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Sunday, November 23, 2014

AFF Cup: Malaysia must stay positive; We can't take Tigers lightly, warns Avramovic; Safiq wants spot back

As published in today's Mailsport

Reports by Vijhay Vick

SINGAPORE - Mahali Jasuli hopes to end Malaysia's jinx when they play Myanmar today.

 “We need a positive start. If we drop points it could cause us problem when we face Thailand and Singapore, who are the favourites to reach the semis,” said Mahali, who is aware  Malaysia lost their last two opening matches in the AFF Cup in 2010 and 2012.

 “A win over be the perfect booster after poor results in our recent matches. It will ease some pressure as well."

Mahali would likely start at rightback as Dollah Salleh's preferred choice Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak was left out due to injuries.

Mahali also stressed they must not let the poor preparations affect them.

Harimau Malaya only have one win - 4-1 over lowly Cambodia - from five preparation matches since August.

They lost to Tajikistan (4-1), Indonesia (2-0), Syria (3-0) and Vietnam (3-1).

“Our results in the friendlies were poor but we have moved on. We start on a clean slate. It's the same for all the teams," he said.

Meanwhile, defending champions and co-hosts Singapore are confident of topping Group B and retaining the AFF Cup.

The other teams in the group are Thailand, Malaysia and Mynamar.

"Thailand look like the best team but that means nothing to me. I am confident of winning," said Singapore coach Bernd Stange.

"We are ready to go and are well prepared. The expectations are high and we want to achieve our aims.

"I'm certain the crowd at National Stadium in Kallang will be supportive."

Singapore have a solid line-up in the central department - be it in attack or defence.

Shahdan Sulaiman and Hariss Harun man the engine room while proven centrebacks Baihakki Khaizan and Safuwan Baharudin provide cover for goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.


We can't take Malaysia lightly, warns Avramovic

MYANMAR coach Radojko Avramovic, who has been coaching in this region since 2003, insists Malaysia could surprise everyone despite losing four of the last five matches.

"The win in 2012 is in the past. Malaysia are different and this side have more experience," said Avramovic, who led Singapore to a 3-0 victory over Malaysia two years ago en route to the title.
"It is difficult to say I know their game. It will be interesting.

"Our qualification wasn't so great but we are here to win all three matches. Realistically, we need to also see where we are compared to the other teams."

His counterpart Dollah Salleh said he expects Myanmar to be tough opponents after seeing them at the AFF Cup qualifying tournament in Laos last month.

"They are difficult to break down," said Dollah.

"I'm looking forward to testing myself against Radojko. I faintly remember a match during my playing days where we went up against his team (Oman Under-23). Now we are both on the touchline."

AFF decided the National Stadium in Kallang would not be used for pre-match training to preserve the pitch.

'I want my place back'

SINGAPORE - It is his third Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup but it is a different ball game for central midfielder Safiq Rahim.

The 27-year-old skippered Malaysia in the last two editions with the team built around him. This time, he may not even start.

Though there are more senior players in the squad such as 35-year-old Shukor Adan and 33-year-old Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Safiq reckons he still has a role to play.

"The captaincy doesn't matter. It's part and parcel of football. Everything is based on performance," said Safiq.

"We need to have the confidence, stay focused and listen to the coach's instructions.
"I hope we get off to good start. Teamwork must be at optimum to reach our potential."
Many criticised Safiq's inclusion in 2012 due to his poor performance in the M-League with Selangor and he then failed to shine as Malaysia lost in the semifinals.

This time he comes in on a high having played a key role for Johor Darul Takzim as they won the Super League and finished runners-up in the Malaysia Cup earlier this month.

Safiq said he has recovered from a right knee injury but conceded it would be a tough fight to get into the line-up with Badhri Radzi, Gary Steven Robbat, Baddrol Bakhtiar and Hafiz Kamal ahead of him.

"But I will do all I can to get back into the starting line-up."

Malaysia kick off their campaign against Myanmar tonight.

FORMULA E: Bird rules the roost in Putrajaya

As published in Sunday Mail today

By Nicolas Anil

PUTRAJAYA - Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird soared to a dominant win in an action-packed second race of the Formula E at Putrajaya yesterday.
Bird, who finished third at the maiden race in Beijing two months ago, was emotional after his victory.
“I want to dedicate this victory to a good friend of mine who is ill. It’s really unfortunate that he has to struggle so much right now, so this one is for him," said Bird without naming his friend.
“It’s been an amazing week for me. I did well in practice and started second on the grid and my good start helped pave the way to a consistent race. This is our first win as a team in our first season. I’m delighted and hope we can keep this up.”
Bird's masterclass driving saw him lead the 20-driver field from the first lap held a seven-second lead before he turned into the pitlane.
The ex Formula 3 driver regained the lead, temporarily held by Audi Sport’s Daniel Abt, with four laps to go and blitzed to his first win in the championship in 51:11.979 seconds.
Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi, who had won the first race, benefitted from several crashes to finish second (51:16.154) despite starting from 18th, while Switzerland's Sebastian Buemi’s was third (51:17.718s).
The big names suffered crashes and Venturi E Team driver Nick Heidfeld was slalomed by Frenchman Franck Montagy who made contact in his bid to overtake the German.
The former Formula One driver, who was also involved in an accident with Nicolas Prost in Beijing, was forced to retire.
He was joined in the non-classification by Nelson Piquet Jr who was also ruled out after being infringed by Italy’s Jarno Trulli.
Di Grassi leads the drivers' standings on 43 points, three ahead of Bird.
The drivers and teams will head to Punta del Esta in Uruguay for the next race on Dec 13. The 10-race championship will conclude in London in June next year.

Top five
1. Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) 51:11.979s
2. Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport) 51:16.154s
3. Sebastian Buemi (e.dams Renault) 51’17.718s
4. Nicolas Prost (e.damn Renault) 51’21:531s
5. Jerome D’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing) 51’25:701s

Excitingly fun day at Formula E

By Audrey Edwards

PUTRAJAYA — Months of hard work culminated in less than an hour when drivers of the FIA Formula E Champioship drove their hearts out in a race that saw the safety car come out twice before 10 laps of the race was done. 
And throughout the morning and afternoon, spectators who turned up at the Putrajaya ePrix circuit had the entire stretch of both sides of the circuit to stroll and take part in various activities offered to them besides taking a timeout at the cooling zone or grabbing a bite at the food trucks and stalls that dotted near the eVillage. 
Among the attractions that drew the crowds were the Formula E race simulators, autograph sessions from the 20 drivers and the power bike challenge carried out by DHL. 
The e-bike action booth also saw them checking out cyclists carrying out various tricks while EJ (electric jockey as opposed to disc jockey) also made an appearance at the eVillage. 
Umbrellas and caps were the chosen accessories while those who turned up were not dressed in the usual favourite team t-shirt although one or two cut a figure with their Formula One Red Bull Racing shirts. 
Some of those at the grandstand near the grid also called out to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he took a tour of the paddock area and starting line-up before the race started. 
There was a slight tingle of anticipation before the race got started on its 31 laps as people looked forward to hearing the electric cars start the race. 
Some said it sounded like a giant remote control car while others described it as something out of a science fiction movie. 
The sound, which is approximately 80 decibels (more than the 70 decibels produced by an average petrol car) comes courtesy of a combination of the tyres on track, the car’s aero package and electric drivetrain. 
And as the cars went down the straight at fast speeds, the crowds could take comfort in the fact there was no need to put on ear plugs as opposed to the noisier Formula One races. 
It was a race never seen before in Malaysia and it was only the second venue after Beijing to host a Formula E Championship. 
The street circuit, which was easy to walk on with its pedestrian walkways and trees to provide shelter from the searing heat definitely made the going easier for those who turned up in droves.
There were also benches for them to rest after walking the length of the circuit while there were makeshift pedestrian bridges to cross from one side of the track to the other.  
And in the distance, landmarks like the Prime Minister’s Office could be seen.
Those lucky enough had the chance to take a walk on the grid before the start of the race and take random shots of drivers and other team members. 
The grid girls proved popular among those frantically snapping photos. And the same went for the three girls who held the FanBoosted sign for the three drivers (Katherine Legge, Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld) who received the most votes from FanBoost. 
FanBoost allows fans to vote for their favourite driver by giving them an extra “speed burst” during the race, which helps in overtaking.
When the race started, fans were seen either staying put at the grandstands or walking from one spot to another behind the metal safety barriers to catch a glimpse of the cars whizzing by. 
And they went wild and cheered enthusiastically for Sam Bird from Virgin Racing, who became the first Putrajaya ePrix winner. 
And while the fans waited hours before the race started, their exit from the circuit seemed easy enough with the different exit points while others stayed behind to take more shots of the venue in the midst of overcast clouds. 


A future with electric cars, says PM

By Audrey Edwards

PUTRAJAYA — Malaysia will push and play its part for a future where electric cars are the mainstay of the day.
“I think the way forward is electric cars. We must go electric,” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday after attending the inaugural Putrajaya Formula E race. 
“It’s the future. And you talk about carbon emission, I think all cars should be electric one day.”
He said the key was to produce batteries which were cheaper and lasted longer.
On the race itself, Najib said the Putrajaya street circuit was ideal for Formula E races.  
“We will try to continue with it.”
He said the race had managed to showcase Malaysia and the country’s administrative capital to 120 countries that telecast it “live”.
Najib said the race, which is the second race in the FIA Formula E Championship calendar after Beijing, was an “excellent” race. 
“It was very exciting and the circuit is lovely. Everybody is happy. I’ve talked to the drivers and organisers, and they are happy.”
Formula E Malaysia Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Johann Young said there were about 91,000 people who came in with general admission ticket and another 3,000 were on the grandstands, adding that the “live” broadcast was also the best branding one could get for the country. 
“It has been a great success for Malaysia,” Young said.
Young said the crowds were spread out throughout the circuit area and they were treated to various entertainment by way of the cultural and e-villages. 
When asked about teething problems faced by the organiser, he said they would continue improvng on it. 
“It’s our first year. It takes time to learn what mistakes we made,” he said, adding that a post-mortem would be carried out. 
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also said the race was a “good thing” as it promoted the country overseas. 
“They have a chance to see Malaysia and also Putrajaya. I feel good.”


Autograph seeker brimming with joy at being the first 

PUTRAJAYA — The way Mohammad Basheer was shrieking with joy and sprinting towards his friends, it looked like he had just won the lottery. 
The 16-year-old’s excitement was because he had been the first in line for the FIA Formula E Championship drivers’ autograph session and proceeded to show off his “loot” to the rest of his friends.
He had just gotten the autographs of his favourite drivers Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt from the Audi Sport Abt team. 
“I even got a flash drive because I was the first in line,” said the Nilai International School student, adding that he had been queued for about two hours before the session started. 
Mohammad, from Saudi Arabia, was among the thousands of people who turned up to watch the Putrajaya ePrix yesterday. 
“I was so excited  I couldn’t sleep last night.
“I have been looking forward to this and my teacher bought the tickets a month ago.”
The 34 students were chaperoned by their teacher, Wan Dalila Wan Ismail, who said the trip was part of their business studies to study about green technology. 
Another racing fan who was spotted at the circuit after the autograph session was Farah Lee, who came with her mother Rosalind Leong. 
“It was a huge rush and I felt like a tiny tuna in a very compact can,” Lee said. 
“There just wasn’t any designated line for us.”
Lee, 30, who has been to the Formula One races at the Sepang International Circuit, added that the Formula E could be a viable start for races in the future. 
She also said that the organisation of the race could be improved including having more promotional activities.
Ahmad Fazilla Othman, who works with Putrajaya Holdings, said the event was a good idea to showcase Putrajaya and Malaysia to the world. 
“At least there is some excitement plus I’m excited to see these environmental-friendly cars,” he said. 
James Hayduk, a Brit who has been working in Malaysia for the past year in the oil and gas industry, was seen with his two sons, Edward, four; and George, two.
“My son (Edward) loves watching race cars and I had wanted to take him for the Formula One but we thought it would be too loud for him,” he said. 
“But here, it’s not too loud and the race is only an hour, which is perfect. It’s great to see street racing and it’s something that boys like. He said the cars were faster than Lightning McQueen (from the movie Cars).”

Nabil Jeffri - 'Maid' to race, born to win

As published in today's Mailsport

By Prem Kumar

SPEND five minutes with Nabil Jeffri and you know he lives and breathes racing.
But long before the 21-year-old driver made his Formula BMW Pacific debut in 2010, his journey started on the lap of a Thai woman.
“When I first sat in a go-kart at the age of four, it was on the lap of my maid,” recalls Nabil, shortly after we sit down for a chat.
“I remember my family visiting a circuit in Kuantan and I really wanted to drive. Unfortunately I couldn’t reach the (accelerator) pedals so she placed me on her lap and took care of that part while I steered the wheel left and right.
“We returned for holidays every year and I was always eager to drive. It was my maid who accompanied me and assisted me until I was old enough to reach the pedals.”
Nabil may owe his interest in the sport to Kak Mah, 40, his family’s long-serving domestic helper who still follows his career, but if was not for grandfather Pawanteh Che Din, he would not be where he is today.
Through the frequent trips to Kuantan, Pawanteh took note of his grandson’s love for speed and started exposing him to other speed-related activities like jet-skiing.
Nabil eventually chose go-karting and took it up seriously at seven and his career has gone from strength to strength.
“It began as a hobby but when I started getting better at it I realised I could go far,” explains Nabil.

Record breaker

By the time he was 16, Nabil was a karting star, winning the Asian and Malaysian Rotax Max Junior Championships. He also finished an impressive sixth at the World Finals the same year. He then stepped up to Formula BMW in 2010 with Eurasia Motorsport.
Nabil’s steady rise caught the attention of AirAsia supremo Tan Sri Tony Fernandes - then owner of Formula One team Lotus Racing - who offered the 16-year-old a chance to carry out an aero-dynamic test at Duxford’s Imperial War Museum runway, becoming the youngest racer in F1 history to do so.
“I was very proud and still am,” says Nabil, whose record still stands.
“When most 16-year-olds were in school studying, I was testing a 320kmh car thanks to Tony. It was an unforgettable experience. Now my appetite to get there (F1) and race with the amazing drivers I had the privilege of spending time with has grown bigger,” adds Nabil, who hopes to race with his idol Lewis Hamilton one day.
Starting young meant Nabil had to juggle studies with his racing commitments, a punishing task nevertheless made easier by his teachers and classmates at SMK Damansara Utama, who were always happy to lend a helping hand with “homework and stuff like that”.
“I was rarely at school.
“But everyone was brilliant, especially the teachers. I remember coming back from a race in Macau a day before SPM and they were kind enough to give me some very useful last minute tips,” remembers Nabil, who scored 9As.
Discipline is also a very important aspect of Nabil’s life. His day starts at 8am with cycling, swimming or running before hitting the gym.
He tries to get enough rest between his activities but that was not always the case.

Hard lesson

“When I first arrived in Europe last year, I just went for races without training. Having won everything domestically and continentally, I thought I was still a champion. I did not take care of my fitness and ate whatever I wanted and was in really, really bad shape,” admits Nabil, who is now particular about the food he puts into his system, trains regularly and even plans his day according to European time!
“When the first test came, I only managed two laps. I was gasping for breath and my neck hurt. The G-force in F3 is high and some of the turns are even faster than F1. You really need to be very fit.
“That was a wake-up call for me,” reflects Nabil, who will compete in his first triathlon next week in Morib.
Nabil will participate in European Formula 3 for the next two seasons after recently completing his second German F3 Cup season as runner-up to Germany’s Markus Pommer.
The Petronas Talent Development Programme driver’s ultimate aim remains F1.
“I have been set a goal by Petronas and if I achieve that, they’ve promised me the chance of being a reserve driver for their F1 team in a couple of years’ time. I’m confident I will because I know I have the talent and I trust myself a lot,” says the determined lad, who also plays futsal regularly to stay in shape.
Eldest of three male siblings, Nabil’s drive and steely determination to achieve his Formula One dream is clear to see.
It would not be long before Malaysia witnesses another driver at the sport's highest stage.

Name: Muhammad Nabil Jeffri
Date of birth: Oct 24, 1993
From: Kuala Lumpur
Hobbies: Practicing on racing simulator, road-biking
Favourite food: Chicken rice

Favourite other spor: Futsal

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blinded hospital stumbles over questionable deals

As published in Malay Mail today

By Haresh Deol

PETALING JAYA — A motion by a visually impaired masseuse, set to be tabled during the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) council meeting at the association’s headquarters in Brickfields today, has opened a can of worms over the management of the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital (THONEH).
Siti Khadijah Abu Bakar claimed there were several dubious contracts involving a top THONEH administrator, who is also an MAB office bearer.
Some 10 MAB council members form the hospital board as the medical facility — the brainchild of former prime minister Tun Hussein Onn — was established in 1986 to provide state-of-the-art eyecare to Malaysians. 
Prompted by Siti Khadijah's claims, Malay Mail investigated the matter and discovered several irregularities. They include:
● The hospital administrator had entered into two cross-merchandising agreements with Alcon Laboratories (M) Sdn Bhd and Carl Zeiss Sdn Bhd without the knowledge or the approval of the hospital board.
●  According to the agreements, THONEH is bound to spend close to RM20.5 million by buying products from Carl Zeiss and Alcon Laboratories over a period of four and five years respectively in return for six machines and software provided by the companies.
● Industry experts estimate the hospital will overspend close to RM5 million based on its current annual spending and the expenditure required under the contracts.
● The administrator has been a visiting consultant for THONEH since Jan 1 last year.
It is learnt the contracts bore the signatures of the administrator and another top hospital official.
According to the agreement with Alcon Laboratories which came into effect on July 1, THONEH received a femtosecond laser (LenSX Laser System) which is used for cataract surgery, three units of Centurion Vision System, a Constellation Table Top and an Embedded Purepoint Laser in return for the hospital to purchase medical products totalling RM14.5 million over five years.
THONEH entered into a software module licence agreement with Carl Zeiss on Aug 1 which required the hospital to commit to a minimum of RM125,000 monthly for any combination of femtosecond procedure packs and intraocular lens — totalling RM6 million — over a period of four years.
An industry player pointed out that a LenSX ranges between RM2.4 million and RM3 million while a Centurion Vision System cost between RM340,000 and RM500,000.
“With a good bargain, one can get the Constelation Purepoint Laser and Embedded Purepoint Laser for about RM1.3 million. That would add up to about RM5.8 million,” he said, requesting anonymity.
“It looks like THONEH will be spending an additional RM9 million which does not make financial sense for the hospital.
"One also need to consider the projected annual spending on medical products based on the current patient ratio and the minimum annual spending as required under the contracts. The amount spent could fluctuate between RM4 million and RM5 million," he said.
He said cross-merchandising agreements are common between hospitals and medical companies but large purchases would generally require the approval of the hospital board.
An insider took issue with the manner the contracts were entered into.
“The hospital follows the procedures set by the Registrar of Companies. A tender is usually called where medical companies will present their products to the hospital’s purchasing committee. The committee consists of doctors and experts who understand the product.
"The purchase committee will then deliberate and make their recommendations to the board for endorsement. But in this case, the purchasing committee and board are clueless about the contracts.”
He also said only two doctors at the hospital were fully certified to use the equipment.
An MAB council member, who also sits on the hospital board, confirmed the contracts were never brought to their attention and was only highlighted during the hospital's board meeting on Aug 16.
“MAB pretty much owns THONEH. Two-thirds of MAB council members sit on the hospital board. The hospital was established by MAB on the association’s land,” the insider said, requesting anonymity.
“The board does not know about the contracts. Also, how can a hospital administrator also be a visiting consultant?"
He said after much deliberation, the board members agreed the contract will be evaluated by the financial committee.
"But after the (Aug 16) meeting, we discovered evidence to suggest the contracts were signed before the meeting.
"This is a lot of commitment by the hospital. We must meet again and review all documents as there is a major financial implication."
The higher-ups in THONEH seem to be in the dark over the agreements.
“I am not aware of the contracts,” said THONEH chief executive officer Prof Datuk Dr M. Chandra Sekaran.
“I am not in a position to comment as the person is (the hospital’s) board member and the board will decide what action, if any, will be taken following these allegations,” he added.
 Siti: We may be blind but not stupid

KUALA LUMPUR — Siti Khadijah Abu Bakar may never enjoy the sight of a beautiful rainbow or the smiles on her children's faces.
She was robbed of her sight when she was young and the visually impaired masseuse is bent on making sure the blind community is not victimised any more.
Siti Khadijah is questioning the ethics of a Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) council member, who is also an administrator at the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital (THONEH), over several irregularities in deals with third parties regarding the supply of medical products.
"Let me make it clear ... I have no beef with any personality," she said.
"But how can an MAB board member take advantage of the community by securing such deals?
"Yes, I had put in a motion (ahead of the MAB council meeting today) requesting for answers.
"I am representing the blind people in the country as I believe we have a right to know. The eye hospital belongs to the community."
Siti Khadijah was puzzled the hospital had the means to enter into such deals, especially with the possibility of losing millions of ringgit, when the money could be put to better use.
"When I was told about this, I was angry and frustrated. The money could be used for other activities but the blind are often taken for granted," she said.
"We may be blind but we are not stupid. We have people who informed us about the contracts, the way the finances are being handled.
"The hospital board should have been informed of these deals but we were told they were kept in the dark."
She hoped her motion would be tabled during MAB's council meeting at its headquarters in Brickfields today.
"All I want are answers. If there are irregularities, those involved must answer and shoulder the responsibility," she said.

Ask the board, says hospital administrator

PETALING JAYA — The Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital administrator involved in alleged irregularities in deals regarding supply of medical products said queries should be referred to the hospital board.
The doctor was baffled how a Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) member could claim to have obtained information regarding "confidential" contracts between the institution and third parties.
"I've been with the hospital for a long time. For such matters, it is best you speak to the (hospital) board to obtain clarification," said the doctor.
"The board should be questioned. It is interesting that an MAB member is raising these allegations."
The doctor, who claimed to be in surgery when contacted by Malay Mail, said: "It's not proper for me to discuss (the contracts) with you because they are confidential and can be subjected to judicial review."

CEO keeps mum but VP frustrated over allegations

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) chief executive officer Datuk S. Ganesan says he is unaware of any motion alleging irregularities.
The alleged wrongdoings were said to have been committed by a Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital administrator, who is also council member of the MAB.
Ganesan said it was a matter which should be dealt with by the hospital board.
“I don’t know of any motion to be tabled during the (MAB) council meeting (today),” Ganesan said.
“Based on what you have told me, it involves a different entity and it comes under the purview of the hospital board.”
MAB vice-president Hasidi Hassan said he was frustrated after learning of the claims.
“I hope a detailed investigation will be carried out to find out who the culprit is and make him or her accountable,” said Hasidi, who is also visually-impaired.
“I am frustrated and saddened by these allegations.
"We need people to be transparent and the last thing we need is for them to take advantage of us."
Hasidi said he looked forward to the tabling of the motion which is expected to be done during the association’s council meeting today.
“The MAB must be transparent in this case. There must be answers,” he said.

Friday, November 21, 2014

BEING FRANK: What if he were your son?

As published in Malay Mail today

Being Frank
By Frankie D’Cruz

WHEN young offenders are caned in court in front of the public gallery, including newsmen, the people’s capacity for outrage better be inexhaustible.

The nastiness of courtroom whipping reflects one of several indecorous challenges to the legal system that have brought dismay about questionable sentencing.

While disciplinary action deserves praise, caning young men in court is a cosmetic step towards rehabilitation — one that would probably harden a publicly-shamed teenager.

Law aside, we are not meant to hurt our children in this manner. The courts did.

This week, two young men aged 19 and 20 received seven and eight strokes of the rotan respectively for gang robbery at a Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur.

Last week, an 18-year-old was whipped six times at a magistrate’s court in Ipoh for a break-in offence.

The bench appears to have pushed rather hastily into the book, showing no sign of being in the eyeline of other options available to reprimand the young men.

The head of the Paediatric Department, Hospital RPB Ipoh, Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS, who was compelled to witness the caning of the break-in offender voiced his grievances to Malay Mail: “Section 91 of the Child Act offers other choices.

“Probation is one such choice that could have been made in the form of diversion (rehabilitation through counselling).”

Saying he experienced “one of the darkest days of my life as a paediatrician”, Dr Amar arranged with the mother for the young man to meet him for long-term support: counselling, getting a job and training.

Dr Amar could have been in contempt of court had he not turned up that day.

Under the Child Act (Article 91) a male child can be whipped up to 10 times. He was horrified. So were his colleagues.

He went so that none of his younger doctors would have to experience this cruel act. He went also with the hope that he could prevent it from happening.

Dr Amar told Malay Mail: “I made an appeal in chambers to offer ‘diversion’ as an alternative i.e. we are prepared to work with this young man long-term to help rehabilitate him.

“However, since the sentencing had been handed down, the magistrate could not alter the decision and the only option was to appeal to the High Court.

“This was difficult for the parents to do and the mother decided not to.”
“The young man was caught at the age of 16 for break-in.

“In my assessment of him, he is not a hardened criminal but had fallen in with bad friends.
“It looked possible to help him get on the right path.

“He was placed under a bond by the court, which he unfortunately broke.

“The family was then offered a placement in Henry Gurney School or to be whipped with a light cane.

“So as not to lose him from home, they chose the whipping.

“If anyone says that this is a ‘light cane’ they need to experience the punishment.

“When the first stroke rang out I cringed as I saw how badly hurt he was.

“After three strokes the young man almost fell down due to severity of the pain.

“He managed to hold on to receive all six strokes.”

Dr Amar believes the magistrate had been poorly advised by those present in court, the Welfare Department and the family’s lawyer, as to other options available.

Clearly, the courts in all the cases were carefree.

No wonder, the three whippings stirred a vehement debate among psychologists, lawyers and law enforcement officers, who interpreted the decisions of the bench differently.

Actually, I wish the debate gets thoughtful with a profound understanding of the issue.
But don’t let out your last, weary sigh just yet.

It’s safe to say the Sessions Court judge and the magistrate were adapting to the book just fine, except they possibly failed to understand that young men are vulnerable to all things bad.

Surely anyone paying attention to the culture of youth would be aware that the days are long gone when elders could push over the young just by breathing on them.

By whipping teenagers, aren’t we being deeply disturbing — and in a certain way twisted? Somebody ought to feel guilty.

It is imperative that we feel, hear and understand things about the young in ways that very few are brave enough, uncompromising enough, or brilliant enough to manage.

There’s a duty to be observed: the duty to be analytical, the duty to see each challenge separately.
And with that, too, comes a supplementary duty: the duty to make a difference, the duty to turbocharge positive momentum.

Dr Amar has set the tone. As he says, society must learn that hitting a child or teenager is not a useful form of instruction.

“We must lobby to change these provisions in the Child Act; it is currently up for revision.
“Legally sanctioned hitting of children must stop.

“And no doctor should be party to or be required to support any physical punishment of children, even if they are criminals.”

The future of the wayward young must not be trampled upon by quavering inertia.

Frankie D’Cruz is editor emeritus at Malay Mail. He can be reached at

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Legally sanctioned hitting of children must stop

As published in Malay Mail today

By Dr Amar-Singh HSS

A paediatrician, who was recently  compelled to witness the caning of an 18-year-old in court, relives the trauma:

LAST week I experienced one of the darkest days of my life as a paediatrician. I have been through tough times but none as despairing as my last experience.

I have helped parents whose children died. I have spent sleepless nights worrying over ill children.
I have agonised with teenagers on struggles with parents and peers. I have worked with abused children.

But I have never before been party to state approved, legal physical punishment of children.
I accepted an unusual written legal request through my hospital director from a court magistrate. We were asked to send a doctor to ‘witness’ the whipping of a child in court.

We were requested by the court to certify that this child was in a fit state of health to undergo the caning.

In writing about it, it not my intention to question the decision of the magistrate involved, but to appeal that we amend the law.

When I first received this request, I must say I was taken aback. I thought I knew the laws about children in our country quite well. So I thought this was some archaic ruling of the penal code.

I consulted senior officers and my pediatric colleagues in the Ministry of Health, all of whom were equally horrified.

I faxed a response to the court to say that we were not supportive of this and that it was against the best interests of children; against the spirit of the Child Act.

I also pointed out as doctors we should not be participating in punishment.

The court responded to say that it was legally allowed under the Child Act (Section 91) to whip a male child up to 10 times.

In addition it was also legally required that “before executing the whipping, the child shall be examined by a medical officer to certify the child is in a fit state of health to undergo the whipping” (Section 92).

I then checked with lawyers and a court judge who advised me that we would have to go.
I decided to attend personally so that none of my younger doctors would have to experience this, as well as to see if I could prevent it from happening.

The child in question had reached the age of 18. He was caught at 16 for a break-in.

In my assessment of him, he is not a hardened criminal but had fallen with bad friends. It looked possible to help him back on the right path.

He was placed under a bond by the court which he unfortunately broke. The family was then offered a placement in Henry Gurney School or to be whipped with a light cane. So as not to lose him from home they chose the whipping.

I then asked to speak to the magistrate who was approachable and reasonable. I made an appeal in chambers to offer ‘diversion’ as an alternative i.e. we are prepared to work with this young man long term to help rehabilitate him.

However since the sentencing had been handed down the magistrate could not alter the decision and the only option was to appeal to the high court. This was difficult for the parents to do and the mother decided not to.

I then had to proceed with my unpleasant task of examining the child and declare him fit for whipping.

The young man was calmer than I was. The whipping took place in court with four officers from the Prisons Department executing the punishment. The court doors were locked and the others inside were the magistrate, court intrepreter, one more court staff and a police officer.

They did this with military precision. If anyone says that this is a ‘light cane’ they need to experience the punishment.

Although they do not raise their arms above the shoulder the harshness of the whipping is severe. When the first stroke rang out I cringed as I saw how badly hurt he was.

After three strokes the young man almost fell down due to severity of the pain. He managed to hold on to receive all six strokes.

If anyone believes this form of punishment teaches a lesson, they need to re-examine their opinion. All I saw was a teenager hardened by the event.

I subsequently learnt this activity is being carried out on teenagers almost weekly in the Klang Valley.

I believe the magistrate had been poorly advised by those present in court, Welfare Department and the family’s lawyer, as to other options available.

Section 91 of the Child Act offers other choices. Probation is one such choice which could have been made in the form of diversion (rehabilitation through counselling).

I have arranged with the mother for him to meet me for long term support — counselling, getting a job and training.

As a society we must come to the place where we can learn that hitting someone, child or teenager, is not a useful form of instruction.

We must lobby to change these provisions in the Child Act; it is currently up for revision. Legally sanction hitting of children must stop.

Secondly no doctor should be party to or be required to support any physical punishment of children, even if they are criminals.

Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS is senior consultant pediatrician (community), head paediatric department, Ipoh Hospital and Head Clinical Research Centre Perak.


Lawyers: Caning in court matter of interpretation

By Ida Nadirah

PETALING JAYA — Legal practitioners are divided over caning of young offenders in public saying it was a matter of interpretation of the law.

While some lawyers said it was provided under the law, there were also senior counsel who said public whipping was illegal.

Universiti Malaya law professor Gurdial Singh Nijar said such punishments have been meted mainly to youths but said it is very uncommon.

He said under the European Convention on Human Rights, the act of caning in public is deemed as an inhumane and degrading treatment but it is made legal in Malaysia.

“There is no prohibition of caning in public. To change this, we should ask for amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) referring to amendments to Section 293 to the CPC which provides for the type of punishment which should be meted for young offenders,” he said.

He was responding on the case of two offenders under the age of 21 who received seven and eight strokes of light caning, respectively,  for gang robbery before Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court judge Ahmad Bache on Tuesday.

The offenders, Mohamed Shaznee Jahn Mohamed Yasin, 19, and Redzohaan Abdullah, 20, were caned by a Kajang Prison officer with a light cane following their convictions.

Ahmad Bache later advised both of them not to repeat the offence and said it was to serve as a lesson to others as well.

Senior lawyer Surjan Singh Sidhu said whipping of a young offender should not be carried out in public despite the law allowing for whipping to be carried out within the court premises.

“Caning of an offender should be done in prison as is the procedure especially if the offender had already been earlier sentenced to a jail term,” he said.

“In my view, the judge (who allowed for caning to be carried out in public) was wrong, unless there is another law that says otherwise.”

Former Bar Council chairman K. Ragunath said whipping in public should not be allowed.
“Generally speaking, it is not within our criminal justice system to carry out public caning,” he said.
He said since the offenders were below 21 and did not qualify as adults, the two should be treated separately from adult offenders.

Another criminal lawyer, Afifuddin Ahmad Hafifi, however, said Section 286 of the CPC allowed the court to chose a place for whipping to be carried out.

“It is not rare for a judge to call for whipping to be carried out in court and it has happened before,” he said.

“In the past, such occurrences had not been overruled or questioned by the Court of Appeal.”
However  he said the law should be ammended if there were strong calls for such a provision to be revoked.

Another senior lawyer, Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu, said although the act may seem “unkind”, it was not prohibited under the CPC for young offenders.

“It is done  as a deterrent to other young offenders,” he said.


Provisions related to whipping under the law

SECTION 286 of the Criminal Procedure Code states that when the accused is sentenced to whipping only, the sentence shall be executed at such place and time as the court may direct.

Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that females, males sentenced to death and males above the age of 50 shall not be whipped. The section also provides that no sentence of whipping shall be executed in installments.

Section 293 of the Criminal Procedure Code states that when any young offender is convicted before any criminal court of any offence punishable by fine or imprisonment, the court may, instead order order the offender, if a male, to be whipped with not more than ten strokes of a light cane or rattan within the court premises and in the presence, if he desires to be present, of the parent or guardian of that offender.

Under Section 92 of the Child Act 2001, the following provisions shall be followed when executing the order of whipping for a child:

(a) before executing the whipping, the child shall be examined by a medical officer to certify that the child is in a fit state of health to undergo the whipping;
(b) the person shall use a light cane with average force without lifting his hand over his head so that the child’s skin is not cut;
(c) after inflicting a stroke, he shall lift the cane upward and not pull it;
(d) whipping may be inflicted on any part of the body except the face, head, stomach, chest or private parts;
(e) the child shall wear clothes; and
(f) if during the execution of the whipping the medical officer certifies the child is not in a fit state of health to undergo the remainder of the whipping, the whipping shall be finally stopped.

• A child means a person under the age of 18.


How caning is carried out in prison

A FORMER Prisons Department officer revealed the caning process would see the cane used soaked in a tub of water for two days.

This is to ensure the cane is heavier and ‘flexible’ to ensure accuracy when the caning takes place.
The cane can only land in the middle of the offender’s buttocks. If it does not land properly, it would not be counted and the process would be repeated.

“Usually the offender will feel the pain for the first three to four strokes and after that his buttocks would be numb. It is common for the skin to tear during the caning,” he said.

“The doctor present would check his heart rate and blood pressure and if the readings shoot up, the doctor has the right to stop the caning process.”

“But the doctor would need to submit a detailed report, explaining why the caning process was stopped.”

He said the caning would be done consecutively and could not be carried out in instalments.

Those who conducted the caning were “professionals”, trained to swing the cane without lifting their arm above their shoulders.

FORMULA E: Getting ready for a different formula

As published in Malay Mail today

Aud-ly Enough
By Audrey Edwards

SO, that had to be the best traffic jam one could ever get caught in.

On the very same road that 20 electric cars will be on when the lights go out for the Putrajaya Formule E race.

Getting onto the track in Precinct 2 after driving on the bridge located in the area, there was a slight thrill as the metal safety barriers on either side of the street circuit loomed ahead and way down the straight.

Tonnes of vehicles have passed along this way and as the days speed up to race day on Saturday, the vision that started some two years ago is becoming a reality as seen by the grandstands and pit area that have been put up.

Along the way, there are giant screens to show the race and I grinned to myself as the traffic halted to a stop as we approached the start/finish line. The unmoving traffic has never delighted me quite as much as those moments as it gave me the chance to take in the view outside.

I mean, how cool can it get?

Granted the yearly “pilgrimage” to cover Formula One at the Sepang International Circuit causes me to grin like a fool every time I drive into the parking lot, the regular Malaysian getting the opportunity to drive on a racing track is quite remote.

And there I was, in my environmental-unfriendly Perodua Myvi doing just that.

Malaysia will become only the second country to host a Formula E race that debuts this year.

This comes after Beijing and the list of drivers are impressive enough with winemaker/former Formula One driver Jarno Trulli, who also owns a team, in the mix.

The Putrajaya circuit is untested by drivers in their electric cars as yet and so far, they have only had a taste of the track by way of simulator as can be seen by India’s Formula One driver Karun Chandhok on YouTube.

In fact, the flurry of activities is still ongoing in and around the track to get everything just right for Saturday’s race.

This includes teams moving in to their respective garages with cars still neatly packed in their containers yesterday morning while workers go about their work.

The surrounding areas are definitely not barren with famous Putrajaya landmarks such as the Finance Ministry and Palace of Justice located along the circuit.

From the distance, there is the iconic building of the Prime Minister’s office.

Formula E Malaysia chairman Datuk Seri Johann Young has already given his assurance that getting in and out of the circuit will not be a problem as there was more than enough exit/entry points.

“We also have hundreds of toilets,” he says adding that Putrajaya was no stranger to hosting large-scale events including the One Million Youth gathering.

In terms of entertainment, Young says there would be cultural events, including local food (this was for foreign tourists, he explains) and car exhibitions featuring the latest electric cars that were available for test drives.

The pit building is portable, made from durable material and can be reused for future races.
Formula E seeks to bring difference to the world of motorsports that is geared for the future with its bevy of electric cars.

Motorsports, after all, has always been the base for road cars where the technology that is developed can make it into your vehicle.

This latest racing series seeks to use the sport to promote the electric car industry and to use the series as a framework for research and development, says the FIA Formula E championship website.
“It’s hoped Formula E will increase use of electric cars, especially in urban areas, and to improve our environment and way of life. Formula E represents a vision for the future of the motor industry over the coming decades, serving as a framework for research and development around the electric vehicle, accelerating general interest in these cars and promoting sustainability.”

For Malaysia, it also sees a shift from the Formula One purpose-built race track in Sepang to an entirely new circuit.

An alternative venue that, hopefully, in the years to come see it grow from strength to strength.
Granted it has been quite a dismal year so far for Malaysians, this race could be a spark of happiness.
We are among the first handful of countries in the world to have electric cars battling it out on the streets. That is something to be proud of.

And who knows in the future, instead of there being petrol heads, the racing fans will be called battery heads.

Audrey Edwards is news editor at Malay Mail. She can be reached at