Marks allocation for the literature component:

Poem 5 marks
Novel 15 marks
Total 20 marks

Note that candidates will only be tested on NOVEL and POEMS.

Complete Guide: QWERTYUIOP

Complete Guide: QWERTYUIOP

Here's an extract:

Write about one of the characters that you like in the short story,


Miss Broome

Miss Broome was old Mr Bannister’s secretary for forty-three years. She typed letter by letter and she hated the young girls who touch-type without having to look at the keyboard. According to Harry Darke, the young girls gave Miss Broome “the push”. When her boss retired her after forty three years, she had no place to go, for the office was her home and the job was “all she lived for” (p25). Thus whenever a new girl came to work, her ghost which haunted the typewriter would scare the girl until she was too frightened to continue. Sure, Miss Broome was angry and vicious at first...

Complete Guide : The Curse

Complete Guide : The Curse

A Comprehensive Guide to The Curse

Here is an example from the Guide:


In this chapter we are introduced to Puan Kamsiah and her daughter, Siti. We are also introduced to Datuk Zulkifli and Datin Sharifah, who are Azreen’s foster parents; they are sponsoring Azreen’s studies in London. We also introduced to Puan Normala and Noor, her daughter. Noor and Siti are classmates.

Siti conveys to her mother what Noor has been telling her classmates that Madhuri has been murdered. Puan Kamsiah feels that the ‘wicked woman’(p12) Puan Normala is spreading ‘malicious lies’ (p12) about Madhuri and ‘the poor girl isn’t even properly laid to ground yet!’ (p12) When Siti quotes her mother’s description of Normala as ‘a slimy cobra with a three-forked tongue’ (p12), it gives us a hint of the character of Normala: She is, in fact, a busybody and the village gossip.

Guide to GULP and GASP

Guide to GULP and GASP


Yes, the most comprehensive guide on Ann Fine's Step by Wicked Step to help you prepare for your SPM English 1119 Exam is out. Chapter by chapter analysis with lots of explanatory notes to explain the plot, theme, and characters of this loving & touching story. Page references are given to save you the trouble of having to locate important texts and quotes.

Complete Guide to Poems

Complete Guide to Poems

Sample Question and Answer

What does it mean when the poet says but on their brows there was not a sign of despair?

It means that despite the difficult situation they were in, they did not show any sign of hopelessness.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Allies & Enemies - Exploring the Left and Right Dichotomy

As it appeared in Star 2, Mind Our English, Wednesday 30 November 2011

When my recently politically-conscious 17-year-old daughter asked me what right wing was, my right brain was tickled into action: I wanted to know more about this left-right dichotomy in this small world of ours.

To begin with, those of us who had been schooled in the 1970s and earlier must have been dullards  because we only had one brain. I guess our grey matter must have been really grey as the post-1990s generation possess two brains: the right and left brains which they use to optimim effect with such  learning technologies as lateral thinking, accelerated-learning and Neuro-linguistic Programming, playing light ambient baroque music in the background even as they are swotting up their algebra. Dang, we didn’t even know that we had two brains! No wonder, schools today are churning out SPM students with double-digit As like Beryl chocolates.

Well, I certainly have a lot of catching up to do before my grey matter turns greyer. I did a free online brain test with 54 multiple-choice questions. I had to respond to statements such as ‘I need complete quietness to read or study’ and ‘I have the ability to listen to music or television and study at the same time’. What did I find out? I am 57% left-brained and 43% right-brained (http://www.wherecreativitygoestoschool.com).

This makes me ‘a critical thinker who uses logic and sense to collect information’. And I rely on numbers, words, and symbols to retain information. It kind of confirms what I’ve always thought of myself- a critical thinker and a logical person. Yet, every now and then, I know the playful, creative right brain would tease my logical left brain- at times leading me astray- with wild, fanciful, and grandiose ideas. Fortunately, most times, when tantalizing ideas pop up, they are filtered by the logical thinking of my left brain.

On the political front, the left-right brain dichotomy has nothing to do with whether you have right or left wing political leanings. The terms originated in France where the Left is called the ‘party of movement’ while the Right is the ‘party of order’. Taking Malaysia as an example, the Right- Barisan Nasional- favours the established social order while the Left-Pakatan Rakyat Malaysia- favours equality and social change. This is not to say that right-wing parties do not favour equality. 

Although the terms are convenient descriptions of polar opposites, politicians on both sides may take a right-wing stance or a left-wing stance depending on the issues involved. The far right would include fascists and extreme conservatives and nationalists, while the far left would include communists. In Europe, German political scientist Professor Klaus von Beyme, who categorized European political parties into nine families, was able to arrange seven of them from left to right: communist, socialist, green, liberal, Christian democratic, conservative and right-wing extremist ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left%E2%80%93right_politics).

Politics aside, what does the left-right dichotomy have to say about the cultural psyche of  peoples in different parts of the world? It is estimated that mancinists make up 10% in a right-handed world. Yes, you guess right: mancinism is another word for left-handedness. As this is predominantly a right-handed world, it is no wonder that left-handed people have often been viewed with suspicion. Do you know that the Latin word for left is sinistra, which originally meant left, but later took on the meaning of evil? And it is this later meaning that the English adopted in sinister. The Greek word skaios for left-handedness also means ill-omened, while the French word for left is gauche, which in English means awkward or tactless.

The Bible also contains unfavourable references to the left hand. In the Final Judgment of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says that “He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ’Come you are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world’”. To those on the left, the King will say, ’Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons’. Those on the left ‘will go into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life’. Yes, even being good is spelt righteous.

Until a few decades ago, a Chinese or Japanese child holding chopsticks with  their left hand  would be met with a reprimand or a rap on the knuckles. In Victorian times, school teachers would punish children who use their left hands to write. The English term cack-handed is slang for left-handed, which also means clumsy. It is said to have been derived from the Latin cacare, which refers to the performing of ablutions with the left hand. Similarly, in India, Africa and Malaysia the left hand is deemed unclean, and using your left hand to touch another, or give and receive something is definitely taboo. An African proverb says, ‘You do not use the left hand to point the way to your father's village’.

There is an anecdote about an American who asked a Chinese gentleman at a Chinese Christmas party in the United States what he thought was the strangest thing he saw when he first came to the US. Without hesitation, the Chinese gentleman replied, ‘left-handed people’. Perplexed, the American wondered if there were left-handed people in China. He replied that he had not seen anyone write with their left hands until he came to the U.S. This prompted the American to say, “Isn’t that genetic?” The Chinese went on to say that ‘kids in China are taught to write with their right hand’. He continued to explain that unlike in the U.S where devices are made for left-handers, in China it was a question of practicality.

Up to this point, a lefty reading this article should be indignant. Well, you shouldn’t be. Being right- or left-handed is genetic. Unfavourable references to sinistrals, or left-handedness, are the result of ignorance. Being a righty, I envy you. Firstly, you are among the elite group of people who make up only about 700 million of the world’s population unlike the ubiquitous righties. More significantly, the left hand is controlled by the right brain which is associated with creativity. And lefties have excelled in the creative, sporting and artistic fields. Famous lefties include US president Barack Obama, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, tennis great Rafa Nadal, badminton great Lin Dan, Alexander the Great, author H.G. Wells, Rennaissance artists Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelangelo, and the greatest guitarist in musical history, Jimi Hendrix.

Left and right are like the complementary opposites or dualities of yin and yang: one cannot exist without the other. You cannot clap with one hand.