Les­son on co­op­er­a­tion from star­lings

Like star­lings, Sarawakians can build some­thing beau­ti­ful if ev­ery­one works to­wards the same goal

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer for­merly served the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral’s Cham­bers be­fore he left for prac­tice, the cor­po­rate sec­tor and, then, the academia

was handed a sus­pended six­month prison sen­tence af­ter ear­lier plead­ing guilty to 11 charges of mak­ing sim­i­lar of­fen­sive posts.

In Malaysia, the civil law on in­va­sion of pri­vacy is on firm ground af­ter the Court of Ap­peal de­liv­ered its land­mark de­ci­sion in Maslinda Ishak v. Mohd Tahir Os­man & Ors [2009] 6 CLJ 653, fol­lowed by the High Court in Lee Ewe Poh v. Dr Lim Teik Man & Anor [2010] 1 LNS 1162. In the first case, a guest re­la­tions of­fi­cer (GRO) was pho­tographed eas­ing her­self in a truck by Rela (Peo­ple’s Vol­un­teer Corps) per­son­nel af­ter the GRO was de­tained in a raid con­ducted by Jawi (Fed­eral Ter­ri­to­ries Is­lamic Af­fairs Depart­ment) at a club in 2003. The GRO filed a claim against the Rela per­son­nel, Rela di­rec­tor-gen­eral, Jawi di­rec­tor and the gov­ern­ment. She was awarded dam­ages by the court.

In the sec­ond case, a doc­tor (the de­fen­dant) had taken a picture of the plain­tiff ’s anus dur­ing a med­i­cal pro­ce­dure with­out in­form­ing her. The doc­tor’s rea­son for tak­ing such a picture was for med­i­cal pur­pose and claimed that tak­ing pho­to­graphs dur­ing med­i­cal pro­ce­dure with­out the con­sent of the pa­tient is nor­mal prac­tice. The judg­ment of the Court of Ap­peal in Maslinda Ishak’s case was re­ferred by the High Court in the sec­ond case when it held that in­va­sion of pri­vacy is ac­tion­able in Malaysia.

In May 2013, a woman lodged a po­lice re­port in San­dakan, Sabah, claim­ing she was ex­torted RM3,000 by an­other woman who threat­ened to dis­sem­i­nate her naked pho­tos taken some three years be­fore.

The vic­tim said she was brought to a ho­tel in town where she be­came un­con­scious af­ter a drink­ing ses­sion, only to find her­self naked when she awoke the next day. She was ap­proached by a fe­male friend who de­manded money from her and threat­ened to make her naked pho­tos pub­lic if she failed to pay up.

Then dis­trict po­lice chief As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Row­ell Marong said the case was in­ves­ti­gated un­der Sec­tion 383 of the Pe­nal Code (ex­tor­tion), pun­ish­able un­der Sec­tion 384 (10 years’ im­pris­on­ment, fine and whip­ping). Thus, our civil law on in­va­sion of pri­vacy is on firm ground.

WHEN Don Tap­scott de­liv­ered his key­note ad­dress dur­ing the In­ter­na­tional ICT In­fra­struc­ture and Dig­i­tal Econ­omy Con­fer­ence Sarawak last month, he high­lighted sev­eral salient points for a state or a na­tion to move for­ward.

The Cana­dian busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive and dig­i­tal econ­omy pi­o­neer weaved in an im­por­tant point in a video of a sight­ing of “mur­mu­ra­tion” in­volv­ing a mas­sive flock of star­lings at the end of his speech.

While most dic­tio­nar­ies sim­ply de­fine “mur­mu­ra­tion” only as a “flock of star­lings”, sci­en­tists agree that it is a phe­nom­e­non that hap­pens when hun­dreds or maybe thou­sands of star­lings fly in a co­or­di­nated pat­tern.

The spec­tac­u­lar video of the star­lings in a mas­sive flock in beau­ti­ful move­ment, swirling across the sky had the packed au­di­ence at the Bor­neo Con­ven­tion Cen­tre Kuch­ing (BCCK) glued to their seats.

Although some sci­en­tists have made con­clu­sions about how star­lings can main­tain co­he­sion in a group and fly in uni­son, Tap­scott said the co­or­di­nated move­ment of the birds us­ing a good ex­am­ple of what could be achieved if an in­di­vid­ual within an or­gan­i­sa­tion or peo­ple in a state work to­ward the same goal.

“The mur­mu­ra­tion has its func­tion. Apart from warm­ing up the birds dur­ing the cold night, this process also pro­tects the birds from preda­tors.

“Here in this video, you see a hawk, which is 25 times the size of a star­ling, be­ing chased away by the col­lec­tive power of the lit­tle birds.

“Is this some fancy anal­ogy that we can learn some­thing about it?” Tap­scott said.

“Their in­ter­est is the col­lec­tive in­ter­est, and it (the for­ma­tion) has great in­tegrity, where it gave the birds con­fi­dence to take on a fierce preda­tor.”

Among the 1,500 par­tic­i­pants at the event, which aimed to for­mu­late a frame­work for Sarawak to ex­plore the dig­i­tal econ­omy, was Chief Min­is­ter Datuk Amar Abang Jo­hari Abang Openg, who has been pas­sion­ate about digi­tis­ing the state’s econ­omy.

It can be con­cluded from Tap­scott’s anal­ogy that Sarawak can move to greater heights should ev­ery­one in the state, state cab­i­net, ad­min­is­tra­tion and state worked to­gether for a com­mon vi­sion.

The same call was made by Yang di-Per­tua Negeri Sarawak Tun Ab­dul Taib Mah­mud dur­ing the Parti Pe­saka Bu­mi­put­era Ber­satu’s (PBB) “Jasamu Dike­nang” spe­cial con­ven­tion at BCCK on Sun­day.

“We must re­alise that devel­op­ment (in Sarawak) never stops. Be­sides pro­duc­ing enough man­power, we need to have qual­ity peo­ple, too.

“We need to fo­cus on both quan­tity and qual­ity to face the fu­ture. It is im­por­tant (for all of us) to be united and work to­gether,” said Taib, who was former chief min­is­ter and former PBB pres­i­dent.

Af­ter the event, Abang Jo­hari an­nounced a re­struc­tur­ing ex­er­cise with the pro­mo­tion of a min­is­ter and two as­sis­tant state min­is­ters and the in­tro­duc­tion of two new faces.

Be­sides an­nounc­ing the ap­point­ment of Datuk Awang Ten­gah Ali Hasan to fill one of the three va­cant deputy chief min­is­ter posts, Abang Jo­hari also out­lined the sig­nif­i­cant changes in port­fo­lios and the set­ting up of two new min­istries.

Un­der the re­struc­tur­ing ex­er­cise, Abang Jo­hari is now min­is­ter-in-charge of the fi­nance and eco­nomic plan­ning, ur­ban devel­op­ment and nat­u­ral re­sources port­fo­lios.

He will also over­see af­fairs per­tain­ing to en­ergy devel­op­ment, oil and gas, dig­i­tal econ­omy and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion and Kuch­ing Ur­ban Pub­lic Trans­port (in­clud­ing the light rail tran­sit).

Abang Jo­hari will also be in charge of fi­nan­cial modelling to as­sist the es­tab­lish­ment of the Devel­op­ment Bank of Sarawak.

The two new min­istries are the In­ter­na­tional Trade and E-Com­merce Min­istry and Ed­u­ca­tion, Science and Tech­no­log­i­cal Re­search Min­istry, which would be headed by Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and Datuk Seri Michael Manyin re­spec­tively.

“This is the team that will im­ple­ment all that have been de­cided by the state gov­ern­ment,” said Abang Jo­hari on the state cab­i­net reshuf­fle.

The cre­ation of new port­fo­lios su­per­vised by Abang Jo­hari is seen as a strate­gic move and an as­sur­ance to the peo­ple that the chief min­is­ter was com­mit­ted to im­ple­ment­ing all the ini­tia­tives an­nounced on many oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing Sarawak’s ven­ture into the dig­i­tal econ­omy, the state’s bid to emerge as a re­gional power hub in Bor­neo and the plan to de­velop an LRT sys­tem con­nect­ing Kuch­ing, Kota Sa­ma­ra­han and Se­rian.

“He is ‘as­sign­ing’ him­self and sev­eral min­is­ters to ensure that devel­op­ment plans for Sarawak folk will be im­ple­mented.

“The chief min­is­ter means busi­ness, and he is com­mit­ted to de­liver all of his prom­ises,” said a party in­sider.

Abang Jo­hari has es­tab­lished Sarawak’s new di­rec­tion and laid the foun­da­tion to achieve the goals. But he needs com­mit­ment from Sarawakians to achieve de­vel­oped state sta­tus by 2030.

The writer, born in Kuala Lumpur, raised in Perak, is NST Sarawak bu­reau chief. A na­ture lover, he never tires of dis­cov­er­ing new sights in the Land of the Horn­bills

Star­lings can teach a na­tion how to move for­ward.

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