Saturday, 27 September 2008
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
As revealed in table 2, what is significant is that the majority of the people from the various races are united in their objection to detention without trial.
Although the majority of the Malays believe that as the original inhabitants of the country, they should be accorded special rights, a significant percentage felt that all races should be given the same rights (Table 3 below).
How do the Malays feel about the NEP? Only 42% felt that it benefited the ordinary Malays. Four years ago, 60% felt that it benefited them.
The results of the survey seem to indicate a significant shift in Malay perception as to what they want, but the government is still trapped in its old assumptions and the "navel gazing disease" according to Malaysian Insider.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Later we went to the Taman Mega hawker food centre. It was crowded and we had to wait awhile for a table.
Monday, 15 September 2008
- lack of any control group
- the convoluted English in some of the questions
- exclusion of other variables, for example teachers' proficiency, parents' educational level.
He has also dug up a nugget of information pertaining to the background of the university which carried out the study:
UPSI in its previous incarnation as Sultan Idris Teachers’ College
was a hotbed of Malay nationalism. This study is less an academic
research and more political polemic camouflaged as a pseudo-scientific
study to justify its authors’ nationalist bias. Their data and methodology
just do not support their conclusion.
The government will announce its decision after the results of the national Primary school assessment at the end of the year.
Given the intense lobbying by UMNO and other Malay non-government organizations, it is highly improbable that the policy would be continued. Another policy which will suffer a pre-mature death.
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Teresa Kok, a state assembly woman and a senior Selangor state executive councillor was arrested over allegation that she was involved in a petition to ask a mosque to tone down its 'azan' call to Muslims to pray. These allegations were subsequently disputed by mosque officials who stated that the P.A. system failed. Mosque officials have lodged a police report against the former state minister, Mohd Khir Toyo who, in his blog, accused Teresa Kok of inciting racial hatred by petitioning to have the 'azan' call halted. A mosque official said, "I see all of this as slander and an attempt to give rise to prejudice among the various races in Kota Damansara, an act of provocation to divide the community".
For Raja Petra of Malaysia Today, he has long expected that he would be arrested under the ISA, and he was not surprised when he was picked up for his articles that to the government, insult the Malays and Islam.
Those picked up could be detained up to 2 years without trial. The ISA was originally enacted to deal with the communist threat during the British occupation.
Rumours are swirling that there will be more arrests of opposition leaders and activists in the days to come. Meanwhile, Ahmad Ismail, the mamak who started the fracas remains scot-free, not losing sleep over what he has done to the nation's fragile racial harmony.
One hypothesis that seems to take hold in the public consciousness is that the Ahmad Ismail episode and the chain of events that followed are orchestrated to bring about a second Operation Lalang: start a bush fire of racial resentment, and the fire will spread with a will of its own. Invoke the Internal Security Act in the name of national security and public order. The Operation Lalang in 1987 saw the arrest of 106 opposition leaders and activists under the Internal Security Act and the revoking of publishing licences of a few dailies. An interesting hypothesis, the parallels are too obvious to be completely ignored.
Friday, 12 September 2008
Thursday, 11 September 2008
A columnist also commented that the recent absurd advertorial must have dealt a terribly embarassing blow to Her Royal Highness. He described the blooper as "a howling shame". To add insult to injury, the institution is named after the third prime minister of the country, the father of the present Minister of Education. How's that for a double whammy? Undoubtedly, the advertorial was picked up by foreign readers and institutions on the net, and by those who are considering studying in our tertiary institutions. I shudder to think what must have crossed their minds when they read it.
Many have argued that improving the command of the language should be done by increasing the number of periods alloted to the teaching of English and not by learning it through Maths and Science. As it is, the teaching timetable is already heavily loaded, and increasing it for English would be at the expense of other subjects.
The long term objective of the policy however, is not only to expose students to the use of English for communication, but also English as a language of Maths and Science as the primary objective. But "Malay nationalists" as one parent wrote, have vehemently opposed the move as one that downgrades the importance of Bahasa Melayu as the primary language of instruction. Further, the present government under tremendous political pressure would most likely bend to the populist demand to revert to Bahasa Melayu just to appease both the Malay heartland and the vernacular educationists. As Pragmatic Revelations commented on my earlier post, when political expediency becomes the over riding concern, the educational system becomes a political football.
We do not need to go very far back to know how a switch in the medium of instruction could lead to either success or failure. The early 80's saw a switch in the medium of instruction from English to Bahasa Melayu. Teachers, who in the past received their education in the English medium were provided with only bilingual textbooks to teach and they did a remarkably successful job for the simple reason that they somehow had to be a role model to their charges and they worked hard to fulfil the role of a committed teacher, even though initially handicapped by a weak command of the language.
What has happened to that commitment, the drive to do a good job, to provide the best education for their charges? It is this commitment to do a good job that is sadly lacking in the teaching profession. Moreover, how many teachers are really proficient in English to explain mathematical and scientific concepts properly? Was the crash course they had undergone sufficient to equip them to teach effectively? It is not as though these teachers do not know English. They have studied the language for at least 11 years, so they are not exactly strangers to the language. I have seen how admirably quick the American Peace Corp Volunteers picked up Bahasa Melayu after one month of study and to this day, some if not several could still speak and write the language. Once my American friend, Nancy wrote to me in Bahasa Melayu and she acquitted herself remarkably after a lapse of so many years. I believe that behind their success is their spirit unfettered by prejudice, their desire to learn and their love for things unfamiliar and wonderful. And above all, their willingness to serve and contribute.
Below is what she has written to me:
Kepada sahabat2 yang jauh, Lee Chang Ngee dan Ng Yew Moi, dengan
Students are no fools; they can spot a phony a mile away. I contend that the failure of the policy lies squarely on the shoulders of teachers who accepted the change with lukewarm enthusiasm and taught with even less enthusiasm.
(Pic from BBC News/Asia Pacific)
for NZ airline
New Zealand's national airline is looking for bald passengers to head up a new advertising campaign.
The carrier said it wanted 50 passengers to be "cranial billboards" and publicise a new check-in service on their heads.
The fliers will be offered money to have their pates temporarily tattooed with the message.
The airline said it would pay NZ$1,000 (£380; $666) per head, making it easy money for bald frequent fliers.The airline's marketing manager Steve Bayliss said in a statement: "How better to tell our customers that Air New Zealand is going to do something about [long check-in queues]... than through messaging they can read while they're standing in a queue themselves?"
- he is the Executive Chairman of Peninsular Metroworks Sdn Bhd (with a paid up capital of only RM 50,000), which was given the RM 1.02 billion Penang Outer Ring Road concession, but the project was recently put on hold by the federal government
- he is the Director of Nadi Senandung Sdn Bhd (a hundred ringgit shell company) which holds a 55% stake in the above company
- he was declared a bankrupt in May 2006
- a police report was recently lodged by the Penang Development Corporation against him as a Director of the now defunct Popular Profile Sdn Bhd for not returning RM 500,000 belonging to the the state.
So much for the champion of the Malays.
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
What was it like to be detained for 11 months? Someone should interview her and write an account of her experience on her behalf. She might become the next celebrity after Ahmad Ismail, the hero or racist, depending on what colour your skin is.
That reminds me of a time long past, but indelible from the memory: the May 13 incident in 1969. Tun Dr Ismail was the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister during the state of emergency. Immediately after calm was restored in the country, the cinemas, at least those in Batu Pahat, were flooded with pornographic movies, not the triple X of course, but those soft porn that would lull people into forgetfulness of the dreadful consequences of the May 13 incident. It was a time when people of all races flooded the cinemas. I can't remember how long the cinemas ran these movies; a week? two weeks? But they were removed soon after. Was it a conscious design on the part of the government at that time? Or did the cinemas take advantage of the situation to profit from it? No one will ever know. As Karl Marx said, religion is the opiate of the masses, but in this case, could it be sex is the opiate of the masses in turbulent times?
Monday, 8 September 2008
But hidden behind this facade of a prosperous township, are the poverty-stricken, illiterate people in remote villages around Kota Marudu. Dr. Hams' account has revealed the reality of a Sabah that many, particularly those from Peninsular Malaysia, do not know, or choose not to know. His account is disturbing: a poor pregnant mother from a remote area of Kota Marudu, in her final stage of pregnancy, had to make a long trip to Kota Marudu to seek medical attention. According to the doctor, it cost the mother RM 50, the equivalent of her husband's one month's wage, to get to town. Some remote areas are even inaccessible, especially during the rainy season. And we in Peninsular Malaysia have beautiful roads serving remote and sparsely populated kampungs where teenagers ride on motor-cycles without road tax or licence, and needless to say, without lights on well lit roads. And poly-clinics to take care of their basic medical problems. No wonder the Sabahans have felt that they have been neglected all these years.
And to think that our government has spent RM 2.37 billion on Malaysian National Service since its inception in 2004. 2.37 billion and what do we have to show for it? Several deaths in the camps? How many kilometres of roads can we build in Sabah? How many poly-clinics? How many mothers can be educated on child-care and basic hygiene so that kids can grow up strong and healthy? How many kids can we educate in these remote areas? Or for that matter, how many street urchins can we help? The list is long, but as Confucius said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.