On progress…

I was recently in Bandar Penawar, Johor for a couple of days. For those who have no idea where the heck Bandar Penawar is, it is actually very close to the coastal holiday area of Desaru, on the East Coast of Johor.

What charms Desaru and Bandar Penawar may hold for the holidaymakers who flock here, I may never know. The coast is rough, and where the surf pounds the beach with relentless force, the wind is blustery and going for a swim doesn’t seem a viable option for anyone who values human life. It feels more like sitting on the beach facing the North Sea than a pleasant tropical resort.

Bandar Penawar happens to be the home town of one of our more prominent Ministers. Their claim to fame is a brand new sports school, and loads and loads of sporting facilities, including a brand new sports complex than would make Ipoh proud. Looking back at the town, which houses only one small commercial square and scattered human habitation, I may hazard a guess that the town is home to not more than 20,000 people.

Browsing the local stores for some reading materials left me feeling strangely empty and disappointed. Not one store or shop carried any papers, other than Malay tabloids two days old. Not one magazine in sight! Let’s not even mention books…

Progress this place has seen. The streets are wide and well lit, there are facilities left right and center for everyone who cares to use them. But God forbid you ever want to read, because to get reading material, you’ll have to drive at least 120 kilometers in any direction.

I cannot understand for the love of God why this is so. Should we not make an effort to teach, and make learning accessible? Why just manufacture jocks when you can make a whole and balanced and healthy and wholesome human being? Is it enough that they can play football or run athletics or play hockey? Should they not know history and philosophy too?

Books cost a fraction of a sports complex and school… Children are like sponges, they absorb what we soak ‘em in… Enough said…

Finally found my answer as to why Bandar Penawar folk seem so unfazed that the Parliament has finally been dissolved – Jasmine.


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