All About Good Parenting Part 1

Read these first:-

It is a slow start for 2016 when it comes to blogging but on the other side of the spectrum, I am making some positive changes this year when it comes to personal health. All weekends and on alternate week days when I am back from office early, I am spending at least an hour or so playing badminton to keep myself in shape.

My badminton partners are the usual suspects – my kids (when means I get to pick the shuttlecock most of the time, be very patience and be gentle with my returns) and my wife (when I can practice my smashes, ha ha). It is just a start but I still sucks on other things like the food I eat and the amount of sleep I get on daily basis but as they say a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, it is a start for the moment.

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Mixing Cows & Coconuts

Read these first:-

1295441219-thaipusam-and-coconut-smashing-2011_560979

(It does not matter if you are breaking it for fun or for a deep sense of devotion but it is high time we reconsider breaking up coconuts in insane numbers on public roads. Imagine driving your car over this minefield and you will understand why we need to reconsider this. God, I am sure, is happy with breaking of one coconut. It is the substance that counts and not the form. Image: www.demotix.com)

No one had say it better on why schools should not be used for slaughtering animals than Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, the chairperson of Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) and it makes a lot of sense too:-

1. The school as a venue for animal slaughter is highly inappropriate as students become unwilling spectators whether or not they are invited to watch. While some may be able to stomach the procedure there will also be some who may be traumatised by even the cry of an animal before it is slaughtered. Children are sensitive lest we forget. Incidentally, religious officials continue to gently remind worshippers that the photographs of slaughters being taken at mosques and suraus are not to be indiscriminately publicised as it may induce trauma to the faint-hearted;

2. School grounds are ill-equipped for any type of slaughter in particular the drainage and sanitary system to ensure the proper extermination of blood, carcass, waste products and odour, which in turn if not adequately disposed of, may result in an unhygienic condition;

3. Also comes into question is the area where the animal is tied down which must be secure to ensure the safety of the students at all times as animals have been known to come loose, run free and hurt bystanders especially children who have slower reflexes than adults;

4. It is not necessarily an issue about religious sensitivities as even Muslim parents are enraged. However, it can be educational if students are prepared and willing to witness the slaughter of an animal in a proper manner best carried out at a licensed slaughter house where facilities are available to ensure a high standard of hygiene. A visit can be arranged to a slaughter house as a school activity instead; and

5. Principals by failing to communicate clearly with parents and students on the purpose of conducting such a practice without considering its cause and resulting effect of such an action in the first place allows matters to be thrown out of context.

(Source)

I have always maintained that schools should be used as a place of national unity and learning and not for anything else (namely politics and religion). On the latest issue above, well some may argues that it is nothing spectacular – slaughtering animals during festive seasons is nothing new. I am sure that everyone agrees that the issue at hand is not whether can slaughter cows or not (I have seen slaughtering of goats and chickens in some temples in a grander scale) or whether it has “offended” the non-Muslims. The issue at hand is whether it is right to be slaughtering animals in a school and whether it is the right thing to do during school hours. I am sure everyone agrees that there is a proper place and time for everything.

Is it right to expose young children to the cruelty of slaughtering a living animal and the “bloody” mess left thereafter? Is a school even designed to cater slaughtering of animals. Some years ago, some of my neighbors got together and organised similar slaughtering of animals. The only place available was the children’s playground. The problem was after the slaughtering and after the blood and the bits of carcass had spill over on the grass, it was not easy to clean (despite the best effort from the neighbors). For some days the smell alone was enough to keep kids from the playground (thankfully a couple days of heavy rain did the trick). But it was a lesson well learned – the open slaughtering stopped and these days, I guess the neighbors do it at a mosque where it was easier clean things up. Even if there is no other place suitable for slaughtering the cows, couldn’t this been done after school hours?

But having said that and since the issue was raised, it has kind of opened up the Pandora’s box or rather the question – what about other religion or cultural rites that may frighten small kids (like the pierced kavadi during Thaipusam) or may pose danger and unhygienic like the massive coconut breaking on public streets mainly during Thaipusam and open burning of those large incense sticks during Chinese festivals. While some of us may argue that is is not the same thing, we need to accept that it is a good question and it is something we should ponder seriously.

I am not sure if seeing anyone with pierced kavadis during Thaipusam is an issue as it is only done near to the temple (sometimes it is not only frightens small kids but also adults who are not used to seeing one) but they may have a good point there with the massive coconut breaking on public roads. But before that, here’s the reason why Hindus break coconut in case some of you are wondering – there are many version of the reason but the simplest would be this:-

Coconut represents the human head. The ego resides in the head. A tantric who has gained mastery over senses, literally cuts off his head as a sign of submission of ego. In Sathwik/Vedic mode of worship, coconut is used instead to depict the same. In either ways, the acts signify surrender of ego and submission to God’s will.

(Source)

Breaking the coconut is usually done within the compound of the temple and sometimes in front of the house (provided there is no cars parked in the vicinity) but doing the same on public road may need to be reconsidered. Yes they have been doing it for a long time now. Yes, it is a core part of the Hindu rites. Yes, it may not be related to the incident of slaughtering animals in schools. However does it makes any difference if we break one coconut in the temple and 100 coconuts on public streets as far as religion is concerned? I don’t think there is a difference. Other than an unnecessary waste of money, it poses unnecessary danger to road users – despite the pieces of coconut may get cleaned after the rites, there still may be some sharp pieces of the coconut shell that can cause serious damage to vehicles. Further, have you smelt coconut water after a few days left under the hot sun?

As I had said, there is a proper place and time for everything. No one is stopping you from breaking coconuts and no one is saying that you cannot break 1,000 coconuts but let’s confine to temples or house compounds. In the meantime, let’s focus on what is more important in schools – educating the future generation and making them the star of the country. Use the schools for the actual purpose it was built and pour all your time and energy for the same reasons. If we simply insist of doing what we want to do without any consideration to others, it is going to be a tough time in Malaysia for everyone.

Have a good Deepavali shopping this weekend…

A Chat with D

Read these first:-

An interesting chat with my son a couple nights ago…

(D doing the Assassin Creed + Gangsta + Rap Singer impression with winter clothes and seriously I do not know where he picked the style up)

I was watching TV a couple nights ago – my son was doing his homework which was weird because he usually got that done before I come back from work. I know he was kind of rushing to complete the homework when suddenly he stopped and seemed to think hard for a moment. I noticed this and I though he was thinking about his homework. I kind of ignored him and continued to watch the TV when I suddenly noticed him walking towards me.

D: Appa, can I ask you something?

Me: Yes, what is it? (I was thinking that it must be query on his homework)

D: Appa, can you send me to English school for Form 1?

Me: English school? (he spoke about it some time ago – he has been having some problem with the National Language especially in the subject of Science)

D: Yes, somewhere I can take the plane and oh yes, there must be snow too

Me: What about English school in Singapore? (me just throwing some names)

D: We can drive to Singapore! No, it must be some where we must take the plane.

Me: So, you want to America?

D: No, I want to go to US (perhaps not understanding that America & US is the same thing)

Me: Ok, sure – if Appa have enough money, I will sent you there, for sure

D: Thanks, hmmm (D going into a “thinking” motion)

D: Maybe I continue until Form 6 here and continue my college there

Me: As Appa said, if Appa have enough money, I will send you for sure but for now, you need to study hard for now. Form 1 is still long way to go

D: Ok

My son, with a face that indicates that he had accomplish an important mission, walks back and continue with his homework.

Now that conversation got me thinking – with the Government screwing up the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, perhaps it is not a bad idea to look for school that actually teaches that two crucial subjects in English – a language that universally been accepted as the main language of Science (and Mathematics). A point that my son implied to me, considering how he like to watch Science related documentaries on ASTRO all in ENGLISH!

I guess I have to start collecting – Form 1 to 6 in US is going to cost me alot

Childhood Memories – Part 23

(Before this series gathers more dusts…)

Read the series here

Still remember the very first shoes that you wore to school?

Early this year, my wife and I went for shopping…for school shoes for the Big Boss. We had bought new uniform, bag, socks and shoes several weeks earlier but we had to buy another pair as the shoes “mysteriously” gets dirty within a day. As I walked past several racks of shoes, I was looking at the various “models” of shoes on display. One stood out – Bata – the one that most, if not all Malaysians would know from the early stage of their life. That brought back the memory when I was small and had to content with my own school shoes.

(The shoe box was a thing to see – the shoe’s features was akin to a car’s specs back then. Badminton Master 2000 – Image source: http://mohdfitri.blogspot.com/)

Our first preference when it comes to school shoes has always been Bata. There were no Bata shops nearby, the “nearest” would be the one near the Old Market (an ordinary shoe shop that also sold Bata brand shoes) and there is another shop in Brickfields – either way, we had to take the bus to the shop. In the early years, we did not opt for any specific Bata brands as long as it was one of the cheapest around (in those days even though it was cheap but it was very durable as well).

Then one day we saw an advertisement from Bata showing a new line of shoes – Badminton Master 2000. Back then, we never knew why they used 2000 but we gathered that it was a shoe of the future. And somehow we always thought that if we wear the shoe, we can run faster, jump higher and be active longer – ya, we saw the advertisement on TV. How silly we were!

(Simple and well made Fung Keong shoes. The only problem with these shoes was that there was more area to do the washing and whitening – Image source: http://boonchert.blogspot.com/)

As I was growing up and getting to know the rock culture of the 1980s – 1990s, my preference of shoe was changing as well.

Bata seemed to be made for well dressed, polite and good mannered school boys. Not for me – and wearing “well made for basket ball”, “not suited to run”, the heavier shoe seemed to be fashion of the day for any young rockers. Its high placed pad seemed ideal for cycling too. It was cheap and durable and despite the name, it had a long history to back it up (Fung Keong shoes have been made locally since 1939) – it was good brand indeed.

After sometime dwelling with the “rebel without cause” Fung Keong shoes, I was back to a more tamed designed shoe. Bata was alright but there was another “player” in the market back then – Pallas. There was Aliph too but they were more famous for their sports shoes. But more often, it was Bata.

Whilst we liked the shopping for new shoes especially when there are new designs out there, there is one thing we truly dislike when it comes to school shoes – washing and whitening them. And we had hard times back then. We had to wash all our shoes on the weekends and me sometimes doing extra, washing my younger siblings’ shoes as well. A situation my son is not facing at the moment, although we are trying to get him used to do the whitening of his shoes himself.

D, The Forgetful

Probably this worth writing down, in case “Big Boss” disputes it in future…

(Unfortunately we have one cute, lovable Mr Forgetful right here at home. Image source: http://plasmanc.blogspot.com/)

One of the problems that my son been having lately is losing his stuff at school occasionally. Sometimes he would lose a pencil, sometimes an eraser. Often, he don’t realize this until we do our usual weekly checking on his school inventories. Most of the time, he doesn’t have any idea as to how he can lose his things despite us constantly reminding him to check his things at all times and before he comes back home.  We suspect the culprits are his classmates who probably has not been taught that it is not right to take other’s things without permission. But then again, my son has his faults too – he hardly bothers to ask around until we ask for it.

Last weekend, I noticed my son seemed quite free and in between him watching his cartoons, he was also pestering me for my phone to play his favorite game, Angry Bird. I could have ignored his free time if not for my wife, shouting from the kitchen asking me to give him some homework. So, both of us (me and my son), lazily decided to follow the “instructions” from the HEO. I took out a book and started to go through the exercise and asked my son for his pencil. He took out his pencil box and laid it in front of me. There were about 2 very, very short pencils and 1 medium short pencil. All were not sharpen as usual. He also seems to have “misplaced” the longer pencil again. At this time, we decided to do something – we need to mark all his items with a bright, not-easy-to-remove tags so that in case anyone takes his items, it will be easy to find them again.

We drove to the nearest hypermarket and soon we got “lost” in shopping for new quality pencils, a better pencil sharpener, some color papers and more importantly, tags for his school items. We had a “good day” and once we returned home, we set on getting the tags all done whilst my son had his lunch and thereafter started on his home work. To tell you the truth, we are still experimenting with the tags. Hopefully brightly colored tags with his name rather prominent would ensure that we will not have missing school items and ensure my son have a way to get his things back.

So far, it seems like the plan is working (of course we backed this with constant reminders). Then yesterday as I was about to leave for home after pumping petrol for my car, I got a call from my wife. The Big Boss had forgotten something again – art block for his school work. So, I had to make another pit stop for the art block. And when I got back home, both my wife and my son was standing at the front door – my wife complaining that the need for an art block was already known since a week ago but some how, my son had forgotten about it. He had forgotten when we went shopping at the hypermarket on the weekends. He had forgotten as well in the morning when my wife took him to the shop for some items.

And I asked him about it rather sternly, all he “remembers” is to ask if I have updated the latest games into my phone. Sigh!

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One School System Revisited

Read previous posts on the One School System & National Language:-

JMD raised something rather interesting in his post “One School System – It’s now or never

In one hand, those who desire to see a more unified and integrated society are labeled as racists while on the other hand, those who support the Chinese and Tamil schools had labeled themselves as victims. Never mind the fact that Chinese and Tamil schools are in fact, schools that were established based fundamentally and historically on racial grounds. But according to these opposition members, vernacular schools are not racist. The One School system is!

Are we racist in trying to get all our children to be together? I am sure we are not.

It is just a matter of time when we have a complete segregation of society where the two main race will not interact with one another in a lifetime. Do we really want this?

Anthony Loke must be delusional if he still wants to blame the government for not giving assistance for the students in Chinese vernacular schools to increase their proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia. But then again it is not vintage DAP if they do not blame the government for everything.

The most cost effective way is for everyone to enroll in national school where Bahasa Malaysia is the main medium of instruction.

(Read further and we may understand now why the Opposition may not be ready to run the country yet)

When my son was about embark his journey into primary school early this year, one of the tougher decision that faced me and my wife was whether we should enroll him into national school or a nearby more prominent Chinese school.

I say “tough” because the dilemma was presented to us by our family members, close relatives and family friends. Between me and wife, the decision was all too simple and easy – we already opted for national school for our kids many, many years before. After all, we too went through national school when we were young and I guess we did alright when we left school. Further, there is no other better place to learn up the national language and interaction with fellow Malaysians than in national schools.

For us, education is a matter of effort, preference and options – it does not necessary that you need to go to a Chinese or Tamil school to get good education (going to private schools will of course be another ball game but then how many ordinary Malaysians are well off to send their kids to private schools?) and in this high-tech age, it comes from Internet and other avenues as well.

So, we dismissed our relatives’ concerns and enrolled our son in a national school. When we went to his school during the first day, we noticed that in my son’s class; almost 98% of students were Malay students. We gathered that the missing non Malay students were in the nearby Chinese and Tamil schools. The remaining non Malay students in the class including my son had trouble speaking Bahasa Malaysia fluently and had to contend with speaking only English with the other fellow students and not mingle well with the rest who only spoke Bahasa Malaysia.

It looked like a problem to us and my wife even insisted on sending our son for tuition on Bahasa so that he can pick up fast and not left out on the education and interactions with fellow students and teachers. But I decided that sending our son to tuition would be a waste of time (and money) as we were sure that although he may struggle for a few months, he will pick up the language on his own. Now, he can speak and write Bahasa fairly good and get well with rest of his fellow classmates. So there is really no issue with language at national schools.

So, what is stopping us from going to the same school, learning to interact with each other and strive for the betterment of our beloved nation? Why the different schools and the sorry excuse that Bahasa Malaysia, being our national language is not important for advancement in career and further studies? Doesn’t speaking in one language means we will be more united?

Before we put the blame on cheap politics, we also need to address the concerns of the parents who still send their kids to Chinese and Tamil schools. It is not much and it is not impossible for the Government address them, considering that education system in this country forms the back bone of nation building.

What are the concerns?

1. Quality of teaching and teachers.

When we wanted our son to go to national school, the main concern raised by our relatives was the quality of teachers in national school. Some, I am afraid have not even mastered the other main language – English. Chinese school on the other hand may not have fared better (you need to master Mandarin instead) but they seems to have better teachers. They even have programs for students for the weekends and the amount of homework given may even frighten the bolder ones. When it comes to education policies in our national schools, we seem to have gone backwards with not teaching Mathematics and Science in English.

But that seems to be changing – in 2011, the Government introduced KSSR (Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah) and one of the thrust of the new curriculum which focuses on six key areas namely communication, spiritual attitude and values, humanitarianism, literacy in science and technology, physical and personal development is to produce holistic individuals

And what I have seen so far from the books and methods of teaching in Standard 1, it looks like we are on the right path. We may need to fine tune the curriculum here and there in the future but I won’t say it is worse than before. It looks in par with Chinese and Tamil schools but less stressful (excluding the stress that my son gets at home, of course)

2. Preservation of Chinese and Tamil language in schools

Frankly speaking, I don’t see how Chinese and Tamil students will lose touch of their own language by going to national schools if efforts are done to have special classes on the said language. Tamil school was my last option for my son but even after enrolled in national school, he picked up the Tamil language fairly better than the rest of us. The school has dedicated teachers for Chinese and Tamil language and the non Malay students are made to participate in these classes without any negative impact on the core syllabus and mastery of the Bahasa Malaysia and English.

But there is no point mastering Chinese and Tamil if one cannot master the national language, Bahasa Malaysia and English first. As true blood Malaysian, it is rather shameful if you are still struggling to speak and write in Bahasa long after you have left school.

As of many things in this world, when we start with something new or radical, we are going to face problems. But if that new and radical thing will ultimately solve sticky situations like racial tolerance, unity, etc, then we should strive for it. One School System is the best solution for national integration, no doubt about that – the question remains, for how long we are going to keep our national treasures, our young ones grossly segregated.

Indeed, One School System – It’s now or never…

FCUK!

It is that time of the year when things come to a crawl and one looks back the last 350 plus days and wondered whether one had made any positive change on oneself, friends, environment, colleagues, family and the country. It seems everyone is waiting for the new year to start – perhaps for renewed personal aim, mission, energy, purpose in life, etc

So, here’s one for 2010 before we move on to 2011 – it has not been a great year but at the same, we have managed just fine

(Sometimes, in order to “tone” down the word, we use the word “screwed” instead. Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eplewis)

When I was in law school, I still remember my first week. We were herded together in a big room and we had this principal of the school coming in for the first time for a lecture. The principal looked serious (we found later that he is the funniest of the whole lot), so we kept silent and looked serious too.

Somewhere in between his lecture which started serious as well, he mentioned the word “fuck” and immediately someone at the back of the class expressed his shock (which was not a big surprise since we have not heard the “word” mentioned so open in public, more so in a school). The lecturer stopped his lectures and looked at us. He looked angry but actually he was not.

He smiled and then he started to laugh. He shook his head and asked why we were so disturbed with the “word”. As law students, it was one of the earliest lesson we learn on questioning on what we have learned todate and taking the courage to go against what has been established as “standards”.

He said that in downtown Harlem where he had visited once, the word is so common that it exist in almost all sentences. He then went to act like an African American from Harlem and start to speak with the “word” in almost all sentences. (adding other so-called “forbidden” words in between). That broke the ice and brought us into a new state of mind.

Now enjoy this revelation on the “word” – supposedly by an Indian lecturer (WARNING: due to the nature of the “word”, it is not considered as “safe for work”. Please do keep the volume down)

P.s. I got this one from a buddy of mine but there is no detail of the source and the story behind the recording but it is indeed a classic.

Money for Schools

Here’s why we don’t trust the politicians to handle our future…

(Only in Malaysia…schools in shop lots. Image source: Malaysiakini)

Well, just contrast these reports on the same day:-

The Johor government will build 122 more religious schools which are estimated to cost about RM200mil.

“They will be completed within the next two years,” Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said. At present, there are 552 religious schools in the state.

Speaking to newsmen after launching the Religious Teachers Day celebrations here yesterday, he said the state government had spent about RM40mil in the past five years to improve facilities in religious schools.

(Source)

And

Private firms have been urged to each “adopt” at least one of the 523 Tamil schools nationwide which are in dire need of funds for maintenance, Malaysia Nanban reported.

Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk T. Murugiah said more firms should come forward to allocate money to help these schools.

“Most Tamil schools, especially those in the estates, are in need of funds to repair their premises as they are dependent on allocations from the Education Ministry,” he was reported as saying.

(Source)

That’s great – 2 types of schools with 2 kinds of treatment, right here in Najib’s so-called 1Malaysia.

In recent days, Najib have been talking about cost cutting measures in tackling the issue of cutting down the subsidies (we are not buying the bullshit though – politicians can promise the heaven but until they take the right first steps and enforce the right policies, they can bullshit until the sky turns pink).

Is it worth spending another RM200 million on new religious schools when the existing schools are in dire straits? I don’t have anything against religion but given the trend of the world today, do we really need more religion “specialists” instead of more scientists, doctors, engineers or other professionals?

How about basic education on Science, Maths and Language?

Instead wasting money on religious and Tamil and etc schools, can the Government just cut the bullshit and force everyone to go to fully funded national schools where facilities can be well maintained, education quality is set to the highest level and unity among young Malaysians are further fostered? Why the gamble on the next generation’s future? We already took the wrong step by reversing on the decision to teach Maths and Science in English (and yet we hear “traces” of call to bring this back). So, what’s next?

And one day when the Government decides to cut down on the subsidies, we really wonder whether the money saved from all these subsidies would be channelled back to strengthening our education system. Or will it be “distributed to its goons” as many is predicting?

By the way, Murugiah’s call for private firms to “adopt’ Tamil schools is a wasteful endeavour. We have a bad track record when it comes to sponsorships. In Malaysia, nothing is done for free unless there is a profit to be made or kick-backs given somewhere. Instead of asking the private firms, why can’t the Government itself take over these schools and turn it to national school where all Malaysians will have equal opportunity to basic education?

It is scary to wonder on how the Government is going to tackle the allocation of cost when it comes to funding the education for young Malaysians? Are they going to sit down and check on the right priorities? The Government already said that it is not having enough money to go around.

We really don’t need the wasteful endeavours now and certainly we can do with less idiotic politicians running the show in the background.

Read Also

Extra SPM Paper

Support for 1Sekolah

Racial Policy Mis-fired?

This is indeed scary…

(Sometimes people forget why exams are held in the first place. Image source: http://dailymail.co.uk)

Remember when a certain political party controlled media, blasted the non-Malays for questioning the Malay’s special rights? Or when some politicians played the racial card to garner the support from one particular race? The problem is and very often, the same media or politicians failed to mention as to why there has been some strong voices questioning on the said policies.

No one from the ruling front, although they know this is true, has admitted openly that sometimes, in order to make things better, certain things must be questioned and criticised.

Certainly any ideal policies that promote equality, improvement of quality of life and elimination of poverty is worth to be pursued aggressively. But the thing is, as with any “good” policies out there, good implementation and strict enforcement is something else to be desired. It is certainly something to be questioned when the same policies are abused and mismanaged to enrich a very few.

The concept of “Ketuanan Melayu” which has been actively pursued by the ruling political party, for example,  has been in question for many reasons, simply because it’s meaning of the concept has not been conclusive, especially when the same people who are promoting this concept are also promoting other concepts (such as 1Malaysia) that are in direct violation of the first. Sometimes people get so confused.

But that is not what I wanted to elaborate here.

I don’t know why but the “Ketuanan Melayu” concept crossed my mind when I read Citizen Nades’s column titled “Learning the law the wrong way” and the part that got me concerned is this:-

The sad end to this saga is that the examiner who failed this student and 17 others was ordered to re-mark and make them pass. She refused and is now on the streets because her conscience refused to allow her to do so. She had set her own grading criteria which was approved by the university and stuck to it. One student got just four marks out of a possible 60 and for doing her job religiously, the examiner was labelled a “pengkhianat” (traitor).

The column did not say for sure why the examiner was asked to remark the failed students and make them pass. It could be due to certain constraint in the law school’s standards and quality.

Citizen Nades talked about law students and highlighted the scary thought of having these failed law students handling multi million contracts for the government in future. What happens if the same thing is happening in medical schools? Failed medical students who one day might be doing an open heart surgery on you or your loved ones.

In the case of the law students in Citizen Nades’ column, what should have happened is that failed student should have left failed and booted from law school. They never had the right qualities to be lawyers in the first place. They should not been forcefully passed, just to show the “right numbers” on some statistics.

At the very extreme, allow the retest several times but if in the end, these students still fail, then leave them failed. Their destiny lies elsewhere.

Being caned!

Caning

(It happens all over the world – caning in schools and back then, caning was part and parcel of schooling. Image source: http://www.archivist.f2s.com)

From theStar:-

A nine-year-old pupil at SRJKC Kg Tiong in Gemas, who was caned in the hands by a female teacher at the school Tuesday, died on Wednesday.

This is tragic indeed.

Speaking about caning in schools, remember when we were in school and being caned by the teachers was part and parcel of schooling?

I still remember the day I got my first caning – back in Standard One. The teacher at the front going through our books and she has asked the class to be silent. But being the “small kids” we were, it was a matter of time before we started to make noise and got caught. The teacher picked some of us and called us to the front. We were asked to put our hand and one by one, the teacher took a long cane and hit us. The first time being caned surprisingly was not that painful – the pain came when the thick cane struck our palms but by lunch time, it has disappeared.

Over the years, we learned several tricks to reduce the pain but I am not sure whether it works all the time. I have tried almost all of it – from spitting on my palms to wearing something “thick” for the back. Sometimes we try our luck by placing our wallets on the back pocket but the discipline teacher make sure that we empty our pockets before giving us the cane. I remember of a classmate who managed to squeeze a notebook into his pants “minutes” before he got the cane. He came back smiling despite getting 2 hard ones.

Through the years, I experienced several caning from teachers and dreadful discipline teacher (thankfully not hard ones) but it was not that frequent – by Standard Five, I became good boy. Some of my friends however were not so fortunate – they continued to receive lightning caning all the way to Form Three. There was once, we were at the assembly, singing the national anthem as the national flag was raised when someone laughed. There was some problem with the flag raising and coupled with a private joke from his classmate and he laughed without realising that the discipline teacher been keeping a close eye on the students. Thanks to this, all of us at the assembly got free show – public caning of the student.

Discipline teachers certainly have their style of caning and “equipments”. There was a moment where I had to visit the discipline teacher for something for the science lab. Collecting my courage, I entered his room, spoke to him with a choked voice. He turned around and opened his drawer to get it for me. As he pulled out the drawer, in one corner was a display of several types of canes in his stockade. There were thick ones, thin ones, short ones, long ones and one made in different materials. Just imagine the feelings of the students who were sent to see the discipline teacher to be caned and the teacher him takes his own sweet time to pick the “right” cane for the occasion.

The good old days – I miss them!