September 18th, 2014

Young not spared evils of corruption

THE insanity in both instances is utterly uncanny — one, football betting and match-fixing has penetrated even the under-16 age-group. Two, scoundrels now go to the extent of leaking question papers of exams sat by 12-year-olds.

The world is sick.

In both instances, the incredulity and feeling of geram or extreme anger over such paedophilic tendencies has grabbed us like never before after reading about the football fiasco reported in an international match in Hong Kong, about the same time when the exam leak scandal broke out in the UPSR (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah) exam last week. The young are not spared anymore from the evils of a corrupt world. Values are rotting.

If money and greed was behind that football flap, I do not see any other reason for the Science and English papers to be leaked in the UPSR even if some quarters ridiculously threw in conspiracy theory as an excuse.

Such leaks have come once too many times in the country’s examination process so much so that it has now cast a big net of betrayal over the entire system. If it could occur in Standard Six exams, what makes you think that the papers of all the other exams, past or future — in PMR, SPM and STPM — are clean? And that some of those who passed had actually done so by default?
All top brass in MOE should resign due to this fiasco ...

The UPSR leaks have caused a great deal of stress to 473,000 pupils and their parents.

Who were the culprits and what were they thinking? First they have now caused a great deal of stress and inconvenience to the 473,000-over pupils and their parents. They have also caused enormous hardship to the people who now have to prepare a new set of exam papers and go through the logistical hassles all over again for the resit on Sept 30. But more than anything else they have definitely placed the integrity of the whole examination process conducted by the Education Ministry under suspicion. It could lead to a loss of confidence in the entire public school examination system and that would be a real blow.

Several people have been hauled up for questioning. And the suspension of Examinations Syndicate chief Dr Na’imah Ishak and deputy Dr Wan Ilias Wan Salleh is the right thing do do. Somebody has to be held accountable. Even if it means the biggest man. Somebody must pay for this sort of blunder as Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid had honourably shown by resigning as the big boss of MRT Corp after a fatal worksite accident. But as I said in this column a fortnight ago, this culture is still alien to Malaysia and since Azhar’s resignation has now been put on hold by the company’s board, it could also be likely that the UPSR exam leak snafu could end up the same shameless way. That all will soon be forgotten.

We dread the day when we will never be able to accept the value of a public school examination at whatever level — just as in football after what match-fixers have done.

“We will never be able to watch a football match the same way again,” a convicted match-fixer had the cheek to say this in his book. And we will never be able to understand how the felon, after what he had done, is now leading a glamorous life as a celebrity after tell-all episodes in exclusive television interviews and confession stories in an autobiography.

I almost choked when I came across a blurb by CNN recently about the story they were going to air on a rascal named Wilson Perumal Raj. A Singaporean.

The brief said: “He rose from humble beginnings, worked his way through the local leagues before graduating to become a major player on the international stage, netting him millions of dollars along the way.

“But this isn’t a tale about a footballing hero. This is a story about one of modern sport’s greatest villains — the man dubbed the most notorious match-fixer in the world.

“You may not be familiar with the name Wilson Raj Perumal but given how prolific he was, you might have watched one of the games he’s fixed. ‘I never really counted, but I think it should be between 80 and 100 football matches’,” Perumal told CNN.

I watched that interview and the way that guy went through the session, he didn’t seem to have any remorse. He has gone to jail in Finland and all, but he had that swagger about him as he spoke freely regarding all levels of international matches that he had fixed including World Cup fixtures. It is understood that between 60 and 80 countries have reported allegations of match-fixing for each of the last three years.

Thinking how this scourge has now infiltrated every layer of the competitive game, I just felt like throwing the teh tarik glass I had in hand towards the TV screen.

Perumal belongs to the lowest ebb of criminals on the planet and we should never treat him like a celebrity. And, like him, those responsible for leaking the exam papers should be thrown in the same cauldron.
SYED NADZRI - NST Columnist 16 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:07 AM

Malaysia on the edge in its early days

THE declaration of Malaysia, on Sept 16 1963, ushered in the start of the two most tumultuous years for Asia’s newest nation.

From late 1963, Indonesia ramped up its confrontation, viewing this “neocolonial” creation as an affront to the non-aligned movement; to the peoples of a region emerging from colonial rule and to Indonesian leadership of the region, particularly of the Indonesian diaspora (known here as “the Malay world”).

Both London and Kuala Lumpur feared that Indonesian confrontation, that the efforts to crush, to Ganyang Malaysia, could, in fact, succeed. Both those governments were most concerned that the United States might intervene to broker what to them would be a quite “unacceptable” solution to the Malaysia issue.

A special arch built to mark the birth of Malaysia at the Kuching town field.
Pic courtesy of the Information Department

It is important to recall that US strategic assessments viewed keeping friendly political links with the whole Indonesian archipelago, and the Philippines, too, was of considerably greater significance than was maintaining a political format called Malaysia.

For the US, Malaysia remained in the British sphere of influence, and the British had really messed up their relationship with Indonesia. Then United Kingdom ambassador Andrew Gilchrist virulently criticised and did everything he could to undermine President Sukarno and was rewarded by the torching and destruction of the British Embassy in Jakarta and its consulate in Medan straight after the formation of Malaysia.

President John F. Kennedy visited Jakarta at the start of 1962, just a year after his inauguration. The US ambassador, Howard Jones, had become quite close to President Sukarno, and authored a seven-point plan to prevent Indonesia from falling under communist control and win it over to the West.

The first issue was decolonisation of West New Guinea. With Jones’ help, Robert Kennedy brokered an agreement to return that territory to Indonesia, via a period of United Nations trusteeship, followed by a so-called “act of free choice”.

The Australian government was absolutely devastated to find out that their “greatest friend and ally” gave higher priority to its relationship with Indonesia than to supporting Australian efforts to retain Dutch control of the western half of New Guinea. New Guinea was still seen as a strategically important Japanese “stepping stone” to the invasion of Australia in World War 2.

President Sukarno visited President Kennedy at the White House. They related well on a personal level. Britain feared that president Kennedy would revisit Indonesia, prioritise Indonesia’s links with the West and broker a settlement of “the Malaysia dispute” that would satisfy Indonesia and the Philippines and add Malaysia to its list of failed federations, from East Africa to the Caribbean. Kennedy’s assassination, in November 1963, ended that particular fear.

In August-September 1964, Indonesian forces were landed near Pontian, followed by paratroops dropped near Labis in Johor. Attacks in Borneo escalated. Soon after, British Special Forces commenced secretive cross-border counterstrikes well into Indonesian Kalimantan.

There is a passing reference in the files to the US cautioning the British not to think further about deploying their Singapore-based Vulcan and Victor bombers to make a tactical nuclear strike on a Sumatran base. That wild idea shows that both diplomatic and security threats to Malaysia’s continuance were very serious, as the conflict escalated.

Domestically, the People’s Action Party (PAP) in Singapore was proving to be a real headache to Kuala Lumpur. In what other nation were two men insisting on being called prime minister? Not content with governing only Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew’s PAP set about contesting the 1964 parliamentary elections in the peninsula, causing a huge fight with MCA.

PAP had every intention of replacing MCA as Umno’s principal partner in the leadership of the national government and MCA responded forcefully. Even more significant was that PAP directly threatened Umno and its cardinal belief in Malay leadership of the nation, with its campaigning slogan of “a Malaysian Malaysia”. The racial and political temperature rose considerably. Bombings and quite serious race riots took place within Singapore.

In August 1965, Tunku chose to expel Singapore from Malaysia, indicating that this course of action was preferable to his second option of placing most of the members of the Singapore cabinet under preventive detention. Given the exacerbation of racial tensions, failing to act was not an option for him.

Less than one month later, a momentous change took place in Indonesia that ensured Malaysia’s survival. There were two military coups, acts that deposed President Sukarno and installed General Suharto as that country’s undisputed leader for the following 32 years — and resulted in the killing of between 500,000 and one million Indonesian citizens. Under President Suharto, confrontation ended with a whimper, not a bang, and a new Malaysian format came into being, now that Singapore was gone.

Malaysia was then fully accepted by its neighbours and could focus upon nation-building rather than defence, security and warding off charges that Malaysia was a neo-colonial creation. That criticism had been coming from the Afro-Asian movement and was voiced in UN hearings. The British and Commonwealth forces were no longer needed in Borneo and the remaining influential expatriate civil servants in Sarawak were asked to leave by early 1967.

Immediately after the shock of Singapore’s expulsion, certain Sabahan and Sarawakian leaders raised the issue of renegotiating the terms of the Federation and several even asked if they could forge a link with Singapore rather than remaining part of Malaysia. Such ideas were quickly doused. Donald Stephens, the first chief minister of Sabah, was expeditiously removed from his Federal cabinet position after he spoke publicly of renegotiating the Federation.

The excision of Singapore meant that the racial arithmetic of Malaysia changed dramatically. Kuala Lumpur was able to take an active role in reshaping the political landscape of Sabah and Sarawak so as to more closely match the pattern of rulership that prevailed throughout the peninsula. Sabah and Sarawak were progressively incorporated into the new Malaysia, simply as states of the Federation, rather than as two of three entities that came together to form Malaysia. PROFESSOR MICHAEL LEIGH - NST Columnist 16 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:06 AM

Malaysia Day, a symbol of unity

A  WONDERFUL thought was voiced by 1Malaysia Foundation trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye. Malaysia Day, according to him, should be declared as “Unity Day”. For, while four separate territories had come together to form a nation on that fateful day 51 years ago, only three remain. That one had left after just two years is a clear indication of how initially fragile the federation was. However, the three that stayed the course must surely have done so because it was mutually beneficial, a fact manifested in the country’s rapid growth. Today, Malaysia is on track to join the ranks of First World countries in just six years, a feat not easily achievable. When contrasted with countries that had gained Independence at about the same time, this epitome of diversity has proven that unity is possible and extremely beneficial. Differences have not been a factor of disruption. Rather, they have contributed to Malaysia’s unique mosaic of harmony, stability and prosperity; its very strength.

Recently, some voices of dissent have dared speak of secession, but these are the lone wolves howling up the wrong tree. For, to secede is to succumb to the threats that had forced the accord in the first place, when there is no mistaking the advantage that had allowed Malaysia the pleasure of non-alignment, neutrality and ongoing Independence. In this stance, patriotism is natural, pride in being Malaysian is natural and being united in the pursuit of nationhood — 1Malaysia — is natural. Plurality, the essence of the nation’s being, has been the cornerstone of democracy and democratic freedoms, of the ever-increasing parameters of expressions that have, on the one hand, spoken loudly as champions of unity and, on the other, the rabble-rousers, who are nothing but a marginalised group of rebels without a cause. To believe that the results of the 12th and 13th General Elections were indicative of a serious fracture is to be severely mistaken. GE13 clearly testified to Sabah and Sarawak’s unassailable intention to stay and maintain the integrity of the federation.

The prime minister, in his Malaysia Day message, talked of strengthening ties among the people as a continuous process, one that would result in an impregnable unity among the states, hence, the people. That should be the aspiration of every single rakyat, but why are Malaysians not yet able to take unity for granted? Maybe, if at all, the problem that so spooks Malaysians is a true internalisation of the meaning of diversity, a positive trait that allows fellow citizens to trade differences, knowing always that it will be constructively received. For, it is divine intention that differences be made an instrument of learning and not division. Malaysia is, therefore, blessed, where progress is characterised by the unerring unity born of understanding. To view the present as achieved by silencing the lambs is a spurious notion. Malaysian unity is actually the product of a collective culture of peaceful coexistence. It cannot, then, be anything but durable.     NST EDITORIAL 17 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:07 AM

Happy birthday Malaysia

MALAYSIA, an idea broached in 1961, was very much a thought not easily received by the member states themselves. Great Britain was under pressure to divest its colonial territories, including those in Southeast Asia. Obviously reluctant to lose what were valuable overseas possessions, London needed a mechanism that would allow it continued economic access. The tiny island of Singapore was, however, proving to be difficult because the early 1960s witnessed the ascendancy of the left wing Socialist Front and the waning fortunes of Lee Kuan Yew’s PAP. Indeed, more than any other factor, the fear of communism pushed Britain and its territories of North Borneo and Sarawak to fall in with the plan to constitute the Federation of Malaysia, a manoeuvre primarily to secure Singapore’s independence from Britain.

For, the Federation of Malaya would not want any form of union with merely Singapore. The British persuaded and cajoled, especially Sarawak, but in the end, the fear that a possibly communist Indonesia might absorb it persuaded the latter that Malaysia was the lesser evil. And so, on Sept 16, 1963, the new state of the Federation of Malaysia was born and the story told and retold over and over of Singapore’s exit in 1965, leaving the country as it is today: Peninsular Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. 51 years down the line, its ethnic plurality notwithstanding, Malaysia is a nation that has been cemented enough to run ahead of the pack in the race for a fully developed nation status. A small country of some 30 million, it has started making waves on the regional and international arena, its voice heard where it matters.

Today, Malaysia claims a strong per capita income to build on through further transformation at all levels of society and in every respect. 1Malaysia is proving to be an inspirational national philosophy that even an opposition leader recognises, albeit complaining that, with his redesigned blog, the prime minister has abandoned the 1Malaysia logo; from which can be inferred an acceptance of the policy as positive.

Once accused of being a neo-colonial construct, Malaysia has proven its independence and resilience, as demonstrated in the recent Malaysia Airlines tragedies when, in both instances, the country found itself caught between the world’s major military powers, but unafraid of staying resolutely neutral.

Unlike its neighbours, for the most clearly aligned to the United States, this country has remained non-aligned, cultivating close relations with friendly nations, including the US. Economically, Malaysia is a model emulated by many. Its transformation programmes, the Economic Transformation Programme and Government Transformation Programme, which uniquely incorporate quantifying instruments that lend themselves to report cards, thus making possible close monitoring, accommodating adjustments when needed, is much applauded. Malaysia has then come a long way from the colonial backwaters of agrarian separate development to an industrial modern nation state of integrated social and economic development. 1Malaysia is, more than ever, a reality half a century into Malaysia’s history.
NST Editorial 13 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:06 AM

Watch and learn, kids

WHILE adults rail against the perpetrators of the UPSR leaks and demand for heads to roll, this nation’s 12-year-olds are learning a very early lesson in life: sometimes, life throws you a curveball. This is supposed to be the year in which students learn about realising their academic potential and that hard work pays off and laziness does not. This will be the first time in which they will see how they stack up against the rest of the country. And, for many, this will also be the first time they have to deal with serious academic disappointment and the lessons of picking oneself up, dusting oneself off, setting a new target and focusing anew.

So, whoever would have thought that this year, thanks to the leaks, the UPSR would come with extra, value-added lessons for our young ones?  With “freedom” coming three weeks later than anticipated, the mind-busting task of staying focused throughout the exam period is now compounded with the frustration of having to resit a paper that has already been sat.

And, if they had not yet encountered the phenomenon of cheating before, could there be a better introduction than this? In an ideal world, children should never even know about the murky world of cutting corners, unfair advantages and gaining leads through Machiavellian means. In an ideal world, these same children should also grow up to be honest and upright citizens. However, the sad reality is that it is impossible to completely protect children from the corrupting force of adult avarice — even if indirectly, such as in this case.

But, as with other lessons in life, the takeaways from this incident can be positive or negative, depending on how parents, teachers and society choose to shape the event in the students’ interpretation of life. For now, the best that society can hope for is to vaccinate the child from this socially-corrupting disease of stealing and cheating.

And in this, we have a real opportunity to teach our young ones about integrity — on a very big, national scale. Besides not giving in to the temptation of profiting from a leak, the need to report instances of cheating and how just a few unscrupulous people can really mess it up for everyone else, this is the time that our children can learn about crime and punishment, and about transparency and accountability.

No other instance in their lives — not even the Auditor-General’s report — is ever likely to directly impact the lives and hold the attention of so many people; and at so young an age. The thoroughness of the investigation, the justness of the charges and the trial, the speediness with which the case is brought through the courts and the catharsis of a conviction will be a lesson they will carry well into their adulthood. But, for that to happen, this is an exam the relevant authorities have to themselves pass first.
NST Editorial 14 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:04 AM

Harsh penalty to stem leaks : An unforgiving approach needed even during rectification exercise

SYMPTOMATIC of a condition verging on insanity; this is what the leaked papers for the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination is about. Parents and their children have entered a competition where there are no holds barred. The innocence of old has obviously disappeared. Today, private after-school tuition is the rage as parents struggle to ensure an edge for their children when the examination approaches.

And if there was graft involved in the recent UPSR leaks, then there can be no doubting that parents have lost touch with morality. Granted, the straight As, so much the target of all involved, is about getting into the right secondary schools that have unimpeachable reputations. Schools nowadays trumpet the quality of their education with such slogans as: “Where future leaders are made!” Parents fall into the trap and Malaysia confronts what is an appalling example of criminality: breach of trust.

Of course, wanting the best for one’s children is no crime. In fact, it would be considered a good parental attribute. It is how the objective is arrived at that could prove to be the slippery slope of unreasonable intervention. If, then, parents could lose their moral bearings at this level of the child’s education — the tender age of 12 — to what degree of questionable behaviour would this irrationality push them? The Sijil Pelarajan Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) examinations are fast approaching. Tuition centres are filled to the brim; it is a flourishing industry where teachers moonlight. This latter is definitely a conflict of interest — likely to induce corrupt practices — and should not be tolerated.

Teachers must teach their charges during school hours and not encourage children to enrol in tuition centres where they teach. Now that education has spawned a thriving industry where the pursuit of profits is the be-all and end-all, stringent supervision must be the imperative. Turning Malaysia into a seat of educational excellence is a highly credible end, but if the industry’s growth is unchecked with respect to its ethical practices, then it becomes the road to perdition. It is this “anything goes” climate that contributes to the flawed concept of merit.

The question then is, will parents be willing to pay for a peek at the SPM and STPM examination questions to ensure university enrolment for their children? If the answer is “yes”, then there will be attempts by the crooks to exploit this sentiment.

There must be an assurance, therefore, that there are no weak links along the way. Indeed, the authorities must be held responsible and the suspension of the two most senior officers on the Examination Board is amply justified. Harshness of retribution for any failure to safeguard the security of examination papers is now a clear signal that the Education Ministry will not tolerate any nonsense, let alone criminality. For, fear alone will plug the holes immediately before the standard operating procedure’s flaw is rectified. NST Editorial 15 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:08 AM

Don’t rob pupils of their childhood

THE Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) public examination for Year Six schoolchildren is on until tomorrow.

This is the first public examination experience for primary schoolchildren.

Even the prime minister has tweeted to wish them good luck in the examination.

The UPSR examination is used as a standard criterion to evaluate the standard and performance of primary schools.

Head teachers’ and teachers’ appraisals in primary schools are also determined by the outcome of UPSR results.

The primary school system is, therefore, focused on achieving excellence in the UPSR examination.

Many elaborate and exhaustive programmes are drawn up for Year Six children.  

From the beginning of the academic year in January, pupils are put through a stringent and comprehensive schedule of extra classes, workshops, motivational seminars and mock examinations.

In some schools, Year Six children are excluded from curricular and co-curricular activities and competitions because of this examination.

Some schools go overboard and utilise every weekend, every term holiday, every public holiday and every other day to conduct extra classes.

No time is spared. The children attend these extra classes, where they are drilled with past-year examination questions.

As the UPSR examination nears, some enterprising schools “house” the children in the school premises to supervise their activities.

The children are given extra coaching, and they practically eat, sleep and drink examination questions.

The pace is hectic and intense, and the pupils are put through a rigorous regimen by their teachers.

Teachers, too, are put through much stress and pressure for the sake of the children.

Schools that fare badly in the UPSR examination are accountable to the state education departments and Education Ministry.

These schools have to hand in “show-cause” letters for their “poor” results and subject teachers whose pupils do not secure good grades in the UPSR examination will be sent for refresher courses.

Every head teacher wants his or her school to outperform other schools in the examination.

No head teacher wants to be reprimanded by the departmental head, so head teachers slave-drive their teachers and the teachers, in turn, slave-drive their pupils to score with excellence in the examination.

And, these 12-year-old pupils, who only want to have fun, games and laughter, are caught in between the schools’ expectations, teachers’ expectations and their parents’ expectations.

In some homes, overprotective parents jump on the bandwagon and put their children under tremendous pressure.

In my opinion, the UPSR examination puts Year Six children in some schools through a series of academic rituals that robs them of their childhood. Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Letters 10 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:11 AM

Moderation unites and moves us forward

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak speaks all the time on diversity and he is spot on  when he says “embrace diversity to move forward” and “build a harmonious and prosperous nation”.

Well said, prime minister.

And, towards this march, we should be “one for all, and all for one”. That should be the voice from now on — oneness and unity in the nation and work towards 1Malaysia with some zeal. We have talked enough on it. We, in the nation, should always stand for all communities. And, our voices should be voices of moderation.

I say speak for all, look at what troubles them and find solutions. It may be hard, but we have to.

Today, all communities, however small their number, matter. The poor in any community in this nation should be assisted and attended to. In this regard, especially, we must be colour-blind.

All communities have problems and they must be heard and their woes settled.

We do not see only pockets of Malays who are poor but also know of Chinese and Indians in this same position.  We can’t ignore them.

There are poor people among the Punjabi community, though no one talks about them. We need to bring all of these people out of poverty, and I believe that the prime minister’s Barisan Nasional can do it. The only question is: will they?

As former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said: “There are weaknesses and there is still work to be done, and there are still poor in the country.”

The key to success for Malaysian development and 1Malaysia is moderation.   Forge greater race relations always, not only during festive celebrations.

Bulbir Singh, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Letters 11 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:10 AM

Language proficiency gives an edge

THE surprise announcement by Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that public university students must pass English to graduate is long overdue. English was sidelined in the early 1970s and the decline is obvious.

Despite the call by companies — both local and foreign-owned, concerned individuals and non-governmental organisations — the call has often fallen on deaf ears and it is time to wake up from our slumber to do something positive for our graduates.

Malaysia was once an English-speaking nation but we have neglected the importance of the English language for more than four decades. Since then, our children have been paying the price for that decision made without thorough thought.

People must know than just 2-3 languages

Armed with the ability to communicate effectively in English, our graduates can soar.

The consequences of that decision are now being felt by our children. To their dismay and horror, companies nowadays want staff who can speak and write in English, and to communicate effectively, confidently and proficiently with their counterparts overseas.

Rightly mentioned by Muhyiddin is the fact that multinational companies want graduates who can competently speak and write in English. You walk into multinational companies and you will find they want staff who are proficient in English.

Those who cannot communicate well in that language will find themselves doing office work.

In the eyes of foreign investors, those lacking in English are not competitive and productive, and do not have an edge compared with those who are conversant in the language.

Surely, our students can rise to the occasion to learn and be proficient in the language. For more than four decades, our nation paid the price for taking English lightly, which has caused such a massive decline that it will take years to build it to the level we were once at.

Sadly, we wasted many years implementing all kinds of policies on the teaching of English in schools and at the university level, which brought us nowhere and drained millions from the national coffers.

With Muhyiddin’s announcement, I am sure there will be objections from various quarters, who still feel we can live without having to master English.

By and large, we will have individuals, NGOs and political parties, among others, who are strongly against the idea of a pass in English at tertiary level.

I am sure we do not want to hear illogical reasons that stall the advancement of English among our students and graduates.   After all, do we have a choice?

We have no alternative but to ensure English is given importance in schools and tertiary education so as to produce marketable graduates in the already tight job market.

Give our fresh graduates a competitive advantage by equipping them with English. In the long term, our nation will reap what we sow.

When our graduates can communicate in English competently and proficiently with the outside world, they are more confident, convincing and dauntless. Only then have we produced or given birth to a generation of graduates who can face the world in a more self-possessed and self-reliant manner.

I suggest that we take one more step by making English a must-pass subject at the school level. This is despite having had different initiatives to improve the language in schools at huge cost to the nation.

Sadly, we are going nowhere at this stage.

Unless a hard positive step is taken, high school students who graduate to tertiary education will be struggling to catch up with the language at that stage.

It is also perturbing to note that Maths and Science are no longer taught in English in schools but are taught either in Bahasa Malaysia or vernacular languages — a decision that should have been given serious thought and consideration but was blatantly decided based on intangible and non-cogent reasons.

I hope the Education Ministry will reconsider and reverse the policy that was implemented during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration.

Many understand how the “must-pass English” policy at tertiary level would be implemented. By all counts, it is the right step and the implementation is best left to English language experts to decide and to advise the ministry on the direction the teaching of the language should take.

Needless to say, there must be a strong political will and support all the way.

I suggest an independent council is set up to advise the government, especially the Education Ministry, on how to implement the policy. This council should be free from any political interference.

Pressure and adversity from ill-informed individuals and NGOs who do not want this must-pass policy to get under way should be ignored. Instead, the ministry should continue the tedious but worthwhile journey of implementing this policy for the common good of our present and future graduates.

This “a pass in English a must” decision must not be allowed to go down the drain again even if there is massive pressure from ill-informed sources. Dr Tan Eng Bee, Kajang, Selangor NST Letters 11 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:10 AM

UPSR leak puts exam process to the test

HOW do public examination papers get leaked? The procedure from setting examination questions to delivering examination papers to schools is an exhaustive, lengthy and painstaking process of checks and balances.

Everyone involved in the examination procedure has to take a vow and sign a pledge to the Official Secrets Act. The Examinations Syndicate takes many precautions and measures to prevent leakages.

Don't rob the children of their childhood, let them enjoy their chilhood days

Leakages weakens the authenticity and trustworthiness of our examination procedures.

Yet, year after year, we have leakages before examinations.

Such leakages weaken the authenticity and trustworthiness of our examination procedures.

It also costs the government a lot of money, time and effort to reset leaked papers.

Students are affected mentally and emotionally.

The examination questions for the 2014 paper would have been formulated and set in 2010 or 2011.

Senior and experienced teachers and education officers are selected and appointed to set the examination papers.

These teachers are quarantined and placed at the Examination Board for a week. They are screened each time they leave the complex.

The teachers prepare two or three sets of papers for each examination subject for that year.

The teachers would not know which questions or sets are
selected for the examination year. This selection is done by a select few senior and high-ranking Examinations Syndicate officers.

The selected papers are vetted and printed at the Examinations Syndicate.

Then, the papers are sealed and packaged and sent to State Education Departments, which keep them in their strong room.

Invigilators for the schools will take the examination papers from the state Education Department or district education offices on the examination day and head for their schools.

The chief examination invigilator has to cut the seal and package in front of students in the hall or classroom to demonstrate that the paper has not been tampered with.

Any examination packages short of papers or tampered with will be reported to the department and students will be quarantined.

The whole process will take two to three years in formulation, setting, vetting, printing and packaging of examination papers. Even so, with such precautions and checks and balances in place, it is a wonder how examination papers still get leaked. Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Letters 12 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 7:50 AM

Sanitising all levels of education system may stop the rot

I REFER to your reports headlined “UPSR Science moved to Sept 30” and “Ministry, police to probe UPSR leak” (NST, Sept 11).

Parents, teachers, academicians and the public are flabbergasted by the UPSR Science paper leak.

Now, there is an overwhelming call to use the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to bring perpetrators to book as this has gone on for far too long.

A group of former teachers told me the disease has penetrated all levels of our educational system. It is a long-standing issue that needs to be addressed by the Education Ministry and the police.

Examination malpractice and cheating is defined as a deliberate wrongdoing contrary to official examination rules, designed to place candidates at an unfair advantage or disadvantage.

As what Parents Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said: “Tuition centres could be a contributing party for the demand for leaked examination papers to gain a competitive edge over their rival tuition centres.”

Laziness, inadequate preparation for examinations, pupils not taking their studies seriously, indolence, dependence on fraudulent means to make it without any hard work. These are the root causes of this fiasco.

The malefactors involved in this social evil include corrupt government officials, indulgent parents, guardians, teachers, peer groups, security agents and school administrators.

Examination malpractice and cheating has become a profitable business aided and abetted by corrupt examination officials and supported by shortsighted parents.

This parasite ravaging our educational sector can only be eradicated by a national consciousness characterised by integrity, honesty and hard work.

Students should be assiduous and develop an interest in learning rather than be bored by studies.

Parents should have a genuine reason for every sen spent on their children’s education because any student who goes to school through the window will also be thrown out through the window either by rustication or expulsion.

The Examinations Syndicate should be sanitised and officials of unquestionable character be employed.

Finger prints and photographs should be used as security for exam papers.

The government should pay more attention to the education system because intellectual capital is the brain behind economic and socio-political growth.

Effective harsh penalties, such as the OSA, should be imposed on those who carry out exam leaks and cheating.

They should be imprisoned for at least seven years and not one year as stated in the OSA 1972.

Let’s work together to sanitise our education system. C. Sathasivam Sitheravellu,Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Letters 12 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:07 AM

We can ‘leak’ names of perpetrators

I AM deeply disturbed to know that, yet again, examination papers have been leaked.

It is obvious that the people entrusted with the task of keeping the papers secure cannot be trusted and, therefore, drastic measures must be taken against them.

The method of securing the examination scripts must also be reviewed urgently because, in the coming months, there will be Penilaian Menengah Rendah, Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia examinations.

How will the reaction be if there is another allegation, claim or evidence of leaked scripts?

What is the action then?

Do not just say that investigations will be conducted or that investigations are still not complete.

As a parent and citizen, I demand immediate action against the perpetrators.

The people responsible for the leaks  should be named and shamed.

This matter must be considered a crime, not a mere dereliction of duty.

They should be sent to jail and, if need be, caned.

Future or would-be perpetrators need to be shown that such action does not pay.

As a citizen, I demand the following:

A THOROUGH police investigation that should result in arrests and convictions;

AN investigation and recommendation by the auditor-general on how it happened and how to prevent it from happening again;

A PRESENTATION of the report to parliament for the ministers responsible to explain how it happened and the measures they are taking to prevent it from happening again;

THOSE responsible for the drafting, collating, printing of examination scripts need to be vetted by the police and closely monitored; and,

NATIONAL examination scripts should be escorted by the police.

These measures are needed to send the message to everyone that this is a criminal act that needs to be punished.

Megat Shah Rizal Noor Ikhsan,Kuala Lumpur   NST Letters 12 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:07 AM

Probe thoroughly into leak and plug the loopholes

THE leak of Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah Science and English papers on the social media, which has caused much duress to some 473,000 candidates, is unacceptable.

It is an embarrassment to the education minister and his ministry. It is a breach of security and those responsible must be made to face the full brunt of the law as provided for under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

A full scale probe has been launched by the police and they should leave no stone unturned to bring the culprits to book.

Cases of examination papers being leaked are nothing new. Unfortunately, nothing drastic has been done to arrest the problem. The integrity of the Malaysian Examination Board has been compromised.

An independent panel must conduct a thorough investigation and make recommendations to plug the loopholes that brought about the leak.

The report of the panel must be made public in line with the principle of transparency as this is a matter of public interests.

The process of setting examination questions and delivering the examination papers is subject to stringent procedures and all those involved are required to take a pledge under the OSA on trust and secrecy.

What has happened in the latest incident is a breach of secrecy under the OSA. It is time for the education minister, who is also the deputy prime minister, to use all powers at his disposal to put an end to such a deviant act and restore the public’s confidence in the system. Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Kuala Lumpur   NST Letters 13 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:06 AM

Why not reinstate MUET?

T HE Malaysian University Entrance Test (MUET) is a test of English language proficiency for university admissions.

The test is set and run by the Malaysian Examinations Council. Most candidates who sit the MUET do so to apply for admission into public universities and institutions of higher learning.

The MUET tests four components: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The scores of each of the components are graded into six bands, with Band 1 being “Extremely Limited User” and Band 6 being “Very Good User”.

The MUET is a standard, reliable and authentic testing procedure that tests on all the four components of language skills.

However, the MUET has been given less significance and importance by some institutions of higher learning.

Many colleges and institutions that offer twinning programmes do not consider MUET as an acceptable test for English language

In recent years, the MUET has lost its prominence as a requirement test for admission into local universities, be they public or private ones. Many public universities now require students to only sit the MUET in order to graduate, without taking into account the bands achieved.

The MUET should be reinstated to its original status. Why have institutions of higher learning relaxed their ruling on the MUET and the bands achieved by undergraduates?

Why do universities require a separate “must pass” test for undergraduates in the universities? The MUET would be a good and reliable test to place undergraduates in the different bands to show their levels of proficiency and competency in the English language.

In addition, the Teacher Education Division had, in the early years, required trainees to sit the test. English option trainees (Tesol) were required to obtain a Band 4 while non-English option teacher trainees a Band 3.

This was fine and many trainees worked hard for the Bands, taking pains to speak in English to pass the test. However, over the years, the Teacher Education Service has nullified the MUET test and issued a directive that trainees in teacher training campuses need not sit the MUET.

The division could have its reasons for exempting trainees from sitting the MUET but it is a standardised and comprehensive test that offers extra impetus to improve their proficiency.

Hopefully, the authorities will take measures to place emphasis on the significance of the MUET requirements.

Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Letters 13 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:07 AM

Children may lose faith in us

IF this were 1994, Year Six pupils might have just re-sat their Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) papers without much thought to the reason behind the changes. But, this is 2014, and their first introduction to ABC is not ‘Apple’, ‘Bear’ and ‘Cherry’ any more, but ‘Android’, ‘Blackberry’ and ‘Computer’. They are smart and their minds are governed by curiosity, and this time, it doesn’t kill the cat. It kills us, the adults.  ​News that UPSR candidates need to re-sit their exam due to a leak has left more than 470,000 candidates feeling disappointed and de-motivated. It is clearly our concern to bring the perpetrators to justice but shouldn’t we also worry about how the children perceive us now?

At home, these children are constantly reminded by their parents about the dos and don’ts. Their teachers teach them discipline, morality and attitude at school. They visit their grandparents just to receive more advice about the importance of education and good values. The community also motivates them to keep dreaming big for their future.

The damage has been done and these innocent children have to suffer from it. Power has been abused. Children may think that we don’t practise what we preach, and they will lose faith in us.

Your front-page headline, “Preserve exam integrity” (New Sunday Times, Sept 14) showed a 12-year-old girl who felt victimised following the leaked UPSR English and Science exam papers, and who thus lodged a police report.

She represents other 12-year-olds who find it hard to feign their emotion, knowing that their future is not taken seriously by some irresponsible people. It is upsetting that some of us fail to maintain our accountability and integrity, and that is a point to ponder.

If this issue is repeated, chances are our eloquent speech on instilling positive values will not work that well any more. By all means, we should all adhere to the ethical principles and standards of our profession. Muhamad Solahudin Ramli, Marang, Terengganu NST Letters 15 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:07 AM

No short way to mastering English

I APPRECIATE and support Syed Nadzri’s bold views on the current education system, in particular the teaching of the English language (“Not an attempt to ridicule, but ….”, NST, Sept 9).

The learned writer points out (and rightly so) that the constant changes to the country’s education policies have led to students’ poor performance in the subject, both in urban and as well as rural schools.

Every time the authorities shift the goalpost, students are left in the lurch and parents more confused and confounded. The abolition of the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English is a case in point.

We need not stress or dwell on the importance of the English language. Instead, we should focus on the need to review the present system and to provide practical solutions to enable students to master the language.

It is time lawmakers and laymen realised that English is a difficult and complex language, and there is no shortcut to attain proficiency in it.

Sufficient time and sustained efforts over a long period are vital to acquire a good command of the language, both written and spoken.

Here, the teacher plays a crucial role. The teacher must have been trained to teach the language and must have the communication skills to impart the knowledge. We cannot afford to have the blind leading the blind.

Students must have a good grounding in English grammar. Grammar is the building block to speaking and writing grammatically correct English. Generally, children from homes where English is habitually spoken find it easier to understand and grasp the rudiments of English grammar.

English literature, poetry, debates, drama and plays enhance students’ conversational and oratory skills, and even give them the courage to argue with dramatic intensity when the situation demands.

Last but not least is the importance of reading. Parents must inculcate the reading habit in their children from a young age. They must be provided with books close to their level of development and interests. Besides magazines and periodicals, newspapers also provide vast materials to improve their knowledge and literary skills.

S. Sundareson, Petaling Jaya, Selangor NST LETTERS 15 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:07 AM

Time to resolve our differences

RECENT developments in the country have caused concern for people from all walks of life.

Suddenly, a land which wants to play a meaningful role in the international community and that is well-known among nations in Southeast Asia has gained international attention due to some adverse happenings.

Even ordinary people, who want a quiet and peaceful life while trying to cope with the demands of our time such as placing food on the table, are caught up in different political issues, court trials involving prominent politicians, and
lately, the leak in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah examination.

There is never a day in which we can read worthwhile news that will lift the spirit of the nation except the many political statements, political slander and accusations, court trials, threats and arguments, among others.

The nation will rise to the challenge when its citizens are united.

There is never a day in which we can read worthwhile news that will lift the spirit of the nation except the many political statements, political slander and accusations, court trials, threats and arguments, among others.

What has become of us, who once boasted of a united and harmonious community which, despite religious, cultural and racial diversities, was a model of racial tolerance and understanding?

We were careless in not preserving this unique combination of beautiful diversities and have allowed many differences to take root and flourish, and which have caused a serious relational dent.

Who has caused or allowed this damage to the fabric of our national unity that was once highly hailed, praised and admired by other nations?

Were we not once exemplary in our acceptance and tolerance of one another without having to use unethical means or showing off our power, whether it was political or otherwise, to put one another down?

I was at a class reunion recently. I deeply appreciate my schoolmates from bygone years coming together to celebrate since leaving high school 43 years ago.

The three main races were present and there was no inkling of any racial, religious or cultural difference, but we sensed openness and comradeship when we began to open up to one another.

We recalled those years in school when we could learn and do things together without the thought of any racial, religious or cultural difference.

Oh, how we miss those years where we could sit and eat without any preconceived ideas or bad feelings for one another.

Generally, this present generation does not know what it means to sit with people of different races and faiths, and to be able to interact and communicate without a second thought to the need to be careful with what we say.

Matters that were not an issue during the early years of the then Malaya, especially the era between the 1950s and the 1970s, are today matters of great sensitivity and everyone must be extremely careful not to utter careless words or say the wrong things.

What has become of us since then? What has caused us to regress to this level of national identity?

I urge Malaysians to come together regardless of racial, religious, and cultural identities to assist in bringing peace and harmony to our community, and politicians should close ranks regardless of political affiliation to work for the common good of the people who have elected them to office.

We have much to gain and much to lose too if we do not pick up the shattered pieces and place them together again.

We cannot afford to be careless or reckless with our speech and action that can cause deep resentment and hatred among the masses.

Malaysia shall rise up to the challenges nationally, regionally and internationally when we are united and peacefully co-existing as fellow Malaysians. Isn’t it time to resolve our differences?  

Dr Tan Eng Bee, Kajang, Selangor NST Letters 15 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:08 AM

Sarawak, Sabah have gained much

THERE are unsettling voices from Sabah and Sarawak calling for the cessation of these two states from Malaysia. These callings did not emerge from the common people but from politicians and leaders with vested interests. They cite the lack of development and neglect by the Federal Government as reasons for such unhappiness.

I have personally been acquainted with these two states since the early-1970s, conducting dance and drama courses for the then Culture, Youth and Sports Ministry in Sabah and Social Development Ministry in Sarawak.

At that time, the two state capitals, Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) and Kuching, were towns with agricultural and fishing preoccupations.

Since then, with federal financial and human resource aid, these two states have undergone tremendous development.  Both Kota Kinabalu and Kuching have assumed city status with spectacular administrative buildings, shopping malls, condominiums, palatial homes and housing estates sprouting like mushrooms.

The Federal Government has helped promote Sabah and Sarawak as tourist destinations.

The outlying areas, too, have seen development, especially in the building of schools and small enterprises. The people are better educated with colleges, polytechnics, Mara colleges, a private university like Curtin and public universities — Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak now produce graduates to fill the needs of the public and the private sectors.

These educational institutions were established under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Education and were initially staffed by Malaysians from the peninsula. All these institutions have reduced the illiteracy rate in Sabah and Sarawak.

The current Federal Tourism and Culture Ministry and its former designations have promoted Sabah and Sarawak as tourist destinations. The Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Mount Kinabalu National Park, Poring Hot Springs and of course, the world famous diving site, Sipadan Island, off Semporna, in the Sulu Sea as well as Ligitan and Mabul, among others, all in Sabah, are now world renowned tourist destinations.

Together with Sabah, the same ministry has promoted Sarawak eco destinations such as the Mulu caves complex, Bako National Park and its longhouses with all the tribal splendour.

Various types and classes of hotels have sprung up to cater to the influx of tourists and other types of visitors.

The Federal Government has been instrumental in the development of the huge Bakun hydro dam for the generation of electricity in Sarawak.

With federal help, Sabah exports a hosts of agricultural, industrial and marine products.  And all these enterprises, mostly through federal initiatives, have created jobs for the local population and increased the per capita income and the quality of life of the people.

Further, the Federal Government is committed to ensure the security of both Sabah and Sarawak and to thwart any belligerent encroachment into Malaysian territory.

To say that Sabah and Sarawak have been neglected is to deny the sincere efforts of the Federal Government in pouring huge amounts of money into infrastructure and human development.

It is the responsibility of the state leaders to ensure that developmental funds are disbursed accordingly for projects that benefit the people. They must work in tandem with the federal agencies to ensure that these targets are met.

Putrajaya should never be faulted, for it has been sincere in creating a prosperous nation that spans both sides of the South China Sea. But, Putrajaya cannot work alone; it must get the cooperation and involvement of the state leaders.

Thus, the reasons for calling for cessation are not tenable, for Sabah and Sarawak have benefited tremendously by being part of Malaysia.

In fact, we need each other to prosper, and the Federal Government that represents all the states will see to the realisation of this prosperity.   Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin, University Sains Malaysia, Penang NST Letters 15 September 2014

One national day for 1Malaysia

IN my view, the recently-concluded celebrations marking the 57th anniversary of Merdeka should, for reasons of historical integrity if nothing else, be the last in the Aug 31 Merdeka series.

With the coming into being of the Federation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963, Aug 31 has lost much of its mystique, significance and legitimacy as our national day. The date has tended to divide us, the people of the mainland states and those of our fellow-Malaysians on the island of Borneo.

I believe Sept 16 should replace Aug 31 as our new Malaysia Foundation Day to commemorate our coming together as a new nation.

This will neither detract in any way from Tunku Abdul Rahman’s important role in securing independence for the Federation of Malaya, nor diminish his brilliant statesmanship in managing the complex process involved in the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. The Tunku will always be “Bapa Malaysia”.

Malaysia Foundation Day will truly reflect both the spirit and substance of 1Malaysia. For a nation still desperately in search of a distinctive identity, it cannot be right to continue with the patently absurd practice of observing two “national” celebrations.

We should have the wisdom and the courage to remove this contentious obstacle to national unity. Tunku Abdul Aziz, Kuala Lumpur NST Letters 16 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:05 AM

Don’t take unity for granted

A S we commemorate the 51st anniversary of the formation of Malaysia today, the 1Malaysia Foundation calls on the people to continue fostering inter-racial harmony, integration and unity which are vital ingredients for the success of multiracial Malaysia.

Through the celebration of Malaysia Day, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia are brought closer together in the spirit of regional integration and national unity in 1Malaysia.

Sabah and Sarawak are practical and visible examples of unity in diversity, where Malaysians of diverse ethnic groups live, learn, work and play together harmoniously.

As a matter of fact, Malaysia Day should rightly be declared as Unity Day to reflect the aspirations of all Malaysians to stand united in the face of all odds.

It is occasions such as the Malaysia Day celebrations that enable Malaysians to rekindle their patriotic spirit which is most crucial in the building of unity in a multiracial nation like ours.

Malaysia Day celebrations should be a unifying force to bring people of diverse races together for a common goal and for the success of the country.

I always believe that being a Malaysian does not make anyone less of a Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban, etc.

Malaysians should start accepting each other as Malaysians regardless of race and religion and should be proud to identify themselves first as Malaysians, for such identification fosters patriotism and develops unity among our nation’s diverse races.

Although ethnic relations in the country are generally satisfactory, we must certainly not take our inter-racial and inter-religious harmony for granted.

Malaysians of different ethnic origin must always be conscious of the need to have mutual respect for one another.

They must always remain vigilant and be conscious of the sensitivities of our respective religions and cultures for the sake of inter-racial harmony.

The process of establishing a united Malaysian nation is a continuous one, and what has been achieved so far must be nurtured and reinforced.

Unity is a priceless gift and a symbol of our humanity. It is the foundation upon which we build relationships, families, communities and a nation. It is the bond that seals our nationhood.

Unity must first start with the individual. If there is unity in a person’s thoughts, emotions and actions, it will be reflected in how they treat others.

Many people are taking unity for granted. This is not a healthy development. In a multiracial, multireligious and multicultural country like Malaysia, continuous efforts must be made by all Malaysians to nurture and reinforce unity.

Let us include every Malaysian. We must start speaking with one voice, one that is inclusive of Malaysians of every ethnic background.

We all contribute to the stability and economic prosperity of this country. Let us all be committed to promote a culture of peace, harmony and unity.

The Rukun Negara is our guide for nation-building and should be respected and practised by all. It is a shared vision for national unity. Its principles should always be upheld and practised for we must never take for granted the stability, peace and harmony we have attained. Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Trustee, 1Malaysia Foundation NST Letters 16 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:05 AM

Relish the challenge of a resit

I AM worried but not because of the recent Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah exam paper leak. I am worried but not because students have to resit the Science and English papers. I am worried but not because two senior officials in the Education Ministry have been suspended.

What I am worried about is how our primary schoolchildren are reacting to the problem.

It was reported that stressed out 12-year-old Nur Syazwana Batrisya Abdul Aziz of SK Taman Cahaya Masai in Johor Baru lodged a police report over the leaked UPSR English and Science exam papers through her father yesterday (NST, Sept 14).

I can understand her feelings.

But do exams have to be a burden and a chore?   Do schoolchildren have to dread taking exams?   Do they have to experience frustration and stress if they have to resit exams?

The  answers to the above can be “Yes” or “No”. It depends on the student. Does he or she view an exam as a test or assessment? Or, does he or she view an exam as a learning experience, something that is challenging in life?

As William Shakespeare once said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”.

And the enduring and abiding quote by Victor Frankl, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom”.

Why do our students choose to suffer rather than embrace the inevitable?

Sitting or resitting an exam is not the end of the world. There are many more setbacks and crises in life that are worse than sitting an exam.

Even the iconic Apple iPhone faced hiccups during its launch. Countless users encountered problems with its Maps application.

Look at Apple — it has been working hard to solve the problems and now it has a much improved Apple Maps in iOS 7.

Then, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and our country, experienced the tragic loss of precious lives due to the disappearance of MH370 and the shooting down of MH17. Those are crises of epic proportions, unprecedented in the history of airlines.

Look at MAS. It still has to pick up the pieces, and undergo restructuring and pruning of its staff. Life goes on for MAS, even after the two tragedies.

In a famous Stanford marshmallow test, American children aged 4 were given a marshmallow each. They could either eat the marshmallow immediately, or not eat it and wait for 15 minutes and have an extra marshmallow.

The startling conclusion was that when the researchers tracked the subjects 40 years later, those children who were able to resist the temptation and wait for 15 minutes to have an additional marshmallow had fewer behavioural problems in life, fewer drug problems, were less likely to become obese, were more successful in life and scored an average 210 points more on the American Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

I would like to urge our 12-year-olds to take this leaked paper incident as their “marshmallow test”. Do not get upset and stressed-out now but wait patiently until the end of this month and enjoy the fruits of your labour. You all have another two weeks to really delve deeply into your study of the subjects, solidifying and fortifying your grasp of the subjects.

When life deals you lemons, make lemonade. Relish the challenge of taking your exams again and become more resilient. Who knows, the leak may be a blessing in disguise. L.C.B., Cheras, Selangor NST Letters 17 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:08 AM

Corruption rears its ugly head

INTEGRITY SHAKEN by the headline news of the RM4 billion loss of government revenue due to agency mismanagement, misuse of power and corruption, Dr Rokiah Talib, in her letter (NST, Sept 8) asked: “Where have we gone wrong?”

I feel that this billion-dollar rhetorical question is relevant and timely, in view of the calamities that have befallen our country, including the leak of the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah papers.

Different people have different answers. Mine, as a Muslim, is simply that the wrath of God is being revealed, against all godlessness, unrighteousness, wickedness, disobedience and sins.

It is regrettable that there are black sheep in the enforcement agencies, which are made up of more than 95 per cent Malay Muslims and have been entrusted with heavy responsibilities to enforce the law and collect revenue.

Muslims are forbidden to commit sins and are commanded to abide by the teaching of the Quran and Sunnah yet many disobey and commit such sins as consuming alcohol, adultery, gambling, drug abuse, misuse of powers and, above all, corruption.

As a result, they succumb to greed and excessive desires to acquire or possess more than what one needs.

They become so materialistic and tend to make use of their entrusted position to amass more money, houses, expensive cars, wives and properties by resorting to corruption.

When they are caught, Malay observers would just quote the Malay proverb Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi (We trust in the fence to protect our padi, but it is the very fence that eats the padi).

The proverb will remain a proverb and the Malays will use it, again and again, on those without integrity or who are untrustworthy.

Nothing is being done positively to eradicate corruption by repairing, strengthening, supervising, monitoring, cautioning, advising and taking serious action against the fence for eating the padi.

I know some people will quote another Malay proverb, Jangan jaga tepi kain orang. (Don’t mind other people’s business), so even the heads of departments will choose to close an eye to whatever their subordinates are doing.

Some parents, too, would not caution or advise their children when they commit sinful acts.

Islam allows Muslims, up to a certain extent, to caution, advise, and counsel wayward fellow Muslims so that they will not go astray and commit sins.

This is evident from Surah Al-‘Asr in the Quran: “By (the Token of) Time (through the ages) / Verily Man is in loss/Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.”

I feel that it is the responsibility of all heads of department to obey the tenets of Islam as mentioned above to monitor, counsel and caution their officers who are found living beyond their means.

The government’s action in suspending the two top Malaysian Examination Board officers is a step in the right direction.

It is proper that the heads of department should be held responsible for the actions of their officers.

In fact, it is about time the death penalty be imposed on anyone found guilty of corruption.

Nor Shahid Mohd Nor, Petaling Jaya, Selangor NST Letters 18 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:12 AM

Tackle unity issues through schools NST


THE formation of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) is indeed timely. The obvious signs of disunity have always been present in our society. They have now surfaced with a vengeance, as can be seen from the numerous police reports on religious issues, racial protests, the vicious remarks in the social media about the sovereignty of our kings and other issues.

It is pointless to draft bills, pass laws and mete out punishments for racial violations if we are not ready to resolve this root problem. We have to consider the long-term impact of the lawful segregation of education on our young, innocent children. We cannot segregate them in their prime and expect them to come together as adults.

We must nurture children from young to respect each other’s religion and culture.

These could be just the tip of the iceberg and should be seen as a silent epidemic that needs serious attention from the government.

Ironically, while we are exalting in the elusive, multiracial “Unity in Diversity”, the “1 Malaysia” and the latest “Kitasama” concepts, the nation has yet to move beyond the fundamental hurdle facing integration, namely  the segregated primary schools, independent schools and the religious schools.

These schools have racially compartmentalised our children, not only in education but also socially. The impact of such racial segregation in education on the young can be deep, wide and long lasting. Isolated from an early age, children from these schools are intolerant and rarely understand or respect the religions, ways and cultures of the other races. Some of these schools even become active breeding grounds for racism, extremism and xenophobia.

Coming from a multiracial school with many good Chinese and Indian friends, I find it sad that our children do not interact with the other races any more. Many will go on living their whole lives without making a single friend from another race.

Social interactions, when they happen, are superficial, guarded and lacking in openness. It is a complex, uncertain interaction imbibed from an early age with mistrust, fear and distrust of the other races. Most of these inhibitions and social anxieties would have been generated by our segregated schools and negative communal presumptions.

On hindsight, the bigger share of the blame for this should be borne by our education system. The great compromise in the Razak Report of 1956 had inadvertently allowed for national type or vernacular schools at the primary level. No other nation in the world allows for this. It is a continuance of the British divide-and-rule policy, which has divided us from the start.

Our leaders and the opposition know that this is the root cause of ethnic polarisation, social and commercial inequalities in Malaysia. In the proposed new National Harmony Bill, perhaps the NUCC will take a serious look at the issue.

It is pointless to draft bills, pass laws and mete out punishments for racial violations if we are not ready to resolve this root problem. We have to consider the long-term impact of the lawful segregation of education on our young, innocent children. We cannot segregate them in their prime and expect them to come together as adults.

We have to make it happen as it is really unrealistic to anticipate voluntary responses from our children without bringing them together. We must catch them young and mould them to be multiracial.

The main process should happen through the schools. However, since the right for these schools is enshrined in our Constitution and is irrevocable, the only option left is to make all our schools more multiracial. And, this must include the Chinese schools.

Chinese schools have a lot to offer. We can learn a great deal from them regarding financial management, discipline, hard work and dedication. Besides, their mastery of numbers is almost legendary. So, we must bring the Chinese schools into the mainstream by making them more multiracial. In fact, it is high time the other races learn the Chinese language and the subject should be offered in all our schools.

The first step forward is to allow national schools and Chinese schools to maintain their status quo in all things except student ratio.

This must be done with the consent of all the communities. Schools in big cities with an equal composition of the races should not be allowed to enrol more than 50 per cent of any ethnic group. The projects should then be closely monitored and researched by competent experts from the various races. Alkut, Kota Baru, Kelantan   Letters 18 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:12 AM

Don’t let prejudice cloud our judgment

UPSR LEAKS THE investigation into the leak of the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) papers has become breaking news in many newspapers and tabloids.

It costs our teachers blood, sweat and tears to help us achieve our successes today, and we owe them for that

Teachers’ contributions to the world of education are countless and priceless

As the probe widens, more teachers have been arrested to help police with the investigation.  Consequently, people have started being judgmental and stopped believing in teachers, not only the ones involved but also those who are not.

This over-generalisation should not occur and the definition of the noble profession should remain positive. It is not fair to judge the quality of other apples in the basket based solely on the bad one on top.

It is also necessary for us to filter everything we hear so that we will not jump to conclusions. After all, we should think before we leap, shouldn’t we?

To treat teachers who have nothing to do with the offence as badly as those who have tarnished the good name of the profession   is unjust and unprofessional. It might be hard to forget a person’s mistake but to recollect his or her good deeds may help the forgiving process.

Let’s look at the bright side of the continuum. Teaching is, figuratively speaking, a profession that covers many other professions, too.

Teachers are “doctors” who inject pace and purpose into lessons. They are “pilots” who fly the students high to achieve their dreams. They are “comedians” who crack jokes to give their students a break from studies. They are “chefs” who serve students food for thought. They are “photographers” who capture their audience’s attention in the classroom. They are “scientists” who experiment different strategies of learning. They are “designers” who design creative activities during lessons. They are “dancers” who ensure that students take the right steps and moves in life. They are “police officers” who help discipline the children at school.

Their contributions to the world of education are countless and priceless, and they deserve our appreciation.

In his 1952 novel, East Of Eden, author John Steinbeck used this word,timshel — a Hebrew word that means the “power to choose” between what is right and what is wrong. According to the literary work, humans have the right to make a choice in life but they have to bear with the outcomes.

In the case of the leak, those involved in the crime have chosen to take the risk as they are aware of the repercussions of their actions.

However, we should not punish other teachers who stay ethical and loyal to their profession. In fact, we should be proud of them for sustaining the beauty and quality of the teaching profession.

Do not let prejudice control us and prevent us from being able to differentiate between right and wrong, innocence and guilt, and good and bad.

It costs our teachers blood, sweat and tears to help us achieve our successes today, and we owe them for that.

Muhamad Solahudin Ramli, Marang, Terengganu NST Letters 18 September 2014

Plugging leaks in a connected world

THE standard operating procedure (SOP) for the handling of examination papers is being reviewed by the Education Ministry to try and stem leaks, like that of the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) Science and English papers recently, which circulated on social media. The immediate reaction by the ministry was to suspend the head of the Examination Board and her deputy. And now, several individuals, including teachers, have been remanded by the police and their mobile phones confiscated. A photo of the papers, with the ministry’s logo clearly visible, meant that a crime had been perpetrated.

This raises the question of the restrictive nature of the crime, which according to some quarters, needs a wider redefinition. Currently, for as long as there is no direct evidence — for example, a retyped version cannot legally be considered a leak — police action is not possible, which has meant that in the past, possible leaks occurred but plugging them was impossible. The assumption is that what is making the rounds could easily be questions spotted or developed by tuition centres, say. After all, coincidences do occur. However, in this instance, that there was a leak is irrefutable, which makes it a chance to impose harsh punishments for a despicable crime. Nevertheless, the most sensible remedy would be to ensure SOP that are watertight and not open to abuse.

While the existing SOP has been around for some time and served the country well, times have changed. In a world where information and communications technology (ICT) pervades, it is no longer appropriate to maintain manual methods, no matter how secure. But now that it has been breached, it would make sense for the ministry to avail itself of the opportunity to upgrade or even totally revamp the SOP to make it invulnerable to abuse. Towards this end, a committee of nine has been set up, headed by former chief justice Tun Zaki Azmi. The ministry responsible is taking the matter seriously and within the three months given to complete the review, stakeholders are expected to actively participate, among them, the teachers unions.

Leaked papers have been a problem, not just in Malaysia, but elsewhere, too. Consequently, computerisation has become a key component of SOPs around the world. A proposal emanating from India has suggested that once question papers are ready for printing and distribution, it can be supervised by only one person who, by default, will be blamed for any leaks. Meanwhile, the process of formulating the question papers, too, needed to be carefully secured.

Computers used must be over a secure system where access is highly restricted; passwords used to gain entry and access will be given to only one person, where possible. Where there is need to communicate, secure networks must be used and where necessary, especially if emails cannot be avoided, messages must be encrypted. Servers used for storage of question papers must be ones dedicated for the purpose and access restricted to authorised personnel only.
NST Editorial 18 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:12 AM

Mengurus untung rugi ekonomi rakyat

SEMASA Majlis Penerangan Perdana Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan (GST) di Pusat Dagangan Dunia Putra (PWTC) tempoh hari, Menteri Kewangan II, Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah menyatakan bahawa purata pendapatan 40 peratus golongan berpendapatan terendah merekodkan peningkatan. Ini satu kemajuan yang cukup baik bagi ekonomi rakyat bawahan!

Menurutnya lagi, golongan ini sentiasa mendapat keutamaan Kabinet kerana tiada gunanya Malaysia menjadi negara maju jika ramai rakyatnya tidak mampu mengharungi kehidupan serba mahal kerana kos sara hidup yang tinggi.

Dalam konteks ini bolehlah dihuraikan bahawa Kabinet berperanan sebagai 'Ahli Lembaga Pengarah' yang diamanahkan oleh rakyat sebagai pemegang saham utama dalam mengurus risiko atau untung rugi ekonomi rakyat. Ini dibuktikan apabila Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak sendiri sebagai 'Pengerusi Ahli Lembaga Pengarah' memberi penerangan mengenai GST kepada 4,000 orang dalam majlis itu.

Beliau boleh sahaja mengarahkan orang bawahannya dalam Kementerian Kewangan mahupun Jabatan Kastam Diraja Malaysia tetapi tetap mengambil tanggungjawab untuk menerangkan sendiri kepada rakyat.

Terlalu banyak kekeliruan berlaku mengenai GST. Buktinya, sehari selepas majlis itu terdapat laporan media bahawa harga rumah dijangka naik 3-4% selepas pelaksanaan GST.

Kenyataan sebegini amat meresahkan rakyat. Mujurlah pihak Kastam lekas menafikan dakwaan itu.

Secara rasionalnya, penjelasan yang dibuat oleh pihak Kastam lebih kukuh memandangkan terdapat bahan binaan yang pada masa ini dikenakan cukai jualan 10 peratus akan hanya dikenakan GST 6 peratus bermula 1 April 2015.

Jadi secara logiknya, harga rumah semakin murah sebab berlaku penjimatan. Ini yang diharapkan oleh rakyat, namun adakah ia benar-benar berlaku kerana kita mengetahui dalam soal rumah, harga yang ditawarkan terlalu banyak dipengaruhi faktor tamak.

Ini baharu satu kes. Belum lagi melibatkan barangan dan perkhidmatan lain.

Apabila rakyat masih kabur, mulalah pelbagai spekulasi dan maklumat palsu disebarkan oleh pihak-pihak tertentu. Tidak mustahil akan ada yang percaya bulat-bulat.

Kerajaan dan pihak yang diberi tanggungjawab untuk menjelaskan GST perlu memudahkan sesi penerangan. Usahlah menerangkan secara teknikal kepada rakyat. Kalau kepada orang korporat tidak mengapalah. Perjelaskan kebaikan GST dan berikan jawapan kepada persoalan yang bermain di fikiran rakyat.

Setiap 'serangan' perlu dijelaskan sampai rakyat faham. GST bukan sahaja membabitkan syarikat korporat dan usahawan tetapi merangkumi seluruh rakyat Malaysia. Kalau GST tidak dijelaskan dengan bahasa yang mudah difahami secara menyeluruh, maka akan berlaku pelbagai tohmahan dan fitnah kepada pihak kerajaan.

Risiko sebegini perlu diurus dengan baik. Jika tidak, akan berlakunya krisis yang pada awalnya dijangka boleh diselesaikan, rupa-rupanya berpanjangan dan akhirnya memudaratkan semua orang.

Rakyat sebenarnya cukup sensitif apabila mendengar sahaja harga barangan dan perkhidmatan meningkat. Tetapi kalau setakat meningkat sedikit sahaja tidak mengapalah. Mungkin boleh diterima. Tetapi kalau harga barangan dan perkhidmatan meningkat keterlaluan, inilah yang rakyat berasa mereka tidak dijaga dengan baik.

Sebab itu apabila diumumkan bahawa purata pendapatan rakyat Malaysia meningkat daripada RM5,000 kepada RM5,900, rakyat tidak nampak impak positifnya kepada mereka. Bagi mereka terutama golongan berpendapatan rendah dan sederhana, kos sara hidup meningkat tinggi dan cukup menekan.

Mengulas kritikan berhubung isu purata pendapatan rakyat Malaysia, Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar menjelaskan ia adalah perkiraan mudah yang melihat pada median pendapatan rakyat Malaysia, iaitu sebanyak RM4,258 sebulan. Ini bermakna sebahagian rakyat berada di bawah RM4,258 sebulan dan sebahagiannya pula melebihi paras itu.

Dalam pada itu, pengumuman Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP) bahawa sebanyak 69 peratus pencarum yang berumur 54 tahun mempunyai caruman di bawah paras RM50,000 memang menggerunkan.

Jumlah RM50,000 terlalu sedikit untuk menempuh kehidupan selepas bersara dalam keadaan kos sara hidup semakin tinggi. Lagipun jangka hayat penduduk Malaysia semakin panjang. Apakah akan terjadi selepas caruman habis digunakan?

Sebab itulah, kerajaan perlu mengukuhkan lagi jaringan keselamatan sosial meliputi perlindungan kepada seluruh golongan yang memerlukan termasuk yang berpendapatan rendah, orang kelainan upaya (OKU) dan gelandangan.

Dengan mengukuhkan lagi jaringan keselamatan sosial, bantuan kepada golongan sasar dapat disampaikan dengan segera sekali gus mengurangkan gejala sosial kesan masalah ekonomi dan kewangan yang dihadapi oleh mereka.

Baharulah kelihatan bahawa pemimpin-pemimpin yang dipilih oleh rakyat sentiasa mengurus risiko ekonomi mereka dengan baik seiring kemakmuran Malaysia. Rohami Shafie ialah Pensyarah Kanan Perakaunan dan Kewangan, Pusat Pengajian Perakaunan (SOA), Kolej Perniagaan (COB), Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM). Utusan/Rencana/20140918

Isu-Isu Akhbar Cina


AKHBAR Nanyang Siang Pau bertarikh 17 September 2014 menyiarkan artikel mengenai isu kebocoran kertas soalan Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) tahun ini.

Artikel bertajuk 'Kementerian Pendidikan hampakan rakyat?' yang ditulis oleh Mung Lun Yong disiarkan dalam ruangan Pendapat Yan Lun halaman W3.

Kebanyakan orang ramai beranggapan, peperiksaan adalah satu cara terbaik untuk menilai pengetahuan seseorang.

Ketika pemerintahan Dinasti Chang He di China lebih 5,000 tahun dahulu, tahap ketahanan dan kemampuan seseorang itu dinilai berasaskan kepada berapa banyak tangkapan binatang buruan mereka.

Pada zaman Dinasti Han Selatan, individu yang diuji dan didapati mempunyai budi pekerti mulia telah diangkat menjadi pendeta manakala ketika Dinasti Tang, peperiksaan diadakan bagi menilai penulisan seseorang itu dan jika lulus, akan diiktiraf sebagai cerdik pandai.

Sistem pendidikan di Malaysia pula mencontohi pendidikan di Britain apabila beberapa siri peperiksaan diadakan sejak sekolah rendah sehingga ke peringkat universiti bagi menilai tahap kecerdasan seseorang.

Antara yang diadakan adalah peperiksaan UPSR yang melibatkan murid sekolah rendah berusia 12 tahun.

Bagaimanapun, yang berbeza tahun ini ialah apabila 473,000 murid perlu kembali semula ke meja peperiksaan setelah berlaku kebocoran kertas soalan beberapa mata pelajaran.

Dalam pada itu, menteri terlibat pula dengan segera meminta maaf kepada ibu bapa, guru dan murid yang mengambil peperiksaan dan bertindak menggantung tugas dua pegawai kanan Lembaga Peperiksaan.

Pihak berkuasa kini memerah otak untuk menyiasat siapakah yang terlibat menyebarkan salinan kertas soalan berkenaan.

Sebenarnya terdapat banyak peringkat yang boleh menyebabkan kebocoran itu berlaku. Tindakan tegas terhadap pihak berkenaan adalah perlu selaras dengan hakikat kemakmuran dan kemunduran sesebuah negara bergantung kepada pendidikan.

Sebab itu masyarakat Cina amat pentingkan pendidikan dan mereka sanggup berkorban apa sahaja bagi membolehkan anak mereka mendapat pelajaran yang terbaik.

Hukuman terhadap pihak tidak bertanggungjawab adalah bagi memastikan keagungan dan kewibawaan negara tidak dimusnahkan oleh segelintir individu yang sanggup melakukan apa sahaja kerana mendapat sedikit habuan.

Kerajaan juga perlu mewujudkan satu mekanisme baharu yang lebih baik bagi mengelak kejadian kebocoran kertas soalan berulang.


AKHBAR China Press bertarikh 15 September 2014 mengulas kekecewaan diluahkan oleh bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad baru-baru ini berikutan kegagalannya untuk mengubah sikap orang Melayu walaupun telah memerintah negara ini selama 22 tahun.

Artikel yang ditulis oleh Tan Guan Fong bertajuk 'Hasil peninggalan Mahathir yang teruk' disiarkan dalam ruangan Kedai Kopi Orang Ramai halaman C11.

Semasa Dr. Mahathir meluahkan kekecewaannya, sudah pasti dirinya merasa cukup selesa, kerana menganggap beliau seorang pahlawan bangsa yang berani menyebut perkara yang orang lain tidak berani sebut dan mampu mengherdik kaumnya sendiri.

Beliau boleh memberi pandangan mengikut apa yang dirasakannya betul dan tidak takut kena marah. Beliau juga tidak gentar didakwa di bawah Akta Hasutan. Inilah orang yang bernama Tun Mahathir!

Baru-baru ini, Dr. Mahathir telah mengumumkan beliau tidak menyokong Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Dikhabarkan kenyataan itu ada kaitannya dengan langkah kerajaan mahu menggunakan Akta Hasutan untuk mengambil tindakan kepada pihak penentang.

Apabila Dr. Mahathir mengeluarkan sesuatu kenyataan, memang susah untuk diatasi. Apa sahaja yang beliau mahu lakukan, memang boleh menjadi kenyataan. Sebab itu, pada masa akan datang jika lahir seorang lagi Perdana Menteri daripada keluarga Dr. Mahathir, dikhuatiri itu juga rancangan daripada beliau.

Seorang yang mempunyai pengaruh begitu kuat, kenapa selepas 22 tahun masih lagi tidak dapat mengubah sikap orang Melayu? Sebabnya amat mudah kerana terdapat kelemahan pada dasar yang dilaksanakan Dr. Mahathir bagi membantu orang Melayu.

Contohnya, Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB) telah menyebabkan orang Melayu menjadi manja dan tidak mampu bersaing dengan kaum-kaum lain walaupun kita akui ia juga bermanfaat bagi membasmi kemiskinan dan menstabilkan negara.


Akhbar sama bertarikh 12 September 2014 turut mengulas tentang dasar pemerintahan kerajaan negeri Selangor yang dilihat berat sebelah.

Artikel bertajuk 'Di hari raya kaum Cina kenapa tidak beri hadiah secara adil' yang ditulis oleh Lai Shao Kuang disiarkan dalam ruangan Kedai Kopi Orang Ramai halaman C19.

Hari Raya Haji adalah hari raya korban dan penyembelihan binatang ternakan. Orang Islam akan membahagi-bahagikan daging lembu dan kambing kepada orang fakir dan miskin.

Perkara sama dilakukan oleh Menteri Besar Selangor, Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim apabila mengumumkan tujuh syarikat kerajaan negeri Selangor akan menyumbang sebanyak RM2.6 juta untuk membeli 763 lembu untuk tujuan korban bagi diagihkan kepada orang Islam.

Cuma yang menjadi persoalan kita kenapa perkara sama tidak dilakukan ketika sambutan perayaan Tahun Baru Cina dengan menghadiahkan 500 khinzir untuk upacara sembahyang?

Jika dianggap menghadiahkan khinzir itu terlalu sensitif, kerajaan negeri boleh menghadiahkan 5,000 ayam dan itik untuk kaum Cina miskin bagi menunjukkan kerajaan pembangkang prihatin dan telah membuat pembaharuan dalam pentadbiran berbanding kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN) terdahulu.

Lebih 90 peratus orang Cina di Selangor telah mengundi pihak pembangkang, tetapi tidak kelihatan pun kerajaan negeri menderma jutaan ringgit atau bunga dan kuih kepada kuil Buddha sempena Tahun Baru Cina.

Semasa susah sama-sama pikul, tetapi masa senang tidak nampak sama-sama menikmatinya. Jangan kata seekor khinzir, sebiji limau Mandarin pun tidak pernah dihadiahkan ke kuil-kuil. Utusan/Rencana/20140918

Gantikan sahaja Akta Hasutan 1948?

HARI ini berlaku polemik di peringkat kebangsaan mengenai sama ada perlu atau tidak Akta Hasutan 1948 dikekal seperti sedia ada, dipinda untuk diperkemaskan, dimansuh sama sekali atau digantikan dengan suatu undang-undang baru seperti Akta Keharmonian Kebangsaan. Semua sudut pandangan mempunyai hujah sokongan yang kuat dan penyokong tegar masing-masing.

Ordinan Hasutan 1948 mula diperkenalkan oleh kerajaan penjajah Inggeris bagi menangani Darurat 1948 yang diakibatkan pemberontakan bersenjata Parti Komunis Malaya (PKM) dan kali terakhir ianya dipinda ialah pada 1969 pasca tragedi rusuhan kaum 13 Mei.

Hakikatnya semenjak itu masyarakat Malaysia telah mengalami perubahan yang pesat dari segi landskap politik, sosial dan ekonomi. Sebagai sebuah negara demokrasi dalam transisi yang semakin matang, persoalan mencari perimbangan antara kebebasan bersuara dan keharmonian masyarakat berbilang kaum dan agama perlu menjadi matlamat semua pihak.

Saya kira apa pun pendirian warga Malaysia tentang isu ini, majoriti rakyat bersetuju bahawa sebuah negara majmuk seperti Malaysia memerlukan undang-undang khusus yang bersifat saksama, jelas dan berkesan bagi menghalang mana-mana pihak menggunakan isu kepelbagaian yang ada sebagai penyebab sengketa sesama rakyat.

Langkah ini telah dimulakan kerajaan pimpinan Allahyarham Tun Abdul Razak berlatarkan tragedi rusuhan kaum 13 Mei 1969. Beliau telah bertindak tegas meminda beberapa peruntukan Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan undang-undang negara sedia ada seperti Akta Hasutan 1948 pasca tragedi tersebut.

Pindaan ini bagi memastikan kebebasan bersuara yang dijamin undang-undang tertinggi negara ini di bawah Perkara 10 Perlembagaan Persekutuan tidak disalah guna oleh mereka yang tidak bertanggungjawab.

Melalui pindaan ini isu-isu sensitif yang melibatkan Kontrak Sosial dipastikan bersifat lampau polemik. Antara pindaan yang paling penting ialah dengan memasukkan Fasal 4 kepada Perkara 10 Perlembagaan Persekutuan;

Pada mengenakan sekatan-sekatan demi kepentingan keselamatan Persekutuan atau mana-mana bahagiannya atau ketenteraman awam di bawah Fasal (2)(a), Parlimen boleh meluluskan undang-undang melarang dipersoalkan apa-apa perkara, hak, taraf, kedudukan, keistimewaan, kedaulatan atau prerogatif yang ditetapkan atau dilindungi oleh peruntukan Bahagian III, Perkara 152, 153 atau 181 melainkan yang berhubungan dengan pelaksanaannya sebagaimana dinyatakan dalam undang-undang itu.

Penambahan fasal ini ialah pemerincian kepada kuasa sedia ada yang yang diberikan kepada Parlimen di bawah Perkara 10 Fasal 2;

Perkara 10. Kebebasan bercakap, berhimpun dan berpersatuan.

1. Tertakluk kepada Fasal (2), (3) dan (4) - (a) tiap-tiap warganegara berhak kepada kebebasan bercakap dan bersuara;

2. Parlimen boleh melalui undang-undang mengenakan - (a) ke atas hak yang diberikan oleh perenggan (a) Fasal (1), apa-apa sekatan yang didapatinya perlu atau suai manfaat demi kepentingan keselamatan Persekutuan atau mana-mana bahagiannya, hubungan baik dengan negara-negara lain, ketenteraman awam atau prinsip moral dan sekatan-sekatan yang bertujuan melindungi keistimewaan Parlimen atau mana-mana Dewan Undangan atau untuk membuat peruntukan menentang penghinaan mahkamah, fitnah atau pengapian apa-apa kesalahan.

Namun ketika itu walaupun Perkara 10 Fasal 4 memberi kuasa kepada penggubalan suatu undang-undang khusus bagi menghalang mana-mana pihak mempersoalkan apa-apa perkara, hak, taraf, kedudukan, keistimewaan, kedaulatan atau prerogatif yang ditetapkan atau dilindungi oleh peruntukan Bahagian III Perlembagaan Persekutuan (peruntukan yang berkaitan kewarganegaraan), Perkara 152 kedudukan Bahasa Melayu sebagai Bahasa Kebangsaan, Perkara 153 Perizaban Kuota berkenaan perkhidmatan, permit dan sebagainya bagi orang Melayu dan anak negeri mana-mana antara Sabah dan Sarawak dan Perkara 181 kecualian bagi kedaulatan, raja-raja namun ia tidak dilakukan apabila Parlimen kembali bersidang pada 1971.

Sebaliknya hanya Akta Hasutan 1948 telah dipinda semasa darurat 1969 dengan memasukkan definisi 'kecenderungan menghasut' yang baru iaitu Seksyen 3 (1) (f) bagi mempersoalkan apa-apa perkara, hak, taraf, kedudukan, keistimewaan, kedaulatan atau prerogatif yang ditetapkan atau dilindungi oleh peruntukan Bahagian III Perlembagaan Persekutuan atau Perkara 152, 153 atau 181 Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Hari ini telah tiba masanya kerajaan menggunakan 'kuasa' yang diberi kepada Parlimen melalui Perkara 10 Fasal 4 Perlembagaan Persekutuan ini. Ia bagi memastikan sebarang polemik politik masa depan tidak akan melibatkan mana-mana pihak menyoal peruntukan teras atau apa yang digelar peruntukan Kontrak Sosial untuk selama-lamanya.

Untuk tujuan ini Akta Hasutan 1948 perlu dimansuhkan dan digantikan dengan Akta Keharmonian Kebangsaan yang perlu digubal di bawah Perkara 10 Fasal 4 Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Apakah istimewanya suatu akta yang digubal di bawah Perkara 10 (4) berbanding Akta Hasutan 1948?

Pertama, akta yang digubal di bawah Perkara 10 (4) tidak boleh dipinda atau dimansuhkan kecuali dengan persetujuan Majlis Raja-Raja mengikut Perkara 159 Fasal 5. Bukan itu sahaja, untuk meminda akta yang bakal digubal di bawah peruntukan ini kelak akan memerlukan undi dua pertiga ahli Parlimen untuk bacaan kali pertama dan kedua, bukan majoriti mudah sebagaimana akta-akta biasa yang lain termasuk Akta Hasutan.

Bagaimanapun untuk meluluskan undang-undang ini buat kali pertama, ia hanya memerlukan undi majoriti sahaja di kedua-dua Dewan Parlimen seperti mana undang-undang biasa.

Jika Akta Hasutan 1948 diganti dengan suatu undang-undang yang digubal di bawah Perkara 10 Fasal 4, ia akan melindungi secara lebih kuat lagi peruntukan-peruntukan Kontrak Sosial yang hari ini hasil jasa Tun Razak tidak boleh dipinda kecuali dengan persetujuan Majlis Raja-Raja (Rujuk Perkara 159 Fasal 5 Perlembagaan Persekutuan).

Namun jika terdapat kelemahan kepada sebarang undang-undang baru yang akan digubal di bawah Perkara 10 Fasal 4 ini ialah ia tidak merangkumi perbuatan mempersoalkan kedudukan Perkara 3 Fasal 1 iaitu kedudukan Islam sebagai Agama Persekutuan dan perbuatan menggunakan isu-isu kaum serta agama yang tidak sampai kepada peringkat mempersoalkan kedudukan Kontrak Sosial.

Kelemahan ini boleh diselesaikan melalui pindaan Perlembagaan yang meletakkan Perkara 3 Fasal 1 iaitu kedudukan Islam sebagai Agama Persekutuan sebagai dilindungi di bawah Perkara 10 Fasal 4 dan ditambah kukuh lagi dengan diletakkan juga di bawah Perkara 159 Fasal 5, iaitu sebarang pindaan kepada kedudukan Islam memerlukan juga persetujuan Majlis Raja-Raja.

Untuk melengkapkan lagi langkah penambahbaikan ini, peruntukan Perkara 4 Fasal 1 yang memberikan kedudukan undang-undang utama Persekutuan kepada Perlembagaan Persekutuan juga perlu diletakkan di bawah Perkara 159 Fasal 5 agar sebarang pindaan kepada Perkara ini tidak boleh dilakukan secara sewenang-wenang.

Mungkin ada pihak yang akan mengajukan bahawa Perkara 4 Fasal 1 sedia dilindungi di bawah Doktrin Basic Structure namun harus diingat walaupun doktrin ini diterima di India tetapi ia belum lagi diterima di Malaysia.

Bagi perbuatan menggunakan isu-isu agama dan perkauman yang memecahbelahkan masyarakat tetapi tidak sampai kepada mempersoalkan kedudukan peruntukan Kontrak Sosial, ianya lebih elok diletakkan sebagai kesalahan di bawah Kanun Keseksaan.

Bagi isu-isu agama misalnya ianya telah sedia ditangani di bawah Seksyen 295 hingga 298A yang sedia ada sekarang. Jika peruntukan-peruntukan ini didapati tidak mencukupi, perkemaskan sahaja, begitu juga eloklah masukkan peruntukan baru yang menjenayahkan penggunaan isu-isu perkauman yang tidak sampai kepada mempersoalkan Kontrak Sosial di bawah Kanun Keseksaan.

Semenjak negara mencapai kemerdekaan dan pembentukan Malaysia lebih 50 tahun yang lalu kita telah mencapai kemajuan yang begitu pesat dari pelbagai segi, ditambah lagi dengan perkembangan pantas dan meluas teknologi maklumat dan komunikasi global yang telah mengubah secara radikal citarasa dan pandangan generasi Malaysia pasca merdeka.

Dalam menangani persoalan Akta Hasutan, sebarang kegagalan untuk mendengar suara rakyat dalam mengimbangi antara keperluan meraikan kebebasan bersuara dan memelihara keharmonian sebuah masyarakat yang majmuk akan hanya mendatangkan tentangan yang berterusan.

Sikap keras dan gopoh dalam usaha mencari titik perseimbangan antara kedua-duanya akan hanya menjejaskan wibawa kerajaan untuk jangka panjang namun bahaya tindakan yang tidak mencukupi pula ialah ianya berkemampuan membahayakan masa depan nasional.

Oleh itu tindakan kerajaan tidak boleh sama sekali bersifat knee jerk dan satu dimensi sebaliknya perlu bersifat measured dan mengambil kira semua sudut pandangan.   MAZRI MUHAMMAD ialah penganalisis politik.   Utusan/Rencana/20140918

A Change of Emphasis

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: A holistic approach to education must replace the exam-centric system that we currently employ.

Facebook was buzzing with posts on the UPSR leaks. Evidently it had brought to the fore many people’s concerns with an exam-centric system. Having given it some thought, I’ve decided to write about it in my first column.

Secondary school was an interesting time in my life. A student of 4 Coklat (named not after the cocoa-based treat but the colour), a pure-sciences class, I realised early on that it was going to be a struggle.

Biology was interesting but chromosomes looked more like worm-jelly candy rather than life defining matter. Chemistry was alright but it was tough getting past snickering at the noble gasses. Physics was downright baffling.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

After all, having just obtained 8As in the PMR, pure-sciences was the preordained choice. The As had defined what I should do, as more As' meant being qualified for the ‘elite’ science subjects. It was like unlocking secret levels in a video game and I was there. Plus, I wouldn’t want ‘to waste’ the grades. “Rugi”.

I even told myself that with tuition and some good ol’ spot questions the As would come. Much to my dismay, they never did. The drive to obtain As and the need to do well in the ‘elite’ science subjects meant being stuck in an exam-centric system that had little going for the recognition of individual learning styles and interests.

It also created an unhealthy demand for ‘exam-knowledge’ which gave rise to tuition centres specialising in answering exams. Some tuition teachers were like superstars – known for their mystical abilities to spot exam questions. Admittedly, they were a big hit with me and my friends.

Some teachers became more exam-oriented. Class was about the ‘how to answer’ rather than the ‘why this is so’. The exam-orientation overtook the more subtle nuances that lessons could offer, probably without the teachers realising themselves.

It felt as though there was little joy and motivation to pursuit knowledge for the love of it.

Memorisation superseded thinking skills and rationalising lessons. Many parents I knew gauged their children’s successes from the number of As rather than by, for instance, creativity of thought. ‘No more extra-curricular activities in Form 5’ was a common phrase.

The exam-centric system had become high-stakes.

Which is why I was glad that the Ministry of Education had introduced the School Based Assessment (SBA), better known by its Bahasa Malaysia name Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah (PBS) in 2011.

Most Malaysians, especially those with school-going children, have probably heard of the PBS because it has featured prominently in the news this year.

What many probably do not know is that the PBS' motto is "Know My Performance" (Tahu Prestasi Saya).

To me, the motto summarizes the ideal we want and need in our education system. We need to know how our students learn and develop. Some of the teachers I’ve talked to like the PBS because it is flexible, though many are still getting used to this flexibility.

Under the PBS, students have to undergo psychometric assessments to enable teachers to better understand them. Gone are the days where As lead to automatic enrollment into the science-stream. A good student could enter the arts-steam or go to a vocational college if his or her interests and talents lay there. Heck, ‘bad’ students can still do science too.

Process is given greater prominence. A student’s understanding of lessons and growth from extra-curricular activities is monitored. Teachers are able to apportion time for those who need more of it and facilitate the independent learners. In turn, parents are kept abreast of their child’s development and not merely their final grades.

Of course, there will be and have been challenges with the PBS' implementation.

Many students claim that they are unmotivated because there are no exams. But the PBS doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Learning still has to be assessed, but exams are not the be all and end all. Students need to rediscover the love for knowledge and be assured that it’s okay to not memorize all the time.

“Are the teachers capable?” is a commonly heard cry. I believe they are and trust in their professionalism. Support structures such as training and guidance are in place, and in due time they’ll get there.

Parents play an extremely vital role in ensuring that the teachers are accountable and provide the support required. Parents are key to the PBS’ success.

I feel that the arising problems are growing pains and will be overcome. The PBS is still young and time is needed to see through the changing of the old and deeply ingrained exam-centric system.

The bottom line is that a solution is in place.

What's needed now is the support to see it through.

Looking back, I’d have loved to join the arts-steam class and learned economics in school. It would have also been nice to be assessed for my debating and drama participation – activities I focused on when the pure-sciences and chase for grades started looking like worm-jelly candy to me.

Danial Rahman has more reason than most to be passionate about education. The views expressed are entirely the writer's own. The STAR Home News Opinion Online Exclusive  Thursday September 18, 2014 MYT 7:14:00 AM

Act on Sedition Act

EXCLUSIVE: Law-makers, lawyers and activists call for the permanent repeal of the 66-year old law.

PETALING JAYA: Lawmakers, lawyers, activists and policy makers are generally united in their opinion -  it is time to repeal the 66-year old Sedition Act, and not replace it with a new one.

"If you want to keep peace and harmony, we already have the Penal Code, which also covers those who wish to overthrow the government through violent means. When you talk about people who wish to incite harm on others on the basis of race or religion, the Penal Code also covers that," said constitutional lawyer Syahredzan Johan.

Under Section 121 of the Penal Code, anyone who wages war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a Ruler or the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of a state can face a death sentence or one of life imprisonment, while under Section 505 of the Penal Code, anyone who incites people to commit crimes against another group or class of people faces a maximum two year jail term, fine or both.

"When you talk about those who try to excite disaffection against the administration of justice, the courts can call people up for contempt. So the whole argument that the Sedition Act is needed to protect national harmony is wrong because harmony doesn't come from penalizing and punishing people. Harmony comes through tolerance and understanding, not through pain of punishment," said Syahredzan.

He added that if some laws were needed to preserve public order, any replacement law should strike a balance between protecting public order and upholding freedom of speech.

The Sedition Act 1948 states that a statement would be deemed seditious if it has a tendency to cause disaffection against any Ruler or the government, as laid down in Section 3(1)(a) of the Act.

Section 3 defines what constitutes words or actions with a "seditious tendency", an essential element of an offence of sedition, which is defined in Sections 4(1)(b) and 4 (1)(c) of the Act. Among other points, words or acts with "seditious tendencies" include those which could create disaffection against the administration of justice as defined under Section 3(1)(c).

Section 3(1)(e) also defines words or acts as having seditious tendencies if they can promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia.

With regards to offences, Sections 4(1)(b) and 4 (1)(c) state that anyone commits sedition if they utter any seditious words, or prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces any seditious publication, with "seditious" being defined as anything with a "seditious tendency".

Similar views were shared by both lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah as they both said the Sedition Act should be repealed, adding that legislation was not the way to create interracial harmony in Malaysia.

"We should allow a space to exist for us to talk about race and religion to foster harmony and love. You cannot legislate love. You have to give people the space to express themselves and protect their rights under the Constitution to do so," said Fadiah, who also said the Penal Code is sufficient to cover offences of racial incitement.

UndiMalaysia community mover Azira Aziz, when approached said that while there is no need to replace legislation like the Sedition Act, if one was planned, it should be narrowly drafted to act on hate speech.

"That is the only kind of discourse that should be condemned. However constructive criticism of the government is needed for any democratic government to improve and address core issues. The public has the right to tell the government what is not working, it is a basic human right," said Azira.

This view was also shared by lawmakers Kuala Terengganu MP Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar.

"There are enough laws in the country to cover any eventuality, to take care of hate speech and incitement to interracial violence . So there is no need to replace the Sedition Act once it is repealed," said Raja Kamarul.

Nurul Izzah added  that sufficient provisions existed in the Penal Code to protect not only the royalty but also the harmonious relationship between the different communities in Malaysia.

"We must remove this Act which is a legacy of the colonial era. You don't need a replacement Act," said Nurul Izzah.

Meanwhile, National Unity Consultative Council panel member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said that while the Sedition Act should be repealed and if need be, replaced with the planned National Harmony Act which is currently being drafted, the planned Act would allow for criticism of the government and judiciary, and would uphold freedom of speech.

"The main difference between the two Acts is that while under the Sedition Act you can be found guilty without any proof of intention or harm, this is not so under the National Harmony Act. We are introducing the elements of intention and harm - and there are only three things you cannot incite hatred against. Race, religion and the Rulers," said Saifuddin. Tan Yi Liang The STAR Home News Nation 18 September 2014

Accommodating diversity

Sabah and Sarawak’s special position in our federation is based on compelling socio-political, economic, geographical and legal considerations.

THERE is no universal or single set of “best practices” or institutional and constitutional designs to manage conflicts arising out of ethnic, religious, linguistic and geographical diversity. Generally, however, a federal system of government is better suited than a unitary system for accommodating diversity in a plural and divided society.

The extent of autonomy and distinctiveness allowed to the various regions (provinces, states or cantons) varies from country to country. Much depends on what the goal of the dominant elites is: is it repression, exclusion, assimilation or integration?

Repression is done through genocide and ethnic cleansing as in former Yugoslavia. Exclusion involves marginalisation of minority groups and denial to them of any meaningful economic or political participation in society.

Assimilation involves strong pressures on minorities to abandon their values, cultures, beliefs and languages and submerge into the national main. Catalans in Spain, Bretons in France, Scots and Welsh in the United Kingdom and, increasingly, Muslim emigrants in Europe suffered or are suffering such melting pot pressures.

On the other hand, integration (or inclusion and empowerment) is based on the recognition of diversity as a defining characteristic of the polity. Malaya in 1957 and, even more so, Malaysia in 1963 were inspired by the inclusivist approach that each constituent group can preserve its language, culture and custom and yet participate fully in the nation’s political and economic processes.

In 1963 in recognition of the uniqueness of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore, these states were offered terms far more favourable than what the peninsula states received in 1957. (See The Star, Sept 16).

However, fifty-one years down the road, such preferential treatment is arousing deeply opposing and partisan views. Some “nationalists” in the peninsula feel that five decades after Malaysia Day, distinctiveness must give way to more unity and uniformity on such issues as free travel and right to live and work throughout the federation.

They point to spectacular cases of over-assertiveness by Sabah and Sarawak of some of their special rights e.g. to refuse admission to and to deport Peninsular Malaysians legitimately seeking to enter these states. Some of these incidents indeed arouse constitutional concern. But all in all, Sabah’s and Sarawak’s special position in our federation is based on compelling socio-political, economic, geographical and legal considerations:

> Sabah and Sarawak were and are ethnically, culturally and religiously distinct from the peninsula.

> They bring huge territories to the federation. Their combined area of 198,069sq km exceeds Peninsular Malaysia’s 131,681sq km.

> Their combined coastline is 2,607km compared with the peninsula’s 2,068km.

> They have massive potential resources in fisheries, ports, forests, timber, petroleum, river waters, hydroelectric power and tourism.

> Despite these resources they have serious problems of poverty, illiteracy, lack of infrastructure and under-development.

> The 1963 pact between the Federation of Malaya, the UK, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore was drawn up after a lengthy process of bargaining and negotiations. The delegates of these states made very clear to the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) headed by Lord Lansdowne, with then deputy prime minister Tun Abdul Razak as the deputy chairman, that special treatment was a pre-condition for constituting Malaysia.

> The 1963 pact was not merely an internal arrangement but an international treaty.

> The sanctity of the IGC Report and Malaysia Agreement has been reiterated by our courts in several cases: Sabah v Sugumar Balakrishnan (2002), Datuk Tufail v Dato Ting (2009) and Robert Linggi v Government (2011).

In opposition to Peninsular Malaysian views against special treatment, some voices from across the South China Sea assert that the constitutional safeguards of 1963 have been whittled down. Specifically, they point to violations of the Twenty Points Manifesto of the Sabah Alliance and the 18-points of Sarawak.

A scrutiny of Sabah’s 20-point manifesto indicates that 17 out of 20 points show complete or substantial compliance. However, there are problems with three parts of the manifesto on (1) religion, (2) language and (6) immigration.

Sabah was supposed to have no state religion. During Tun Mustapha Harun’s time, the Sabah Constitution was amended by the State Assembly to adopt Islam as the state religion and to appoint the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the Head of the religion of Islam.

While Malay was to be the national language, English could be used in Sabah for all purposes, State or Federal, without limitation of time. Sabah amended this to adopt Malay as the language of the Cabinet and the Assembly subject to some exceptions.

Point 6 on Sabah’s rights over immigration is intact but the influx of illegal immigrants and their al leged
naturalisation has changed the ethnic landscape of Sabah.

What is noteworthy is that points 1 and 2 were tinkered with by Sabah itself. Likewise, the federalisation of Labuan by the federal government was with the consent of the Sabah executive. Clearly, there is some barking up the wrong tree and dissatisfaction with the decisions of some elected Sabah governments.

What can be done to douse the embers of controversy? Leaders of the federal government must recognise that Sabah and Sarawak’s restiveness is real and must be addressed.

Balancing the concerns of equity and efficiency in intergovernmental financial relations is paramount. Petrol royalty issues have triggered se pa ratist movements in many federations.

There is a need to strengthen institutional mechanisms for regular, non-partisan dialogue between the centre and the states.

> Shad Faruqi, Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM, is a passionate student and teacher of the law who aspires to make difficult things look simple and simple things look rich. Through this column, he seeks to
inspire change for the better as every political, social and economic issue ultimately has constitutional law implications. He can be reached at The views expressed here are entirely his own.  
The STAR Home > Opinion > Columnists Reflecting On The Law Thursday September 18, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

The familiar lamentations of Dr M

The former premier’s latest remarks about ‘lazy Malays’ cause a stir among Malaysians.

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad used to have only two upmarket bakery outlets known as The Loaf – one in the picturesque Telaga Harbour, where luxury yachts berth in Pulau Langkawi, and the other at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur.

The number of his outlets, which sell breads and pastries using Japanese techniques, has grown to more than five. As such, he has to hire more staff.

A few months ago, a manager was caught stealing money from the cash register.

The suspicion began when the daily collection was not deposited into the bank. The Malay manager was caught red-handed and the incident infuriated Dr Mahathir.

“I am operating a bakery and have given many opportunities to Malays to hold management positions. Unfortunately, time and time again, honesty and integrity appear to be lacking as there have been staff who keep stealing money,” he said at the launch of the book Wahai Melayu: Allah Tak Akan Ubah Nasib Melayu Kalau Kita Tak Ubah Nasib Kita Sendiri by Anas Zubedy.

“They do not seem to understand that it is wrong to take what is not theirs; they do not think of the big picture or the long term,” he said.

The statesman repeated the criticism in an interview with Utusan Malaysia last Sunday.

That led to various interpretations, particularly on his criticism of the leadership, especially the current prime minister, especially at a time when the Umno general assembly is coming up.

But those present at the book launch believe that his remarks were in line with what he has consistently brought up, whenever the occasion suited it. They dismissed any suspicion of political conspiracy.

The book by Anas, a writer and speaker on motivation, is aimed at young Malay entrepreneurs. In the foreword, the author debunks the myth that the Malays are a lazy race who are only good in politics and the arts, but not in business.

“These are self-limiting artificial boundaries and we ought to break them,” he writes.

“What we need to do is to find the right motivation and inspiration for a specific culture like the Malays.”

But in his hard-hitting speech, Dr Mahathir spent 20 minutes arguing that Malays “lack honesty and inte­grity” and that they fail to “handle money properly” unlike the Chinese or even Myanmar nationals.

Ethnic Chinese, he said, were more honest compared to native Malays where money is concerned. He said these were the reasons for the Malays’ economic failures.

“We have to be trustworthy so people will give contracts to us. When we want to give contracts, we give to the Chinese instead because we know they will do their work properly. This is our weakness – not being trustworthy,” he added.

“If we fail, we should not blame anyone but ourselves. We have failed because we did not do what was right,” he said.

In the Utusan interview, Dr Maha­thir said Malay men were still lazy, citing the gender imbalance at institutions of higher learning, where the majority was women.

“They (the men) are not interested in studying and revising. If we go to the universities, 70% of the students are women. Where are the men?”

“They prefer to be Mat Rempit, that is why I said they are lazy.”

Dr Mahathir’s comments raised a storm, with some in social media suggesting that he should be arrested for sedition. The Selangor chapter of Malay rights group Perkasa, however, termed his remarks as “father­­ly advice”.

Veteran journalist Datuk Kadir Ja­­sin reportedly said people should not get upset or sulk over Dr Maha­thir’s remarks, especially with regards to the Malays being lazy, as there were those who were hardworking and excelled in whatever they did.

“Give them a crutch and they will turn it into a paddle and a pillar,” he said, adding that there were those from the community who had succeeded and made a name for themselves in the country and all over the world.

Citing legendary warrior Hang Tuah’s famous rallying cry that Malays would not vanish from the world, Kadir said the Malays were rulers and made up the bulk of the civil service, such as the police force, Customs and Immigration departments, and the teaching profession.

Not all Malaysians would agree with Dr Mahathir’s assessment, with some saying he is still caught up in racial stereotyping, even if it is aimed at his own community.

Nobody in his right mind would say Malays are lazy, Chinese are greedy, or Indians are disho­nest. In fact, few Malaysians, especially the younger ones, would link any race in Malaysia with any specific trait or even a vocation.

The NEP has, in many ways, succeeded in its two-pronged strategy of eradicating poverty for all Ma­­laysians as well as reducing and subsequently eliminating identification of race by economic function and geographical location.

Lazy and indolent natives were a favourite theme of 19th century colonialists who wanted the natives to work at producing food while putting migrants to work on the modern economy for their benefits.

Thus grew the myth of “lazy” natives and this myth continued after independence and was even believed by some Malaysians. It was only put to rest by scholars like Syed Hussein Alatas, who wrote a seminal work The Myth of the Lazy Nativeto explain British colonial policies.

Dr Mahathir is, however, a smart man.

Not only was he the longest ser­ving prime minister, but he also turned the country into an economic powerhouse, and only smart people could achieve that.

He also believed in throwing good money at individual Malays in the hope that he could achieve a successful Malay entrepreneurial class in a short time.

Some of his efforts ended in failure while others succeeded – but the failures always got the bigger headlines.

Thus was born one of the great themes of his political life – that he had failed to change the Malay mindset and that they preferred to live poor in a rich country.

Thus was also born the phrase, Melayu Mudah Lupa (Malays forget easily).

But while such generalisations will guarantee headlines, the reality is that one simply cannot tar a whole race with the same brush, the way you tar a person or two.

Dr Mahathir might have repeated the “lazy native” syndrome perhaps to get the attention of the Malays, in particular Umno members who are in the midst of division meetings and passing resolutions in support of Islam, Malays and the rulers.

It is a given that even after his retire­ment, Dr Mahathir needs to be at the centre of national life. He needs to have everything revolving around him and needs to command the national dialogue.

So he relies on an old theme that is sure to spark a huge controversy – like the myth of the “lazy Malays”.

But Malaysians want to move on. They want to get out of this race trap and the least said about such stereotyping would be better for Malaysia. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. BARADAN KUPPUSAMY The STAR Home > News > Nation Wednesday September 17, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM