Tunku Dara Naquiah: The 5 Etiquette Rules Every Modern Sophisticate Must Know

by: Jessica Liew


“Etiquette is an improvement of one’s image, knowing how to do, what to do and when to do” – Tunku Dara Tunku Tan Sri Naquiah

The royal face of refined conduct and class reveals how to navigate social situations in the unique Malaysian context

You’ve probably found yourself in this tricky situation: It’s a formal event and you’re hosting, meeting or dining with people of various ranks and backgrounds, and not quite sure how to behave or what to say. When you’re in a trifle over protocol, hierarchy, rules and table manners, this is where proper etiquette comes in handy.

This scenario illustrates how etiquette is relatable to modern day habits more than ever, and Tunku Dara Tunku Tan Sri Naquiah, the royal figurehead of poise and eloquence, is on a mission to show how it is a way of life and a part of our social image, above all else.

Where etiquette was once seen as a prim and old-fashioned virtue for the upperclass and royals, it is the charm of forward-thinkers and accomplished impresarios today.

“Etiquette is an improvement of one’s image, knowing how to do, what to do and when to do,” clarifies Tunku Dara, who also shared tips on meeting and greeting royalty. “And that’s how you represent yourself with grace and confidence to other people on a social capacity.”

We sought out Tunku Dara for her thoughts on how this western conduct has been adapted to our eastern traditions, as a medium for harmony, and its relevance to modern society.

1. The 5 ways etiquette can be applied in this day and age.
“First, keep mobile phones out of sight at mealtimes and meetings. What’s the point of having a social or business lunch and you don’t talk? It’s deemed rude and ill-mannered. If you must, excuse yourself and step out to pick up your call.

Second, the respect of elders is lacking. It’s about showing your respect to them with simple things, like standing up, kissing their hand in greeting, holding the door, offering your chair.

Third, dress codes are important. Know what to wear for what occasion, and when to wear it. Adhere to the dress code.

Fourth, know your table manners. Learn how to behave at a buffet and at sit-down dinners. Don’t pile a plate with food and offer others at the table, unless they’re an invalid or elderly. Learn how to anticipate a western multi-course dinner at formal functions and how to eat it with the right cutlery.

Fifth, remember your P’s and Q’s, and apologies. The word ‘I’m sorry’ is an easy word to say, but for Malaysians it doesn’t come quite easily – especially amongst contemporaries. Learn to be polite.”

 2. There is such a thing as social etiquette to live in harmony in this world.
“If one is taught manners and etiquette, there will be less wars, fighting, theft, pilfering and bullying. More so in this digital age, where children are exposed to mature and violent content – they need to be taught how to handle what they’re exposed to. This is how social etiquette begets order, and in turn, harmony.” 


While she’s a stalwart of social etiquette, Tunku Dara emphasises on being proud of our eastern traditions too

3. Be proud of how vibrant Malaysian etiquette is due to our eastern civilization.
“We have to remember our eastern values and traditions, too. We’re living in a cross-cultural situation where most things are done in western style, especially at work, even in parliament or palace. Unlike western practices, here in Malaysia, both men and women stand up for seniors or those of higher rank. “

 4. Etiquette is essentially how we live with one another.
“It starts from appearance, the way you walk, dress, speak and body language. Upon first meeting, what do you do and how do you handle the situation? Interaction progresses to conversation, behavior, work, then dining. Following that,  know how to entertain and be entertained, then how to behave as an employee or employer. Dress code, punctuality, table seating, and order of events, these all come into the picture.”

 5. Last but not least, be proud of your local etiquette.
“One example is eating food with our hands in a communal, casual environment, and it can be an eye-opening introduction for western people to our culture. That’s fine – warn them first that this is a real tradition, and tell them to dress down – yes, dress code applies too. Show them our way of life, because we’re teaching them our manners. Show them how to eat with their hands; otherwise, there’s always the spoon and fork.”

Join Tunku Dara Naquiah in partnership with The Circle, as she conducts Etiquette for Today, a unique etiquette-training workshop from August 26-27, 2017, held at the Sime Darby Convention Centre. To register or for more enquiries, call 012-485 1610 or email thecirclekl@gmail.com.

Photos from the Malaysia Tatler Ball archive.

Source: AsiaTatler (12 July 2017)




Weak Malay mindset fault of education system and media, says sociologist

by: Amin Iskandar

Weak Malay mindset fault of education system and media, says sociologist Sociologist and veteran politician Dr Syed Husin Ali says when the Malays are pushed to the wall, they will fight back and rebel. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Kamal Ariffin

A GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED education system and media are the reasons Malays are lacking in critical thinking, said sociologist and veteran politician Dr Syed Husin Ali.

Syed Husin, who was a lecturer of anthropology and sociology at Universiti Malaya for almost 30 years, said the Malays have had their minds controlled from the time they were in primary school until university.

He was responding to A. Samad Said’s statement recently that there were too few Malays who were rising up to bring about change in Malaysia.

National laureate Samad said he was disappointed with the Malays for “not seeing the truth as the truth”, adding that he was worried for his race.

“The very education system does not encourage them to question, does not encourage critical and creative thinking,” said Syed Husin.

“Apart from that, there are all sorts of laws. Not just the Universities and University Colleges Act, there are also pledges and others,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

The act, which was first drafted in 1971 and amended in 2012, limits political involvement and activities for undergraduates at all public universities.

Those found guilty of promoting political agendas risk expulsion and other penalties, including fines.

Syed Husin, the author of Orang Melayu: Masalah dan Masa Depan (The Malays: Their Problems and Future), which was published in 1979 and updated in 2008, said the mainstream media in Malaysia also played a big role in “controlling” the minds of a majority of Malaysians, especially of those living in the rural areas.

“The TV that they watch, are all government TV. Newspapers are pro-government newspapers.

“This is what forms the attitude and thinking of the Malays. This is what makes it hard for them to change,” he said.

Minority behaviour

Syed Husin said Malays have been constantly threatened with a bogeyman, resulting in them behaving like the minority even though they made up the majority race in Malaysia.

“They feel they are under siege or threatened by other races. They have been frightened with the prospect of threats by other races, especially the Chinese.

“This has reached a stage where they can even say that however bad a Malay or Muslim is, no matter how cruel, that person will still be better than a non-Malay or non-Muslim .”

The former deputy president of PKR said economic factors and social stature also contributed to the attitude of the Malays.

“A majority of Malays come from the lower class.

“When they are in the lower class, they will feel not only feel threatened, but they suffer an inferiority complex.”

Syed Husin said even though there has been a rise in the number of middle-class Malays, who are also successful businessmen, their mentality remains unchanged.

“Their minds are almost the same as before, because I think the feudalistic influence is still strong, sometimes even stronger.

“Even though many of the Malays have become city folk, their belief system and thinking are still traditional, feudal.”

However, Syed Husin is optimistic that the Malays will change if the government fails to address the economic hardships that many of them face today.

“The economy is increasingly hard on the people. Malays also have the attitude of not liking to be pushed to the wall.

“They also have the attitude of fighting back, rebelling. In this situation, change might come.”

Analysts weighing in on Samad’s comments had earlier told The Malaysian Insight that the lack of outrage among the Malays could be attributed to their “blind loyalty” to leaders.

They said while there are signs of change, with the growing reach of non-government-controlled information, this hope translating into votes lies with the younger generation of Malays.

Source: The Malaysian Insight (12 July 2017)

Impact of Watching Porn

One of the major impacts of the Internet is the widespread availability of porn. It’s incredibly easy to stream it for free, yet according to a Harvard scientist it may be doing damage to your health.

Kevin Majeres is a psychiatrist specializing in cognitive-behavioral therapy and is a faculty member of Harvard Medical School.

Writing in a blog post, Majeres breaks down how the brain works and what happens during repeated exposure to pornography.

He explains it in such logical terms that you’ll probably think again before succumbing to the temptation of watching porn.

Majeres begins with the mating patterns discovered in rats:

“Scientists have discovered that if you place a male rat in a cage with a receptive female, they will mate; but once done, the male rat will not mate more times, even if the female is still receptive. He loses all sexual interest. But if, right after he finishes with the first female, you put in a second receptive female, he will immediately mate again; and again a third, and so on, until he nearly dies. This effect has been found in every animal studied. This is called the Coolidge effect.”

Pornography’s power comes from the way it tricks the man’s lower brain. One of the drawbacks of this region is that it can’t tell the difference between an image and reality. The same processes are kicked off.

The problem with pornography is that it offers men an unlimited number of supposedly willing females. Every time the man sees a new potential partner, even if on a computer screen, it gets his sex driving going again.

Here’s what Majeres has to say about the role of dopamine in this process:

“Dopamine is the drug of desire – when you see something desirable, your brain pours out dopamine, saying “Go for it! Do whatever it takes!” Dopamine fixes your attention on that desirable object, giving you your power of concentration…

“So when someone clicks and sees a new pornographic image, his lower brain thinks this is the real thing, this is the lady he must win over with all his might, and so he gets an enormous dopamine flood in his upper brain, causing a wild amount of electrical energy.

“This first exposure to a new female who is a potential mate wasn’t something that happened a lot to our ancestors; maybe only once in their lives; so the brain thinks this is a big deal. It doesn’t know that now the game has completely changed: it doesn’t understand that these are virtual females only; so with each new one it causes another flood of dopamine, time after time, click after click, as long as he continues. It’s a dopamine binge.”

Majeres continues:

“This is why pornography causes a vicious circle. When someone views pornography, he gets overstimulated by dopamine; so his brain destroys some dopamine receptors. This makes him feel depleted, so he goes back to pornography, but, having fewer dopamine receptors, this time it requires more to get the same dopamine thrill; but this causes his brain to destroy more receptors; so he feels an even greater need for pornography to stimulate him.

“So as guys keep gaming the dopamine system, they start to find that they have to use pornography for longer and longer periods to have the same effect, and they have to visit more and more sites.”

But even more porn sites eventually don’t cut it. What then?

“You have to stimulate another emotion: fear or disgust or shock or surprise. For porn use, you need to start moving to kinkier things, things that make you afraid or make you feel a bit sick; and so you start experimenting with various perversions.”

It’s worth reading Majeres’ article in full. The science may yet be unclear on the physical side effects of porn, but he makes a strong case, at the very least, that pornography is 1) highly addictive 2) harmful to relationships.

Regardless of what you think of porn from the moral perspective, the fact that it’s so addictive should provide cause for rethinking the role of porn in your life.

Source: Ideapod Blog (4th April 2017)

What you should know about Chinese schools in Malaysia

Schools considered as ‘Chinese schools’ in Malaysia share a common history but have different features. — Picture by KE Ooi

Schools considered as ‘Chinese schools’ in Malaysia share a common history but have different features. — Picture by KE OoiKUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — Not all Chinese schools in Malaysia use Mandarin as the medium of instruction. Surprised? Why are they called Chinese schools then?

That is because the term “Chinese schools” has been used indiscriminately to group together disparate types of schools with a common historical background under a very wide umbrella.

In reality, there are two broad categories for Chinese schools here: those that are private and those that are government-aided. Some of their key distinctions revolve around funding, medium of instruction and syllabus used.

According to the Education Ministry, the self-funded Chinese independent high schools are private schools while those called national-type Chinese primary schools (SJKC) or national-type secondary schools (SMJK) are public schools that receive either full or partial financial assistance from the government.

Chinese independent high schools

Chinese independent high schools may sound like an odd moniker but it can be traced back to the history of local Chinese-medium schools, which United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) chairman Datuk Vincent Lau told Malay Mail Online were first established by the migrants originating from China to provide education for their children.

Surviving a push for English-medium schools during British colonial rule as they insisted on using their mother tongue for lessons, the Chinese-medium secondary schools that refused to switch to using Bahasa Malaysia in exchange for government funding became known as Chinese independent high schools.

These schools do not receive funding from the federal government, except for one-off contributions.

However, Dong Zong confirmed that state governments such as Penang, Sabah, Sarawak and Selangor do provide financial assistance. The respective school boards otherwise continue to rely on school fees and donations from the community for all expenses including teachers’ salaries and infrastructure.

SJKC and SMJK: Government-aided schools

There are also primary schools where Mandarin is used to teach all subjects. These existed before Malaysia was formed in 1963 and are now known as SJKC, where the vernacular language is allowed to continue to be used as the medium of instruction as an alternative to the Bahasa Malaysia-medium national primary schools (SK).

SK schools are located on public land and accorded the status of “government schools” which the ministry fully maintains and funds.

SJKC schools adopt the same national syllabus used by SK schools and offer the same school-leaving UPSR examination. But because they are built on private donated land, they are given the status of “government-aided schools” and receive less government funding compared to SK schools.

While the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 states that the ministry allocates teachers for both government and government-aided schools and fully pays for their salaries, funding in other aspects for these two subsets of public schools differ slightly.

Both receive government support for operational expenditure in the form of grants-in-aid based on the same criteria of individual school’s needs, but there is a limit on funding for government-aided schools’ utilities bill.

And while the government fully funds the development costs for SK schools, SJKC schools may get 80 per cent funding, sometimes more, for their renovation and construction.

Similarly for SMJK schools which were once Chinese-medium schools that opted to conform by using BM and the national syllabus in return for government aid, the amount of government funding received also depends on ownership of school land.

While SMJK schools have told Putrajaya that they should be granted full financial assistance regardless of their land status, they are currently only considered fully-aided schools if the school boards surrendered the land titles to the government. Otherwise they only receive partial financial assistance with teachers’ salaries and per capita grants paid by the government.

Syllabus and examinations

SMJK students follow the same syllabus and sit for the same examinations as their counterparts in national secondary schools (SMK) during Form Three (PT3), Form Five (SPM) and Form Six (STPM).

But SJMK schools also allocate more time for Mandarin classes with five periods per week to instil deeper awareness of the language and its roots among their majority ethnic Chinese students. In comparison, SMK schools offer only three periods of Mandarin classes a week.

At Chinese independent schools, the syllabus and textbooks are prepared by Dong Zong, which also prepares and conducts the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) for their students.

While students typically sit for the UEC examination during their Junior Three and Senior Three years — or the equivalent of Form Three and Form Six in national schools — there are also some Chinese independent schools which offer the SPM to their students too though Lau said it is not compulsory for Chinese independent schools.

Dong Zong’s records showed that 8,574 students at the Chinese independent schools registered as SPM candidates last year.

Lau said some Chinese independent school students may not take the UEC Senior Three exam after sitting for their SPM as a Senior Two student, opting instead for other pre-university courses.

The STPM exam is not offered however, as the UEC Senior Three exam is its equivalent and is widely-accepted abroad and in local private institutions as a pre-university qualifier.

The UEC examination for Junior Three is in Chinese for most schools, but some schools are also given examination papers in both Mandarin and English. UEC Senior Three candidates are given examination papers set in both Mandarin and English.

While not part of Dong Zong’s tally of Chinese independent schools, Kuantan’s SM Chong Hwa has the unique arrangement of being a private secondary school where students can sit for both the UEC examination and examinations under the national syllabus.

Dong Zong chairman Datuk Vincent Lau said the shrinking fresh intake of students is also tied to lack of space and the non-approval for new Chinese independent schools to cope with demand. — Picture by Choo Choy May

Dong Zong chairman Datuk Vincent Lau said the shrinking fresh intake of students is also tied to lack of space and the non-approval for new Chinese independent schools to cope with demand. — Picture by Choo Choy MayChinese education in numbers

There are currently 81 SMJK, including three branch schools. The branch campus of Kajang’s SMJK Yu Hua, which received government approval last December after the 3,500-capacity main campus had to turn down students, will be the latest addition when completed.

Based on Dong Zong’s data sourced from the Education Ministry, the number of SJKC schools has been shrinking while BM-medium national primary schools have been growing.

As at last December, the number of SJKC schools numbered 1,298 compared to 1,346 in 1970. In contrast, SK schools boasted 5,877 in 2016 compared to 4,277 in 1970.

The dwindling trend for vernacular schools is also reflected in the decreasing number of Tamil-language primary schools (SJKT) that recorded just 524 last year compared to 657 in 1970.

As for secondary schools, there are currently 61 Chinese independent schools, inclusive of Johor’s Foon Yew High School and its branch which both collectively have over 10,000 students. Foon Yew is set to open yet another branch in 2021.

But Lau of Dong Zong said demand remains high for enrolment in Chinese independent schools, especially in cities, where some of these schools have around 3,000 students and cannot take in more due to limited land, facilities and classrooms.

“The other thing is we cannot get the permission to build more Chinese independent schools, the government does not allow, they limit you to 60. We applied but they don’t give permission,” he said, comparing this with the boom in the number of international schools approved by the government.

As such, some Chinese independent schools have resorted to demolishing some of their buildings to rebuild additional storeys to cater to demand.

How big a pie?

While the overall number of students at Chinese independent schools continued its uninterrupted upward trend of 15 years and hit a historic peak this year with 85,304 students, it accounts for only four per cent of the total recorded number of secondary school students, which is 2,099,603 as of January 2017.

SMJK schools account for over 108,000 students, and even when combined with Chinese independent schools amount to less than 10 per cent.

The number of new intakes at Chinese independent schools has however been going down in the past four years.

After a record high at 17,620 in 2013, this year saw only 14,481 enrolments, which Lau attributed to a cocktail of factors: the rural to urban migration, the subsequent imbalance between overcrowded urban schools and under-enrolled rural schools, and lower birth rates especially among the ethnic Chinese community.

According to an Education Ministry parliamentary reply in the March-April session, the number of primary school students as of January 2017 is 2,674,327. A separate reply in the same session shows that the bulk of the student are enrolled in SK schools at 2,065,279, while almost one-fifth are in SJKC schools at 527,453 and SJKT schools account for 81,483.

Based on the Department of Statistics Malaysia’s data of live births in the 2000-2015 period, the annual number of babies born in some of the preceding seven years before primary school enrolment from 2000 to 2017 are also among the lowest of the entire 15-year period.

The SK, SJKC and SJKT overall student numbers have generally been on a downward trend during the 2010-2017 period (except for a rebound for SK schools in the past two years).

Beyond the flocking of locals to international schools since the federal government removed limits in 2012 on intake of Malaysians, the Department Statistics Malaysia’s 2000-2015 data of live births may also give a hint on the explanation for the student numbers in national and national-type primary schools.

Malaysians typically enter primary schools at age seven, so students freshly enrolled in the 2010-2017 batch would generally be those born during the 2003-2010 period. The annual number of babies born during the latter period are among the lowest in the 2000-2015 period — 481,800 in 2004, 474,473 in 2005, 472,698 in 2006, 479,647 in 2007.

Future goals

Dong Zong has long been pushing Putrajaya to recognise the UEC for entry into the civil service and local public universities, with Lau saying that further discussions are required to pursue this recognition.

The government had in parliamentary replies said it is maintaining the status quo by letting the 60 Chinese independent schools here continue their operations as provided for under the Education Act 1996.

The replies indicate that the government’s steadfast refusal to recognise the UEC is because of the differing national syllabus standards and alleged contradiction with the National Education Policy which envisions a uniform syllabus and examinations delivered in BM.

The Higher Education Ministry had in a March 2016 parliamentary reply highlighted that it will deny public university entry to UEC graduates owing to several reasons including entry requirements of an SPM pass with credits in the BM subject; UEC’s BM levels not being on par with SPM standards; as well as alleged inadequate coverage of national history in the UEC syllabus.

Lau said the BM levels may differ in the two examinations, adding that Dong Zong is agreeable to having UEC students sit for the Bahasa Malaysia subject under SPM as a single subject and would want to be able to waive sitting for the entire examination.

“Maybe they have misconception about what we study, they are thinking we are studying Chinese history textbook from China or Taiwan, which is not true,” he said.

He claimed that Chinese independent schools cover a wider scope in history lessons on Europe, China and South-east Asia compared to the syllabus taught in national schools, but that they also cover Malaysian history.

The UEC is currently recognised by the Sarawak state government for entry into the state’s civil service and is recognised by local private universities such as the Selangor-owned Unisel, but is not accepted by the public universities such as Universiti Malaysia Sarawak which is under the federal government, Lau said. The Penang state government also accepts UEC graduates at its subsidiary companies.

As for Chinese primary schools, Lau said the federal government should adopt a systematic policy by either relocating under-enrolled schools or build new schools in high-demand areas such as urban areas and new townships that have predominantly ethnic Chinese population.

“Sometimes this becomes political, when it’s closer to election, the place there requests a school, the government [says] OK and they will build the school,” he said of the current ad-hoc approach.

Chinese education groups had in two memoranda in 2011 and 2012 to the prime minister said an additional 45 SJKC schools in six states needs to be built. The government has yet to approve the construction of these schools as of a December 2016 statement by Dong Zong.

Source: The Malay Mail Online (3rd July 2017)

Kidney stones

Just like how stones are formed from mineral deposits, our bodies too could form stones due to the presence of excess minerals in our body. That’s why drinking enough water is important to flush out this excess minerals. Here’s an informative video by Arash Shadman on the formation of kidney stones, its cure and prevention.

Source: TED-Ed

Home for Raya 

Image result for Ipoh garden east

Home (as in your hometown) is a place to be on Hari Raya. Well at least temporarily. It is a form escapism from the hustle bustle of the worktown (let’s call it so) where a large portion of your life is spent. Home reminds you of who you were and that may or may not be something you want to revisit. But memories aside, being home never fails to eject ourselves of our accumulated burden, that have grown out of the increasing expectation and demanding world we are living in today. A good vacation may help clear the mind but none dumps the burden off the shoulder like being home. But make no mistake, home is no mere dumping site. It is a place filled with love that has the power to clear off any emotional debt. But as with anything in this world (except for data plans perhaps) , none can be subscribed unlimitedly. As the debt is cleared we yearned to be back to where we left. Because it is only when we are away from home that we could be functional.

But as for now, enjoy being home.

Selamat Hari Raya, maaf zahir batin from us at Mdlistic.

Is religion evil?

 Is religion evil? Now that’s a tough question to swallow. To Professor Richard Dawkins, a famous atheist, religion has a great tendency to be evil but is not downright so. It tires me personally to engage with this question time and again because in the end I come to the same conclusion, that many of the world’s major religions that I know of do not condone extremism and are not evil. It becomes evil and extreme when certain followers misinterprets the religious text (mostly intentionally) for their own political and financial gain. And when such group gain publicity and influence they gain support from new followers who are either blinded by faith, poor or misguided. Some may argue that there are verses in the Quran that preaches violence. But such ‘violence’ mentioned are within certain context that are often disregarded and not discussed. For instance Islam does not teach its followers to go against people of other faith for no reason. The only time the religion demands its followers to act is when the religion is under serious threat. But even so, that does not translate to violence. If a dispute can be settled peacefully, Islam is more than willing to accept. But of course proving this point is though thanks to all the misinterpretation and Islamophobia. The only way we could view religion in its purity is to learn its fundamental principle and certainly not from merely seeing how it is practiced by the masses. There are but a few true followers of Islam who embodies the religion in their daily practice by its truest sense. This is true not only of Islam but of every religion.