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Friday, May 31, 2019

MAT HASAN & HADI ARE FAKES – THERE IS NO MALAY UNITY: WE’LL NEVER FORGET THE DAY PAS LOCKED UP THE VILLAGE KINDERGARTEN & OUR KIDS FORCED TO STUDY OUTDOORS – UMNO & PAS GRASSROOTS ADAMANT NOTHING GOOD CAN COME OF SO-CALLED ‘MALAY UNITY’ PACT

PAS and Umno leaders may boast that political cooperation is good for the unity of umma but, on the ground in Terengganu, supporters of both parties still find it hard to overcome decades of enmity wrought by the politics of their leaders’ doing.
PAS and Umno’s historic rivalry has seeped into kampung life and local politics over the years since the Islamist party was expelled from Barisan Nasional in the late 1970s.
Grassroots supporters in Terengganu, which PAS recaptured from BN in the 14th general election last year, said they don’t feel any solidarity at all and admit it is hard to build ties with one another, despite the instructions of national leaders.
Ibrahim Ahmad, an Umno supporter from Kg Mak Kemas, Bukit Payong, said too many incidents in the past that created tension still remained, even after top Umno and PAS leaders sealed their pact for further electoral cooperation.

The 65-year-old said it is hard to trust PAS as the state government installed a new village management committee soon after GE14.
Then, in March this year, the village committee tried to sack the entire mosque committee at Masjid Kg Mak Kemas.
They even targeted the imam and bilal, Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim said this is because his kampung is an Umno stronghold. Kg Mak Kemas’s political affiliation makes it stand out like a sore thumb in the Marang parliamentary seat, which is held by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.
The attempted coup against the mosque committee was prevented by its 200-strong congregation, who protested against the move.
All of this is nothing new, however, to Ibrahim’s village, which lies next to Kg Padang Pak Su Man, where the majority of residents are PAS supporters.
For years since the 1980s and a young Hadi’s infamous mandate, also known as “Amanat Hadi”, which called on all PAS members to oppose the Umno-led federal government, families and friends have been torn apart by politics.
The tension manifested in PAS members regarding their fellow Muslims from Umno as “kafir”, or infidels.
Separate mosques and surau were erected so that supporters of each party could perform prayers apart. People from the same village boycotted community functions if they were organised by the party they did not support.
With PAS supporters continuing to snub Umno members and vice-versa, many say it is hard to mend the ties following so much past tension. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 30, 2019.
With PAS supporters continuing to snub Umno members and vice-versa, many say it is hard to mend the ties following so much past tension. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 30, 2019.
For Ibrahim, the post-GE14 PAS state government’s attempt to replace his mosque’s committee is a reminder of yet another incident after the Islamist party won Terengganu in 1999.
He said PAS locked up a Kemas kindergarten in his kampung after the election until it completed all appointments to its state government. Hadi was Terengganu menteri besar then.
“That incident happened here, in my village, in Kg Mak Kemas. The children were forced to have lessons outdoors,” Ibrahim said.
PAS controlled Terengganu in the early 1960s and from 1999 to 2004, and now, since last year’s general election.
‘Unity of ummah is all hype’
Since GE14, PAS and Umno have agreed to cooperate politically and have given way to each other to contest or campaign for each other’s candidate in recent by-elections.
Umno’s leaders, too, have been open about the need to cooperate with PAS in efforts to recapture Putrajaya in the next elections.
Ibrahim doesn’t see how this will work on the ground in his village, when PAS supporters continue to snub Umno members.
In the PAS-controlled neighbouring village of Kg Padang Pak Su Man, the surau is just 100m from masjid Kg Mak Kemas, which staved off the attempt to eject its pro-Umno committee members earlier this year.
The PAS-controlled surau has been holding buka puasa events for the community this Ramadan, but didn’t invite people from Ibrahim’s village.
A PAS supporter from the surau said they did not extend invitations because it was only a small event.
“It’s not that we didn’t want to invite them, it was just a small do and we were worried that there wouldn’t be enough food,” Zukri Talib, 53, said.
On the attempt to replace the masjid Kg Mak Kemas committee members, Zukri confirmed that it was because they are Umno supporters.
This has made Masjid Kg Mak Kemas congregation member Abdul Ghani Awang question the unity that both PAS and Umno leaders boast about.
“PAS members have never set foot in our mosque but once they formed the state government, they want to meddle with us,” said the 72-year-old.
“Where is the unity of the ummah that has been hyped up?”
Far better than Umno supporters are former PAS members who quit the party to form the splinter, Amanah, now part of the Pakatan Harapan ruling coalition, said another PAS supporter, who only wanted to be known as Ayub.
He called PAS leaders’ directive to forge ties with Umno in line with the party’s new direction nothing but empty talk.
“For decades, we have been enemies and suddenly, we are asked to be best friends. We need time for ties to mend.  
“Whereas we can accept Amanah members because they were previously our comrades. Like brothers, we are close in heart, even though we have different political positions now,” said Ayub.
All this is advantageous for PH, said state deputy chairman Azan Ismail.
He said the Umno-PAS collaboration is weakening both parties at the grassroots level.
“The distrust has existed between both parties for decades,” said Azan, who is also Terengganu PKR chairman.
“We believe there is a chance for PH to win in GE15.
“But for this to happen, PH parties Amanah and Bersatu must step up: Amanah must draw in more PAS members and Bersatu must target Umno members,” he said.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

NAJIB’S RM1 TRILLION LIE FINALLY EXPOSED: PUTRAJAYA CONFIRMS DEBT CLIMBS TO RM1.1 TRILLION AS FORMERLY DUBIOUS PROJECTS ECRL, MRT & LRT FINALLY ENTER THE BOOKS

The newly set-up Debt Management Committee (DMC) chaired by the finance minister convened its first meeting yesterday to discuss the government’s overall debt and liabilities of RM1.1 trillion or 75.4 percent of the gross domestic product as of the end of 2018.
In a statement today, the Finance Ministry said this was partly due to a RM54.2 billion rise in direct government debt to RM741.0 billion from RM686.8 billion in the previous year.
The rise in debt was used to finance the fiscal deficit, especially for expenditure arising from public-private partnership lease commitments and off-budget spending that were previously not transparently included in the budget, it said.
“Total committed government guarantees that are paid by the government, to finance ongoing public transport projects also rose.

“The increase in committed government guarantees was not caused by any new infrastructure projects but instead was due to the need to finance existing ones,” said the Finance Ministry.
The three transport projects are the East Coast Rail Link, Mass Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit.
“These measures will include evaluation of high-cost projects and identification of government-guaranteed debt to be restructured, of which, this measure is needed because the debt service charge for various financial obligations is preventing the government from funding other more productive programmes and projects,” it added.
The statement also reiterated that for the time being, the issuance cost of some government-guaranteed debt were similar to those issued by domestic corporate entities with AAA credit rating.
“However, the issuance cost of any debt backed by government guarantee should be approximately equivalent to government papers like the Malaysian Government Securities (MGS),” it said.
As of May 31, 2019, the coupon rate for 10-year MGS stood at 3.78 percent per annum, which was among the lowest rates enjoyed by the government in recent history.
Additionally, the committee will review all acts, procedures and legal requirements relating to the issuance of direct government debt, government guarantees and other government commitments.
– Bernama

11 years on, Azura still thrilled over teaching in Chinese school

Azura Senawi thoroughly enjoys her work teaching Malay at a Chinese independent school.
KUALA LUMPUR: Eleven years ago, Azura Senawi accepted a teaching position at an independent Chinese school with some trepidation because she had been told that parents could be demanding.
But her keenness to teach helped her overcome her fears and she has never regretted her decision.
Azura teaches Malay at Tsun Jin High School on Jalan Loke Yew and thoroughly enjoys it. She’s full of praise for the way the school is run, the dedication of the teaching staff and the attitudes of the students.
She says most of the students are keen in their studies, many are active in extracurricular activities and there’s hardly any disciplinary problem.
Chinese schools have always had a reputation of giving students too much homework, but Azura claims the pupils in her school seldom complain.
The school uses Google Classroom App to record unfinished work by students. Once they submit the homework, the record is erased. Students who finish their homework on time can get up to 30% of the marks for their final exams.
Students also take turns to keep the school compound clean and they participate in recycling programmes.
The school has a teacher taking charge of discipline between 7.30am and 4.10pm. “In all the years I’ve been teaching here, no student has been caught smoking or loitering around in school,” Azura told FMT.
She claims that teachers in the school don’t miss classes and they check on one another’s work to make sure everything is in order.
She says teachers are kept busy all the time, “which is probably why they are kept away from engaging in office politics”.
The entrance to Tsun Jin School where Azura Senawi teaches.
“Teachers who teach the same subject have weekly meetings on what they are going to teach and the approach they will use,” she said, adding that these brainstorming sessions, during which teaching approaches would be finetuned, had produced some remarkable results.
Speaking of her work as a language teacher, Azura said she had learned a lot from the external experts the school regularly engages. These experts teach writing and learning techniques, which the teachers pass down to students.
“Our students are aware of the best ways to write passages and how to tackle questions. This has helped them score high marks.”
The school population is almost entirely Chinese, but Azura says the students are exposed to the Malay and Indian cultures practised in Malaysia and most of them can speak Malay and English.
“Those who can’t will get encouragement from teachers until they can speak the two languages.”
She says the canteen in her school, like in many other Chinese schools, serve non-halal food but Muslims don’t find it a problem because they are allowed to eat at the stalls located just outside the school.
During the fasting month, she says, students try to show sensitivity towards Muslim teachers and would normally place their water containers on the floor, ”hoping to keep them away from our view”.
“I often tell them there’s no need to do that. But they will still hide their drinks during the entire fasting month.”
The school hires students for clerical work when they are waiting for exam results or for admission to college. Azura says this benefits the school because teachers are then freed from such work.
She believes parents send their children to the school “not because it is a Chinese school but because it has its priorities right. It instils discipline, hard work and respect for others”. - FMT

Relocate aluminium factory, urge Kuala Langat residents

Some of the residents protesting against the aluminium factory in Sri Cheeding, Kuala Langat.
KUALA LANGAT: About 50 villagers at Sri Cheeding here held a peaceful protest in front of an aluminium smelting factory, demanding that it be closed for allegedly discharging toxic fumes.
Nandhakumar Chellia, 41, who lives just a hundred metres away from the factory said, his family had been inhaling unpleasant smoke.
“Sometimes it is difficult to breathe. My daughter, aged 12, was diagnosed with asthma when she was two years old.
“The doctor at the hospital said it is due to the smoke she is inhaling. I have nowhere else to move to.”
Nandhakumar Chelli, his wife, K Puspa and daughter complain about the air pollution.
Nandhakumar said the smoke could not be seen in daylight but residents could smell it.
He said most of the residents had been staying there even before the factory started operating. About 100 families are now staying near the factory.
Tan See Koo, who also lives nearby, said he had to cover his nose whenever he passed by the factory every day because of the strong metallic smell.
Omar Shawkataly.
“The factory used to operate day and night without stop. After we complained, they have slowed down.
“Now they operate at night from 6pm until the wee hours of the next morning to make it less obvious,” he said.
Another resident, Omar Shawkataly, who is a chemistry lecturer, said tests must be done to detect the aluminium level in residents staying close to the factory and also in the water.
“We are more concerned about the dust people are breathing in. I am sure this dust will settle in the ground and get into the water.”
Kuala Langat Environmental Action Association secretary Pua Lay Peng said a few complaints had been filed with the Selangor Environmental Department (DoE) since May last year.
Pua Lay Peng
She said the factory, which has been operating since 2005, should be relocated to a heavy industrial zone as it is now surrounded by houses.
She said DoE had asked the factory to stop its operations for two weeks and it could only resume its business if it meets air quality standards.
She said the association will monitor the factory, especially at night, to ensure the factory does not operate at night to avoid enforcement.
FMT is trying to get a response from the factory which is closed for now. - FMT

King Salman calls for restructuring of OIC to champion rights of Muslims worldwide

King Salman has expressed sadness that Muslims account for the highest number of refugees around the world as a result of turbulence and warfare. (AFP pic)
MECCA: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud has called for a restructuring of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to address regional and international challenges facing Muslims today.
“As OIC chairman this term, Saudi Arabia will work with member countries to accelerate the implementation of joint action to achieve the goals of Muslims globally,” he said when chairing the 14th OIC Summit at the royal palace here today.
Salman also expressed sadness over the fact that Muslims accounted for the highest number of refugees around the world as a result of turbulence and warfare.
He said Saudi Arabia would also look at the views of member countries to overcome the upheavals and wars, besides extending aid through humanitarian bodies to create peace and stability in all Muslim nations.
The “Mecca Al-Mukarramah Summit: Hand in Hand towards the Future” is being attended by leaders from 57 OIC member states, including Malaysia, to unite to establish a stand on issues and events that are affecting the Muslim world.
Meanwhile, the Saudi king said the issue surrounding Palestine was a major concern for the OIC and that it would strive to resolve the plight of the Palestinians.
“It is our focus for Palestinians to regain their rights, secured with legitimate international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative 2002,” he said referring to the proposal for an end to the Arab–Israeli conflict that was endorsed by the Arab League 17 years ago.
“We once again state our stand against any move that will affect the status of Palestinian history and laws of the country,” he said.
The 14th OIC summit is expected to adopt three outcome documents, namely the final communique of the 14th OIC Summit, the resolution on the cause of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif, and the Mecca Declaration. - FMT

Group says ‘no’ to MPs in FT minister’s council but expert says ‘yes’

The six MPs in the FT minister’s council will handle portfolios currently assigned to DBKL executive directors.
PETALING JAYA: A pressure group has questioned the appointment of six Kuala Lumpur MPs as members of the Federal Territories minister’s council, saying the MPs’ role should not include interfering with “city matters”.
M Ali, deputy chairman of Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur (SKL), said the MPs should focus on issues at the national level instead.
“The role of MPs is to look at problems at a macro level.
“This is a micro level management system which does not need the involvement of MPs. Why would you want to burden the MPs by getting them to look after the drains, sewage problems and what not?” Ali asked.
On Monday, six Kuala Lumpur MPs who do not hold government posts such as minister, deputy minister or special envoy were presented appointment letters as members of the minister’s council to assist the federal territories ministry and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
The MPs and their portfolios are Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (Setiawangsa) for education, Fong Kui Lun (Bukit Bintang) for tourism, arts and culture, P Prabakaran (Batu) for youth and sports, Dr Tan Yee Kew (Wangsa Maju) for health and women’s affairs, Lim Lip Eng (Kepong) for traffic and infrastructure, and Fahmi Fadzil (Lembah Pantai) for social and economic development.
Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad, who announced their appointments, said this would provide the MPs with experience to be involved in government administration as part of efforts to groom a new generation of leaders.
“Otherwise, they will remain as just MPs. We are worried that if they do not understand their roles as government lawmakers, they will act more like opposition MPs,” he said.
Ali told FMT that these portfolios, currently assigned to DBKL executive directors, should remain the directors’ responsibilities.
“Otherwise, what are these executive directors there for? Is the minister trying to replace them with the MPs? It does not work that way.
“The DBKL governs Kuala Lumpur city. Why are MPs roped in to help the mayor? What role will the mayor play now?
“Worse, the MPs may end up intimidating and interfering with the role of the executive directors,” he said.
Ali also said the FT minister should not interfere with DBKL matters, as previously proposed by several former opposition MPs.
“That is what we have been asking for because it was the interference of the former FT minister that had resulted in the mess DBKL is in today. We don’t want this to repeat with the current minister,” he said.
However, planning and local government expert Derek Fernandez said the appointment of the six MPs was overdue as the minister’s council was set up some time ago.
“But I hope the minister agrees to abide by a democratic decision-making model during the council meetings and uphold the decision of the council on matters of policy even if he may sometimes hold a different view.
“To do otherwise would render the council nothing more than the DBKL advisory board, whose advice does not have to be followed.
“This will defeat the purpose of appointing elected Kuala Lumpur MPs to the council,” he said.
Derek urged all six MPs to speak without fear or favour on matters of public concern and correct the wrongs of the past.
“They must never lose sight of the pre-election promises they made and their duty to uphold and honour these promises and the principles of the Pakatan Harapan government.
“The minister must also be reminded that this council cannot be taken as a replacement for local government elections which he must push to restore.
“This council is just a temporary step taken in the absence of a local government election. It must not be used as an excuse to delay such elections,” he said.
Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, who has been vocal in bringing up issues on behalf of her constituents, in particular the Taman Rimba Kiara development project, said while she welcomed the council, the minister must not forget to fulfill the calls for local government elections to be brought back.
“We are still pushing for local government elections. This council is temporary and it is a good way for the MPs to voice their constituents’ concerns.
“As for those of us who are not on the council, don’t worry. We are quite creative in finding ways to get our voices heard,” she told FMT.
Yeoh also hoped that Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin would lead the way in pushing for local government elections.
“I believe the citizens of Kuala Lumpur are ready for it,” she said. - FMT

3 questions for AG over delay in RCI on judicial misconduct

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.
PETALING JAYA: Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla has posed three questions to Attorney-General Tommy Thomas over the delay in the setting up of the royal commission of inquiry on judicial misconduct three months after a sitting judge made the allegations against several unidentified colleagues.
Haniff wants to know:
1. Who is responsible for preparing the terms of reference for the RCI;
2. Whether the terms have been finalised or not; and
3. What the attorney-general has been doing over the last three months in connection with the RCI.
He took Thomas to task over the delay after the attorney-general said he was “not involved” and that queries should be posed to the ministers concerned.
Last week, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government had yet to finalise the details of the RCI three months after he said the Cabinet had agreed to its formation.
De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong has since said the matter rested with the attorney-general.
Haniff said that according to the Commission of Enquiry Act 1950, the terms of reference will need to be drawn up before commissioning the inquiry.
He also said the government should not be tasked with handling the matter as it needed the expertise of those well-versed with the law.
“Anyhow, he (the prime minister) has already agreed that it is for the RCI to decide how its investigation will be like,” he said.
On Feb 14, Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer filed an explosive 65-page affidavit outlining the alleged judicial misconduct.
Hamid alleged that senior judges had intervened in the decision of numerous appeals and abetted in scams carried out by nominees of politicians who had entered into contracts with the government.
He claimed that there had been interference in the Court of Appeal’s 2016 majority decision to convict senior lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo’s late father and former DAP chairman Karpal Singh for sedition. Karpal was acquitted of the sedition charge by the Federal Court in March.
In his affidavit, Hamid also said that at an international law conference in Kuala Lumpur last year, he was chided by a top judge, in the presence of other judges, for delivering a dissenting judgment in the Indira Gandhi unilateral conversion case.
Since then, several bodies including the Malaysian Bar, Sabah Law Society, Advocates Association of Sarawak, National Patriots Association, Reform Caucus for Parliament, Lawyers for Liberty and Bersih 2.0 have asked for the RCI to be speeded up.
Other lawyers have also expressed concern about the image of Thomas, Liew and the judiciary if the inquiry continued to be delayed.
Lim Wei Jiet said the best thing to do to quell “unnecessary speculation” is for Putrajaya to expedite the setting up of the RCI, noting that it remains a matter of executing the Cabinet’s decision.
“The Cabinet, having arrived at a decision in February to form an RCI, should expeditiously coordinate all relevant ministries and agencies to set up the inquiry team.
“There is great public interest for the RCI to be instituted and investigate the accusations of misconduct without any delay. The judiciary’s reputation and integrity are at stake,” he told FMT.
Neither Lim nor Surendra Ananth said they would speculate on the delay in forming the RCI or why it appeared that Thomas and Liew were at odds over the matter.
“But I think the delay does not reflect well on the government’s promise on judicial reform,” said Surendra. “The RCI is a good opportunity for the government to show that it is serious about undertaking reforms.”
Although he said it would be difficult for the RCI to make findings on every allegation in Hamid’s affidavit, it could still make clear why reforms were needed to ensure that “the matters that happened in the past” did not happen again.
“As to who should make the recommendations, it’s the Cabinet that advises the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” Surendra said.
“If the Cabinet seeks the advice of the AG to draft the terms, then the AG should do it. Or else, the law minister can do it.” - FMT

Penang councillor should reconsider probe into kids at climate change protest


In a rather unusual turn, a Penang Island City (MBPP) Councillor, Vino Dini Chandragason mooted a probe by the Education Department into the participation of a group of schoolchildren in a peaceful climate change protest organised by civil society organisations - Klimate Action Utara and Klima Action Malaysia at a Ramadan bazaar in Bayan Baru last Friday.
She alleged in a press statement that these NGOs abused their roles by using children in their protest, and quoted the Child Act 2001 and the Federal Constitution to support her stand and later rationalise her suggestion for a probe by the Education Department on the matter.
I see this suggestion as both surprising and shocking, as a random background check on the school of this group of 11 children shows that they actually come from Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil (SJKT) Sungai Ara which was recently hailed as 'eco-warriors' by Education Minister Maszlee Malik for their consistent contribution towards advocating awareness on environmental issues.
Hence, it is very baseless for her to allege that these children were abused and used to forward a cause. I will rather say that these children do realise the seriousness of the matter and took a bold action to come forward to participate in the protest to express their concerns over the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) and Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project together with a few other prominent civil societies.
Their act (the protest) is in line with Article 10 (a) and (b) of the Federal Constitution which grants every citizen the right to freedom of speech and expression and right to assemble peaceably and without arms.
If it was wrong, I'm very sure that the relevant authorities would have taken action much earlier. It was only a peaceful and apolitical protest to raise the awareness of fellow Penangites on both climate change and the negative impacts of the PTMP and PSR projects towards the island's environment in the long run.
We should rather be proud to see children as young as them taking an early lead in serious subjects as such, and advocate for a future-proof and sustainable environment, unlike certain leaders who do nothing but politicise every single subject for their personal interests. We, the younger leaders, must not repeat such mistakes.
The environment is an issue that goes beyond the partisan divide. We can't allow or suggest actions to be taken on the students just for having a different point of view on the matter. In fact, we should actually feel ashamed for letting them down on such issues which has now in return led to their act of participating in such protests.
This entire suggestion rather looks like an desperate attempt to hopelessly defend the PTMP and PSR projects, as well as warn off other civil society organisations about the consequences of going against the state.
The claims of children being abused in accordance with Child Act 2001 of the Federal Constitution only shows the hypocrisy of the councillor, as there is also evidence in forms of pictures of the Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow using schoolchildren for the state's 'I Love PTMP' campaign.
Hence, I would like to humbly request that the councillor and state government not politicise the issue. The children are there, and must continue to be there, for the betterment of their future. The future is for them and they must not just be promised but be given the right to shape it as they want.

MATHIS SARAWANAN is MIC Bayan Baru Youth leader. - Mkini

Hooked on ketum, SPM student with 7As rues life in prison



Achieving seven As in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination should have qualified him for an esteemed place in an institution of higher learning.
But this did not materialise for Ahmad, 17, (not his real name) when he landed behind bars for a ketum (kratom or Mitragyna speciosa) addiction after picking the wrong crowd following the SPM examination in 2017.
Interviewed by Bernama at the Marang Prison recently, he admitted regret over his actions as he was an examplary and excellent student at a secondary school in Kota Bahru, Kelantan.
Ahmad was jailed for a year after he pleaded guilty to possessing a kilogramme of ketum leaves in 2018 and had to undergo the sentence until August.
‘’I have only myself to blame at what has happened. I was lonely without any friends. I was lonely quite a lot until I met my five village mates who were willing to talk to me and show concern.
‘’I saw them taking horse pills (ketamine) and consuming ketum water several times when I was close to them, but I avoided being involved. But my curiosity got the better of me and eventually I was hooked and I was willing to spend all my money to buy them,’’ said Ahmad, who took the opportunity to study at the Integrity School set up by the prison.
The change befalling him not only greatly dismayed his mother but also school teachers who were shocked at the sudden shift. In fact, when receiving the SPM results, Ahmad was concerned that entry into university would hinder him from obtaining ketum water.
‘’My friends said I will experience difficulties when I start studying because there is no ketum water there. So I didn't apply to any institution of higher learning as my head was in turmoil and I continued working at a sawmill to earn money,’’ said Ahmad, who is second of four siblings.
He said he was depressed at what he had done and became jealous of his peers who had continued their studies, while he was forced to undergo a difficult life in prison.
To dispel his loneliness and soothe his feeling of regret, he plunged himself into theatre activities organised by the prison school. His teachers regarded Ahmad as a smart and courteous person.
Sharing his experience of fasting in prison for the first time, Ahmad said that it was indeed a very sad state of affair.
'I was irresponsible'
He realised his family was not rich and could not afford to give him good food, but at least he could see his mother.
‘’I don’t how Hari Raya would be like but I am still thankful because my mother still sees me in prison and I have asked for her forgiveness recently,’’ said Ahmad, who was grateful since many inmates his age were shunned by their families and never had visitors.
Ahmad vowed to stay clear of his "wild" friends when he leaves prison, and the first thing on his mind would be to embrace his mother to seek her pardon.
It had begun to sink into Ahmad, who is of small stature, that his actions had devastated his 41-year-old mother’s hopes, especially when he had promised to change his family’s lot.
He said his 42-year-old father was now in prison in Machang, Kelantan, while his elder sister, 21, was in the Pengkalan Chepa’s jail in Kelantan, both over drug abuse offences.
‘’Indeed, it did cross my mind... by right, it is I who should change my family. My mother always reminded me to show the best. After my father and mother split up when I was 12 years old, I often heard people cursing and swearing at my family.
‘’At that time, I was determined to prove I would succeed. I don’t know somehow I was irresponsible and succumbed to my cravings for ketum leaves.
"I was like shocked and did not believe the predicament I was in during the early part of my detention. I did try to prise open my handcuffs but it was painful as they were too tight,’’ he said in a choked voice.
Ahmad scored 7As, 1B, 1C and 1D in the 2017 SPM examination and, according to a counsellor at the Marang Prison Nor Fakhrini Abdul Razab, 33, the prison would try to find a place in a polytechnic or any suitable institution of study for Ahmad.
‘’He is a clever person, always asking questions and he takes orders easily. Look at his behaviour... he is very courteous. I feel sad thinking how he could have succumbed. I meet many students in prison but I feel Ahmad will have a good future if he is willing to change and doesn't repeat the old mistake.
‘’May the experience (in prison) become valuable lessons to help him morph into a useful human being in society,’’ said Nor Fakhrini, who has been stationed at the prison since 2014.
Bernama