A few days ago I received a humorous sms from a friend after the haze got worse in Alor Star.

Tanah tumpahnya jerebu,
Rakyat hidup tersesak dan layu,
Rahmat bahgia,
Penjual topeng muka,
Raja kita,
Kena pakai juga.”

I thought it was brilliant! And I began singing it at the top of my voice to an audience comprising my mum, brother, and little sister, J-Anne. Eugene chuckled and joined me enthusiastically,until..

“HEY! Cannot sing like that one.”

I was in fact, surprised, that a small girl of 8 could be so indignant of our,ehem, disrespectful behaviour. She seemed crestfallen, disappointed.

“Teacher said we cannot sing like that one.”

I felt like saluting J-Anne at that time. (although I still think the new version of our national anthem is brilliant!)

Yesterday she had a computer quiz at school, and one of the questions asked, was the nationality of the creator of Microsoft.

“It must be Malaysia, mustn’t it? To invent such a good thing?” she asked mum innocently.

I smiled. I had the fleeting memory of a younger jasmine,eagerly cheering the Malaysian team on (in front of the TV), during the 1996 Olympic games. Seeing our athletes and the Malaysian flag on TV made me swell with pride at that time. (And seeing dad totally not bothered with the fact that Malaysians were at the games made me annoyed.= / )

I guess things change when children grow up. The pure soul is exposed to the uglier side of society, the harsher truths of life, and slowly, true patriotism for Malaysia dies away. Contributions and sacrifices are made for the country, but the special something in the heart is somewhat…lost. At least, that’s what I perceive.

But of course, in SPM, we’ll still be writing away: Cinta akan negara bermaksud sayang dan bangga terhadap negara serta meletakkan kepentingan negara melebihi kepentingan diri. Contohnya, kita patut menghormati lagu negara. = P.

* * *

And now—harga diri.I don’t know if there is any other suitable nilai in the syllabus to describe integrity and honesty. Harga diri seems the closest (though I feel harga diri is more concerned about “maruah diri” and being respected by others, rather than being righteous.)

I am in the midst of taking my SPM trials, and the rampant cheating that is going on really angers and saddens me. I had the fortune to sit at the back of the class this time and needless to say, had a good view of all the paper-passing and whispering that took place. More than ten students were continuously networking with each other right in front of my eyes, and they had no qualms doing it. No shame. No remorse.
In fact, during our biology paper, one of my friends actually turned around and asked me the answer to question 20. Now I was in a really difficult position—I had never gotten myself into such nonsense, as I always chose the most secluded (but hottest) place in class. This time we had to sit according to our exam code number. And I….I could not bear her frightened eyes staring right at me. So…. “B”, I mouthed silently.
I felt w-r-e-t-c-h-e-d.
Come to think of it now, cheating has become a culture in our school. “Saling membantu dan bekerjasama”, that’s what they say. No wonder many friends–friends who had once scorned and despised cheating, are now copying papers from one another.

On Wednesday, 2 students sitting in front of me were caught by our BM teacher. One of them had been a very close friend to me.
They are very unlucky and I sympathize with them if they are indeed awarded a big fat zero, but I hope justice is done. I hope they will never repeat the same mistake.

More than that, I hope my beloved school will do more to sow seeds of moral fiber in students. It is time the focus is shifted from winning shiny trophies….. to building characters that shine.