Jack Ma Ends 20-Year Reign Over Alibaba Wealth Creation Empire

Stepping down as chairman: Jack Ma waving while standing for a photograph with Alibaba CEO Jonathan Lu (left) and co-founder and vice-chairman Joseph ‘Joe’ Tsai in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Ma is giving up the reins of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd after presiding over one of the most spectacular creations of wealth the world has ever seen. — Bloomberg

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma retires as CEO on 55th birthday

As Alibaba founder Jack Ma retires, a look at how he built the $460 bn ecommerce empire in China


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Only the brave teach

Show of solidarity: Fellow teachers and
unionists gathering at the Seremban magistrate court last month in
support of Cikgu Azizan (centre in white).


ONE tight slap – I still vividly remember that hard, stinging smack across my cheek as my teacher flew into a fit of rage after I did something naughty as a primary school pupil at St Xavier’s Institution in Penang.

I can’t recall which teacher hit me, but there must have been more than one. They pinched my stomach and even my nipples. Many of my classmates can attest to that, even 40 years on.

There was also the occasional caning, which I felt was an act of gross injustice and, perhaps, even one of perversion on the part of our disciplinary teacher. To me, back then, he was an unfair individual, and my opinion still stands. To this day, I have no idea why I was caned and not given the chance to defend myself.

But, bless his soul, because he has passed on. Most students from back then would have forgiven him by now, for he probably knew not what he was doing.

However, one thing is certain – as far as I know, none of us returned home and complained about this disciplinary action to our parents.

Comedian Harith Iskandar always reminds his audience that if one complained to their parents, they can expect to get another tight slap that “would burn your face and send an electrifying chilling effect to all parts of your body,” and consequently, leave a lifetime’s reminder.

So, the smartest thing to do, as most older Malaysians can testify, was to keep quiet. Of course, we also warned our classmates, some of whom were our neighbors, to swear to keep things under wraps and not tell their parents about the drama at school.

The caning and slaps, by disciplinary standards, were the “final” punishments. We surely remember the use of rulers, feather dusters, belts, black board dusters and in my case, even a shoe that flew in my direction.

And I wasn’t even in the naughty boys’ category. I didn’t get into fights or was caught loitering with the bad hats after school.

As one writer, Adrian Lee Yuen Beng, wrote in Aliran: “The teachers were our ad hoc parents who taught with joy and passion, and like their predecessors, never demanded any recognition. They customarily stood at the back of the class, silently rejoicing as the students celebrated their exam success.

“We received an education steeped in tradition as mission schoolteachers took teaching seriously; it was not a mere job, but a vocation, nay, a calling.

“Our teachers were proud of their lessons and believed in their form of education. They shaped us into intellectuals, sportspersons, politicians, educators, religionists, physicians and other important societal figures.”

Fast forward to today – and it’s the total reverse. The guilty party – the student – runs home to complain to his parents.

Now, the father and mother fly into a rage and decide to confront the teacher at school the following day. What unnecessary drama!

Adding insult to injury, the parents then seek the help of a politician, who has likely been deprived of the media’s glare for a while. Then, all three confront the teacher.

Lodging a police report is, of course, the next thing they do, and to embarrass the teacher and school further, they call for a press conference.

This is modern Malaysia. Perhaps, today’s family is smaller. There are only one or two children in a family, and they are, invariably, pampered.

During my time, there were at least four or five siblings and even so, we were still regarded a small family. Dad was always too busy earning a living, trying to put food on the table, so, he was thankful that the teacher played surrogate father, at least during school hours. The lesser-educated father would have been equally respectful of teachers. After all, it’s accepted that teachers mould the character, calibre and prospects of their students.

However, the modern-day father thinks he’s smarter and earns more than the teacher, his condescending and confrontational attitude not boding well for the situation.

He probably thinks the teacher has a dead-end job or is too busy distributing business cards to pupils for after-school tuition.

But, for an old-school type like me, I find it difficult to accept news of teachers being hauled to court for purportedly hurting their students.

Honestly, don’t the police and prosecutors have better things to do than to charge these teachers who were merely trying to discipline the children – responsibilities which may have been neglected by their caregivers?

In December, a teacher facing the charge of hurting his student, was given a discharge not amounting to acquittal by the magistrate’s court.

Magistrate Mohd Zaki Abdul Rahim delivered judgement after the prosecution told the court that they wished to withdraw the case.

Azizan Manap, also known as Cikgu Azizan, claimed trial to the charge of slapping an 11-year-old male student on the left cheek in April for indiscipline, the misdemeanour including sniffing glue, bullying and playing truant.

He was charged under Section 323 of the Penal Code for voluntarily causing hurt and was left facing a jail term of up to a year, a fine of RM,2000, or both, upon conviction.

Leading up to his discharge, several hundred people, including fellow teachers, gathered at the court in a show of solidarity for Cikgu Azizan.

By all means, go ahead and Google it: there are numerous reports of teachers threatened or roughed up in schools, and surprisingly, we seldom hear of offensive parents charged in court for criminal intimidation or causing bodily harm.

We have now been made to understand that the old ways don’t work anymore. The children need counselling and their hair needs to be stroked to motivate them. Have these methods worked better? That remains to be conclusively proven.

One thing’s for sure, though, the tight slap was unbeatable in my time in instilling discipline. Now, when I enter a lift, the millennials are too busy looking at their handphones, so don’t expect them to address you as “sir” or even greet you.

You’d be lucky if they called you “bro” and gave you an enthusiastic high-five, instead.

Would the proverbial one tight slap work today in curing disciplinary ills? Hardly likely.

By Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

Treasures of the heart; Happy Teachers Day

Teachers_we loveMany fall into the trap of ‘loving things and using people’, but it is the unseen treasures that matter most.

PULAU Nangka off Malacca may be unknown to most of us, but not to treasure hunters who have been working to unearth a multi-billion ringgit loot that is believed to be buried somewhere on the island.

It’s the kind of stuff Indiana Jones would be interested in. So when it was announced that two ancient coins – supposedly from the Malacca Sultanate era – were found last week, the newspapers went to town with the news.

But in dealing with the discovery of lost treasures, dinosaurs and religious artifacts, it is never wise to celebrate too early.

The find at Pulau Nangka is awaiting authentication, but the circumstances with regards to the timing of the discovery have thrown up many questions, which leads one to conclude that this may be a false alarm after all.

People in general are always on the hunt for treasures. Okay, few of us would venture into jungles or dive to the bottom of the sea.

But if we examine our own lives, we may actually find that the material wealth that we have accumulated over the years is like an inventory of treasures.

They can be major assets like property, cars, stocks or jewellery. Or they can even be minor, everyday items. We can laugh about Imelda Marcos’ collection of shoes but frankly, isn’t there a bit of Imelda in everyone of us?

Be it shoes, handbags, clothes, phones or computers, we go hunting in the malls, collect what we desire, use them for a while and then store them away.

Many are reluctant to let go of their “treasures” and give them away only when they run out of space, by which time the shoes cannot be worn anymore and the computers can no longer run.

There are many recycling booths in my neighbourhood, and it is sad to see that they are mainly used as garbage dumps.

I have gone around to collect things from people who want to donate to charity but more often than not, I find that I am just transferring them to a dump.

What’s the point of giving away things that are no longer usable or which may even pose a danger to the people we supposedly want to help?

That’s the problem with earthly treasures. They have a definite “use by” date and are subjected to wear and tear.

Worse, because we love our things so much, we cry buckets when thieves cart away our latest smartphones and electronic gadgets. Or when we get a tiny scratch on our new luxury car.

We tend to “love things and use people” when material possessions are our treasures.

Fortunately, there are real treasures in life that are worth accumulating. Even Christie’s and Sotheby’s cannot put a value to them.

My dear friend rushed from an official function to hold my hand when I struggled during one chemotherapy session. A warm embrace between a Muslim and a Christian – that was a treasured moment.

I am indeed blessed with many treasures bequeathed to me from family, friends and total strangers. They do not take up space in my house, but they fill up every nook and corner in my heart.

> Executive editor Soo Ewe Jin (ewejin@thestar.com.my) wishes all mothers Happy Mother’s Day, mindful that “when someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure to always hold in your heart”.

The value of teachers

WE often hear stories about kiasu parents in Singapore who go to great lengths to ensure their children are enrolled in top-notch schools.

But there is one school in the island republic that is also in high demand, but for a different reason.

Northlight School, which has earned itself a reputation as a school of opportunities and possibilities, only admits those who have failed the Primary School Leaving Exami­nation (PSLE) at least twice, and are deemed unable to progress to secon­dary-level education.

I heard about this school for the first time at a gathering of Klang Valley teachers held in Petaling Jaya last Tuesday in conjunction with Teachers Day.

The motivational speaker from Singapore kept everyone in awe as she shared about the success stories from that school – how a pool of dedicated and compassionate teachers transformed the lives of so many because of their belief that “Failure in an exam is not failure in life”.

I love teachers who educate and not just teach their students. These are the teachers who help shape the character of their students because they value effort, creativity and strength of character. And because they care, they will always be remembered.

Our Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh shared about the late Cikgu Fatimah, a former headmistress at SM Tengku Mah­mud, in his hometown of Besut, Terengganu (“Always in sight, forever in my heart,” The Star, May 16).

“During her life, she’d always visit her students and their parents at their homes and would help them solve issues faced not just by the students but the family as a whole. She’d provide guidance, support and motivation to them even after school hours, going well beyond the call of duty,” the minister wrote.

“When Cikgu Fatimah fell sick, her students took care of her until she passed away. Such is the reciprocal love and care of the students to their teacher who led by example.”

How touching. Coming from that generation, I also have many such stories to share, but we must not think that these stories only happen in the good old days. Maybe they are imprinted more deeply in our minds because we had fewer distractions back then.

I know of many teachers still in service in various parts of the country who reach out to their students be­­­­­­­yond the classroom. Where others see despair, they see hope. And so they plod on, amidst the many challenges, to make a difference in the lives of their students.

And we are not just talking about schools in the outback but also those in the urban centres. Those who go to top schools but always end up in the so-called bottom classes will understand what I mean.

When the school goes rah-rah over the super-duper achievers, it takes a special teacher to see the worth in a young student in the lower class who will never get that kind of attention.

The seeds of encouragement she sows may take a while to blossom, but they will.

I was glad to recognise a number of such teachers in that gathering on Tuesday. They may not be getting the headlines, but they do not labour in vain. Happy Teachers Day.

Contributed by Sunday Starters, Soo Ewe Jin The Star
> Executive editor Soo Ewe Jin (ewejin@thestar.com.my) wishes all mothers Happy Mother’s Day, mindful that “when someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure to always hold in your heart”.

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