December 11th, 2013

Mempersiapkan jentera parti mempertahankan 'simpanan tetap'

PERHIMPUNAN Agung UMNO berakhir dengan membawa mesej jelas untuk dilaksanakan anggota parti di setiap peringkat. Dengan tekad meneruskan agenda transformasi politiknya, sudah pasti perhimpunan yang diadakan selepas Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13 (PRU13) akan memperbaharui tekad untuk memperbaiki kedudukan parti pada PRU akan datang. Sebagai catatan, UMNO memenangi 88 daripada keseluruhan 133 kerusi Parlimen yang dimenangi Barisan Nasional (BN) berbanding 79 pada 2008. Ini satu peningkatan kejayaan hasil sokongan orang Melayu dan Bumiputera, khususnya di luar bandar termasuk Sabah dan Sarawak. Maka memang wajar, penegasan terhadap Agenda Pemerkasaan Ekonomi Bumiputera dijadikan agenda nasional dan mesti dilaksanakan bersungguh-sungguh oleh syarikat berkaitan kerajaan (GLC). Agenda yang bertujuan memperkasakan ekonomi orang Melayu dan Bumiputera itu, sewajibnya menjadi agenda teras nasional berdasarkan kedudukan sebagai kaum majoriti.

Sebagai catatan, jumlah rakyat Malaysia pada 2013 menunjukkan orang Melayu dan Bumiputera berjumlah 18.6 juta atau 67.9 peratus, Cina 6.6 juta (24 peratus), India dua juta (7.2 peratus) manakala lain-lain kaum 259,000 yang mewakili 0.9 peratus.

Kembali kepada Perhimpunan Agung UMNO 2013 baru-baru ini, adakah segala ucapan, kenyataan, pandangan serta kritikan yang dibangkitkan sepanjang perhimpunan itu akan menjadi pegangan anggota parti untuk memperbaharui tekad perjuangan mereka terutama menjelang PRU14? Atau adakah ia akan menjadi seperti masuk telinga kanan, keluar telinga kiri atau seperti mencurah air ke daun keladi?

Seperti kata Najib Tun Razak sebelum mengakhiri ucapan dasarnya pada Perhimpunan Agung UMNO, Khamis lalu: ‘‘Kita tidak berhimpun untuk bersuka-suka. Jangan sesekali kita lupa, di perhimpunan-perhimpunan Agung UMNO inilah agenda-agenda umat Melayu dan Bumiputera dijulang. Di sinilah UiTM dimartabatkan, di sinilah nasib penjawat awam dibela, di sini Raja-Raja Melayu terus dipermuliakan, di sinilah institusi-institusi Melayu dan Bumiputera diperjuangkan.’’

Sama ada kehadiran anggota UMNO di Pusat Dagangan Dunia Putra (PWTC) sebagai perwakilan, pemerhati atau sekadar anggota biasa yang setia kepada parti, setiap daripada mereka perlu membawa pulang tekad untuk terus mempertahankan UMNO dan Barisan Nasional (BN) dalam menghadapi PRU akan datang. Jangan semangat yang berkobar-kobar di sekitar PWTC terutama ketika di Dewan Merdeka hilang begitu sahaja selepas meninggalkan Kuala Lumpur. Semangat dan iltizam di PWTC perlu dibawa pulang bersama-sama mereka yang datang dari Arau hingga Semporna.

Ingatlah bahawa perjalanan untuk menuju PRU14 sebenarnya bukanlah satu tempoh yang terlalu panjang. Apakah UMNO khususnya sudah bersedia menghadapi PRU akan datang? Kejayaan pada PRU13 tidak boleh meletakkan UMNO/BN dalam keadaan selesa. Masih ada ruang yang perlu diperbaiki walaupun BN berjaya mendapatkan Kedah dan memperbaiki kedudukan di Perak. Tetapi apa pula nasib Pulau Pinang, Selangor serta Kelantan? Seluruh anggota UMNO perlu mempunyai cita-cita untuk mencatatkan kejayaan yang lebih baik.

Bagi parti pembangkang, komitmen mereka tidak pernah padam. Mereka sentiasa bekerja keras untuk memastikan matlamat menawan Putrajaya menjadi kenyataan. Begitu juga dengan sasaran mengekalkan penguasaan di Pulau Pinang dan Selangor. DAP misalnya tidak pernah berputus asa untuk terus mengejar impian menjadi pemerintah bersama rakan-rakannya dalam pakatan pembangkang iaitu Pas dan PKR. Harus diingat, komitmen DAP untuk menguasai sesebuah negeri seterusnya Malaysia tidak pernah padam. Selak kembali kesungguhan Lim Kit Siang untuk menawan Pulau Pinang melalui Projek Tanjong ketika beliau menjadi Setiausaha Agung DAP. Walaupun Kit Siang pernah kecewa dalam era perjuangannya tetapi matlamat menawan Pulau Pinang menjadi kenyataan pada PRU 2008 seterusnya mengekalkan penguasaan pada PRU lalu. DAP juga berjaya merobek negeri yang selama ini menjadi ‘simpanan tetap’ BN pada PRU lalu iaitu di Johor dan Sarawak dengan peningkatan undi dan kerusi. Cuma Sabah masih belum mampu digugat oleh pakatan pembangkang.

Tetapi pembangkang tidak akan berdiam diri untuk terus cuba ‘memeluk atau mendakap’ kemenangan di Sabah dan Sarawak yang berjaya menyumbang kerusi Parlimen yang banyak kepada BN (Sarawak 25, Sabah 22) pada PRU lalu. Sebagai membalas sumbangan itu, Kabinet melantik tujuh menteri dan empat timbalan menteri dari Sarawak dan enam menteri dan empat timbalan menteri dari Sabah. DAP sudah pun menyusun langkah untuk mengurangkan ‘simpanan tetap’ ini. Adakah BN di Sabah dan Sarawak bersedia menghadapi pakatan pembangkang khususnya DAP?

Tentunya UMNO Sabah yang menyumbangkan 11 kerusi Parlimen tidak boleh memandang ringan kesungguhan DAP bersama rakan-rakannya itu. Johor yang pernah mendapat jolokan tiang seri UMNO atau jantung BN juga mula digugat pembangkang. Adakah pada PRU akan datang, giliran Sabah pula menjadi ‘mangsa’? Beberapa fakta menarik mengenai ‘kekuatan’ Sabah harus diberi perhatian. Daripada jumlah ahli berdaftar seramai 3,430,750 di 21,208 cawangan, Sabah mencatatkan keahlian seramai 518,773 orang. Bahagian Silam pula mencatat jumlah ahli tertinggi iaitu seramai 49,880 orang. Sabah juga memegang rekod keahlian teramai iaitu 1,855 orang di cawangan Kampung Tinosa Jaya, Libaran.

Begitulah kehebatan UMNO di Sabah. Namun UMNO Sabah dan di seluruh negara tidak boleh alpa dan lalai dengan ‘cerita kejayaan semalam’. Begitu juga dengan cerita wakil rakyat DAP dan PKR meninggalkan parti berkenaan serta pembubaran cabang PKR di negeri itu. UMNO perlu mempersiap dan mengukuhkan parti. Seperti kata Najib, UMNO harus memperkukuh kuda-kuda dan memperkemas kisi-kisi, untuk menonggak BN dan negara supaya bukan sahaja boleh terus mentadbir lima tahun akan datang malahan bagi tempoh 50 hingga 100 tahun akan datang. Bagi mencapai matlamat itu, masih banyak yang perlu dilakukan oleh BN khususnya UMNO.

Kata Najib : ‘‘Kita tidak akan sekali-kali duduk berpeluk tubuh dan lemah bersimpuh, sebaliknya di perhimpunan ini kita akan memperbaharui tekad dan menggagas semula formula kejayaan berteraskan lima pengisian transformasi,’’.

UMNO Sabah dalam reaksi terhadap ucapan dasar Najib menyambut baik amanat itu. Seperti kenyataan Penolong Setiausaha UMNO Sabah, Masidi Manjun, segala nasihat dan saranan Najib perlu dilaksana dalam usaha mengharungi transformasi politik. Baginya, amanat itu wajar dijadikan pedoman dan panduan kepada seluruh ahli UMNO bagi menghadapi PRU akan datang. Penting juga bagi parti komponen BN di Sabah yang turut menyumbang kemenangan. Mereka harus sama memperkukuhkan kedudukan terutama di kawasan yang dimenangi dengan majoriti kecil.

Apa yang lebih penting ialah semangat perpaduan dalam kalangan anggota parti yang sudah mengharungi pemilihan baru-baru ini. Mereka harus melupakan segala perselisihan faham selepas pemilihan. Seperti kata Najib dalam bahasa Iban: Utai Besai Gaga’miet yang membawa maksud, jika kita bersatu padu, hidup saling berganding-ganding, tiada masalah yang tidak dapat diselesaikan.



Hasssan Mohd. Noor Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 20131209

PKM tekad musnahkan ekonomi Tanah Melayu

RAMAI lebih mengenali Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin, Shamsiah Fakeh sebagai pemimpin pengganas Parti Komunis Malaya (PKM). Hanya yang pernah hidup di zaman Darurat atau membaca buku sejarah zaman Darurat, nama Chong Chor atau Cheung Thian Thye dikenali sebagai antara ketua pengganas PKM paling kejam dan licik mengelak diri daripada kepungan pihak berkuasa.


Chong Chor mengetuai Unit Penggempur Kelima PKM di Perak dan kemudiannya, Keenam PKM di Pahang, Selangor dan Negeri Sembilan. Pasukan komando khas polis VAT 69 menjadikan Chong Chor sebagai sasaran utama paling dikehendaki dalam misi pemburuan mereka.


Ikuti pendedahan eksklusif Utusan Malaysia mengenai Chong Chor, ketua pengganas komunis paling kejam yang dipetik daripada dokumen rahsia kerajaan yang tidak pernah disiarkan selama ini. - PENGARANG


KEKEJAMAN Parti Komunis Malaya (PKM) amat ketara apabila mereka sanggup melakukan apa sahaja termasuk mengubah pendekatan dan melancarkan taktik keganasan bagi melumpuhkan ekonomi Tanah Melayu.

PKM akan berusaha habis-habisan menerusi kempen keganasan dan tindakan sabotaj mereka dengan satu tujuan iaitu memusnahkan ekonomi negara sebanyak mungkin dan melumpuhkan sistem perhubungan yang sedia ada.

Sebulan selepas Pentadbiran Tentera British (BMA) mengisytiharkan darurat, pasukan Batalion Ketiga PKM terpaksa berundur dari Batu 11, Jalan Air Kuning, Kampar di Perak pada Julai 1948 akibat serangan pasukan keselamatan.

Ketua Unit Penggempur (Assault Unit) yang dikehendaki pihak berkuasa, Cheung Thian Thye atau lebih dikenali sebagai Chong Chor menjadikan pengunduran itu sebagai alasan untuk beliau menghadiri mesyuarat bersama Setiausaha Agung PKM Chin Peng.

Berdasarkan fail sulit, Chong Chor mengaku bahawa dalam mesyuarat yang diadakan bersama Chin Peng dan lima pegawai kanan PKM negeri Perak pada 15 Ogos 1948, mereka cuba mengkaji kelemahan pada pasukan keselamatan.

Sewaktu mengadakan mesyuarat itu di sebuah rumah setinggan, mereka diserang hendap pasukan keselamatan namun sempat melarikan diri ke Bidor, di kawasan pinggir hutan yang dikenali sebagai ‘Tai Peng Pa’.

Di lokasi baru itu, PKM meneruskan perbincangan mereka antara lain merancang memindahkan ibu pejabat pentadbiran pasukan PKM ke Cameron Highlands.

Selain itu Chong Chor turut diarahkan oleh Chin Peng supaya terus kekal di kawasan selatan Perak dan meneruskan usaha kempen dan kerja-kerja sabotaj bagi mewujudkan masalah kepada ekonomi dan sistem perhubungan di Tanah Melayu.

Chong Chor dipetik sebagai berkata, “Selepas mesyuarat itu saya mengarahkan semua anggota Batalion Ketiga berpecah kepada kumpulan kecil dan melakukan kerja-kerja ‘Min Yuen’."

Min Yuen adalah kegiatan propaganda PKM melalui memberi maklumat dan mendapatkan bekalan makanan serta ubat-ubatan untuk komunis.

Antara misi yang dilakukan oleh gerakan ini adalah kempen keganasan terhadap golongan ‘atas pagar’ dan kekejaman ke atas pemberi maklumat kepada pasukan keselamatan.

Kumpulan Min Yuen ini juga menyasarkan usaha melumpuhkan ekonomi negara melalui penyebaran khabar angin, sabotaj terhadap landasan kereta api, perhubungan telefon, jambatan dan apa sahaja kemudahan yang disediakan oleh kerajaan.

Mereka juga bergerak memusnahkan berekar-ekar kebun getah milik warga Eropah atau penduduk yang menjadi ejen kerajaan, begitu juga peralatan lombong-lombong bijih timah.

Antara bukti kekejaman PKM yang dilakukan oleh kumpulan pimpinan Chong Chor ialah menyerang sebuah lombong bijih timah dan membunuh pemiliknya warga Australia pada 12 Ogos 1948, seminggu selepas membunuh pemilik lombong warga Eropah di Chemor.

Aktiviti gerila PKM di Perak sahaja dikatakan telah mengakibatkan kematian 14 daripada 24 pengusaha lombong dan pemilik ladang Eropah dalam tempoh enam bulan.

PKM juga berusaha menggagalkan program pendaftaran penduduk yang dimulakan pada bulan September 1948. Mereka bimbang sistem ini akan menghalang operasi gerakan Min Yuen dalam kalangan penduduk selain menyerlahkan penyokong mereka.



Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 20131210

Rancangan Briggs terencatkan Parti Komunis Malaya

PADA Jun 1950, kerajaan British di Tanah Melayu memperkenalkan 'Rancangan Briggs' dalam usaha menyekat pengganas komunis daripada mendapat bekalan makanan, penyokong, maklumat dan menyebar luas fahaman komunisme. Diilhamkan oleh bekas Komander Divisyen Ke-14 di Myanmar, Sir Harold Briggs yang kemudiannya dilantik sebagai Pengarah Operasi menentang komunis di Tanah Melayu.

Menurut fail sulit mengenai ketua unit penggempur (assault unit) komunis yang sangat dikehendaki pihak berkuasa, Cheung Thian Thye atau lebih dikenali sebagai Chong Chor , Rancangan Briggs itu memberi kesan ketara daripada segi logistik PKM.

"Keadaan itu mengakibatkan kami kehilangan penguasaan ke atas penduduk pedalaman. Tanpa bekalan makanan mencukupi dan logistik, pasukan kami dipaksa mengurangkan lagi saiz keanggotaan unit.

"Unit kami tidak ada pilihan tetapi berundur jauh ke hutan belantara untuk mendapat bekalan makanan daripada Orang Asli dan bercucuk tanam sendiri," kata Chong Chor.

Rancangan Briggs itu juga memaksa pucuk pimpinan PKM mengeluarkan arahan baharu mengenai taktik operasi pada 1 Oktober 1951. Dasar baharu tersebut merubah taktik daripada perang terbuka keganasan-sabotaj kepada gerakan lebih terkawal dalam usaha meraih sokongan penduduk Tanah Melayu.

Anggota-anggota komunis diberi peringatan bahawa tugas utama mereka ialah meluas dan menggembleng sokongan, sekali gus mengetepikan matlamat ketenteraan asal PKM untuk menghapuskan musuh iaitu pasukan keselamatan. Tindakan keganasan, menakut-nakutkan dan pembunuhan bukan lagi strategi PKM.

Arahan baharu PKM itu ialah berhenti daripada merampas kad pengenalan dan kad catuan; membakar kampung, menyerang pejabat pos, kolam takungan, stesen jana kuasa dan sebagainya, mensabotaj landasan kereta api dengan letupan, membakar bangunan keagamaan dan lain-lain.

Menurut Chong Chor dalam fail sulit tersebut, pucuk pimpinan PKM mengerti masih wujud keperluan untuk meneruskan kegiatan bersenjata demi meningkatkan semangat anggota komunis. Namun, PKM menggariskan bahawa keutamaan diberikan kepada usaha penyusunan semula organisasi dan mengamalkan dasar 'menahan diri' bagi memenuhi perubahan keadaan semasa.

"Sama ada sesebuah unit perlu meneruskan pertarungan atau berundur untuk mengumpul semula anggota-anggota, haruslah bergantung kepada keadaan semasa," kata Chong Chor.

Berikutan keberkesanan Rancangan Briggs dan tindakan menggempur komunis yang cekap oleh pasukan keselamatan, anggota komunis diarahkan supaya menanam sendiri sayur-sayuran dan berbaik dengan Orang Asli untuk mendapatkan bekalan makanan.

"Namun unit-unit kecil akan tetap digunakan dalam misi-misi terhad ke atas pasukan keselamatan dan juga mendapatkan bekalan," ujarnya.

Pada Julai 1953, Setiausaha Agung PKM, Chin Peng meninggalkan kawasan persembunyiannya di hutan belantara Pahang menuju ke selatan Thailand, melalui Kelantan.

Chong Chor merumuskan pengunduran Chin Peng tersebut adalah petunjuk jelas bahawa peperangan terbuka PKM sejak 1948 telah menemui kekalahan.

Apa sahaja rancangan atau plot yang dilaksanakan oleh PKM, telah berjaya dikesan oleh pasukan keselamatan menerusi rondaan hutan dan juga pemantauan daripada udara. Kaedah menanam sendiri sayuran tidak mencukupi, kerana ketiadaan barangan keperluan lain seperti garam, minyak masak, pakaian, kasut, ubat, duit dan logistik lain.

Berdepan dengan tekanan yang hebat daripada pasukan keselamatan dan kekalahan teruk, PKM tidak ada pilihan selain terpaksa membuat persediaan untuk berundur ke selatan Thailand. Sebenarnya, seawal 1951, ramai pegawai kanan PKM telah dihantar ke Betong, selatan Thailand untuk membina kem.



Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 20131211

Was-was walaupun sangat percaya pada seseorang

KES penipuan semakin menjadi-menjadi dan berlaku kepada sesiapa sahaja. Setiap hari, kita disajikan dengan berita-berita yang melibatkan penipuan dengan pelbagai cara. Terkejut juga dengan kes-kes yang kita rasa tidak logik tetapi bermula daripada percayalah maka semuanya lesap sekelip mata.

Sindiket penipuan berlaku dalam mencari pekerjaan, pemerdagangan manusia, pelacuran, dadah dan juga di internet.

Sejak kebelakangan ini yang ketara berlaku ialah berkaitan dengan pelaburan. Siapa yang tidak mahu melabur dan mengaut keuntungan berlipat ganda? Semua orang memikirkan hendak cepat senang dan bertambah mewah.

'Yang dikejar tak dapat, yang dikendong pula berciciran', menimpa nasib seorang Datuk yang ditipu RM500,000 dengan dijanjikan pulangan RM200 juta terkandas di Amsterdam apabila lelaki yang baharu dikenalinya telah menghilangkan diri.

Kalau difikirkan, Datuk berkenaan yakin dalam pelaburan ini kerana kenal lelaki itu melalui rakannya. Semestinya selamat, tidak ragu tetapi masalahnya di dunia hari ini, wang akan mengaburi hati nurani manusia.

Satu lagi kes, kerana percaya kepada kawan sejak dari bangku sekolah yang bergelar Datuk, seorang warga emas kerugian hampir RM500,000 akibat ditipu selepas geran tanah miliknya ditukar milik tanpa pengetahuannya.

Keyakinan beliau untuk meminta bantuan rakannya membantu memecah lot tanah kepada anak-anaknya akhirnya penama milikan tanah telah ditukar milik sendiri tanpa persetujuannya.

Dikaitkan tentang kepercayaan dalam pembahagian harta dalam sebuah drama bersiri Hong Kong bertajuk Will Power yang baharu habis siarannya berkisar tentang kuasa undang-undang dan peranan peguam yang menjaga wasiat dan perlu menyimpan seribu rahsia yang diamanahkan kepadanya.

Di akhir cerita, salah seorang peguam yang menyatakan mengapa perlu rebut harta. Bukankah lebih baik hati nurani didepankan. Bukankah saling percaya lebih baik kerana yang paling penting, "Kita adalah satu keluarga"?

Semuanya telah dirancang awal kerana yang hendak menipu tetap ada niatnya. Kasihan pula memikirkan nasib lebih 30 warga emas dan ibu tunggal yang tinggal di kawasan pedalaman dipercayai ditipu seorang lelaki yang menyamar ada kuasa politik dan meminta bayaran RM50 yang dijanjikan mendapat rawatan percuma.

Kes penipuan di internet sering berlaku kebelakangan ini. Menurut Ketua Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah Komersial (JSJK) Selangor ACP Chong Mun Phing, kes penipuan perbankan dalam talian di Selangor meningkat apabila 173 kes dicatatkan sejak awal tahun ini. Pengguna dan pemegang akaun bank online dinasihatkan berhati-hati dengan penjenayah siber.

Kita tahu kes penipuan tidak dapat diselesaikan apabila melibatkan transaksi yang sukar dikesan. Banyak kes sindiket penipuan yang turut melibatkan pukau apabila kita tidak sedar melakukan segala proses pemindahan wang. Apa yang dikesalkan ialah banyak kes penipuan yang terlepas begitu sahaja.

Sebenarnya, kita acap kali dengar dan baca tentang kes-kes penipuan namun, mengapa masih lagi berlaku kes penipuan setiap hari. Adakah kita juga harus menyalahkan diri sendiri apabila kita terlalu percaya, baik hati dan lurus dalam menangani situasi apabila ditawarkan hadiah menarik dan lumayan.

Adakah kita mula bersifat tamak apabila dijanjikan wang berlipat berganda yang akhirnya menjerat diri kita sendiri? Saya merasakan, kita perlu ada perasaan was-was dalam setiap tindakan yang akan dilakukan walaupun kita sangat percaya seseorang dan ada kalanya katakan "tidak" adalah lebih baik. Ini kerana luka ditipu orang yang paling kita percayai adalah luka parah yang tidak akan sembuh selamanya.

Kepercayaan sesama insan makin luntur kerana bukan sahaja kes penipuan berlaku di alam maya oleh orang tidak dikenali hinggalah kepada orang yang kita kenal rapat pun sanggup menipu dan menikam dari belakang.

Kawan yang dikenali menipu kita, tidak termasuk kalau kita bercakap tentang yang mempunyai tali persaudaraan. Adik beradik pun sanggup menipu sesama mereka kerana wang dan kuasa.

Adakah semua itu penting untuk menjamin kebahagiaan jika wang diperoleh dari jalan yang salah dan tidak berkat. Persoalannya, sampai bila orang yang hobinya menipu akan terlepas. Di dunia mungkin terlepas tetapi tidak di akhirat. Fikir-fikirkan. Salam 1Hati.


DR. JESSICA ONG HAI LIAW ialah Timbalan Pengarah Pusat Penerbitan dan Pensyarah Kanan, Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia. Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 20131211

Poor and ignorant

Most low-income parents do not know about the Malaysia Education Blueprint and they think teachers know best.

TUESDAY, Nov 26, 2013 was another milestone in the development of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas). The inaugural Ideas Council meeting took place on that day.

When I presented our plans for the next three years to the council, it felt like I was presenting to the who’s who in Malaysia.

Our council is now chaired by Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah, former Chief Justice of Malaysia. The members include Tan Sri Munir Majid, Tan Sri Michael Yeoh, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, Datuk Dr R. Thillainathan, Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, Datuk Omar Mustapha, Datuk Dr Anthony Cooper, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Dr Ong Kian Ming and Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

I am really grateful to have these luminaries scrutinise our plans. It is easy to drift away in a bubble, thinking that we are doing what is needed and important. But when you listen to these individuals scrutinise your plans, you quickly realise that you must always have your feet firmly set on the ground.

One of the issues raised was the need to give a better definition of what we are about. Many people know us for the more political elements of our work, but the research side, particularly our research initiatives in education reform and good governance, is not that well known.

In actual fact, as an organisation we spend most of our money and time on research work. Our biggest study at the moment is in the field of education, particularly to identify and help address the challenges faced by the bottom 40% when they send their children to schools.

The study has been ongoing for months, and it has so far cost us about RM400,000. We have interviewed almost 1,300 people from 10 states, all from low-income households.

This is probably the first time ever such a survey has been conducted on the bottom 40%, and the findings are indicative of what the poor in the country are experiencing.

Before I explain some of our findings, let us firstly take a quick look at the recently released results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which is a benchmark used by many countries to measure the performance of their school system.

Based on the Pisa results, Malaysia was placed at number 52 out of 65 countries. We are very close to the bottom of the pile. No wonder the Government has been rather quiet about it.

If we look at the results, they show that we have improved a little bit in Maths, and we showed not much change in Science. But we have deteriorated in Reading. Clearly there is a need to improve significantly and quickly in literacy.

The Government has stated that by implementing the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, it is confident that Malaysia can rise from the bottom third to the top third of international assessments like Pisa (the other assessment used is TIMMS).

Can that be achieved? Let us look at some key findings from our study. We are still going through the rich data sets but two key statistics are very telling.

Firstly, the vast majority of parents from the bottom 40% are not even aware of the Malaysia Education Blueprint. Ninety per cent of them say they do not even know what it is. This astonishing figure casts doubt on the Government’s claim that it has properly consulted the public when preparing the blueprint.

Obviously, there was failure in engaging the group that needs help the most, i.e. the bottom 40%.

In fact, while the public consultation was still taking place, we released our May 2013 Policy Ideas briefing paper. In that short paper, we stated that the crowd that attended the National Dialogue sessions comprised only a very narrow section of society, i.e. teachers and PIBG representatives.

This means the findings from the dialogue series would be heavily skewed towards the opinions of these two groups, and cannot be seen as representative of society as a whole.

Now our national survey of the bottom 40% confirmed our fears. The bottom 40% do not even know about the new Education Blueprint. If they were ignored when formulating the policy, how can we actually expect the policy to help them?

Secondly, 67% of our sample seem to rely completely on schools to educate their children. They are not even interested to communicate more regularly with their children’s teachers. Out of this, 87% say they trust that teachers know better about how to educate their children.

Perhaps not many may not realise how problematic this is. To me this is a major concern. Education is ultimately a parental responsibility and this responsibility should not be passed to someone else, even teachers. Worryingly, our study implies that most parents are ignoring this key responsibility, assuming instead that by sending their children to school, they have fulfilled their responsibility to educate.

Let me put this in context by quoting directly from the blueprint.

The blueprint states: “A 2011 research by AKEPT found that only 50% of lessons are being delivered in an effective manner. This means that the lessons did not sufficiently engage students, and followed a more passive, lecture format of content delivery. These lessons focused on achieving surface-level content understanding, instead of higher-order thinking skills. This statistic is particularly challenging as an estimated 60% of today’s teachers will still be teaching in 20 years’ time.”

In other words, while 67% of parents in the bottom 40% believe that teachers know best, in reality not more than 50% of the teachers are effective. If parents do not reclaim the responsibility, more children will be left out.

We will be releasing more data in the new year and we would be most happy to brief interested stakeholders, too. In the meantime, I urge the Government to pay particular attention to the educational needs of the poor if we really want to make Malaysia an inclusive developed nation by 2020 that is placed in the top third of international education benchmarks.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (www.ideas.org.my). The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. The STAR Online Home News Opinion Columnist 10/12/2013

I am a dreamer

If we stop thinking of alternative worlds, we may stop progressing.

I AM a dreamer: always have been and always will be.

When I was a small boy, my uncles would criticise the amount of time I spent doodling and dreaming up imaginary countries and worlds.

People would think I was wasting time and being idle, but now ­– as I look back – it was the dreaming that fuelled my desire to travel, to write and become a storyteller.

Dreaming is an immensely important business. Dreaming conjures up alternative worlds even if all too often there’s little that’s concrete emerging from the “dreaming”.

Nonetheless, dreaming in its simplest form is about displacement, about wanting to be elsewhere, to be away from your current surroundings.

When times are bad, dreaming is one of the few ways that we sustain ourselves through periods of sadness, loneliness and indeed misery.

When I was a small boy living in a damp, gloomy England I’d dream of home – dream of a place where the sun shone after 4pm, where the food tasted of something and the people were open-hearted, if quick to criticise.

Dreams then are like a balm – soothing the homesickness of a young boy and the misery of those striving to survive.

But it’s when dreams are converted into action that they take on a more productive, more constructive role, as we force ourselves to transform either ourselves or the world around us. Then “dreams” become an important agent for change, something that spurs us on to achieve more.

Of course, for us to be able to make that change we need to be in an environment that allows for some degree of stability and security. It’s hard to overcome your present situation if you’re in the midst of a war-zone, a Syria or a Somalia.

Why am I talking about dreams? Well, the capacity to dream and imagine another kind of future propels societies forward.

For example, while we may not have agreed with his methods, we have to acknowledge that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a man with a dream and the will to put things into effect.

However, if we stop dreaming we stop progressing.

Stop dreaming and we’ll stagnate, both as individuals and as communities. There’s a real danger that Malaysia is now in some kind of unmoving stasis.

I’m always looking for new challenges. Always stretching myself to the breaking point.

I can still remember that one summer – and this was over twenty-seven years ago – when I realised that the Philippines was in the midst of a dramatic and historic change-of-power. Gathering together whatever cash I had, I splurged on a ticket to Manila and spent two weeks following the Peoples’ Power Revolution of 1986.

I was a young ciku, but I managed to cajole my way into the maelstrom of events.

I can still remember the excitement of Luisita Park, the scene of some of Corazon Aquino’s largest rallies, not to mention the haunting spectre of Imelda Marcos’ Cultural Centre of the Philippines and the many hours I spent waiting patiently to meet editors and interview subjects – always remembering the overall aim.

Dream and you can make it happen.

Of course, you need to constantly work at it, honing your skills. This takes enormous amounts of time. Nothing comes easy.

In this respect, I’m a big supporter of the writer Malcolm Gladwell’s “ten thousand hour rule” where he argues that you’ve got to spend at least ten thousand hours (or forty hours per week over five years) before you’ll be good at something.

But to return to my situation, I soon realised that others (and not just my regular column-readers) wanted to hear about my travels and then meet the same people I’d been writing about.

It was this storytelling across borders that led to my little consulting business.

In a way, I’ve also been immensely lucky.

There will always be more stories so I’ll be busy for as long as I have an audience: travelling, listening and dreaming.

I just hope that we as a nation will have the same spirit of inquiry, ambition and energy to chart our future more boldly.

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own

KARIM RASLAN The STAR Online Home News Opinion Columnist 10/12/2013

Treasuring national treasures

There’s a lesson from a family who gave their art collection to the public to make sure it is well preserved.

I AM writing this in London.

This sounds a lot more glamorous than it is. Firstly, I am in Walthamstow Central, at the very end of the Victoria tube line and hardly Belgravia. Secondly I am crashing at my mate’s bedsit; warm, dry and most cosy, but hardly the Dorchester.

Finally, I am not here on my own steam. My paltry lecturer’s pay does not emit much steam.

I am only here because of work. I was in Belfast to attend and present a paper at a human rights workshop.

While I was there, a colleague at the workshop kindly offered to drive me around the city. He took me to areas which were very much divided by the Troubles. Areas most clearly defined as Catholic and Protestant, Republican and Unionist.

Despite the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 which brought peace to an area beset by decades of violence, there still existed physical reminders of a troubled past.

Ugly walls made of brick and metal separated huge swathes of the city and up till today, public roads are closed by gates upon nightfall. But even in the sad divisions of this society, the expression of said divide was oft times expressed in beautiful murals.

Although there lies an underlying sadness when viewing these public works of art, celebrating and confirming as they do a sharp and violent societal cleavage, one can’t help but be taken aback by their artistry.

And there is also a glimmer of hope when one sees newer murals that embrace values such as human rights; murals that quite pointedly have replaced earlier works which conversely glorify and encourage sectarianism.

I am not in any way some sort of culture vulture. Being as uneducated as I am in the fine arts, I can out-philistine most anyone.

But being cultured is not a prerequisite to being moved by how art can so succinctly and poignantly reflect the human condition in all its glory and profanity. Or even to simply appreciate the skill and craftsmanship of people who create things of beauty.

In that sense, my trip has seen me most fortunate. After my Irish jaunt and my exposure to art as a political statement, I made a stop in London.

While I was wandering the streets parallel to that hell on earth known as Oxford Street, I found myself in a museum called the Wallace Collection.

In all honesty, the only reason I went in was because it said “Admission Free” and I had a couple of hours to kill.

Once inside, however, I was blown away by the whole thing.

First and foremost, the collection was at one time the private property of the Wallace family. They had bequeathed the whole thing to the state so that it can be enjoyed by the public.

“Collection” is a weird thing to call it though. A collection is how you may describe my humble stash of comic books.

The Wallace “collection”, on the other hand, includes works of art that ranged from the 15th to the 19th century and boasts paintings by Rembrandt, Bol, Hals, and Gainsborough amongst thousands of others.

Wandering through this huge, once private, residence, mind boggling at how one family could have found itself the possessor of such a diverse and copious assemblage of classics, I could not help but be amazed at the beauty that humans can create.

It was all so incredible that the experience was humbling. Not only because I was surrounded by such magnificence, but also because it was all so fragile.

I found it astounding that a family could be far-sighted enough to basically give all their treasures to the public and the state in turn to ensure that it is all well cared for and preserved.

It all brings to mind how careless some are with national and world treasures and it made me reconsider my view of myself.

Because perhaps being a philistine is not about being uneducated; instead I would say it is about being incapable of appreciating history and beauty when it is staring you in the eye.

In which case I am not a philistine, but I can think of many idiots who are.

Azmi Sharom (azmisharom@yahoo.co.uk) is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.The STAR Online Home News Opinion 11/12/2013

Putrajaya reacts to poor performance in global students survey, forms committee

The Education Ministry has reacted to the dismal performance of Malaysian students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) by forming a special committee to improve on the country's ranking.

The New Straits Times reported that the special committee would be led by the curriculum development section and would comprise professionals sections from the ministry.

The committee is tasked to identify and monitor initiatives to improve students' performance in international assessments such as PISA.

PISA is a triennial international survey which evaluates education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. The 2012 PISA, involving 510,000 students in the subjects of reading, science and mathematics, has placed Malaysia at the 52nd spot out of 65 countries.

Malaysia's 15-year-olds were not only found to be below the international average in the three critical subjects, but also four to five years behind their peers in Shanghai, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The Education Ministry said although the recent PISA results were not encouraging, it was confident that the recently unveiled education blueprint, the Malaysian Education Development Plan 2013-2025, would help the country achieve better ranking in the next PISA instalment.

"The Malaysian Education Development Plan 2013-2025 was developed on par with international standards. It will definitely help Malaysian students to perform better in future international assessments," it said, as quoted by the New Straits Times.

The ministry said it was coming out with measures to address weaknesses in students as found by the 2012 PISA assessment, including an initiative to address the content and skill gaps in subjects such as mathematics and science.

Yesterday, Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin came under fire for his silence over the 2012 PISA results.

DAP's Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang told Muhyiddin to come out with concrete plans to prove that the education blueprint for the country's 15-year-olds is "no pie in the sky". - December 11, 2013.

The Malaysian Insider 11/12/13

Malaysians have good access to education but quality questionable, says World Bank

While Malaysia has made strides in access to education for all children under the age of 17, the quality of education is questionable, the World Bank said today.

World Bank country director for Malaysia Ulrich Zachau said it was of concern that Malaysian pupils had performed well below their peers in standardised international assessments.

“The peers who Malaysian pupils are being assessed against are those in the high-income economies which Malaysia aspires to compete with," Zachau said in a press statement.

He cited the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) in which 65 countries participated. Malaysia came 52nd for mathematics, 53rd for science and 59th for reading.

The World Bank today released its report, “Malaysia Economic Monitor: High Performing Education”, which emphasised the importance for Malaysia to build a high-performing education system.

Zachau said the system was important as Malaysia transformed into a high-income, sustainable economy.

"The access and quality of learning are both vital. International experience has shown that when children from all backgrounds have access to quality education, they have better opportunities.

"When children do better than their parents and scale greater heights, they break the poverty cycle."

He acknowledged that Malaysia had achieved near universal access to education, offering affordable schooling to children from all income groups.

"Among the Southeast Asian countries which participated in Pisa, Malaysian pupils only outperformed their Indonesian peers. Malaysia was even behind lower-income Vietnam.

"Not only has the performance of Malaysian pupils been below expectations, but evidence also suggests that it has not been improving.

"Raising the quality of education in the country is critical for Malaysia to achieve a high-performing education system which provides the human capital needed for a high-income economy."

But the challenge now was to turn schooling into learning with three main priorities – moving decisions to schools, providing information to parents and moving good teachers into classrooms.

Zachau recommended that Putrajaya introduce several institutional reforms, including improving the incentives and recruitment of teachers.

Other recommendations included moving decision-making closer to schools and parents and providing more information to parents so that they could demand a quality education for their children. – December 11, 2013.

The Malaysian Insider 11/12/2013

Muhyiddin: I'm not going to back down on Education Blueprint policies

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 7): The government will be steadfast in its decisions and initiatives to carry put plans under the National Education Blueprint 2013 - 2026, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today.

Muhyiddin, who is also the education minister, said the government has a clear idea of improving the education system in the country and no party is going to affect that.

"I, as education minister who has been given the responsibility, am not going to go back and forth (on the implementation of the education blueprint)," the Umno deputy president said in his wrap-up speech at the Umno Annual General Assembly.

"The government is going to be stern about the implementation of initiatives.

"We will not be swayed or deterred by the opinions or efforts of other parties because the initiatives under the blueprint aims to elevate the status of Malaysians through education," he added.

The National Education Blueprint underlines the government’s plans to revise the education system and includes programmes to improve English proficiency and teaching capabilities of teachers and increase the performances of students.

However, parents had criticised the government for not reinstating the policy of teaching Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI), which was abolished about two years ago.

He also said the Education Ministry will be introducing an Islamic syllabus in community colleges to strengthen the faith of Muslims in the nation so as to not be fallible to deviant influences.

"I have discussed with the prime minister to widen the role of community colleges in the country by offering a syllabus to encourage lifelong Islamic studies," he said.

Muhyiddin said the education model has already been implemented in four religious schools in Terengganu but it will be introduced in others next year, with one religious school in each state selected to carry out the model.

"Under this model, students will be taught to memorise the Quran before they complete their SPM," he said.

"The syllabus will be based on the tenets of the Quran and the Hadith," he added.

He also said the government has initiated in-depth studies into the implementation of the students loans offered by the National Higher Education Loan Fund (PTPTN) and will study the suggestion from a student delegate earlier on revising the waives offered to students with first class honours degrees.

The student delegate had said in his debate that most Bumiputera students often could not enjoy the waive as not many of them can attain the first class honours degrees and called the government to offer cuts for those consistently scoring three pointers and above.

Muhyiddin also promised to alleviate the responsibilities shouldered by teachers with regards to the new online system which requires teachers to key in results of students.

Teachers have complained that the system is unable to process the information quickly and many have to wait for hours to register the data online.

Muhyiddin said the problem does not lie with the online system, but the implementation of the model and the Education Ministry will look into the matter.

On another matter, Muhyiddin also said the implementation of a Key Performance Index (KPI) within the ranks of the party, as announced by prime minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is a step forward for the party and ensures that it will be strengthened from within.

He said it was important for the party to consolidate itself to move forward in attaining the support of the people in the upcoming 14th General Election, which is expected to be more challenging that the 13th election seven months ago.


FZ dot com Nation 07/12/2013