August 23rd, 2015

Kibaran bendera keramat julang jiwa merdeka

Saban tahun kita mengajak seluruh rakyat Malaysia mengibarkan Jalur Gemilang sebagai satu cara meraikan sambutan Hari Kemerdekaan.

Bagi sebahagian dari kita, ini mungkin cara paling mudah untuk mempamerkan rasa bangga sebagai rakyat Malaysia.

Sebahagian yang lain, mengibar Jalur Gemilang adalah satu aksi patriotik.

Penzahiran rasa betapa besarnya kasih dan cinta kita pada tanah air. Namun kepada sebahagian yang lain pula, Jalur Gemilang mungkin tidak mengundang apa-apa rasa dan makna.

Ia tidak lebih daripada kibaran kosong yang tidak membawa fungsi dan erti. Jalur Gemilang bukan hanya kain yang dikibar-kibar kosong. Ia adalah simbol paling penting negara kita. Ia adalah 'jiwa nurani' Malaysia.

Tanpanya, apalah makna kehidupan bernegara. Tiada simbol lain yang sepenting, seutama dan sehebat Jalur Gemilang. Jika kita menonton filem Barat, lanun pun ada bendera.

Bendera hitam dengan tengkorak putih menjadi lambang dan identiti mereka. Ia menjadi kebanggaan mereka, malah menjadi motivasi dan pembakar semangat mereka.

Apatah lagi kita sebagai bangsa merdeka, berdaulat dan bernegara, Jalur Gemilang adalah simbol negara kita. Simbol sekelompok manusia yang diikat atas tatasusila bangsa dan kenegaraan yang sama.

Malah, inilah simbol kedaulatan yang bersifat fizikal. Yang boleh kita pandang dan pegang. Bila-bila masa, di mana-mana sahaja.

Impak Jalur Gemilang

Adalah benar Parlimen atau Putrajaya adalah sebahagian daripada lambang kedaulatan kita sebagai sebuah negara merdeka.

Namun semua institusi itu tidak sama kesan dan getarannya dengan memiliki dan mengibarkan Jalur Gemilang. Buktinya, Jalur Gemilang sentiasa menemani kita pada saat suka dan duka.

Apabila negara meraikan kejayaan besar, menawan puncak tertinggi dunia, meneroka ruang angkasa, mencipta sejarah dalam bidang pendidikan atau sains dan teknologi, maka Jalur Gemilanglah yang kita usung dan kibarkan dengan megah.

Apabila pemimpin kita melawat sebuah negara lain, Jalur Gemilanglah yang akan dikibarkan di seluruh bandar raya yang dilawati sebagai gambaran rasa hormat negara tersebut menyambut pemimpin kita.

Sebaliknya, apabila negara ditimpa musibah, dilanda bencana dan kedukaan, Jalur Gemilanglah yang kita kibarkan separuh tiang, sebagai tanda bangsa dan negara berdukacita.

Pada kala gugur dan kembalinya pahlawan, satria, negarawan dan 'bapa' bangsa, Jalur Gemilanglah membaluti kerandanya.

Malah, sebagai penghargaan paling tinggi daripada negara dan bangsa, Jalur Gemilang yang membaluti keranda itulah yang akan dihadiahkan kepada keluarga mereka.

Sebagai mengenang jasa dan tanda bangsa berterima kasih yang tidak terhingga.

Ketinggian nilai pada warna, corak

Ketinggian nilai yang ada pada Jalur Gemilang turut dapat dilihat melalui warna dan corak yang ada padanya.

Pertama, 14 jalur bukan sekadar mewakili Malaysia sebagai sebuah persekutuan dengan 14 negeri termasuk Wilayah Persekutuan. Akan tetapi 14 jalur itu sebenarnya menggambarkan kesepaduan kita sebagai sebuah Persekutuan.

Kita memilih untuk bersatu dalam satu negara dan membentuk sebuah Persekutuan. Malaysia bukan unitary state, sebaliknya adalah sebuah federalisme.

Setiap negeri ada hak dan kedudukan yang istimewa dengan keunikan masing-masing.

Maka kerana itulah negeri-negeri membentuk Persekutuan bukan menyertai Persekutuan. Mohamed Khaled Nordin Berita Harian Kolumnis 21 Ogos 2015

Komplot 'guling kerajaan' perkuat solidariti UMNO

"Apabila kapal dilanda gelombang, jangan pula ada usaha untuk mencampakkan nakhoda ke laut tetapi perlu sama-sama nakhoda menempuh badai" Itulah pendirian Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Timbalan Perdana Menteri yang berjanji akan sama-sama mempertahankan kepemimpinan Datuk Seri Najib Razak sebagai Perdana Menteri dan juga Presiden UMNO.

Kita tidak boleh menafikan yang Zahid terkenal dengan pelbagai kenyataan kontroversi. Mungkin ada yang tidak suka dengan caranya yang 'Gung Ho' tetapi bagi yang mengenali Zahid, beliau rela dikritik, dihentam dan sanggup take one for the team.

Kenyataan beliau mengenai wujudnya usaha menggulingkan kerajaan melalui suatu komplot terancang menimbulkan pelbagai spekulasi dan perbincangan hangat.

Mungkin tidak ramai yang sedar, tetapi apa yang dinyatakan oleh Zahid mengenai isu 'guling kerajaan' ini sebenarnya mampu menguatkan semula dan menambahkan kekuatan serta semangat solidariti dalam kalangan mereka yang menyokong kepemimpinan Najib.

Sokongan tidak berbelah bahagi

Kita dapat lihat bagaimana pelbagai individu mula menyatakan sokongan yang tidak berbelah-bahagi kepada Najib.

Begitu juga dengan pelbagai pertubuhan serta pemimpin parti dari UMNO dan juga komponen Barisan Nasional (BN) yang akan terus berdiri teguh di bawah kepemimpinan dua pemimpin utama negara itu dalam menghadapi apa juga rintangan.

Mungkin ada pihak yang mempersoalkan kenyataan beliau, namun apa yang dikatakan oleh Zahid mengenai komplot terancang ini juga secara tidak langsung, memberi amaran kepada ahli UMNO supaya menghormati undang-undang dan prosedur sedia ada. Zahid menjelaskan lagi bahawa UMNO tidak akan mengizinkan sebarang cubaan untuk mengguling kerajaan melainkan melalui pilihan raya.

"Kita tidak mahu perkara ini terjadi kerana kita sayangkan kerajaan sedia ada yang dipilih oleh rakyat secara sah dan demokratik. Sistem dan acuan Malaysia mesti dihormati oleh semua parti politik yang ada dalam negara kita."

Begitulah yang ditegaskan oleh Zahid.

Jika dakwaan itu benar, maka mereka yang berkomplot pastinya akan berdepan dengan seorang pemimpin no nonsence yang tidak takut dengan sebarang bentuk ancaman.

Bahkan jika benarlah wujudnya komplot ini, maka mereka yang berkomplot ini mungkin yang lebih takut dengan keberanian Zahid mempertahankan kerajaan yang dipilih secara demokratik.

Sebenarnya, masyarakat semakin yakin bahawa gandingan Najib-Zahid dapat mengembalikan semula kepercayaan rakyat terhadap kerajaan.

Ketenangan Najib dalam menangani pelbagai isu telah menarik minat rakyat bahawa sesuatu masalah itu boleh diatasi dengan cara yang matang dan mengikut prosedur, bukannya semata-mata dengan mempercayai apa yang dilontarkan oleh medium seperti sosial media yang begitu 'berkuasa' dan berleluasa pada hari ini.

Tidak layan isu remeh-temeh

Kelantangan Zahid juga diperlukan bagi mengingatkan rakyat bahawa kerajaan akan sentiasa memberi keutamaan kepada pembangunan negara dan bukannya melayan isu remeh-temeh yang tidak akan memberi manfaat kepada mana-mana pihak.

Mungkin dari semasa ke semasa Zahid akan membuat kenyataan yang mengundang kontroversi.

Bukanlah mahu memberikan beliau lesen, tetapi apa yang dilaungkan pada kebiasaannya akan menimbulkan respons pelbagai pihak.

Daripada maklum balas seperti inilah sesuatu isu itu dapat dibahas dan dibincangkan.

Di sinilah nanti timbulnya kematangan masyarakat kita dalam membincang serta menangani isu-isu politik dan pentadbiran negara.

Dalam kelantangan Zahid menangani isu negara, beliau sebenarnya ikhlas dalam memastikan jentera pentadbiran berjalan lancar.

Jika kita perhatikan pada beberapa ucapan beliau, Zahid sering mengingatkan ahli UMNO serta rakyat umumnya supaya sentiasa bersama-sama bersatu padu dan memberikan sokongan kepada pucuk pimpinan.

Beliau juga telah mengingatkan kepada semua pihak supaya sentiasa bersifat adil dan tidak mudah terpedaya dengan persepsi negatif dilemparkan pelbagai pihak yang sentiasa cemburu dengan kepemimpinan sedia ada.

Sebenarnya jika dilihat dari sudut survival UMNO, parti terulung negara ini memerlukan lebih ramai pemimpin seperti Zahid!

Shahbudin Embun Berita Harian Kolumnis 22 Ogos 2015

Transformasi universiti perlu kepemimpinan berwawasan

Tuntutan dan dorongan seringkali meruntun masyarakat dan organisasinya untuk berubah. Cabaran sosial, ekonomi dan politik dalaman dan luaran serta harapan baharu warganya sering kali menyediakan ruang dan peluang transformasi masyarakat agar terus relevan, mapan dan lestari.

Dalam konteks negara kita, Wawasan 2020 dirancang dan dilaksanakan untuk memastikan Malaysia mencapai status negara maju berpendapatan tinggi.

Pendidikan tinggi mempunyai peranan penting dalam menggapai hasrat negara maju berpendapatan tinggi.

Ia memberi ruang dan peluang kepada masyarakat untuk membangun dan memperkasakan warga insannya yang menjadi kunci dalam menangani sembilan cabaran strategik seperti yang digariskan dalam Wawasan 2020.

Cabaran itu ialah perpaduan; jiwa bebas dan tenteram; demokratik; bermoral dan beretika kukuh dengan nilai agama; bertolak ansur; saintifik dan progresif; penyayang; adil dan saksama; serta makmur dengan ekonomi yang berdaya saing, dinamik dan kental.

Bagi memastikan matlamat tercapai, Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia 2015-2025 (Pendidikan Tinggi), ringkasnya PPPM (PT) diperkenalkan. Ia lanjutan kepada Pelan Strategik Pengajian Tinggi Negara (PSPTN) yang dilancarkan pada tahun 2007 dan jajaran kepada Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia 2013-2025. PPPM (PT) berhasrat membangunkan bakat berilmu dan berakhlak mulia sekali gus akan menyumbang kepada pembangunan negara.

Tujahan PPPM (PT) dijelmakan menerusi 10 lonjakan utama iaitu graduan holistik, berkeusahawanan dan seimbang; kecemerlangan bakat; masyarakat yang belajar sepanjang hayat; graduan pendidikan teknikal dan vokasional (TVET) yang berkualiti; kelestarian kewangan; tadbir urus yang perkasa; ekosistem inovasi; kesohoran global; pembelajaran dalam talian secara global; dan penyampaian pendidikan tinggi yang bertransformasi.



PENSYARAH menjalani kursus yang dianjurkan oleh AKEPT. - Foto hiasan
Pelaksanaan transformasi

Cabarannya, bolehkah PPPM (PT) dilaksanakan dengan jayanya?

Di sebalik banyak perancangan yang gagal, banyak juga perancangan pendidikan yang berjaya dilaksanakan. Institusi pengajian tinggi (IPT) tempatan boleh belajar bagaimana IPT luar negara seperti Universiti Oxford dan Universiti Cambridge berjaya melaksanakan transformasi masing-masing.

Perubahan peranan negara untuk memberi pendidikan universiti kepada individu agar mereka boleh berfikir sendiri pada sekitar tahun 1960-an kepada peranan universiti untuk menyediakan individu bagi membangunkan ekonomi negara pada tahun 2000-an menjadi tuntutan dan dorongan kepada kedua-dua universiti tersohor itu untuk berubah.

Universiti Cambridge, universiti kedua tertua dalam kalangan negara bertutur bahasa Inggeris dengan usia 806 tahun melakukan transformasi strategik dengan menggalakkan pihak industri menubuhkan makmal inkubator di sekitar kampusnya bagi tujuan penyelidikan, pengajaran dan pembelajaran.

Terkenal dengan pembangunan kluster perniagaan berteknologi tinggi yang dikenali sebagai Silicon Fen, Universiti Cambridge menjadi universiti terkaya di Eropah dengan endowmen berjumlah STG4.9 bilion (RM31.4 bilion) pada tahun 2013.

Sementara Universiti Oxford, universiti tertua yang kini mencecah usia 919 tahun melakukan transformasi tadbir urus dan kewangan demi memastikan ia terus relevan dalam abad ke-21.

Pada tahun 2014, Universiti Oxford mempunyai endowmen sebanyak STG4.4 bilion (RM28.24 bilion).

Transformasi yang bermula sejak tahun 2000 membabitkan 3,700 staf akademik dan pentadbiran serta lebih 22,000 pelajar diceritakan sendiri oleh Profesor Roger Goodman dari Universiti Oxford dalam program Wacana Akademia bertajuk 'How University of Oxford Restructured for the 21st Century' anjuran AKEPT, baru-baru ini.

Antara yang boleh dipelajari daripada pengalaman kedua-dua universiti tersohor itu adalah perlunya transformasi dilakukan untuk memastikan sesebuah universiti terus relevan, terujuk dan dihormati.

Pemimpin berwawasan yang berani mengambil risiko untuk berubah meskipun dalam keadaan sudah tersohor amat diperlukan demi memastikan kelangsungan dan kemapanan institusi.

Walaupun sudah berada dalam keadaan terujuk dan dihormati, mereka terus belajar dan mencuba untuk berubah bagi mendepani tuntutan pendidikan abad ke-21.

Mereka belajar antaranya daripada kegagalan Universiti Salamanca, Sepanyol yang pernah gah pada abad ke-17.

Selain daripada itu, pemimpin universiti seharusnya berupaya dan dapat menambat, meyakin dan menggerakkan beribu-ribu warganya untuk menggalas transformasi di samping memberi tumpuan kepada pencapaian hasil misi dan wawasan digapai.

Pemerkasaan bakat kepemimpinan

Keperluan untuk membangun dan memperkasakan bakat kepemimpinan dalam kalangan pensyarah dan pentadbir yang berupaya melakukan transformasi IPT negara seperti yang dihasratkan dalam PPPM (PT), sudah semakin genting.

Selain cabaran sosial, ekonomi dan politik yang dipacu oleh kepesatan teknologi maklumat dan komunikasi, bilangan IPT bertambah secara mendadak sejak tahun 1990-an menjadi 653 yang mana 20 daripadanya ialah universiti awam, 104 universiti dan kolej universiti swasta, 405 kolej swasta, 33 politeknik dan 91 kolej komuniti (Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia, 2013).

Pada masa sama, pemimpin institusi berpengalaman yang memulakan perkhidmatannya pada tahun 1970 dan 1980-an mula bersara. Sebagai agensi yang dipertanggungjawabkan untuk memperkasakan kepemimpinan pendidikan tinggi,

Akademi Kepimpinan Pendidikan Tinggi (AKEPT) dengan kerjasama universiti, politeknik dan kolej komuniti membangun dan memperkasakan kelompok bakat pemimpin dan pelan penggantian IPT.

Sejak beroperasi pada Januari 2008, AKEPT berperanan membangunkan kelompok bakat pemimpin melalui penawaran program bina upaya kepemimpinan strategik kepada bakal pemimpin akademik dan pentadbiran IPT pada peringkat institusi, nasional, serantau dan global.

Pembangunan kelompok bakat ini dilaksanakan berdasarkan kerangka pemerkasaan kepemimpinan pendidikan tinggi berteraskan kalbu.

Pendekatan pembabitan aktif dan pengalaman secara mendalam digunakan untuk membangunkan keupayaan memimpin perubahan, memimpin manusia dan mencapai hasil.

Program pembangunan keupayaan pemimpin dikelompokkan dalam lima teras utama iaitu kepemimpinan, tabdir urus dan kewangan strategik; senario semasa depan dan perancangan strategik; isu strategik pendidikan tinggi; komunikasi strategik; serta isu dan trend semasa.

Program peralihan, pembugaran kepemimpinan strategik AKEPT juga menawarkan program peralihan dan pembugaran kepemimpinan strategik berdasarkan lapan kluster kepemimpinan tadbir urus, penyelidikan dan inovasi serta pengajaran dan pembelajaran.

AKEPT memastikan kesiapsiagaan bakal pemimpin IPT, antaranya melalui penaksiran personaliti dan kesediaan kepemimpinan pendidikan tinggi.

Ternyata, terdapat keperluan untuk melakukan transformasi pendidikan tinggi seperti yang dihasratkan oleh PPPM (PT).

Keperluan transformasi ini menuntut pemimpin berwawasan dan berani mengambil risiko untuk keluar daripada zon selesa meskipun institusi berkaitan telah tersohor.

Pemimpin IPT seharusnya berupaya untuk membuat perubahan, memimpin warganya dan mencapai hasil.

Justeru itu, program pembangunan dan pemerkasaan bakat kepemimpinan perlu dilakukan secara strategik, mapan dan lestari demi memastikan kelangsungan dan kelestarian institusi pendidikan tinggi negara yang relevan, terujuk dan dihormati.

Serangan siber senjata baharu ancam keselamatan negara

Ledakan teknologi maklumat dan komunikasi (ICT) serta revolusi jaringan internet dicipta pakar komputer dan pembangun perisian hari ini membolehkan manusia berkomunikasi tanpa sempadan.

Hakikat yang perlu diakui hari ini ialah semua jenis komputer dan gajet yang berlambak serta berselerak di muka bumi hari ini dapat membantu menghubungkan sesiapa sahaja walau di mana mereka berada.

Manusia hari ini berkomunikasi dalam cara dan kaedah yang amat luar biasa kerana berhubung secara maya atau menerusi alam siber.

Namun, kecanggihan dan kepesatan ICT bukan sahaja mendatangkan kesan positif kepada kehidupan manusia, bahkan turut membawa kepada impak negatif yang boleh membahayakan kehidupan jika tidak diawasi dan ditangani sebaiknya.

Kecanggihan ICT juga memberi maksud manusia perlu bersedia dengan pelbagai ancaman yang mampu merosakkan kehidupan menerusi serangan siber terhadap sistem serta rangkaian komputer.

Serangan siber adalah ancaman baru yang mendapat perhatian khusus banyak negara dan kerajaan hari ini.

KEGIATAN serangan siber yang dilakukan oleh penggodam mampu menjejaskan keselamatan dan melumpuhkan ekonomi negara. - Foto hiasan
Ia boleh hadir dalam pelbagai bentuk dan cara serta paling membimbangkan, ia menyerang secara senyap.

Serangan siber ceroboh sistem maklumat

Serangan siber boleh berlaku dalam bentuk penghantaran bom e-mel, spam, gangguan, ancaman penggodam, serangan virus, penafian perkhidmatan dan pencerobohan yang akan mengakibatkan kerugian besar serta menyebabkan kehilangan maklumat sulit syarikat mahupun kerajaan.

Ia menjadi senjata baharu yang sangat efektif untuk menceroboh mana-mana sistem maklumat atau data sulit kerajaan, negara, jabatan atau syarikat.

Selain murah, cepat dan mudah digunakan, serangan siber boleh dilakukan hanya dengan menggunakan telefon pintar atau komputer untuk menyerang satu atau lebih banyak sasaran dengan menekan satu butang sahaja.

Serangan siber adalah satu isu keselamatan yang bukan sahaja dihadapi pengguna komputer, bahkan menjadi mimpi ngeri sesebuah kerajaan memandangkan hampir semua komputer yang ada hari ini mempunyai sambungan kepada rangkaian internet.

Internet ibarat lebuh raya yang dapat menghubungkan berjuta-juta komputer di seluruh dunia dan ia juga bersifat terbuka, sekali gus menimbulkan isu keselamatan kepada pengguna dan mana-mana negara hari ini.

Bermakna, serangan siber adalah ancaman baharu terhadap keselamatan negara. Sebelum ini, keselamatan negara tertumpu kepada keselamatan tradisi iaitu pertahanan fizikal di darat, laut dan udara serta keselamatan dalaman yang kebanyakan membabitkan orientasi keselamatan secara fizikal.

Rugi berbilion ringgit

Jenayah siber menyebabkan Malaysia kerugian berbilion ringgit. Menurut laporan Ancaman Keselamatan Sophos 2014, sebuah agensi bebas menyelidik tahap bahaya serangan siber, Malaysia berada pada tangga keenam mudah diserang penjenayah siber.

Malaysia disenaraikan bersama-sama beberapa negara, termasuk Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, China, India dan Indonesia.

Serangan siber ini termasuk penyalahgunaan internet untuk pelbagai aktiviti haram rentas sempadan seperti dadah, penyeludupan manusia, penipuan kewangan dan penggubahan wang haram.

Dalam peristiwa terbaru, Malaysia dikejutkan ancaman dibuat kumpulan penggodam komputer menggelarkan diri mereka sebagai Anonymous yang merancang melakukan serangan siber ke atas laman web kerajaan pada 29 dan 30 Ogos ini.

Justeru, CyberSecurity Malaysia meminta semua agensi kerajaan mengambil langkah pencegahan bagi berdepan kemungkinan serangan siber didalangi kumpulan Anonymous termasuk pengukuhan sistem pertahanan siber bagi melindungi rangkaian komputer mereka.

Agensi kerajaan turut diminta memperkukuhkan firewall iaitu sistem pencegahan pencerobohan (IPS), selain rangkaian dan sistem pengesanan pencerobohan berasaskan hos (IDS) yang berupaya mencegah serta menangani kebanyakan serangan generik.

Aktiviti komuniti maya

Menurut pakar forensik ICT, Dr Mohd Taufik Abdullah, serangan Anonymous adalah kumpulan aktiviti komuniti maya dan penggodam yang tidak berpusat dengan matlamat melakukan aktiviti menggodam berasaskan internet terhadap kerajaan tertentu dan organisasinya serta tapak web korporat. A

hli kumpulan ini bertaburan di seluruh dunia dan sepakat melancarkan serangan kepada sasarannya.

Anonymous memulakan serangan pada tahun 2003. Kumpulan ini melancarkan serangan dengan menggunakan sistem seperti DoS (Denial of Service), dan DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service).

Serangan itu akan menafikan capaian kepada sumber yang biasanya adalah pelayan web dengan penggunanya. Komputer yang dikawal dari jauh oleh penggodam berperanan sebagai pelantar serangan DDoS terhadap sasarannya.

Daemon (virus) DDoS akan dipasang pada komputer sesiapa sahaja tanpa pengetahuan pengguna sebenar dan daemon ini akan menunggu arahan daripada penggodam untuk tindakan seterusnya.

Penggodam boleh menghantar arahan kepada komputer ini pada bila-bila masa dari lokasi berasingan untuk melancarkan serangan bagi pihaknya.

Komputer zombi atau pihak ketiga biasanya menyerang dengan cara membanjiri komputer sasaran dengan limpahan data tidak berguna tanpa henti.

Komputer sasaran akan melihat serangan itu berpunca daripada komputer zombi dan bukannya daripada komputer penggodam.

"Terdapat banyak alatan boleh digunakan untuk melancarkan serangan DoS dan DDoS. Serangan itu hanya boleh dihentikan apabila pengguna sebenar menemui dan membatalkan daemon DDoS pada komputernya. Inilah yang dilakukan Anonymous," katanya.

Kegiatan sukar dikesan

Sementara itu, Ketua Pegawai Teknologi Cybersecurity Malaysia, Dr Solahuddin Shamsuddin, berkata kegiatan penggodam komputer ini termasuk kumpulan Anonymous sukar dikesan di mana mereka beroperasi kerana kumpulan ini amat licik menghapuskan jejak selain mendapat bantuan Anonymous negara asing.

Penggodam katanya melakukan kerja mereka bukan daripada komputer mereka, tetapi menggunakan pelbagai cara termasuk perkhidmatan proxy dari negara luar.

Sebagai contoh, jika seseorang penggodam atau Anonymous ini hendak serang komputer di Malaysia, penggodam itu boleh masuk menerusi jaringan komputer di China kemudian ke Korea Utara dan mewujudkan jaring bot (botnet) sebelum serangan itu masuk ke Malaysia.

"Belum sempat kita periksa dan buru perkhidmatan proxy mana yang digunakan, mereka sudah padam semua jejak di perkhidmatan proxy yang lain. Ini menyukarkan agensi siasatan siber memburu penggodam," katanya.

Beliau mengakui, kerja memburu penggodam bukan mudah ini dan akan menjadi lebih sulit seandainya sesebuah negara atau kerajaan tidak memiliki perjanjian atau kerjasama menangani ancaman siber dengan negara lain.

Atas faktor kelemahan itu, penjenayah siber memiliki kebebasan untuk melakukan aktiviti mereka seperti menyebarkan virus, menggodam dan mencuri data untuk tujuan risikan perniagaan atau kerajaan.

Bagi menangani masalah serangan penggodam ini, Solahuddin menasihatkan mana-mana pengguna atau agensi, jabatan dan syarikat membuat laporan kepada Cybersecurity Malaysia di talian siber999 jika mengesan tanda ancaman siber.

Berhati-hati dan tiada diskriminasi

Pengumuman lembaga Peperiksaan pada Rabu la­lu tentang penangguhan syarat wajib lulus mata pe­la­jaran Bahasa Inggeris (BI) dalam peperiksaan Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) yang sepatutnya berkuat kuasa mulai tahun depan, "menyelamatkan" prestasi banyak pi­hak.

Golongan pelajar, guru, pihak pentadbiran sekolah, dan ibu bapa serta pegawai Kementerian Pendidikan pas­ti menarik nafas lega.

Nampaknya pihak pembuat dasar pendidikan negara per­lu juga mengkaji persediaan guru dan pelajar. Jangan­lah nanti kementerian dilabel sebagai pihak yang suka mengubah dasar yang sedia ada apabila datang menteri ba­haru.

Kita faham semua perubahan diambil adalah untuk ke­baikan dan masa depan dan kemajuan anak-anak bangsa. Tetapi fikirkan juga, janganlah disebabkan gagal BI walaupun semua subjek lain lulus dengan baik, maka pe­lajar dianggap tetap gagal untuk mendapat sijil SPM.

Bagaimana masa depan pelajar tersebut hanya akibat subjek BI. Gelap masa depannya untuk menyambung pe­la­jaran.

Ingat bahawa bukan semua pelajar pandai dalam sub­jek BI. Ada yang sukar untuk memahami dan belajar BI. Syarat yang yang ditetapkan pada 2016 itu pasti me­le­mah­kan semangat pelajar yang bakal menduduki kelak. Mu­jur ia ditangguhkan.

Kita wajar ambil iktibar daripada masalah yang diha­da­pi majoriti pelajar yang menduduki sistem Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Ing­geris (PPSMI).

Program untuk meningkatkan penguasaan bahasa Ing­geris dalam kalangan pelajar itu akhirnya didapati ga­gal dan dimansuhkan.

Jangan hal yang sama atas kepentingan untuk me­mar­tabatkan BI maka pelajar Melayu dan bukan Melayu men­jadi bahan ujian - bukan sekali, malah banyak kali. Tak masuk akal jika gagal subjek BI, maka gagallah pe­la­jar mendapat sijil SPM. Malah mereka yang gagal sukar un­tuk mohon menyambung pelajaran ke peringkat sijil dan diploma.

Ini negara kita Malaysia. Maka lebih baik kita utamakan subjek Bahasa Melayu. Jangan kita terlalu mengagung-agung BI di peringkat sekolah, kesannya akan merebak dalam seluruh sistem kehidupan masyarakat.

Akhirnya bahasa Melayu juga yang akan dipinggirkan. Perkara ini sudah berlaku dan akan terus terjadi jika pe­mim­pin Melayu leka. Lihat bagaimana sistem bahasa pe­ngantar di universiti awam dan swasta.

Masalah utama pelaksanaan syarat wajib lulus BI da­lam SPM ialah persediaan. Banyak lagi pelajar sekolah ren­dah dan menengah yang jahil dan tidak fa­ham BI. Apatah lagi golo­ngan yang berada di ka­wa­san luar bandar dan pe­dalaman.

Wajarkah kita lupakan keadaan mereka? Patut­kah pelajar yang serba ke­ku­rangan itu dilabelkan malas?

Atau kita letakkan kele­mahan itu kepada guru. Kita label mereka sebagai tidak pandai mengajar?

Apa kepentingan baha­sa antarabangsa ini dalam kehidupan harian majoriti pelajar luar bandar. Ber­be­za dengan pelajar di ban­dar yang siang dan ma­lam berdepan dengan penggunaan BI.

Adil

Inilah masalah utama ba­gaimana hendak mene­rapkan minat pada subjek BI yang diguna hanya pada waktu sekolah sahaja.

Bagi pelajar kawasan ban­­dar, mereka seka­rang memerlukan baha­sa kedua ini untuk kelang­sungan hidup dan mencari ilmu.

Jadi elok dibuat dengan berhati-hati supaya semua masyarakat, pelajar dan guru berasa adil dan tidak wujud diskriminasi.

Perlu kajian menyelu­ruh dengan mengambil ki­ra pelajar di luar bandar dan pedalaman. Tidak bo­leh hanya merujuk kepada pelajar di bandar semata-mata.

Satu perkara lagi, pencapaian peratusan BI SPM setiap tahun yang bertambah baik bukan bermakna BI layak menjadi subjek wajib lulus SPM.

Jangan membuat perkiraan sama rata sedangkan pem­bangunan dan kemudahan belajar di bandar dan luar ban­dar jurangnya masih jauh.

Barangkali pegawai atasan Kementerian Pendidikan amat memahami dan membaca banyak laporan. Kaedah pengajaran BI sepatutnya lebih baik berbanding daripada dahulu.

Jangan dipandang sepi laporan tentang sistem pen­ga­jaran di negara kita tidak bersesuaian dengan tahap pe­lajar. Jika dari peringkat rendah lagi mereka sudah gagal, maka peringkat menengah makin susahlah mereka belajar BI.

Pendekatan ini sama dengan subjek Matematik. Kalau hendak mewajibkan tarikh baharu syarat lulus BI SPM, lakukanlah untuk beberapa tahun akan datang, bukan ta­hun terdekat ini.

Elok mulakan persediaan mental kepada guru dan ibu bapa dengan mempersiapkan murid daripada Tahun 1. Kalau dilaksanakan tahun depan, mungkin berpuluh ribu yang gagal dan tidak mendapat sijil SPM.

Sehingga hari ini syarat kelayakan untuk sijil SPM ialah pelajar wajib lulus subjek BM dan Sejarah sahaja.

Sekiranya Kementerian Pendidikan bercadang melak­sa­nakan tarikh baharu syarat wajib lulus BI itu, barangkali boleh difikirkan juga subjek Pendidikan Agama Islam sebagai syarat wajib lulus kepada pelajar beragama Islam untuk mendapatkan sijil SPM. - Utusan Malaysia Rencana 23 Ogos 2015

Tanpa prejudis, demi survival

BUKAN mudah sebenarnya untuk Menteri Kemajuan Luar Bandar dan Wilayah, Datuk Seri Ismail

Sabri Yaakob berdepan kawan dan lawan selepas melontarkan idea mewujudkan sebuah hab gajet untuk platform usahawan Melayu dan bumiputera yang penanda arasnya, Low Yat.

Rakan-rakan dari komponen Barisan Nasional (BN), antaranya MCA menempelak, mengatakan "Kenyataan) you (anda) boleh pecah belahkan kaum". Di sebelah sana pula, DAP cukup pantas "menyerang" beliau. Tetapi setelah diperjelaskan akan kekeliruan yang menyelubungi mereka terhadap apa yang mereka anggap isu besar, barulah mereka faham. Atau setidak-tidaknya, waima apa pun mereka kena juga faham.

Ismail Sabri, 55, Ahli Parlimen Bera yang juga Ahli Majlis Tertinggi (MT) UMNO bukanlah asing dengan sikap "nasionalis" ini. Dulu waktu beliau menyarankan supaya peniaga yang mengaut keuntungan sewenang-wenangnya - yang difahamkan peniaga Cina - teruk beliau "dibelasah". Isu itu sukar reda sehingga dibincangkan tiga minggu dalam Kabinet.

“Tetapi kali ini (dalam isu Low Yat 2) tidak lagi, mereka yang keliru ini sudah faham kerana pada awalnya tidak dapat "tangkap" peranan dan objektif Mara (Majlis Amanah Rakyat) sebagai penggerak kemajuan orang Melayu dan bumiputera,” kata Ismail Sabri ketika ditemui Mingguan Malaysia selepas mesyuarat Kabinet, Rabu lalu di Putrajaya.

Dalam hal isu "Low Yat 2", segalanya bermula ketika Ismail Sabri berada di Menara Mara atau bangunan Mara yang baharu di Jalan Raya Laut, ibu negara bersama Ketua Pengarah Mara, Datuk Ibrahim Ahmad atau mesra dengan panggilan Pak Yim.

“Saya nampak bangunan ini ada tarikan. Kalau nak meriahkan kena ada orang muda. Antara yang lekat di fikiran saya waktu itu adalah (bisnes) gajet untuk selling point tempat ini maju. Saya beritahu Pak Yim mahukan hab ala Low Yat, tapi kerana surat khabar nak serlahkannya, maka timbullah "Low Yat 2" yang menjadi penanda aras untuk konsep idea ini.

"Mungkin selepas ini kita boleh pakai nama Mara Gajet Hub atau Mara IT Mall atau nama lain yang agak catchy. Di situ nanti, bukan setakat handphone, tetapi segala gajet dan aksesorinya ada dijual di situ,” katanya.

Dalam idea "Low Yat 2" ini, Ismail Sabri merasakan tidak wajar untuk usahawan Melayu hanya terikat kepada sektor tradisional seperti jual baju dan kerepek sahaja. Tetapi lebih jauh dari itu, beliau mahu mereka menganjakkan keupayaan diri meneroka dan berjaya dalam industri berteraskan teknologi.

Bukan beliau tidak peka akan nasib usahawan Melayu/bumiputera yang tertinggal terlalu jauh berbanding kaum Cina dalam bidang itu. Daripada puluhan ribu peniaga IT, hanya kira-kira 300 adalah Melayu. Dan bukan Ismail Sabri tidak peka juga akan kesusahan yang menimpa usahawan Melayu yang surrender terpaksa tutup premis gajet di sebuah kompleks di Lembah Klang akibat sabotaj.

“Tidak kenalah kalau saya sebagai pemimpin Melayu tidak boleh pula bangunkan usahawan IT Melayu. Ini salah dan tidak adil kepada saya,” katanya yang turut merujuk tindakan dua pemimpin Parti Rakyat Bersatu Sarawak (SUPP) yang membuat laporan polis mengenai kenyataannya berkaitan cadangan pembinaan "Low Yat 2" yang dikatakan rasis.

Bagi beliau lagi, Mara dan orang Melayu/bumiputera tidak boleh dipisah. Mara itu Melayu, Melayu itu Mara. Mengapa sejak sekian lama Mara diwujudkan (1966), isu rasis tidak timbul. Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM), Institut Kemahiran Mara (IKM) dan Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara (KKTM) semuanya disediakan untuk orang Melayu/bumiputera - walaupun peratus tertentu kemasukan ke MRSM akhirnya dibuka kepada bukan Melayu. Arked Mara di seluruh negara yang kini mencecah 7,200 unit rumah kedai, semuanya diperuntukkan untuk orang Melayu. Sekian lama amalan ini dipraktiskan, adakah ini rasis?

Ismail Sabri menyedari, kalau bukan fokus kementeriannya, siapa lagi yang boleh diharapkan untuk campur tangan dalam berdepan beban sewaan outlet atau ruang niaga yang terlampau tinggi mencecah RM50,000 atau RM100,000 sebulan di KLCC, Berjaya Times Square dan lain-lain kompleks beli-belah yang elit. Tidak pernah orang marah dengan Mara sekian lama kerana membantu Melayu/bumiputera. Kalau ada sikap begitu, buangkanlah.

“Kita tidak boleh ketinggalan lagi,” tegas beliau.

Ismail Sabri sedar, walau apa pun event yang dihadiri atau disempurnakan perasmiannya selaku menteri kala ini, beliau akan sentiasa dikejar atau ditebak dengan soalan: “Bila ‘Low Yat 2’ akan beroperasi?

“Mereka (Mara) memerlukan enam bulan, tetapi saya katakan tidak…realisasikan dalam tempoh tiga bulan ini, kita tidak boleh tunggu,” katanya.

Digilap

Mingguan Malaysia difahamkan, tumpuan untuk diwujudkan hab IT Mara itu adalah di tiga tempat dalam bangunan Mara tersebut dengan keluasan setakat ini dipersetujui 8,700 kaki persegi. Sekurang-kurangnya 30 kiosk akan ditempatkan di situ dengan sasaran kira-kira 500 usahawan dalam jangka masa dua tahun. Mara menyasarkan produk lepasan muda dari IKM dan dari beberapa agensinya untuk digilap sebagai usahawan. Pada masa sama, mereka turut menjadi kumpulan pengedar, sekali gus berupaya menghapuskan orang tengah.

Begitupun seperti mana pengalaman-pengalaman lepas, termasuklah mengambil kira apa yang dilalui seorang usahawan Melayu bergelar Datuk yang terpaksa angkat bendera putih tadi, Mara perlu sentiasa beringat. Ini untuk mengelakkan perniagaan di situ terperosok dalam kitaran "dialibabakan".

Dalam mengekang kegiatan ini, platformnya atau penyewa utama mesti diberikan kepada syarikat pemasaran dari Mara sendiri. Ini sekali gus juga menjadi pembekal kepada peniaga terbabit. Penyediaan latihan untuk usahawan terlibat perlu diselaras dan diperhebatkan, dengan pembiayaan untuk mereka dipelbagaikan daripada bukan Mara semata-mata.

Tetapi juga dengan penyertaan dari Bank Rakyat, PUNB dan beberapa lagi. Dalam masa sama, penyediaan latihan harus memfokuskan kepada sasaran melahirkan vendor peranti (vendor device). Dalam membangunkan yang besar, perkara kecil tidak boleh diabaikan. Rundingan juga harus dibuat dengan Celcom untuk meletakkan blue cube-nya di situ, selain Maxis yang tersedia ada. Banyak perancangan lain boleh diatur jika perancangan dan sasaran "Mara Gajet Hub" di peringkat awal ini tercapai termasuklah ke perniagaan e-dagang yang boleh difikirkan.

Taktik peniaga yang dipraktiskan di Low Yat juga harus diamalkan. Antaranya, komponen aksesori yang diimport boleh diperoleh pada kadar harga lebih murah. Dalam aspek ini, China adalah pusatnya sehinggakan kalau rajin, bolehlah menjelajah ke Guangzhou yang mana harga RM3 (dibeli) boleh dijual sehingga RM20 (di Malaysia). Pada masa sama, hal-hal yang mungkin kecil atau agak remeh perlu diambil serius. Antaranya pencahayaan lampu dalam premis mesti memukau. Lantai pula jangan gelap, mesti striking. Pada malam hari, lampu mesti sentiasa dibuka tanpa memikirkan sangat soal pembaziran. Ini untuk memastikan "Mara Gajet Hub" sentiasa hidup. Macam di Bukit Bintang yang "tiada malam, tiada siang".

Pihak yang terlibat dalam memastikan kejayaan "Mara Gajet Hub" ini harus sentiasa diperingatkan dari semasa ke semasa. Kalau ada yang culas dan alpa dengan kehendak untuk melihat hasil yang memberangsangkan, singkirkan sahaja mereka ini. Mereka hanya penderhaka yang sekadar mengkhianati harapan orang Melayu. Ismail Sabri dalam pertemuan sejam dengan akhbar ini memberi jaminan akan memberi keutamaan kepada usahawan yang tulen.

“Sekiranya ada kalangan mereka mengalibabakan kemudahan yang diberikan, kementerian saya tidak akan ragu-ragu untuk bertindak. Kita perlu melihat perniagaan secara holistik. Orang Melayu perlu berniaga dengan semua bangsa. Mungkin bekalan stok datangnya dari Finland, Jepun, Korea, China dan Singapura. Persaingan mengikut bangsa tidak timbul kerana mereka berada di dalam rangkaian perniagaan yang sama dan masing-masing memerlukan satu sama lain,” katanya.

Bagi Ismail Sabri, Mara banyak jasanya. Mara telah membantu melahirkan ramai pemimpin masyarakat terutama menerusi pinjaman dan pembiayaan pinjaman pelajaran dan biasiswa. Antara yang beroleh nikmat daripada Mara ialah Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun; Menteri Pelancongan, Kebudayaan dan Alam Sekitar Sabah, Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun; Menteri Belia dan Sukan, Khairy Jamaluddin dan Menteri Besar Kedah, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.

Sambil mengalu-alukan sesiapa sahaja yang mahu menyatakan pendapat kepadanya supaya mengutarakan ke fan page iaitu 'Ismail Sabri at KKLW’, beliau menegaskan:

“Jangan polemikkan konsep saya sehingga melabelkannya sebagai bersifat perkauman. Jika tidak mahu membantu tak mengapa, tetapi jangan halang atau perkecilkan usaha saya menggerakkan objektif Mara untuk membantu Melayu dan bumiputera.

Dan meskipun menerima tekanan dan kecaman daripada pembangkang termasuklah dari pemimpin komponen BN sendiri seperti MCA, Ismail Sabri tidak gentar dan berganjak dari perjuangannya untuk membela masa depan orang Melayu dan bumiputera.

“Saya berjanji menjaga Mara. Objektif Mara membangunkan Melayu akan tetap dipertahankan selagi saya menjaga Mara." - Utusan Malaysia Rencana 23 Ogos 2015

From proposal to postponement

Below is a timeline of when the proposal was conceived right up to the Education Ministry’s four-paragraph announcement on Wednesday.

2009

June 8: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was then Education Minister, is surprised to learn that English is not a must pass subject at SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) level. The ministry wants public feedback on the matter.

June 9: The ministry starts accepting comments from the public in the form of telephone calls, e-mails and faxes.

June 12: Public feedback indicates that a pass in the subject should be made compulsory.

Muhyiddin says the Government will not rush into making a decision on the matter. The public will still be given a chance to express their views.

2011

Sept 14: For students and teachers to have basic proficiency in the language, the ministry will continue to review the English curriculum.

The grammar and literature components are added to the curriculum. Extra English periods are allocated in schools.

Muhyiddin says the target to make English a compulsory pass at SPM level is “not very far away”.

2013

The English literacy component was first introduced as part of the Literacy and Numeracy test (LINUS).

l Mar 9: The ministry starts training 61,000 English teachers to increase their proficiency. This is under the first wave of the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025).

Since so many people are supportive of the proposal to make English a must pass SPM subject, Muhyiddin is convinced that it can be done.

Students who fail English will not receive a full SPM certificate.

But, they will have the opportunity to re-sit the paper.

l Sept 7: At the launch of the blueprint, Muhyiddin announces that the number of contact hours for English in classrooms will increase.

Extending school hours to make more time for English lessons is under consideration.

English will become a must-pass subject in the SPM examination by 2016, to be implemented in the blueprint’s second wave.

2014

Blueprint’s 2014 Annual Report shows that the Literacy and Numeracy test (LINUS) 2.0 programme indicates positive results.

1.3 million pupils sat for LINUS.

English literacy rates among the first cohort (now in Year Two) increased from 63.3% to 78.3%.

More Year One pupils (70.2%) showes basic English literacy.

The English literacy component was first introduced as part of LINUS in 2013.

2015

l Jan 15: The Government decides to keep English as a compulsory pass subject at SPM level, although requests have been made to delay the decision.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan says the ministry will do its best to help teachers and students to improve their English proficiency.

English-proficient teachers will be sent to schools which are still “weak” in the language.

l May 17: Kamalanathan says the Education Ministry will continue to find ways to strengthen English language proficiency across all levels of education.

This is part of the second shift of the blueprint – to ensure every child is proficient in Bahasa Malaysia and the English language.

He reiterates that English is a compulsory pass subject for SPM next year.

l June 12: The Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) says teachers and students need more time before the compulsory pass for SPM English is implemented.

Its president Prof Dr Ganakumaran Subramaniam seeks a timeframe of three to five years.

l July 28: Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah who overseas matters pertaining to education for Sarawak, says if drastic measures are not taken soon, many students will fail English.

l Aug 19: The Examinations Syndicate, in a four-paragraph statement states it has put the decision on hold.

It wants teachers and students to have more time and opportunities to prepare.

The STAR Home > News > Education Sunday August 23, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Achievements to date

IN the past two years, many programmes have been organised for students and teachers alike to brush up on their English proficiency.

As highlighted in On the right track (StarEducate, Aug 2), the nation is indeed heading in the right direction as the efforts under the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 have started to bear fruit.

Here, we pick out some of the most notable achievements in the education sector from the blueprint’s 2014 Annual Report.

■ The Education Ministry identified 1,191 “hotspot” schools – those with low passing rates for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) English Language paper – two years ago.

Out of this number, 140 scored the national average or more for English in SPM.

■ The Literacy and Numeracy test (LINUS) 2.0 programme, which 1.3 million pupils went through, indicated positive results.

English literacy rates among the first cohort (now in Year Two) increased from 63.3% to 78.3%.

Also, more Year One pupils (70.2%) showed basic English literacy.

■ The Professional Upskilling of English Language Teachers programme benefited 10,502 teachers.

It saw 2,244 teachers improving by one proficiency level, while another 166 improved by two proficiency levels.

■ To build confidence and language proficiency among English teachers, 360 native speakers from the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand were sent as mentors to 1,800 primary schools in remote areas.

■ The English Language assessment for the Form Three Assessment or PT3 expanded to include listening and speaking skills.

This was developed to benchmark students’ English proficiency levels with international standards.

The STAR Home > News > Education Sunday August 23, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Decision on hold

While the Education Ministry’s indefinite postponement of the SPM English issue has drawn flak from many quarters, there are an equal number of stakeholders who are happy with the decision.

IT was a fact that the ruling to make English a compulsory pass subject for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) was on track. And it was – at least, until recently.

On Wednesday, the Examinations Syndicate announced that the ruling would be put on hold.


A little less stress: The decision to postpone the must pass SPM English paper will allow students more time to brush up on their proficiency before the ruling takes effect.

In a four-paragraph statement, the Education Ministry said that the postponement was to “allow teachers and students to have more time and opportunities to prepare”.

Two years ago, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was then Education Minister, had announced that making English a must-pass subject in SPM was part of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025’s second implementation wave, which starts next year.

This would affect more than 400,000 students who sit for the paper every year.

A pass in English has never been compulsory for SPM.

Since 2000, a pass in Bahasa Malaysia was sufficient to get the SPM certificate.

Previously, a credit was a must.

In 2013, History was made a compulsory pass subject as well.

Also put on hold is the reintroduction of centralised practical exams in the SPM science subjects.

The subjects involved are physics, chemistry, biology and additional science.

The move was first proposed in the blueprint as well, as part of the reforms to strengthen the quality of science education in schools.

Practical science tests were carried out in SPM until 1999, when they were replaced with written tests and continuous school-based practical science assessments (Penilaian Kerja Amali Sains or Peka).

In the new practical science exams, students will have to carry out experiments individually, based on instructions given.

If the invigilator steps in to help them, their marks will be deducted.

Schools were notified of the change in June last year.

Students who are sitting for their SPM exams this year were supposed to be the first batch to take these tests again.

But, according to a circular released earlier this year, the tests would only start next year.

The ministry’s latest statement, however, said the tests would be put on hold, just like the ruling for English in SPM.

This is to make sure that all science labs in schools nationwide are fully equipped and up to standard.

Mixed reactions

“It just doesn’t make sense to take a postive step forward and then back down,” said Concerned Parents of Selangor (CPS) and Association of Parents and Individuals towards Revising the Education System (Aspires) coordinator Shamsudin Hamid.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said once a policy was made, plans had to be made as well to ensure that the objective and target date were met.

“It appears that the ministry has failed to follow through with the targets they set for themselves.

“This is unfortunate for students who desperately need the English proficiency for their future. The targets of the blueprint should be adhered to,” she said.

So, it comes as no surprise that the about turn drew mixed reactions from all stakeholders.

Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) was happy with the postponement, said its president Prof Dr Ganakumaran Subramaniam.

“Our members, who are teachers from all over the country, have expressed concern that with the ruling, many teachers would simply resort to drilling students in order for them to pass the examination.

“This would defeat the true purpose of the policy implementation which is to create genuine competency in the English language,” he said.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) praised the ministry for “understanding the situation”.

“We have been saying time and time again that students, especially those in rural areas, are not ready for this.

“So, we welcome the move and fully support it,” said its secretary-general Datuk Lok Yim Pheng.

English teacher Shafinaz Aida Abd Wahab agreed.

Having taught in rural schools before, she said “students will suffer” if the ministry had pressed on with the ruling next year.

Retired English teacher Vera Biusing said the declining standards of English meant that the ruling scheduled for next year was not feasible in the first place.

“Language is just not something you can learn overnight. And, English is a ‘killer subject’.

“Most students from rural areas won’t pass their SPM if this was made a must-pass subject next year,” she said.

Vera, who has taught in schools in Sabah, Labuan and Sarawak, said the compulsory pass will make English teachers nationwide “mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted”.

“I can imagine the amount of stress, pressure and extra work they have to put in.

“But even with all of that, it won’t guarantee a pass for the students.”

S. Kalaichelvi, a teacher from Selangor, also said the postponement was a good move as it would give students more time to prepare.

But then again, she said we cannot expect all students to pass English in SPM unless some massive changes are made in the education system.

“We still have students who can’t read and write in English when they enter secondary school.

“With these problems, how can you expect a 100% pass?” asked the English teacher.

Many like Vera and Kalaichelvi, believe there will be massive “casualties” along the way if the SPM results are anything to go by.

On average, around 20% to 23% of students who take the SPM fail the English paper every year even after more than 11 years of formal education in the language.

Though the percentage of students remains the same, the fact is the numbers are dropping.

This could be due to the fact that students and teachers are making strides in improving their English proficiency, thanks to the various initiatives under the blueprint (see sidebar on Achievements to date).

In 2012, there were over 100,000 students who did not pass the English paper. The figure dropped to around 89,000 last year.

As such, Noor Azimah said the ministry should “raise the bar” for those who are weak in English.

“When are we going to start improving the standard of English in the country, if we are going to keep pandering to the weak ones?” she asked.

She also said she was surprised by the Education Ministry’s decision to put the ruling on hold.

“This is especially since there were concerted efforts made by the ministry towards English excellence among the students and teachers,” she said, referring to the “Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and strengthening English” (MBMMBI) policy introduced in 2011.

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) also said they were disappointed with the ministry’s decision.

In a statement released on Friday, they said that the postponement could weaken on-going efforts to improve the employability of Malaysian graduates.

A parent from Petaling Jaya, Heeran Kaur, said the “bigger issue is that the ministry is often making U-turns like this”.

“Why does the ministry come out and insist on programmes when the necessary framework has not been clearly set?”

Janice Chai Xin Hui, 16, also said the “flip-flop” policies made it hard for the people to take the ministry seriously.

“Students will never be ready if we don’t start making it a compulsory pass. We must start somewhere,” said the Form Four student from Petaling Jaya.

Possible solutions

For most students, the only time they get exposed to the English language is during the five English lessons a week in secondary schools.

Kalaichelvi said this was “not substantial”, and students will not improve if this did not change.

“So, more subjects in English need to be brought in. This can be non-exam subjects,”

As for Vera, the best way to master the language – for both students and teachers – was to “read, read and read”.

“My students used to complain that library books were boring.

“So, to get them started on the reading habit, I brought Enid Blyton books and Archie comics, among other books, into the classroom for them,” she said. 


Though finishing the syllabus was important, Vera stressed that “learning languages is fun”.

“It’s alright to let students watch movies or use songs as part of the lessons!”

Also, as the ministry has yet to set a date for when the rulings will come into effect, a grace period for students and teachers to prepare was necessary.

A physics teacher from Penang who only wanted to be known as Mr Tan said there “needed to be concrete plans”.

“We need to know how long it will take for it to happen.

“Two years should be enough for the ministry to equip all schools in the country with the apparatus needed,” said Tan, who has taught the subject for over 20 years.

As for making English a must-pass subject, setting “a clear and definite timeline will motivate schools to devote more resources towards learning and improving their competency in English”, said the FMM.

“There is great concern that without a set target date, the many on-going initiatives and efforts including the retraining of teachers and providing the necessary facilities, would take a back seat and be given lower priority.”

Melta thinks that a four to five year period was an “adequate time frame”.

And, since the announcement was made about two years ago, the timeline for the ministry to implement this ruling should be in about two to three years, said Prof Ganakumaran.

Heeran Kaur expressed her hope that cohorts for new programmes by the ministry should start with pupils in Year One.

Also, “they should be allowed to end the programme without having to deal with sudden changes”.

“There needs to be a logical timeframe, where the programme must run for a minimum of 10 years, so that we can see the actual results,” she said.

Also, being clear on the Government’s policy on English will be a morale boost for all involved.

This is why the FMM called on the Government to “stay committed and firm in its decision to make English a must–pass subject”.

They also suggested that this be done between 2016 and 2018.

Ultimately, Prof Ganakumaran concluded that the ministry needed a plan that looked ahead to the implementation of these rulings.

“We don’t want students, teachers and parents to lose sight of the priority of developing competence in the English language.

“We also don’t want them to abandon any strategic plans they may have developed to achieve this goal.”

Don’t take too long to improve English level

ENGLISH will not be made a compulsory pass in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination from 2016 as earlier planned.

An immediate reaction would be to say, “Here we go again. Another flip-flop decision.”

But if we look at the bigger picture, the decision to postpone its implementation has its merits.

When we have a national-based education system where every student – no matter where he resides – has to sit for the same public examination, we must be aware that the playing field is never level.

Given that the students have the same hours of exposure to English per week, it is the children from the urban areas, where the use of and exposure to English goes beyond the classroom, who have an edge over their rural counterparts.

English proficiency can only be mastered through regular usage and it can be a real challenge, even for the best English language teachers, to bring the students up to mark when they have to struggle with time and resources.

It is not a surprise, therefore, that the National Union of Teaching Profession and the Malaysian Eng­lish Language Teaching Asso­ciation have come out in support of the decision.

These are the people on the ground who know the limitations in our current situation.

And we must also not detract from the motive behind the policy in the first place, which is to create genuine competency in the English language for all our students at source so that they are better prepared for tertiary education and the real world upon graduation.

If we see English only as a must-pass subject, the teaching methodology will change, and both teachers and students will do anything just to get that pass.

Be that as it may, let us also not give the impression that when there are hurdles too difficult to cross, our option is to just walk away in the other direction.

We must do all we can to help our students master English. This is not an impossible task. Let us not forget that there was a time in our nation’s history when good English was prevalent everywhere, whether in the towns or the villages.

Students who started primary schooling in a rural school were not as disadvantaged then because they would be sent to the best English-medium school for their secondary education.

Many of our leaders, top civil servants and corporate titans hail from that generation. But what is unfair is that they can now afford to send their children to private or international schools, or even overseas, for the best exposure to English.

This is why there does not seem to be any urgency to make sure that all our schools are capable of producing students similar to them.

Making English compulsory is a step in the right direction, but it must go beyond that. Those who teach must inspire their students to not only do well in the SPM examination but to also have a love for the language.

If they need a bit more time to make this happen, let us grant them that. But let’s not make the delay last too long.

The STAR Home > Opinion > Columnists The Star Says Sunday August 23, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Will we ever be ready?

Setting goals without a realistic structure and then making a U-turn make the decision makers look bad. At the end of the day, students shouldn’t be the ones who pay the price.

MY aunt was a Chinese primary school teacher who was stuck at the bar for many years because she continuously failed to secure a credit in Bahasa Malaysia MCE/SPM in the 1970s and 1980s.

She would lament each year after the results were out from the July paper that all her nephews and nieces were “catching up” with her – every few years, someone would be sitting for the MCE/SPM with her.

After about 10 years, she finally moved up the salary scale and her friend told her that she had “lost out” on a sum the value of a Proton Saga in her pursuit of the elusive credit.



Moving the goalpost: Some practitioners and teachers are happy with the decision not to make English a must-pass subject in the SPM next year

It was tough for her as a mother with a young family who had to attend additional classes as a teacher. Yet she persevered, as the credit meant more money for the family.

In today’s context, it is English language proficiency that has a monetary tag to it. This is a subject that has been debated to death but the fact remains that we’re not making much headway.

And the rescinding of the decision to make English a must-pass subject in the SPM next year has derailed the Education Ministry’s own schedule in its Blueprint.

It was obvious then – and proven to be true now – that realistic targets were not set in the master plan drawn up for 2013 to 2025. As a result, we’re moving the goalpost.

Even now, we’re divided on this issue. The practitioners and teachers are happy with the decision as they had warned early on that we are not prepared on the ground. Next year is just not doable; a more realistic timeframe of getting the students up to mark is at least five years, not three.

But will we ever be really ready? For sure, our sympathies lie with the rural students who will make up the bulk of those who fail to get a “pass”.

Going by the past few years’ SPM results, an average of 20% or close to 100,000 students fail English and they would have to join the workforce without the basic paper qualification if a pass was compulsory.

While many welcome the reprieve, others feel that we just need to bite the bullet and suffer the casualties. If there is no stick, there is inertia.

Now that no deadline has been set, we’re about to undo all the gearing up and the pressure will surely ease in the classroom.

We need to immediately set a new date – in the near future.

Not only was this a decision that came out of the blue, it was made via a four-paragraph statement, with no new date given. The Education Ministry doesn’t explain the decision to delay the move except to give everyone “more time and opportunities to prepare”.

On what basis was this decision made? What measures taken proved not fruitful? What statistics are there to back it? Who was consulted on this decision?

Such important decisions should be conveyed not via a statement but over a press conference where questions can be taken without fear as a mark of confidence that the authorities know what they are doing.

As a reporter who covered education for many years, it is really sad to see the decline in the engagement between the ministry and the press. Worse still, there have been times when questions were “vetted” before they could be asked at press conferences.

In this country, education is so closely linked to politics, then and now. A minister I covered many years ago was seen by his officers as someone who would sometimes agree to proposals from the “professionals” only to change his mind after meeting his political grassroots leaders.

Who but the Education Ministry looks bad when there is such flip-flopping? But the ones paying the price are our children.

If one size doesn’t fit all, let’s have flexibility. Just as it was for the implementation of Science and Maths in English, we’re now doing the same for English.

We want to bring everyone down to the lowest denominator. We’re always holding back the strong so that the weak can catch up – while the rest of the world leapfrogs over us.

One leader who clearly sees the bigger picture and has no time for flip-flop policies is Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem. He is seeking autonomy in education to protect the interest of the state and the people.

Earlier this week, he told the state assembly that policies must be made to meet the “requirements of the future generations”.

“I’m glad we emphasised English in Sarawak. It’s only now that they realise after flipping and flopping over language that English is very important,” he said.

Many share his views. Parents’ clamouring for English as the dominant language in their children’s education has given rise to the mushrooming of private schools offering international syllabus, international schools and home schooling.

Just over the past seven years, the number of such schools has more than doubled and the enrolment size increased many folds. These taxpayers would rather forgo free education and tighten belts to pay for costly private education for their children’s future.

With a strong demand for a greater presence of English in schools, the ministry should allow for this in selected schools along the lines of the autonomous trust schools.

If rural schoolchildren attending trust schools look forward to classes and are happily picking up English, the same can be replicated in other schools.

If we persevere, like my aunt did back in the 70s and 80s, and stay focused, we can achieve our goals. Let’s stay on track and stop changing the goalpost!

Note: If the Sarawak Government gets to bring back English as a medium of ­instruction in schools, we may just see a little migration in that direction.

How low can you go?

What is the passing mark for an SPM subject? Many teachers estimate it to be seriously low for some papers, way lower than the school’s benchmark.

WHEN I last wrote that more than 100,000 students, or close to a quarter of those sitting for the SPM English, were at risk of leaving school without an SPM certificate, the response was unexpected.

“Ms Goh,” I was told, “don’t worry, the marks may be lowered even further to allow many to pass.”

And that view, I was surprised to learn, was shared by many.

Teachers who have been teaching upper secondary students as well as examiners who have been grading the exam scripts for many years let on that the passing marks are not all they seem to be.

We were discussing the passing grade in view of the new ruling that effective 2016, a pass in SPM English is compulsory for students to graduate from school with an SPM certificate. This is in addition to the long-standing compulsory pass in Bahasa Melayu, and a pass in History that comes into effect for this year’s SPM candidates.

The passing mark for school tests is 40% but it is deemed significantly lower for public exams.

It is common knowledge among teachers that a student who keeps flunking the school test can actually get a decent grade in the SPM exam.

In an anecdote shared by a teacher, he said his colleague once told a school prefect: “If you pass your Add Maths, I’ll chop off my head!” And the prefect did better than just scrape through; he got a credit.

An examiner of 20 years for one of the SPM Maths papers, who has since retired, shares that the mode was always 10 to 20 class marks, that is, the majority scored between 10 and 20 marks, creating a skewed graph instead of a bell curve.

This has not been reflective in the actual results simply because it is possible for the grading system to be “adjusted” to show higher passes.

Examiners, who are usually teachers with many years of experience, are able to estimate or extrapolate based on the number of passes announced by the ministry against the students’ marks.

One SPM Add Maths examiner believes that the passing rate for the subject could be as low as the mid-teens based on how his students perform in school. And teachers are always sharing notes among themselves after the exam results are out.

Though public exam grading is kept under wraps and examiners are sworn to secrecy, teachers say that they have come to the conclusion that the passing grade for certain subjects could be as low as 20 marks, or possibly lower, especially for Maths.

“Although it’s shrouded in secrecy, we believe there is some manipulation of marks because we hear the same thing so many times from so many sources,” shares a teacher who is close to retirement.

This perception is widespread and an examiner describes it as a “trust deficit in the marking system”, despite the involvement of external moderators.

Those who have been examiners for many years see a pattern: the overall quality of the answer scripts has consistently been declining; the questions have been less challenging; and the structure easier to score. In some cases, the more difficult topics have also been removed from the syllabus.

The conclusion: It gets easier to score and harder to fail.

Is it any wonder then that we keep reading of more and more students scoring a string of As and yet the global benchmarking of our students is at the bottom third among 74 countries?

If we’re aiming to achieve top one-third in the benchmarking in 15 years, we cannot afford to deceive ourselves by dumbing down our own exams and the grading of public exams.

“We have Form Four students with an ‘A’ for PMR Maths who can’t even do basic operations. If an ‘A’ is nothing, imagine what a ‘D’ is!’’ says a teacher friend.

A pertinent question is whether our grades are comparable to that of other countries offering qualifications equivalent to O-levels. Is a pass or an “A” in Malaysia the same as that in the UK or Singapore?

A retired education officer from Examinations Syndicate says “yes” to the many doubting Thomases out there and stands by the integrity of the marking and grading of the papers.

He says that examiners’ perception is based on quantitative measures (marks, graphs, etc) while the ministry also takes into consideration qualitative measures (more subjective elements).

“Sample scripts of excellent, average and weak answers are put on a table and examined thoroughly by examiners from Cambridge and examination bodies from other countries,” he shares.

Besides, he adds, it is in the interest of all parties to ensure that a student who applies to study in a British university, for example, has grades that are acceptable regardless of his country of origin.

But there seems to be more ways than one to a decent grade.

Take the instance of the SPM History. Now that it has to be a compulsory pass, an additional Paper 3 has been created as an “open book test”.

Students can bring in their textbooks or any other references; teachers can guide students on themes that will be tested; and students will be informed one month before the exam on the themes to be tested.

One of the objectives of this paper is to prevent a zero score. It’ll now be harder for a student to fail with this potential “bonus” of 20% for paper 3!

Why set ambitious goals if we’re going to create crutches along the way?

Without Paper 3, the failure rate among last year’s candidates was 19.7%.

So what’s in store for a pass in SPM English?

Teachers are already speculating on ways to shore up the scores, considering that a pass has to be achieved in three short years when 70% of our 60,000 English teachers who sat for the English Language Cambridge Placement Test performed poorly.

Teachers are asking whether the oral test would be one avenue to help students meet the passing grade.

Teachers generally feel that three years may be too short a time to effectively bring about the change sought.

While on one hand, students need that push and motivation to work on that compulsory pass, the reality is that their environment remains static over the next three years.

If the family, community and school offer little exposure to the use of the language, how will that effect change?

It is a shame that the progress made with the teaching of Science and Maths in English (PPSMI) was halted with the reversal of the policy.

“PPSMI should have stayed. I could see a real difference in my students,” says an English teacher in a school in Perak.

A new complication to SPM English pass in 2016 is the “school-based assessment”.

With the PMR abolished from next year, students currently in Forms One and Two are being assessed at school. Next year’s Form Three students will sit for centrally set exam but the papers will be graded by their respective schools.

When they reach Form Five in 2016, they will have to pass their SPM English.

The problem is, no one knows yet what percentage of their grade will come from the school-based results, benchmarked at 40% for a pass.

“It’s like asking you to get into the car and drive but only telling you the destination later. Maybe they’ll even tell you to turn back halfway as in the case of PPSMI,” says the teacher-in-the-dark.

With things still unclear, there are concerns that the first batch to face the compulsory pass may be the casualties, especially among rural kids.

Let’s hope the path to be taken will be clearer soon and kinks in the system ironed out. And grades are not lowered to meet cosmetic achievements.

The integrity of the exam and grades awarded must hold us in good stead against international benchmarking, otherwise it will be a mockery of what we set out to achieve.

Note: A few months back, a DAP MP asked the Education Minister to state the passing marks for English, Math and Science subjects. He received a written reply in Parliament that it is under the OSA and cannot be revealed. LeAnne Goh The STAR Home News Education Common Sen-se Sunday October 27, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Births to celebrate and decry

Malaysia can toast the birth of a baby to the pandas, both eight years old, at Zoo Negara. But the birth to an 11-year-old and to other such young ones is something that needs to be stopped.

MALAYSIA now has a proud world record. We have become the first country to have pandas give birth so soon after arriving on our shores.

The panda gestation period is something between three and five months, so to have given birth just 15 months after her arrival in Malaysia is something special.

And those wily pandas had us fooled all along. Liang Liang was pregnant and even the veterinarians did not know about it. Just over a month ago, they thought it was a “false pregnancy” – symptoms without the real baby – and declared that the two were shy about mating.

But Liang Liang has shocked them with her baby. For the next two years, that baby is going to be the toast of the country. After all, she is the only panda cub in this region of the world.

Most pandas actually give birth to twins. They watch them grow and decide which of the two is stronger and fitter. Then, the ­mother lets the weaker one die. It’s survival of the fittest.


In loving hands: The baby panda being cared for at Zoo Negara.
There will be no panda baby dying this time, and there is plenty of reason to celebrate the birth of the baby to the pair of eight-year-old pandas.

But not all births are reason to celebrate.

When human girls give birth when they are barely 11, we have to stop and ponder. Are we still like those animals in the wild?

A man rapes a 10-year-old with no thought of the consequences. She would have been a child, in Year 4 in school. He is in his 30s, grown up and knows fully well that the girl is little more than a baby.

A year later, now in Year 5, the child gives birth. The grandmother thought it was normal pain, some thought it was a tumour in the stomach, but all those around her were obli­vious to the fact of the pregnancy.

It was appalling, said Negri Sembilan state exco woman Datuk Norhayati Omar. And she is right.

And there was a baby death in Bahau. The days-old infant, born weighing less than 1kg, has died of complications.

It’s a tragedy every inch of the way, from the statutory rape, the pregnancy, the childbirth and the unfortunate death. Not one of those things should have happened.

The future of the girl is now in question. Will she be able to go back to school and continue with her education? UPSR is up next year. The innocence lost is gone forever, the trauma is here to stay.

The Malaysian case is not the only such case.

At about the same time, an 11-year-old in Paraguay also gave birth. She was raped when she was 10 by her stepfather, the man who had vowed to care for her like a father.

And the girl’s mother, who reported the abuse by the man, ended up in jail on accusations of neglect instead.

A friend and I once had an argument over the marriage of underage children. He believes it was cultural and natural back then. Of course, it may not be applicable in today’s society.

In many instances, the wild animal in us is still alive. As animals, we may have once believed that when a girl achieves puberty, it was time to have sex and babies. That, many centuries ago, was solely what women existed for.

But we have men today who have not outgrown that mentality.

A quick check on a list of young mothers in the world shows the youngest to be at just over five and a half years old. How do you get a four-year-old girl pregnant? It boggles the mind.

That was in Peru. There are many more. In Ukraine, a 70-year-old raped his five-year-old granddaughter and she was a mother at six.

A seven-year-old in India was married off because her mother had no money and she died in labour along with the baby.

In Iran, an eight-year-old was raped by a man who paid her parents to have sex with her. She was disabled and became a mother at nine.

Her parents continued with the business and more men raped her. She had twins when she was 14.

Then, she was condemned to death for “moral offences”, which included illegitimate motherhood. Luckily (is that even the right word?), she was saved and the sentence reduced to public beating and imprisonment.

My friend may have been right. We were all animals once. But we have come out of the jungles now and it is time the notion that female children are sex objects is nipped in the bud.

The writer, who can be reached at ­raj@thestar.com.my hopes they get the Bahau rapist and put him away for a long, long time. Meanwhile, may the little baby at Zoo Negara have a long, happy – and yes, lazy – life.

Momentous issues at stake in court

A legislature deriving its powers from a Constitution cannot devour the source of its powers.

THE Court of Appeal’s remarkable decision in the case of Muhammad Juzaili Mohd Khamis v Negri Sembilan is soon coming up for appeal to the Federal Court.

This was the famous Gender Identity Disorder (GID) or cross-dressers’ case in which Section 66 of the Negri Sembilan Syariah Criminal Enactment 1992 was held to be unconstitutional. The section provides that “any male person who in any public place wears a woman’s attire or poses as a woman shall be guilty of an offence”.

The three persons at the centre of the legal storm are young Muslims who are biologically males but who, according to expert witnesses, have an intrinsic, persistent, ineradicable identification with the female gender.

The Court of Appeal held that the impugned section was unconstitutional for a host of constitutional grounds.

Personal liberty: This fundamental right in Article 5(1) encompasses the right to dignity, work, livelihood and commingling with fellow human beings. Section 66 puts GID sufferers at perpetual risk of arrest, prosecution and uncertainty when they leave their house to go to their place of work.

Equality: Under Article 8(1), “like should be treated alike”. From this it flows that those dissimilarly situated should be treated dissimilarly. Section 66 omits any exception and treats GID sufferers as if they are normal males.

Further, Section 66 is gender-biased and contrary to Article 8(2) in that it singles out men who dress like girls but says nothing about girls who dress like boys.

Freedom of movement: Everyone has a right under Article 9 to freedom of movement. Section 66 criminalises any Muslim man who wears a woman’s attire in a public place.

Freedom of expression: This right under Article 10(1)(a) includes manner of one’s dressing and grooming but is subject to eight restrictions in Article 10(2)(a), including ‘morality’.

Who may enact the law? It was held in Kelantan v Nordin Salleh [1992] 1 CLJ 72 that the permissible restrictions on the rights in Article 10(1) can be enacted only by the federal parliament and not the state assemblies.

Unreasonableness: Though Sec­tion 66 falls within the powers of the state in Schedule 9 List II, Para 1 to create and punish offences against the precepts of Islam the law is unreasonable in that it fails to address the ineradicable dilemma of GID sufferers.

No proof of immorality: The Court of Appeal clarified that it does not condone homosexuality or prostitution, of which there was no evidence in relation to the persons concerned. Nor does the impugned section refer to such misconduct.

Inapplicability of Constitution: In reply to the cogent reasoning of the three distinguished Court of Appeal judges, it is reported that lawyers for Negri Sembilan are going to raise the revolutionary argument that syariah laws are not subject to the Constitution’s chapter on fundamental liberties!

What legal basis this audacious claim has remains to be seen. The learned judges of the Federal Court will undoubtedly take note of the following:

> Under Articles 4(1) and 162(6), our Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

> Though Islam is the religion of the Federation, Article 3(4) says that nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution.

> Despite Islam’s exalted position, the syariah is not the basic law of Malaysia or the litmus test of validity: Che Omar Che Soh (1988).

> Federal and state laws are subject to any conditions or restrictions imposed by the Constitution: Article 74(3). A stream cannot be higher than its source. The powers in Schedule 9 are subject to the chapter on fundamental rights as was laid down in Mamat Daud (1988).

> Any derogation from the Constitution’s commands must be specifically authorised as for example Articles 8(5), 11(4) and 153.

> The syariah is divine. But much of the “syariah law” in Malaysia is a fascinating mixture of divine commands, the fiqh (juristic reasoning) of the scholars of the Syafie school of Islam, Malay adat and the subjective craftsmanship of politically appointed state religious officers. That is why there are 14 separate, often conflicting, sets of laws in the country, each claiming to be the ideal syariah enactment!

> If syariah laws and syariah authorities are exempt from the chapter on fundamental rights, are they also liberated from other entrenched provisions of the Constitution on federal-state division of power, position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Malay Rulers, citizenship provisions and Malay special position? Why de-fundamentalise only the fundamental liberties?

> The Federal Court will undoubtedly note that Section 66 deals with “any male person”. This covers all persons including non-Muslims. The words “any public place” are also in need of a clear definition.

> The Federal Court will also note that this case is not just about the estimated 10,000 to 20,000 transgenders in this country. It is also about the largeness and compassion of Islam. “Allah makes no soul responsible for what is beyond its capacity” (2:233). The Quran acknowledges that there are “men who have no wiles with women” (24:31, 24:60).

> Prof Hashim Kamali informs us that Islamic jurisprudence recognises two categories of transgenders – the khunsas who resemble females because of inherent conditions and the mukhannath, men whose feminine behaviour is of their own making. For this reason, scientific evi-dence needs to be obtained before the law is employed.

> In Pakistan, Kuwait, Egypt and Iran Islamic law grants transgendered people the right to sex reassignment surgery under certain medical and psychological conditions.

> The Court may wish to ask counsel for Negri Sembilan whether Islam requires every wrongdoing to be criminalised; whether a distinction between crime and sin exists in Islamic jurisprudence?

> Finally the court may be minded to ask itself whether we are going to jettison our Constitution and grant a carte blanche to authorities whose record of acting justly and complying with the Constitution is not too commendable.

> Are we going to forget the infamy caused to Islam by such overzealousness acts as raids on Christian churches and Hindu temples, seizing of books not yet banned, prosecution of a former Mufti just because he gave a ceramah without obtaining prior state permission and defiance of civil court decisions in the Borders bookstore case?

> The total inhumanity of denying custody to pining mothers whose husband had converted to Islam and abducted the infant children defies moral reasoning. Are these the authorities for whom exemption from the Constitution is being applied?

The Malaysian legal system stands at a crossroad. Our judges have the chance to choose the direction for our children and children’s children. I hope they choose wisely.

> Shad Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. The STAR Home News Columnist 20 August 2015

The right to religion and religion of rights

Both great forces need to be harnessed for the common cause of human salvation.

AT a seminar at the University of Malaya on May 23, a monumentally significant issue was explored: whether religion and human rights are compatible with each other?

At the very outset it was pointed out by the speakers that the topic poses many interesting definitional and conceptual conundrums.

Questionable dichotomy: Religion and human rights cannot be regarded as two separate, adversarial concepts because the right to profess, practise and propagate one’s religion is itself one of history’s oldest and passionately sought-after human rights.

Likewise the ideology of human rights has become a new religion. Human rights theories contain sweeping value judgments, commendable though they are, that rest on faith, not facts. Many human rights assertions are similar to religious dogmas.

The overlapping between the concept of freedom and the concept of religion is also evidenced by the fact that many human rights landmarks are founded on religious theory. The American Declaration of Independence 1776, for example and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man 1789 invoke the name of God.

Diversity in religious doctrine: Every religion, without exception, is a mansion with many rooms. Every religion has a beautiful tapestry of doctrines, principles, beliefs and fables that embrace the inter-connectedness of life, the importance of love, tolerance, sacrifice and peace.

At the same time there is evidence throughout history that all religions have now and then been abused to divide and denigrate and to justify wars, brutalities and inhumanities.

Diversity in human rights theory: Just as with religion, the human rights theory is wide, varied and expanding and has commendable as well as condemnable narratives.

Human rights jurisprudence incorporates “first generation” civil and political rights; “second generation” socio-economic rights; and “third generation” development rights. Most of the rights articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are compatible with religious theory.

Clashes: Despite many commonalities, one cannot deny that there are areas of clear divergence between the secular theory of human rights and the sacred injunctions of religion.

> Rights must go hand in hand with duties – duties to oneself, one’s family, community, nation and the world at large. Human rights jurisprudence pays insufficient attention to duties that complement rights. In religion, on the other hand, duties to God and to fellow humans are paramount. The correlative rights are merely consequential.

> The “right to personal autonomy” treats pornography and blasphemy as part of free speech. Drugs, drinking, gambling, abortion, surrogate motherhood, sexual orientation, cross-gender dressing and free sex are regarded as part of personal liberty. The right to life includes the right to extinguish life through suicide and euthanasia!

> Contemporary human rights thinking is that everyone is entitled to his own view of the good life. He can do whatever gives him pleasure and live howsoever he wishes. The concept of divine will, the world beyond and the concept of sin are regarded as irrelevant or subordinate to the human rights quest.

Reconciling the irreconcilable: Those who wish to treasure both human rights and religion need to find some ways to reduce conflicts and to build bridges between these two great yearnings. The task is challenging but is worth attempting.

> There could be recognition that religion and human rights are overlapping circles at the centre of which there are shared rights, duties and expectations. At the fringes, however, clashes exist and need to be mitigated.

> Religion must be defended against vilification. There is no evidence that religion is a greater threat to human rights than economics or political ideology or ethnicity. While conceding that in the name of religion great atrocities have been committed in all civilisations, it must be noted that wars, conquests, genocide, ethnic cleansing, use of atomic weapons, regime changes, economic sanctions and blockades are more common for political, ethnic or economic reasons than for reasons of religion.

> We need to accept the middle path of moderation in religion as well as in our demand for freedom. Not every civil claim or demand should be canonised as a “human right”. This nomenclature should be reserved only for those core beliefs over which there is wide, universal, inter-civilisational agreement.

> While condemning atrocities in the name of religion (for instance those of the so-called Islamic State in Syria), we must also express our outrage and disgust at how democracy and human rights have been used by the West to bomb nations, overthrow regimes and exterminate millions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

> In the area of law and morals a distinction could be made between public and private spheres. The state should not invade the private sphere except on the most pressing grounds of security and public order. Some morally questionable claims, such as the “right of speech to pornography”, should be punished only if the pornographer trespasses into the public domain. While not legalising these sinful practices, the state should observe its duty to respect individual privacy as long as a conduct remains in the private sphere.

> A distinction between crime and sin should be recognised. Sins and sacrilege, atheism and apostasy will be punished by God in the hereafter and need not be prosecuted by the state through the agency of the law.

In sum, religion and human rights are both great forces that need to be harnessed for the common cause of human salvation. One cannot deny, however, that in some areas the core beliefs of religion come in conflict with the many modern-day cascading claims of human rights. Though full reconciliation is not possible, the distance between religion and human rights can be reduced.

> Shad Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. The STAR Home News Columnist June 11, 2015

Encourage the use of dictionaries

THE postponement by the Education Ministry on the decision to make it compulsory for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) candidates to pass English next year has made many parents, teachers and students heave a sigh of relief.

Before new changes are implemented in the education system, it is vital to consider the pros and cons of the implementation, as well as their short- and-long-term effects.

In the case of making it compulsory for SPM candidates to pass English, it is quite an ambitious goal, considering the fact that the language is a second language that may be frequently or occasionally spoken by some living in an intellectual and urban environment.

However, those in suburban and rural areas may not be interested in making English their medium of communication unless their motivation and awareness is high.

This explains the poor percentage of English passes in many rural schools in public examinations.

The move by the ministry to postpone the plan gives teachers and students extra time to prepare so that the school’s performance will not be badly affected, while the number of students qualified for certificates will not be low and disappointing.

I suggest that English teachers gear up and work diligently, intelligently and effectively to help students pass English for university admission and future careers.

While teachers focus on advanced learners who strive to achieve excellent grades in examinations, students with less or zero interest in learning English should not be left unguided.

Teachers who ignore the latter will not help make a win-win situation.

Not only will the bad teacher-student relationship put teachers under pressure but the weak students will also gradually become weaker and problems will worsen when their inability to think rationally affects their perception of the importance of education and having a good command of English.

It is important for teachers to assist these unenthusiastic learners in every way possible.

I believe that identifying and rectifying problems is the first and final procedure of solving matters.

In the case of helping students perform and pass English, the lack of vocabulary may be the problem, while the use of a dictionary, the solution.

The main reason for students’ failure to pass the subject is because of their poor writing skill. Many candidates feel de-motivated, nervous, confused and stressed when trying to answer essay questions, resulting in some showing no attempt at all.

Truth be told, some students have never owned, used or learned to use a dictionary.

Consequently, they have not been able to spell simple words, let alone make sentences. Students should be reminded constantly to buy, bring or borrow dictionaries for use when doing English revisions or writing compositions.

Everyone needs to be given a chance to learn dictionary skills as this will help students with their reading, speaking and writing skills.

When dictionaries become close companions, it will encourage independent learning and students will eventually overcome their writing problems.

They may not be able to produce error-free essays but grammatically flawed compositions are way better than leaving the space blank. After all, it is the effort that matters. Muhamad Solahudin Ramli Marang, Terengganu NST Opinion 22 August 2015

Have two versions of English papers

IT is understandable if there is dissatisfaction over the abrupt announcement that the compulsory pass in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia English scheduled to be implemented next year has been put on hold.

This is purportedly to “allow teachers and students more time to prepare”. Be that as it may, there are also many teachers and students who are ready for the “challenge”.

To them, it is disappointing and frustrating, to say the least. Some have suggested that we give the system another five years or so. I shudder to imagine what the outcome will be.

We can do away with all this so-called “politically correct” talk. We should take a leaf from history. In the 1950s and 1960s, Form Five students sat the Malayan Certificate of Education (MCE) examination.


We must give students a fulfilling experience in learning the English language, whether they are from a rural or an urban school.

A credit pass in English was compulsory then. There was also a requirement that candidates secure at least an ordinary pass, that is, Grades P7 and P8 in the Bahasa Kebangsaan (National Language, BK) paper.

The Malay language was then only beginning to gain prominence.

Nevertheless, candidates could also choose to sit the Bahasa Melayu (Malay Language, BM) papers, which were a “harder” version of the Bahasa Kebangsaan paper.

A compulsory pass in BM was not necessary to get the MCE, only a pass in BK was required.

A reversal of roles in Bahasa Melayu and English can be discerned here. In this “transition” period, why not have two versions of the SPM English papers?

A pass in the “simpler” version (as that of BK) is sufficient for one to get the SPM certificate. Students who are more competent can also opt to sit the “harder” version of the English papers (as that of BM).

Postponing or delaying implementation of a compulsory pass in SPM English may have a dampening effect on the learning of the language, especially for students in a rural setting.

The Education Ministry must realise that it can have many batches of Form Five students to “experiment” with. But for a child, he or she has only one year to sit in a Form Five class.

We must give them the most fulfilling experience in learning the English language, whether they are from a rural or an urban school.