Saturday, August 29, 2009

Driven to driving a taxi despite having a PhD INSIGHT DOWN SOUTH


Bio-chemist Dr Cai Minnjie who failed to land another research position after losing his job last year now happily prowls the streets as a cabbie. SINGAPORE’S fraternity of taxi drivers, with its fair share of retrenched executives, has now an exalted new member – a PhD bio-chemist from Stanford University. Prowling the streets of Singapore today is 57-year-old unemployed scientist Dr Cai Mingjie who lost his job at Singapore’s premier A-Star biomedical research institute last year.

The China-born naturalised citizen with 16 years of research accomplishments said he began driving a taxi last October after failed efforts to land another job. The news shocked this nation, which holds an unshakable faith in the power of an advanced university education. One surprised white-collar worker said he had believed that such a doctorate and experience was as good as life-long employment and success. “If he has to drive a taxi, what chances do ordinary people like us have?” he asked. I have met a number of highly qualified taxi drivers in recent years, including former managers and a retrenched engineer.

One cheerful driver – a former stock-broker – surprised me one day in giving me detailed reasons on what stocks to buy or avoid. “At a time like this, the taxi business is probably the only business in Singapore that still actively recruits people,” said Dr Cai. To me, his plight is taking Singapore into a new chapter. “(I am) probably the only taxi driver in the world with a PhD from Stanford and a proven track record of scientific accomplishments ...,” blogged Dr Cai. “I have been forced out of my research job at the height of my scientific career” and was unable to find another job “for reasons I can only describe as something uniquely Singapore”.

The story quickly spread far and wide over the Internet. Most Singaporeans expressed admiration for his ability to adapt so quickly to his new life. Two young Singaporeans asked for his taxi number, saying they would love to travel in his cab and talk to him. “There’s so much he can pass on to me,” one said. Others questioned why, despite his tremendous scientific experience, he is unable to find a teaching job. His unhappy exit is generally attributed to a personal cause (he has alleged chaotic management by research heads) rather than any decline in Singapore’s bio-tech project, which appears to be surviving the downturn. The case highlights a general weakening of the R and D (research and development) market in smallish Singapore. “The bad economy means not many firms are hiring professional scientists,” one surfer said. “Academia isn’t much of a help – there’s a long history of too many PhDs chasing too few jobs.” While the image of taxi drivers has received a tremendous boost, the same cannot be said of Singapore’s biomedical project – particularly its efforts to nourish home-grown research talent. “It may turn more Singaporeans away from Life Sciences as a career,” said one blogger.

One writer said: “In my opinion, PhDs are useless, especially in Singapore. It’s just another certificate and doesn’t mean much.” Another added: “The US is in a worse situation. Many are coming here to look for jobs.” “I won’t want my child to study for years to end up driving a taxi,” said a housewife with a teenage daughter. The naturalised Singaporean citizen underwent his PhD training at Stanford University, the majority of his work revolving around the study of yeast proteins. His case is not unique. US research-scientist Douglas Prasher, who isolated the gene that creates the green fluorescent protein (and just missed the 2008 Chemistry Nobel Prize) faced similar straits. Prasher moved from one research institution to another when his funding dried up, and he eventually quit science – to drive a courtesy shuttle in Alabama. “Still, he remains humble and happy and seems content with his minivan driver job,” said a surfer. With an evolving job market as more employers resort to multi-tasking and short-term contracts, more Singaporeans are chasing after split degrees, like accountancy and law or computer and business.

Others avoid post-graduate studies or specialised courses of a fixed discipline in favour of general or multi-discipline studies. “Experience is king” is the watchword; there has been a rush for no-pay internships. “The future favours graduates with multiple skills and career flexibility, people who are able to adapt to different types of work,” one business executive said. During the past few years, as globalisation deepened, there has been a growing disconnect between what Singaporeans studied in university and their subsequent careers. It follows the trend in the developed world where old businesses disappear – almost overnight – and new ones spring up, which poses problems for graduates with an inflexible job expectation. I know of a young man who graduated from one of America’s top civil engineering universities abandoning the construction hard hat for a teaching gown.

Another engineer I met is running his father’s lucrative coffee shop. Lawyers have become musicians or journalists, and so on. Cases of people working in jobs unrelated to their university training have become so common that interviewers have stopped asking candidates questions like “Why should a trained scientist like you want to work as a junior executive with us?” In the past, parents would crack their heads pondering what their children should study – accountancy or law or engineering, the so-called secure careers – and see them move single-mindedly into these professions. A doctor was then a doctor, a biologist generally worked in the lab and a lawyer argued cases in courts – square pegs in square holes, so to speak. Today the world is slowly moving away from this neat pattern.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ummah boleh capai lebih banyak kejayaan jika bersatu

Gambar Hiasan:"Bertapa Manisnya Hidup jika Umat Islam Bersatu Padu"

PEKAN: Umat Islam mampu mencapai lebih banyak kejayaan apabila bersatu padu dan mengamalkan lebih permuafakatan kerana ia adalah inti pati dan falsafah penting dalam membina tamadun Islam yang gemilang, kata Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Perdana Menteri berkata, umat Islam pada masa ini perlu mengambil contoh kejayaan umat Islam terdahulu sehingga mampu membina tamadun Islam yang berjaya dan diiktiraf dalam lipatan sejarah kerana perjuangan mereka berasaskan perpaduan dan disiplin yang kuat.

"Namun, apabila perpaduan berkecai dan disiplin longgar menyebabkan umat Islam tewas begitu juga dengan tamadun yang sudah dibina ratusan tahun dahulu.
"Ia kerana umat Islam tidak pentingkan lagi perpaduan dan disiplin iaitu nilai-nilai untuk membina tamadun yang kukuh," katanya berucap pada majlis berbuka puasa dan penyampaian sumbangan peribadi kepada 144 golongan kurang berkemampuan di Masjid At-Taufik di Peramu Tiga, di sini petang semalam.

Hadir sama isterinya, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Najib dan Rosmah kemudian turut berbuka puasa bersama lebih 100 penduduk tempatan. Najib yang juga Ahli Parlimen Pekan juga meminta rakyat meningkatkan amalan infaq, iaitu pemberian kebajikan seperti mengeluarkan zakat dan bersedekah sempena Ramadan ini.

"Infaq adalah satu daripada tiang utama kepada konsep ekonomi dalam sistem sosial Islam dengan mengamalkannya dengan baik mampu memberi kejayaan kepada umat Islam," katanya.

Pada majlis berasingan, Najib dan Rosmah turut meluangkan masa untuk bersembahyang sunat tarawih bersama kira-kira 200 penduduk di Taman LKNP, di sini serta menyampaikan sumbangan wang tunai dan hamper kepada 19 orang yang kurang berkemampuan.

Terdahulu, Najib yang berucap pada majlis penyampaian sumbangan kepada wakil daripada 55 masjid dan 153 surau di kawasan Parlimen Pekan, di Dewan Umno, di sini, meminta jawatankuasa masjid dan surau memikirkan pendekatan terbaik bagi menarik minat golongan muda menghayati serta mengikuti pelbagai aktiviti keagamaan di institusi berkenaan. Perdana Menteri berkata, ia juga bertujuan membolehkan kumpulan remaja dan belia tidak hanya pergi ke masjid secara bermusim seperti dalam bulan Ramadan untuk membaca al-Quran atau bersembahyang sunat termasuk bertarawih secara jemaah.

"Sepanjang Ramadan ini kita boleh lihat rumah Allah (masjid) menjadi tumpuan golongan tua dan muda. Oleh itu, terlintas di hati saya adakah keadaan ini dapat dipertahankan selepas tamatnya bulan Ramadan?

"Oleh itu, penting bagi kita dan jawatankuasa masjid dan surau dapat memikirkan serta mengambil langkah untuk memastikan golongan muda datang ke masjid untuk menghadiri majlis keagamaan selepas ini. Kita tidak mahu selepas Ramadan, masjid dan surau sepi," katanya.

Beliau berkata, ahli jawatankuasa masjid dan surau mungkin juga boleh mengadakan pelbagai kegiatan dan aktiviti sepanjang bulan bagi menarik minat golongan muda untuk mendekati masjid.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Menteri Dikritik Keluar Majlis Kahwin

Menteri Alam Sekitar, Pertanian dan Makanan, Jim Fitzpatrick dikritik kerana keluar majlis kahwin
LONDON: Seorang menteri dituduh berkelakuan buruk dan tidak wajar dengan berjalan keluar dari majlis perkahwinan Islam di London selepas diminta duduk berasingan dengan isterinya. Menteri Alam Sekitar, Pertanian dan Makanan, Jim Fitzpatrick, meninggalkan majlis perkahwinan di Pusat Islam London, yang dikendalikan masjid London Timur di Whitechapel selepas dimaklumkan tetamu lelaki dan wanita diasingkan. Fitzpatrick berkata, adalah pelik beliau tidak boleh duduk bersama isterinya, Sheila pada majlis itu.
“Kami menghadiri majlis perkahwinan (Islam) bersama selama beberapa tahun, tetapi hanya baru-baru ini garis panduan ketat dibuat. Kami meninggalkan majlis supaya tidak mencetuskan kemarahan,” katanya. Bagaimanapun, Majlis Islam Britain (MBC) menyifatkan menteri itu menjadikan perkara peribadi keluarga sebagai isu politik. - Agensi

Friday, August 14, 2009


In this Feb.15, 2007 file photo, Sama Wareh walks along the sand dressed in swimwear designed for Muslim women Newport Beach, Calif. A French Muslim was denied last Aug.1, 2009 entry to a swimming pool for wearing an Islamic-style full-body swimsuit. Officials say the head-to-toe 'burquini' is unhygienic and harmful to other bathers, but the woman complains of religious discrimination. The incident adds to controversy over wearing explicitly religious symbols in public places in this secular country.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"So long as my head is covered, I can say anything I want, do anything I wish, and will not be afraid.". A Posting By My Sister in Islam.


"So long as my head is covered, I can say anything I want, do anything I wish, and will not be afraid."
Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim....

Hijab wasn't always easy for me. It started out as a way to get attention in 1999 and became a fashion statement of colorful Turkish silk. Some of you may wonder how I could go on to wear niqaab knowing this. Well I took on niqaab purely to spite husband. I figured that all-black with gloves up to my elbows, an abaya, face-veil, and mini-terrorist sunglasses would be the best way to ruin husband's green card dreams. Coupled with the fact that Belal worked across from the airport with a bunch of Arabs, it seemed to be a win-win situation. Sure enough the FBI came calling.