Thursday, 18 December 2008

English Medium Schools

A colonial English school in Malaysia. These schools were established in major towns in the country during British rule.

Bakri Musa just posted his 85th instalment on "Towards A Competitive Malaysia" which touches on how the present education system contributed to the fragmentation of the Malaysian society. Excerpts from his article:

These colonial schools provided an excellent education system:

However, when the language of instruction was changed, the national education system took on a more Malay and Islamic ambiance:

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

India's Alarming Foeticide

According to a U.N. report, an estimated 113 to 200
million women are missing from the world today,
which is to say that 1.3 to 3 million women and
girls 'disappear' from the earth annually from
gender-based and sexual violence. In India alone, more than 50 million of those 'missing' are due to female foeticide, the sex-selective abortion of female babies who are viewed as a burden to the male-dominated society. Although ultrasound scanning to determine the sex of a foetus has been
banned in India, it is being carried out illegally due to its huge demand and profitability. Read more
about India's female foeticide practice.

Monday, 15 December 2008

"Children Caught In The Middle"

I was reading the Education Minister's comments on whether the teaching and learning of Science and Maths should revert to the use of the mother tongue, and I empathized with him; he is as the saying goes, 'caught between the devil and the deep blue sea'. He is however careful to impress upon us that the decision would be made by the Cabinet, and not by him after the final round of the Round Table discussions with stake holders. The public is waiting with bated breath as to whether the decision will be made on political or educational ground.

Although he has mentioned that there was a dramatic increase in the number pupils who answered both the Science and Maths papers in English, he has provided precious little information on pupils' performance. It is difficult for the public to make an informed decision unless a detailed analysis of the results is made available to the public.

Meanwhile, proponents and opponents alike will continue to be vociferous in voicing their concern. The Dong Jiao Zong has threatened a nation-wide protest to pressure the government to revert to teaching both the subjects in the mother tongue. They argued that content learning, at least during the primary school years, is more effective through the mother tongue. I believe that the Malay educationists share the same view; moreover they would have salvaged a large measure of their pride to have Bahasa Melayu reinstated to its former elevated position as the language of Science and Maths.

The Dong Jiao has always been fiercely adamant to government tinkering with their entrenched system for fear that it would diminish the character of Chinese schools. What they do not see or refuse to see is the harm they have inflicted on the innocent. The situation is reminiscent of the 60's and early 70's when Chinese parents in droves abandoned the Chinese schools in favour of English schools. As Wong Chun Wai pointed out, the Chinese realized the importance of English at that time. What drove the Chinese back to their vernacular schools is not that they have a more effective system, but simply because the national schools are seen as more and more mono-ethnic and religious. Look at how ineffective has been the teaching of Bahasa Melayu and English in Chinese primary schools. Many of these students who enrolled in National secondary schools were left to feel like fish out of water and the drop-out rate of Chinese students in national secondary schools is estimated at about 25% (out of 99,000) according to a survey conducted by MCA. A government survey revealed that 1 in 4 students dropped out of the system.

To be fair, the Chinese educationists do not reject the policy in toto; they would prefer that both the subjects be taught in English at the secondary level. But is it going to help their students who may in future enrol in national schools? Going by their track records, these students are going to be even more helpless when they enter these schools. Those who prefer to go to Chinese Independent schools are also crippled by their lack of competence in English which will effectively exclude them from studying overseas except in Taiwan and China.

The controversial Namewee video clip on his alma mater highlighted the predicament of Chinese students who have gone through the Chinese school system. He related that her sister who studied all her subjects in Mandarin had to study Maths and Science in Bahasa Melayu and later in English in the college she attended.

I am sure many Chinese students have felt how severely they have been hampered by a system that has limited their opportunity for further education.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Rojak English Of Another Kind

This is what we would call the 'tidak apa' attitude; the nonchalant or indifferent way in which a task is performed with little or no supervision. Never mind if it is not done properly as long as it is done. The culprit could have easily got someone to vet what's written, but no, the website was allowed to go on the net for all to read and laugh at. Or was it translated using a language translation software? It is well known that these software are unreliable. Try using Google translation tool for Mandarin and you will see what I mean. Whatever it is, the website still has to be checked first. It has since been amended.

The original version was taken from Lim Kit Siang's blog .

1. I’m 17 year old, when should I change my identity card replacement?
A person whose had got first-time identity card namely during old 12 year, are required change again his identity card when have reached the age 18 year. If this change made within life time 18 - 25 year, no any penalty imposed.

2. I already 25 year old and still not have my own identity card. What shoul I do?
To them not yet own identity card although already aged more 16 year are advised to come to any nearby NRD to apply identity card past record. Applicant and promoter must showed up together to be interviewed, bringing with together following documents:-
Applicant Born Certificate / AnakAngkat’s Certificate / W’s Form Or
Applicant Enter Permit / Confirmation Form National Standard(if concerning)
Promoter Identity Card.

3. I a foreign citizens and have gotten permit of entry from Jabatan Immigration Malaysia. Whether I qualified to apply identity card? What is conditions for I apply identity card.
You qualified to apply identity card with permanent resident status(Red). Applications requirements is bringing with permit of entry and passport and copy both of them and application fee as many as RM 40.00. Applications can be made in NRD Putrajaya Headquarters and NRD Branches only.

4. Is there any payment am being imposed in case happened damage for chip in my identity card.
Chip damage who is not due to purposely destroyed, misuse and others within one year from the date of submission card is give replacement by free, and if card period has been held by the applicant exceeding one year, payment as many as RM 10.00 imposed.

5. How many payment am being imposed if I loss identity card?
Lost identity card would be charged follow loss number. Please see payment schedule.

I would not want to bore you with more of the same. Check it out on the link to Lim Kit Siang's blog.

Malaysia's Forgotten People

While we are concerned about the marginalized people in our midst - the urban poor, the HIV afflicted, and the estate Indians - we have paid scant attention to other ethnic minorities who have been left out in the cold: the indigenous peoples, the original bumiputeras of the country. Accounting for only 0.6% of the population but 54% of the hardcore poor, they have been deprived of their rights to live as equal citizens of this country.

The coordinator for Centre for Orang Asli Concerns, Colin Nicholas has this to say in Nut Graph about what the government has been doing:

Below are photos of a ethnic minority, known as the Batek or people of the forest who reside in the pristine jungles of Pahang. These photos, taken by Lye Tuck-Po documented their way of life. Would they want to exchange their way of life for ours, I wonder.

Click on button 'Docs' to view larger pictures.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Malaysia's Foreign Students

It is distressing to read that four students from Botswana died in Malaysia this year, two from car accidents and two from suicide. What led them to commit suicide? It has even prompted a visit from Botswana's Education Minister to meet with his students to find out more.

According to a recent news report, there are about 850 Botswana students studying in the Lim Kok Wing Institute, and that is a huge number, while there are around 7000 African students studying in the various institutions in the country.

Some students who were interviewed said that they were being treated unfairly and some even had to put up with racial slurs on a daily basis.

Malaysians are known for their hospitality and these revelations seem to go against the grain. However, there are occasional reports on fights that broke out between the locals and African students. The trouble is Malaysians lump all students from the African continent as Africans, even though Africa is ethnically diverse.

We live in a condominium which used to be popular with African students studying in various institutions in the vicinity, and residents have often complained about how rowdy and noisy they were particularly late at night. But as I said, it is hard to distinguish which part of Africa they come from. Whatever, it is, these suicide cases have dented the image of our country as an education hub.

Moreover, the nonsensical suggestion by the Director General of the Malaysian Immigration Department that foreign students should be segregated in a special area has not helped the country in its drive to promote its attractiveness to foreign students. An invaluable experience in studying abroad is the wealth of cultural experience that foreign students are exposed to, and to suggest that they be 'quarantined' because they "possess clashing cultures with that of the locals" is ludicrous to say the least.

More should be done by the Ministry of Higher Education to ensure that not only African students, but other foreign students as well, are made to feel at home in Malaysia. Private institutions that have the licence to enrol foreign students should ensure that they adapt to the local conditions, particularly the neighbourhood which they reside in as soon as possible so that the locals do not view them as a 'threat'.

Students from Botswana

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Be Careful When Eating Apples

It has been recently proven that the adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" does keep a person healthy. The skin also provides a good source of anti-oxidant, and fibre to cleanse the intestinal system. But what about the wax used to coat them to keep them fresh? There have been many warnings in email advising consumers to peel off the skin of an apple before biting into it. In fact, one email provided graphic images of 'toxic' wax coating on apples and advise consumers to remove the skin of an apple.


A website has addressed this issue by disputing the danger of consuming wax (which is from Mother Nature) on apples or other fruits:

Are apples and other fruits coated with wax okay to eat? Yes! According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the wax is natural, non-petroleum based, and approved for use on all kinds of foods.

Just-picked produce, including apples, are coated with wax by Mother Nature to help prevent them from drying out and becoming mushy. Before these products are delivered to markets for sale, they are washed and rinsed of dust and chemical residues, but about half of the original wax coating is lost during this cleaning process. As a result, FDA-approved natural wax is added to make sure that produce is protected during transport, storage, and sale, as well as to make them look more appealing and appetizing. Your apples may seem smothered in wax, but about one to two drops of natural wax is all that's added to each apple. Amazingly, one pound of the wax used in this process may actually cover up to 160,000 pieces of fruit.

Wiping and washing produce before eating or cooking it is recommended to help remove dirt, a certain amount of bacteria, and, yes, some of the wax. You can use regular tap water to accomplish this task, or you could even try one of several new fruit and vegetable wash products on the market.

If you are still squeamish about the skin, by all means remove it although it would have robbed you of that all important anti-oxidant and fibre.

The Huashan Tea House.

I was sceptical when I first read an email on the Huashan hiking trail to a tea house on one of its peaks. Those people who attempted the hike were really nuts, I thought. An acrophobic like me would have quaked and peed in my pants. I believed the photos were doctored and no such trail existed. However, I came to the originator of the story which dispelled whatever lingering doubts I have had. The trail, consisting only of steep cliffs with linked chains and plank paths for support, and footholds in the rock surfaces to aid the climb, does not allow room for mistakes which could be fatal. Here are the pictures:

Huashan in the Shanxi Province is located close to the Himalayas. "Shan" means mountain

The start of the hike: a cable car ride to the starting point

Plank path and linked chains to aid hikers

It is definitely a popular activity judging from the number of people hiking

A close up shot of the trail

The faint-hearted would have collapsed with fear from the sheer cliff they have to cling to

Footholds in the rock surface to provide easier scaling of the cliff

A chain linked ladder

Linked chains and footholds

Closing in on the summit

Rock steps leading to the tea house

The tea house

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Funny Singapore

Received an email on Singapore. I have been unable to trace the source of these cartoons. But due to their delightful depiction of Singaporeans, I have decided to take the risk of posting them.

...research has shown that its people
have the worst eyesight in the world.

(Myopic symptoms evident at MRT waiting lines)

...queueing is a national pastime

......schooling is a harrowing experience

(For the parents)

...93% of the population are literate.
The remaining 7% can be found in cinemas:

On public transport:

SINGAPORE IS A PLACE WHERE... unrest is unheard of

(Except where Hello Kitty toys, $1 BreadTalk breads
and free M1 GSM handphones are involved)

Just what is a Singaporean?
How can a Singaporean be defined?
We proudly present the traits.

It's almost a prerequisite for us to be tops in everything.

We don't think twice when donating fat cheques
to disaster victims abroad.
But it's a different story with Flag Days at home.

We may not know each other;
but when disaster strikes our fellow men,
we share their anguish.

The authority says, "Plan early for retirement."
We always plan ahead...

Brought about by the vast variety of grub
in our multi-cultural melting pot.

Well, most of us are, anyway.
Those wayward few face a certain punishment
which is also unique to us...

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Wedding Lunch at Skudai

Last Saturday, I went to a wedding lunch at Restaurant Pekin Sutera Utama, Skudai. It seems that Johor Bahru folks nowadays prefer to hold their wedding receptions at Skudai, which is about 20 minutes' drive from JB town, to get away from the perennial traffic jams and parking problems.

Chinese weddings have become elaborate affairs for those who can afford them. There were more than a hundred tables, which meant more than a thousand guests were invited. It was supposed to start at 1.00 pm, but like all Chinese wedding receptions, it only got moving at about 2.15 pm. Of course guests who came with empty stomachs could make a beeline to the lobby where light refreshments were served, if baked oysters, one of the items served, are considered light. They disappeared as fast as they appeared; only the empty shells littered the small tables.

The lobby of Restaurant Pekin Sutera Utama at Skudai

Posters of the newly weds adorned the lobby and the dining hall

No expense was spared to celebrate the union

Slide shows of the newly weds in their various poses in a studio were presented

The main table

A large poster of the newly weds forms the backdrop

The live band

An arch along the aisle

The bride smiling radiantly

It is a custom now to provide gifts of sweets or cakes to guests

Friends from Muar

Friends from Batu Pahat

The menu

The cold dish

I don't know what this is, but it is delicious

Now, this is special; it's called Hakka seafood pot. The first layer comprises prawns, broccoli topped with shark fin. The second layer contains braised sea cucumber, belly pork and duck legs. The third layer has dried oysters, and Chinese cabbage, dried scallops and black mushrooms

The Hakka seafood plate

Hongkong style steamed fish

Deep fried chicken with prawn crackers

In case you are still hungry, you can have the steamed lotus leaf rice

Lastly the dessert of longans and sea coconut

Longans and sea coconut in syrup