What would be the most suitable word in Malay in the context of the document?

The aim is to prepare a plain simple language letter and form.

For instance, the sentence is:
You are invited to participate…’.

Would it be the general word such as anda, kamu, awak or engkau? All means the same, you. But the three last words may be devoid of relevance when it comes to context. The first is always used in the notice board and I don't feel it suits my purpose.

Or would it be the long usual highly formal phrase with so many slashes like this:
“YBhg. Tan Sri/Tun/Tan Sri/Dato’/Prof./Dr./Tuan/Puan/Cik,”

Sufficient? Have to think of the pool of addressees first.

No more plain and simple.

Perhaps I am no certified translator, hence the problem.

But how many of us use the word in Malay when saying ‘you’ in Malay conversation? In the usage, I think, there are two schools. One school prefers [‘I’ and ‘you’] ie the English words. Another prefers [‘ana’ and  ‘anta’/‘anti’] ie the Arabic pronouns.

Think, which school you are in?

So, the result is ‘campuranisation’ in the Malay conversation. This is what makes the DBP cracks their head in eliminating the rojak in the future direction of the language. Who knows that in future the word you itself is made as part of the language, with the spelling: “yu”. As the development of language is affected by its usage and preference, this is not impossible to happen in near future.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dendy Street Beach, Brighton

We spent the first day of the year at a beach in Brighton, not far from the Melbourne CBD. It is about 13km down to the south. The name of the beach is Dendy Street Beach. It is popular with its iconic tourist attraction of colourful beach huts or known as bathing boxes. Also considered as cultural and historic asset for the state, the bathing boxes are aligned in sentry order facing the sea. There are 82 boxes. They are only small structures of classic Victorian architectural features. They also have neither electricity nor water connection. But the price is said in the range of $200,000 each. Want to have one? But anyway photography session is a must here ;-)

Monday, January 17, 2011

The kids

In the home country, the kids' cousins started their schooling term for this year last week. For the kids here, this is summer holiday. Their school term will start by February. Farhan will go to 1st grade. Ammar will start his kindergarten. Farhan got used to school system since his age of 3 equipped with written exam system - even I still doubt its validity. But Ammar will start at age of 5 by 2011. Since he was bornt in November, he is regarded as 4 years old by the system which 30 April is the cut of date.

As Farhan has finished his preparatory class, we think he was doing great throughout the year. His teachers also viewed the same. By end of the year, his language improves a lot. He is able to deal with basic numeracy. He can read orange level of books, that he is proud of when the teachers said to him that it is of high level for his grade. He also can construct simple essay narrating every day's activities. I can also see that his self esteem and confidence improve. He really enjoyed the school. He said the school was fun in the first day when he came home. That was also his view when he reached house in the last day. He also loves his teachers very much, Danni and Lauren. We think the fact that 2 teachers allocated for a class just consists of 15 pupils is a great benefit to the kids. The teachers seem to know their pupils very well and able to identify and improve aspects that require attention. As to the curriculum, there are only 3 basic subjects; literacy, numeracy and integrated curriculum which combines various themes such as healthy food, the farm and fairy tales. This is very minimal compared to our school system back home. By this aspect, their cousins back home must have more knowledge than them. But from another aspect, there is ample time for them to build up good foundations of basic skills. As to his religious school, he got the best progress award for iqra', even though he sometimes told us that he didn't like the school for unknown reason. I once found he wrote in a paper: 'I went to sunday school today but I don't like sunday school'. He never told us the reason and we never insist to ask for fear he might not confide to us anymore.

As to Ammar, we see that he was quite resistant to the new language in the beginning we were here. He refused to learn or to even listen if we spoke to him in the language. But lately, almosts suddenly he develops interest in the language and learning by reading. He now likes us to read him book every night before going to bed. His most favourite book is the kids encyclopedia that we bought in a garage sale. His favourite subject is about space and the planets. I think for this reason too he likes Little Einstein very much. Hopefully that would be sufficient preparation for his kinder.

In last November, there was an orientation for him. It was only for about 45 minutes for the kids to see and feel what it is like. Ammar seemed to enjoy the class and couldn't wait for school to start.

Our little Ainaa has also grown up. By end of this month she will reach 1 year and 5 months old. We see she is growing up faster than her brothers. For this I think the theory that female matures faster than male is correct. She could walk/properly before her first birthday. She uttered her first words around that time too. She is now able to say mak, bapak, nak, air and there. The first sentence was uttered yesterday 'nak air' (want drink). She can sit properly for her meal and able to eat by herself. We are also always amazed that she understood more than what we expected.

Seeing kids growing up fast, we feel we get older fast too. As if it was only yesterday we met, befriended and decided to build future together. We pray to Allah for the best in life and in the hereafter. Always we do not know what Allah meant for us. Always we feel that this is a serendipity. Allah knows best what is best for us.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The flood

Queensland is suffering from a flood crisis. There are people who lose their loved ones, either missing or dead. Thousands more have lost their properties, business, crops and resources. Our deepest sympathy to all of them. We pray that they are all strong to face the crisis, for many might be the biggest in their life.

The flood brings memory of my late father. After he retired from army he chose to do odd village jobs. The works range from tapping rubber to planting a variety of crops, fruits and vegetables. It was the time when the price of rubber was very low. It was as low as 40-50 cent per kg. At that time rubber tapper would do other jobs as well to supplement the income.

So when I was in school about 20 years ago, we had our own paddy field. It was a small area, but the harvest was roughly enough for the family for a season if the yield was good. The paddy field was actually a pioneering joint venture project of the village people with assistance of certain government department.

For several years the people started the project traditionally – I mean without assistance of any machine. It was a good feeling that I had the experience of doing it by my hand; from planting the small paddy trees in the field to harvesting. In the beginning for harvesting, we cut the paddy trees  by a special knife and beating out the grain from the stalks.  During the weekend or school holiday, we all in the family would bring food to the field early in the morning and spend all days until the works done.

But it was not an easy work. We worked all day under the heat of the sun. I always felt that looking at the field with so many things to do the works seemed so slow progressing. I wonder how my parents could finish the work alone when we couldn’t help when we went to school. I hate leech too. They were annoyingly big and long, always landed on my leg to suck blood.

But looking back, there were things which were fun indeed. I would never forget the scenery of paddies started to grow and flowering.  It gave a strong feeling of hope and optimistic future. And then the yellowish grains gave a deep satisfaction for all the hard works. Also, I still remember my father caught fishes from the stream in the field and grilled it for lunch. Taken with anchovy or soy sauce, I still feel that it was the best lunch that we had ever.

The alternate crops in between of the paddy were corns, watermelon, honey dew and peanut. My father also planted banana and other long term fruits surrounding the field. He was very hard-working. He had several jobs done in a day.

However, it was not infrequent that the crops were destroyed by flood. I remember that I shed tears when once the whole field awaiting to be harvested was ruined. There were also occasions that corns started to flowering damaged in the water. The sweat and resources went down to the drain in minutes. Yet I was amazed by the patience of these farmers. They rebuilt again and they believe that with Allah’s willing their effort would yield result.

Still, remembering my late father, deep in the heart sometimes up until now I still feel that I am still in the denial stage that he has gone past 10 years ago. There are times that I dream he comes back from a long journey and in the dream I truly believe that it is real. Sometimes I do have the feeling of regret that I have not been given opportunity to repay him in this world. I hope my prayer for him every day will be with him forever.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Birrarung Marr

There were so many places that we wished to go for the Christmas holiday. Ballarat and beach are among the top in the list. The urge is the free train ride and other public transports as well on that day. Ballarat, the historic city is about 100 km away. There are also many beaches accessible by train. But it is difficult to see the children to stand the long ride on the train. I could imagine they would be impatient waiting and would run all over onboard of the train.

So, at the end we just decided to go to Birrarung Marr.

It is a big playground, located on the north bank of the Yarra River next to Federation Square, Melbourne city. It's only a walk distance from the Flinder Train Station.

'Birrarung' means 'river of mists' while ‘Marr’ refers to the 'side of the river'. The names comes from the language of the Wurundjeri people who originally inhabited this area.

The kids really seemed to enjoy the once-in-a-while outing to the place that is fun especially to the kids. We also met Aisyah and the family there.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The new year and the revival

Welcome the new year.

For this, we would like to share this thought, by Prof Shad Saleem, for us and to friends in the same profession.

In law, West is not really best
While most of our law books draw from ‘wisdom’ from the West, there is much about jurisprudence to be learnt from the great Asian civilisations.
"WITH the end of the year drawing nigh, thoughts turn to the state of legal education in this country.
Many advances have been made since the inception of the first local law programme at the University of Malaya in 1972. However, some debilitating drawbacks remain. Legal education in this country is too profession-oriented and not sufficiently people-oriented.
It is text-book based rather than experience-based. It is too West-centric. Only the last issue will be addressed in this article.
Course content: Despite 38 years of experimentation, the structure and content of our courses, the choice of core subjects, the categories of thought, the fundamentals, the methods of analysis and research, the history of each subject, the books and the icons all remain Western.
Legal education today is as much a colonial construct as it was during the days of the raj.
Yusef Progler points out that most university courses in Asia follow a similar trajectory. We first identify the great white European or American men of each discipline and then drill their theories and practices as if these were universal.
Centuries of enlightenment in Japan, China, India, Persia and the Middle East is totally ignored.
It is as if all things good and wholesome and all great ideas originated in the crucible of Western civilisation and the East was, and is, an intellectual desert.
> Jurisprudence: In legal philosophy, for example, a book on American or English legal thought is referred to as “jurisprudence”. In contrast, a book on Islamic, Chinese or Hindu legal thought is described with the prefix “Islamic”, “Chinese” or “Hindu” jurisprudence. The assumption is that Western ideas are universal whereas ours are merely parochial.
A typical course on jurisprudence in a Malaysian university begins with Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Austin, Bentham, Hart, Kelsen, Pound, Weber, Ehrlich, Durkheim, Marx, Olivecrona etc.
Titles written by scholars and thinkers from Asia, South America and Africa are nowhere to be found.
The Mahabharata, the Arthashastra, the Book of MenciusAnalects of Confucius and the treatises of Ibn Khaldun, Ghazali, Ibn Rushd, Mulla Sadra, Jose Rizal, Benoy Kumar Sarkar, Yanagita Kunio and Naquib al-Attas do not appear in our syllabi.
In Austinian fashion, the concept of law is tied to the commands of the political sovereign even though most Asians and Africans feel the pull of religion and custom and regard them as part of the majestic network and seamless web of the law.
> Categories of law: The rigid compartmentalisation of knowledge developed in Europe in the 19th century is preserved. As in the West, we separate law from morality, public law from private law and crime from tort even though such artificial dichotomies are alien to our traditions and are often impediments to justice.
In most Asian and Middle Eastern systems, morality is legalised and legality is moralised. The law of crime is also the law of tort. Law relating to rights and duties applies equally in public and private spheres. Such a holistic approach has positive implications for human rights.
> Public law: Generations of students are uncritically led to believe that the seeds of constitutional and administrative law were planted in Europe and North America by such historical documents as the Magna Carta 1215,Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen 1789 and the United States Declaration of Independence 1776.
What is ignored is that the ideas of limited government and constitutionalism were born in the religious doctrines of the East.
Taking Islam as an example, we can point to the fact that the denial of state sovereignty in Islamic jurisprudence preceded Locke’s and Rousseau’s idea of the limits on state sovereignty by hundreds of years.
The idea of government as a trustee is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an (4:58). The citizen’s duty to obey the law is conditional to the duty of the ruler to obey the Creator.
Locke and Rousseau, Gandhi and Martin Luther King built on this idea to propound the theory of civil disobedience.
In Islamic theory, political as well as socio-economic rights are given legitimacy.
Prophet Muhammad’s sermon at Arafat is one of the world’s greatest human rights declarations. More than 1,400 years ago he spoke about liberty and property, racial equality, women’s rights and the ruler’s subjection to the law.
If his words had been uttered by some Western luminary, they would have adorned the walls of law schools all over the world.
In the Islamic criminal process there is a legal presumption of innocence. Evidence of agents provocateur cannot be used. Religious tolerance is required and pluralism is permitted (2:256, 109:1-6, 10:99). The concept ofshura (3:159) or consultation paves the way for a whole regime of consultative processes.
Modern principles of administrative law like natural justice and proportionality have their basis in the Holy Qur’an.
The ombudsman principle attributed to the genius of the Scandinavians was known to Islam through the system of Hisba, the office of the Muhtasib and the existence of Mazalim courts.
Islam’s concept of the universal ummah is in line with the process of globalisation and the growing movement for international citizenship.
The subject of alternative dispute resolution parrots a discourse on arbitration, conciliation and mediation and ignores many indigenous or informal institutions and procedures for resolving discord that existed in our history and can be revived.
The course on Law and Economics studies emerging international protocols but not the clear injunctions in Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism on environmental and consumer responsibility.
> International law: The syllabi of public international law courses fail to mention that long before modern humanitarian law built protection for civilians, non-combatants and prisoners of war, many Eastern systems like Islamic international law had already worked out a set of principles for the conduct of war.
Some of these principles exceed the standards of the venerated Geneva Conventions.
Sadly, Malaysian as well as Asian legal education fails to recognise that many of the law’s crowning glories actually originated in the East. Obviously colonialism has left its indelible mark.
> Call for action: There should, therefore, be a concerted effort to re-educate colonised minds; to revisit our syllabi; to substitute imported mental baggage with our own treasury of thoughts.
This indigenisation of our syllabi is not meant to shut out the West but to give to our students a bigger picture of knowledge and to increase their choices.
In the background of pervasive Western intellectual domination, indigenisation would assist a genuine globalisation!
Academic Boards of Faculties, University Senates and accreditation authorities may wish to go beyond form to the actual content of our syllabi and to insist that our garlands of knowledge must be built with flowers from both Eastern and Western gardens.
A helpful site for some Third World titles is There is no dearth of scholars from the South who could be co-opted to advise us on how to tackle the problem of educational enslavement."