July 11th, 2016

Improve national schools, Portray true image of religion

Portray true image of religion

HARI Raya Aidil Fitri, or Eid Ul Fitri, like all other holidays in this country is celebrated by all Malaysians. Regardless of our race, religion or culture we have no problem celebrating each other’s holiday. These are the time where we can get a glimpse of the tradition, culture and faith of our fellow Malaysians.

When I was a child, celebrating Malaysian holidays was not just about getting to eat all the delicious food the different cultures had to offer. It was also the time free television stations competed against each other to offer animated shows related to the particular holiday.

I can still remember during Chinese New Year watching animated films like The Monkey King, which is closely related to Buddhist teachings. During Deepavali, cartoons of stories from the Ramayana, a beautiful epic of love and dedication derived from the Hindu scripture, would be shown.

Even though these were just animated films, they provided a chance for us Malaysians to understand the different cultures and faiths of our fellow countrymen. No one made a fuss back then as we accepted the fact that our country was a place for all Malaysians.

Nowadays, with the resurgence of extremist Muslim scholars, the Islamic/Malay society has become a sensitive lot. Everything and anything can be turned into an issue against our version of Islamic teachings. We have become a paranoid group of people who easily jump and shout haram (forbidden), murtad (apostasy) and kafir harbi (enemies of Islam) to those whose culture, opinion and faith differ from us.

We also chastise fellow Malays who we think are not up to our standard of Islam. We force non-Muslims to respect our faith but at the same time have no qualm demeaning others with our words and actions.

What has happened to us? If the words and teachings of ulamas or mullahs have turned us into an extremist community, how can we revert to our original selves?

A distorted version of religion has been used to divide human beings since time immemorial. Wars have been waged, families torn apart and many atrocities perpetrated by those who use religion for their personal agenda.

In the pursuit of God, some of us have become victims of extremist preachers and warmongering religious authorities. Religion that is supposed to give us hope and unite humankind is used as tools to encroach upon civil liberties and freedom. Sadly, this is what we are currently experiencing in our country. Extremism is not the path to God.

Piles of controversies have been reported during Ramadan. It seems that our act of fasting that is supposed to teach us humility and self-enlightenment has become a platform for us to chastise others. From criticising the attire of fellow Muslims in Ramadan bazaars to forcing non-Muslims to not eat in public, we have forgotten the truest facet of Islam which is to preserve our relationship with God and with other human beings.

Relationship with God and other human beings goes hand in hand; if one falters it would mean that our iman (faith) is not complete.

We tend to forget that the Koran that has been bestowed by God upon us upholds civil liberties and human rights. It is explained plainly and clearly in Surah Al-Baqarah 256 that “there shall be no compulsion in the religion”.

Why are we trying to force our beliefs on others who don’t share our opinion on religion?

On whose authority do those who force, ridicule, attack and punish others act if God has stated clearly that there must be no compulsion in the religion?

If we do not follow the Koran, which is the highest authority of Islam, the word that we believe comes from God Himself, that none shall stand at par or higher than its authority, are we committing blasphemy by going against the word of God?

We use the name of God to invoke non-existent laws and rules. If this is not sacrilegious, then I do not know what is.

All religions promote peace and love. We may have different views on certain things but all faiths share the same agenda, which is to live in peace together on earth.

It’s time for all Muslims in Malay­­­sia to live up to the name of Islam which means peace. All of us Muslims need to step up on our role as peace advocates. With all the things happening around the world, where Muslims are being branded as terrorist militants, we in Malaysia can be the voice of change. We need to practise what we preach and portray the true image of Islam which upholds compassion, love and kindness to all.

On Hari Raya, it’s a tradition for us to open our doors to visitors, but now we need also to open our hearts and minds to the fundamental spirit of peace and compassion. If our heart and mind are filled with love for all creatures, only then can we call ourselves Muslims.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all The Star readers. God bless you all. Ahmad Soffian Mohd Shariff The STAR Home News Opinion Letters Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Improve national schools

THE reasons cited by Liong Kam Chong in his letter “Improve the teaching of POL” (The Star, June 29) on the teaching of pupils’ own language (POL) in national primary schools is only part of the answer to why 90% of Chinese parents send their children to SJK(C) (Chinese vernacular schools) and the increasing number of non-Chinese pupils there.

Other reasons are the issue of discipline and the perception that our Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) has increasingly become more like Malay schools.

I would like to use my alma mater as an example.

In 1968, I entered Standard 1 in SRJK St. George, Taiping. Even though my parents were both Chinese school teachers – my dad was actually headmaster of a SRJK (C) – they recognised that an English education would be advantageous to me. At that time, enrolment in my alma mater was so overwhelming it had to be divided into SRJK St. George I and SRJK St. George II, sharing the same premises but alternating between morning and afternoon sessions.

Back then, English medium government schools were the preferred choice even for some Chinese educationists.

Fast forward to today and after successive generations of headmasters, the ethos of the school has changed to Malay. Numbers have dwindled to one class per standard in a single session only. Even Malay parents and non-Chinese speaking parents are sending their children to SJK(C). Why? This is because schools like SRK St. George are now no longer the preferred choice.

The aspirations of our national Education Blueprint 2013-2025 are indeed noble.

But in its implementation, changes should be made so that parents voluntarily send their children back to SK which could become the preferred schools again. In order to achieve this, the teaching of Science and Maths in English, and making Tamil compulsory for Indians and Chinese compulsory for Chinese are all important. This will also help to solve the problem of how to absorb the Chinese school teachers and will fulfil mother-tongue education as enshrined in our constitution. Bahasa Malaysia will, of course, remain compulsory for all.

I was right in the midst of the three years when we transitioned from English to Malay medium and must admit that we had the best of both worlds. Not only was our English good but I also obtained A1 in BM in MCE (equivalent to SPM today). I even scored a credit in Chinese by attending POL and despite not having gone to SRK(C). Our SK was truly multi-racial then. Chuah Seong York Malacca The STAR Home News Opinion Letters Monday, 11 July 2016

Showdown in Semporna

Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal’s dramatic exit from Umno has split political sentiments down the middle in his power base of Semporna but it has strengthened the hand of Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman who is his long-time nemesis.

FORMER Cabinet minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal was performing the umrah when news of his suspension from Umno reached him in Mecca.

It hit him like a tonne of bricks and by the time he returned, he had made up his mind.

Word had gone around in Semporna that he would be resigning from Umno and there was a big crowd waiting when his black MPV pulled up at his Semporna house on Tuesday morning.

Political exit: Upset at being suspended by his party, Shafie (right) announced his resignation from Umno which also sacked Mukhriz (left) and Muhyiddin

His career began in Semporna, his family roots are there and he has some pretty fanatical supporters going by the way some of them were screaming his name as he squeezed his way towards his house.

The original house was a wooden kampung structure on high stilts but that was a long time ago and there is now a fancy tiled stairway with stainless steel balustrades leading up to a modern building. The house overlooks a vast compound where Shafie had built a multi-purpose hall. It was there, later in the afternoon that the former Umno vice-president made a long and fiery speech and announced that he was quitting Umno.

It was quite emotional and Shafie wept at the end of the speech. As he walked from the rostrum, several of his supporters wiped sweat from his face and one of them even tried to dab at his tears. Others pressed forward to shake his hand while the more familiar planted kisses on his head.

Rahman: People forget Umno is bigger than the individual

Sakaran is also Shafie’s uncle and the power base has since passed from uncle to nephew.Umno politics in Semporna used to be centred around Tun Sakaran Dandai, the former MP and Umno strongman in Semporna who used to be the governor of Sabah.

Shafie started out as the political secretary to Sakaran who groomed the younger man to take over. In turn, Shafie’s deputy in the division is Sakaran’s son Datuk Nasir Sakaran.

Family politics rules in these parts. It can be quite suffocating given the way everyone is related in one way or another. But family ties are about to be put to the test in Semporna.

Shafie’s exit from Umno has split political sentiments down the middle in this coastal seat.

Datuk Jaujan Sambakong, the Sulabayan assemblyman, has joined Shafie by resigning from Umno. Sulabayan is one of the three state seats in the Semporna parliamentary area.

But Shafie’s own political secretary and cousin Razak Sakaran is not with him. His other cousin Nasir is staying put in Umno.

On the day Shafie announced his resignation, Nasir was in Kuala Lumpur where he told fellow Sabahan Datuk Akbarkhan Abdul Rahman that he does not agree with his cousin’s politics.

“Nasir told me he is with Umno. The cousins are close but the Sakaran family is loyal to Umno,” said Akbarkhan who used to be the Libaran MP.

Shafie’s younger brother Datuk Yusof Apdal, who is Silam division chief and Lahad Datu assemblyman, is not joining his brother – for now at least.

Musa: The smiling tiger of Sabah has broken the 13-year jinx.
Musa: The smiling tiger of Sabah has broken the 13-year jinx.

The stage is set for a showdown in Semporna.

“It would be a different story if this happened a year ago. But the Prime Minister is on a very strong footing, the party is behind him. So many people fail because they forget that the party is always bigger than the individual,” said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Rahman Dahlan.

Shafie’s suspension came at the same time as the sacking of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir by the Umno supreme council.

A year ago, the opposition politicians would have gone to town with it. DAP leaders blame Umno for everything that goes wrong under the sun but the moment an Umno leader quits the party, the same DAP leaders are fawning over them and hailing them as heroes.

There would have been another attempt at a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister and yet another Sept 16 suspense story cooked up.

But times have changed. The opposition parties are fighting their own internal fires.

A recent meeting between several Pakatan Harapan leaders and Muhyiddin sparked off rumours that he would be the next opposition leader.

It was untrue because not all Pakatan leaders are impressed by Muhyiddin or Mukhriz. They can see by now that the “three Ms”, including Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, have failed to bring others in Umno with them.

PKR leaders are also dead against Shafie whom they accuse of having a hand in the sex video that allegedly featured Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Umno members, said Unisel Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Redzuan Othman, follow whatever their leaders say.

“But nobody cares the moment you are no longer in power. I cannot see Muhyiddin forming a new party, you need a lot of energy and money for that. My advice to them is to follow Husni’s footsteps – study religion,” said Dr Redzuan, referring to former Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah’s intention to spend his retirement studying Arabic and learning more about Islam.

The chatter among Sabah journalists is that Shafie will likely join forces with the United Sabah Alliance (USA), a grouping of Sabah-based opposition parties, to contest in the next general election.

Shafie’s sacking from the Cabinet last year had little impact in Sabah but what if he hooks up with USA to take on Umno?

“He is a force to watch, he is influential. He can win in Semporna if elections are held now but can he keep the momentum going till next year?” said a Kuching-based journalist.

Shafie will not only be up against Umno, he has to take on the smiling tiger of Sabah, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

The Shafie-Musa rivalry has become legendary in the state and Shafie had singled out Musa to attack in what is now known as his “farewell speech”. He seems to believe, rightly or wrongly, that Musa had lobbied for his suspension.

Musa has not said a word about Shafie’s resignation. Instead, true to style, he lets his men do the talking and the gist of their reaction can be summed up in two words: Good riddance.

When pressed by reporters, Musa said he had no comment because he was in a “Raya mood”. Well, he has a lot to celebrate now that his nemesis is out of the way.

Like in Sarawak, the Sabah Chief Minister enjoys much more power and influence than his peninsula counterparts.

Over the years, Musa has become some sort of flashpoint in Sabah mainly because so many lust for the Chief Minister post. Shafie was also eyeing the post even though he has denied it.

“It is the dream of many politicians in Sabah – all that power under the sun. You can even bar people from the peninsula from entering,” said Akbarkhan.

The Chief Ministership also used to be stuck with this “unlucky 13” jinx – Chief Ministers in Sabah could not last beyond 13 years. But Musa has survived the jinx. He marked 13 years as Chief Minister in March and is now stronger than ever.

There are all sorts of stories about Musa’s wealth and, for several years, he was dogged by various smear campaigns and allegations of corruption. But the fact is that his corporate style of administration seems to work for Sabah.

“Which Prime Minister would want to change a Chief Minister who delivers a strong mandate one election after another? Musa has brought economic growth to the state, he has the support of civil servants and he gets along with our coalition partners,” said Rahman, who used to be his political secretary.

Shafie, contesting on the USA opposition platform, will bring a new dimension to Sabah politics but the reality is that it will further split the opposition vote.

Shafie, according to a political consultant, thought he was on the way to being rehabilitated when he left for Mecca with his wife. He knew his career was over but he had hopes that Umno would let him contest in Semporna in the general election.

The suspension was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He felt let down and claimed that he had not attacked Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at any public forum. He told his inner circle he felt betrayed by Najib. He said he had done a lot for Umno in Sabah and that he felt unappreciated.

But there are always two sides to a story. Those around Najib said that it is Shafie who did not appreciate what Najib had done for him. They said Najib used his clout to help Shafie become the first Umno vice-president from Sabah in 2009.

In the 2013 Umno election, Najib was concerned that the Sabah warlords would sabotage Shafie and he sent out word that Sabah must again support Shafie for vice-president.

Rahman could sense that Najib was deeply hurt by Shafie’s actions in the last one year.

“Mahathir attacking him, he could understand that because Mahathir is a political animal. He could also see where Muhyiddin was coming from, he wanted to be the No 1.

“In Shafie’s case, I think it really hurt the PM because they were more than just allies. They were also friends,” said Rahman.

Shafie’s exit has stirred sentiments in his power base of Semporna.

But outside of Semporna, it is a case of one less warlord to deal with in Umno. It has strengthened his nemesis’ hand and Musa is now the king of the hill.

Kurikulum dan pentaksiran perlu seiring

Kini ramai ibu bapa melibatkan diri memastikan kerja rumah yang dibawa balik dari sekolah disemak sendiri oleh mereka.


Ibu bapa, pendidik dan komuniti Malaysia sudah banyak kali menyuarakan pandangan dan pendapat masing-masing mengenai perkembangan pendidikan daripada peringkat awal kanak-kanak sehinggalah ke universiti.


Oleh Azizi Ahmad

Ramai menyuarakan sistem pendidikan sedia ada tidak dilaksanakan dan dijalankan dengan betul, telus, selaras dan sempurna. Dalam erti kata lain terdapat banyak kelemahan dan kekurangan yang melibatkan tenaga, usaha, masa dan kos.

Namun semuanya disangkal pihak atasan pendidikan dengan mengeluarkan kenyataan tahap pendidikan negara adalah antara terbaik dan terhebat di dunia bahkan ada negara lain mengakui dan menjadikan sistem pendidikan negara sebagai model untuk digunakan di negara mereka.

Para ibu bapa, pendidik dan guru turut menyoal jika apa yang dikatakan sebagai salah satu sistem pendidikan terbaik di dunia mengapakah cadangan menyusun semula silibus persekolahan pendidikan rendah dan menengah akan dijalankan tahun depan.

Sekiranya sistem pendidikan asas tidak dirancang dan dilaksanakan dengan baik dan telus, tidak ada gunanya penyusunan semula sukatan pelajaran yang akan memberi manfaat kepada sesiapa saja.

Bahkan, Presiden Kesatuan Perkhidmatan Perguruan Kebangsaan Malaysia Hashim Adnan pernah mengatakan ‘cadangan penyusunan semula silibus adalah bencana kerana cadangan perubahan yang ingin dilaksanakan tersebut adalah keterlaluan’.

Kini ramai ibu bapa di negara ini melibatkan diri secara tidak langsung dengan memastikan kerja rumah yang dibawa balik dari sekolah disemak sendiri oleh mereka.

Kebiasaannya ibu bapa akan menyemak kerja rumah anak masing-masing selepas makan malam. Ini kemajuan yang memberangsangkan dan transformasi dalam sistem pendidikan.

Ketika ini, ibu bapa akan melihat kerja rumah anak dan akan turut membantu memahami dan membuat kerja diberikan, yang biasanya dalam bentuk lembaran kerja, (dan ada secara online) sambil melihat modul disediakan.

Tidak dinafikan ia melibatkan ibu bapa berkemampuan namun bagi yang tidak mampu untuk menyediakan kemudahan Internet tentu sekali usaha ini tidak akan menampakkan kesan.

Persoalannya, mengapa kerja dan usaha tambahan diperlukan di sini? Adakah kurikulum dan silibus mahukannya begitu? Dan tentunya bukan semua daripada 400,000 hingga 500,000 bilangan ibu bapa yang gembira dengan apa berlaku.

Pelaksanaan kaedah ini dikatakan sudah pun dimulakan dan meningkat mengikut peringkat umur persekolahan melalui kurikulum yang disediakan.

Namun semua ini menjadi semakin kontroversi, terutama apabila keputusan skor ujian atau keputusan pentaksiran kebangsaan dikeluarkan.

Di atas kertas dilaporkan keputusan memberangsangkan, namun hakikatnya menyedihkan.

“Mana-mana proses perubahan pastinya datang dengan cabaran, dan jika setiap tahun kita menunggu untuk melaksanakannya, maka kita akan kerugian setahun lagi.”

Komen ini sering didengar daripada pihak atasan pendidikan.

Salah satu isu utama dalam cadangan pelaksanaan ialah tempoh masa, kerana kebiasaannya pelaksanaan kurikulum dimaklumkan kepada kumpulan guru dan pendidik dalam tempoh masa yang singkat, latihan dan pendedahan atau penataran yang kurang bermakna menyebabkan kekecewaan tambahan.

Arahan sering dikeluarkan tanpa latihan dan pendedahan sempurna diberikan. Kebiasaannya para pendidik yang terpilih akan diarahkan menghadiri taklimat pendedahan atau penataran, diberikan beberapa salinan modul untuk dibuat salinan dan diedarkan pula kepada pendidik terpilih di peringkat sekolah masing-masing.

Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah mungkin akan mengarahkan pihak sekolah cuba menyesuaikan apa yang Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri berikan, dan dalam masa singkat guru hendaklah melaksanakan tanpa pilihan selain menyesuaikan diri dengan apa yang diberi dan diarahkan.

Latihan, pendedahan serta modul yang diberikan juga dikatakan hanya sekadar untuk pengetahuan dasar saja. Latihan lanjutan tidak dijalankan kerana tidak cukup peruntukan kewangan, masa, tenaga dan kepakaran.

Oleh kerana silibus dan kurikulum yang diperkenalkan adalah baru sering kali juga tiada buku rujukan atau buku teks mencukupi disediakan.

Kalau ada pun hanya modul dan lembaran kerja, dan kebiasaannya kementerian/jabatan akan menyediakan dan berkongsi video atau modul elektronik sebagai alternatif dan mereka juga memberikan alasan untuk menjimatkan masa, tenaga dan kos.

Jika alasan ini turut diberikan jelaslah keadaan seperti ‘cakap tak serupa bikin‘.

Dari sudut perundangan, tidaklah dipastikan sama ada usaha ini perlu dibentangkan dan didebatkan di Parlimen kerana ia turut melibatkan peruntukan kewangan kerajaan.

Untuk pentaksiran menjadi berkualiti tinggi dan relevan, dan memaklumkan penambahbaikan sebenar kepada hasil keseluruhan sistem pendidikan, ia perlu berfungsi dalam suasana penuh harmoni.

Dengan sistem kurikulum sedia, sistem dan sokongan latihan guru yang mantap dan teratur, teks dan bahan mencukupi, perancangan, belanjawan dan kerjasama bersepadu dengan jabatan lain yang berkaitan.

Dan tidaklah perlu kita bergantung kepada ‘air ajaib’ untuk menyelesaikan kekusutan yang sedia ada.

fmt-logo-xparent-100.jpgAzizi Ahmad ialah seorang pendidik. Free Malaysia Today Opinion Bahasa July 11, 2016