MP SPEAKS | His Majesty, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, as well as their majesties the Malay Rulers were absolutely correct in their belief that a state of emergency is not necessary for Malaysia. This should be respected by all Malaysians.
No one denies the threats posed by the Covid-19 pandemic to our country. The situation remains serious and in Sabah especially, tragic.
But no other nation in the world has responded to it by suspending its democratic processes or proroguing its legislature. We must get rid of this idea that politics is somehow a barrier to good or efficient governance – in fact, they cannot exist without each other.
Read more here.
The Executive Director of the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) Shamsuddin Bardan has recently argued that the poor command of English is the main reason why Bumiputera graduates find it hard to get jobs in the private sector.
This is not a novel idea and indeed, Shamsuddin made this exact same argument in response to what was virtually the exact same question in 2018.
I do not deny that competency in the English language is a crucial skill that all Malaysians need. It is valuable in and of itself. And I also do not deny that it is a problem facing many Malaysian graduates—Bumiputera or otherwise.
But it is just one component of the problem. It may be a very big one, perhaps the biggest—but again, it is just one piece of the puzzle.
The danger is that we rely on simplistic assumptions in trying to understand a complex issue, especially if it involves blaming the real victims of a problem.
The fact is that the Malaysian job market has become more challenging in general over the last couple of years.
Indeed, it is no stretch to say that it has collapsed, and this will likely be compounded by the recession created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jobs can be created, but if there are not well-paying, or rather, if they don’t provide opportunities for growth, no one—except perhaps cheap migrant labour—will take them.
You cannot demand workers surrender to perpetually low-paying jobs they can never escape from—which leaves them nothing to save or build families with.
On the other hand, academic studies such as 2016’s seminal “Degrees of Discrimination: Race and Graduate Hiring in Malaysia” by Dr. Muhammed Abdul Khalid and Dr. Lee Hwok Aun has shown that there are real instances of private sector discrimination against Bumiputera graduates.
Moreover, Shamsuddin contradicts himself when he reportedly said that: “There’s no need to be afraid or shy because when they improve, they will benefit from it, too. Companies can then teach them other skills.”
But how are Bumiputera graduates supposed to get such on-the-job-skills when they won’t even be hired in the first place because of the English issue?
Am I saying English is unimportant or should be ignored? I am not. Should employers be forced to hire mediocre workers? Of course not.
But the point I am trying to make is that there are nuances to the Bumiputera graduate unemployment issue than just a case of poor English skills. The same can be said for the challenges facing graduates of all races in Malaysia.
Solving this dilemma requires holistic solutions—including overhauling our education system, ensuring just wage growth and incentivizing companies to constantly upskill as well as develop their workforces to boost productivity.
But these won’t happen if we are stuck in the belief that the onus is only on the workers to improve themselves without any aid from the government or private sector. This is simply not realistic and will hurt all sides—including business owners—in the long-run.
The MEF’s stand is hence tone deaf. But it is also par on course when one considers that this organisation, perhaps unsurprisingly, has always resorted to blaming workers for their plight rather than confront the real issues at hand.
It would be very unfortunate if the current government takes such wrong-headed and dangerous ideas seriously—if it ever gets down to formulating serious and much-needed policies to address our deepening unemployment crisis.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN PARLIAMENTARY SPOKESPERSON ON EDUCATION
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
It appears that the Philippines is continuing with its illegal and fantasy-driven claim on Sabah. Its Foreign Secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr has recently announced plans to reactivate the country’s so-called “North Borneo Bureau” while claiming that “Sabah is ours (the Philippines)”.
Make no mistake, Sabah is and will remain an integral part of Malaysia. The Philippines revival of its “claim” is a desperate attempt to distract its public from the monumental failures of the Rodrigo Duterte administration, including its badly bungled Covid-19 response.
Nevertheless, it represents an affront to Malaysia’s sovereignty and dignity which cannot be ignored.
Secretary Locsin’s actions are nothing less than an attempt to interfere in our country’s democratic processes, especially given that Sabah is undertaking state elections at this very moment.
They are moreover a breach of the ASEAN principle of non-interference in the affairs of member states. It is unfortunate that they are engaging in such divisive actions at a time when Southeast Asia ought to be standing together in the face of attempts by certain superpowers to divide our region and turn it into a battleground for their geopolitical rivalries with each other.
While it is right for Malaysia to not entertain the Philippine claims, our government must also consider a stronger response if the latter does not cease and desist from its wild rhetoric.
As the saying goes: “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” There is a danger that this might become a reality if we fail to take active steps to put a stop to the Philippines’ aggressive attempts to delegitimise Sabah’s rightful place as part of Malaysia.
The Philippines actions are not that of a friend. The Malaysian government must do much, much more than it has done so far to protect our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
CHAIR OF PARLIAMENTARY DEFENCE AND HOME AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
There have been a number of shocking revelations emanating from the trial of Rosmah Mansor in relation to the solar hybrid energy to schools in Sarawak project.
This includes claims from a former aide of hers that a special team of cybertroopers was set up with a monthly budget of RM100,000 to protect her online reputation.
Rosmah is alleged to have solicited RM187.5 million and receiving RM6.5 million in bribes in the project.
The allegations unavoidably give rise to disturbing questions about how the culture of corruption that existed under the previous Najib Razak administration has impacted on the state of education in the country—especially in the East Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah.
Funds that ought to have gone to helping as well as providing opportunities for the youth of those states are now alleged to have been squandered for the interests of the elite. Is it no wonder that our education system in general continues to lag behind other countries and hence stunt the country’s potential?
Moreover, the recent Veveonah Moshibin controversy in Sabah suggests that not only do East Malaysian students face numerous challenges in terms of facilities and infrastructure, but also in the form of ignorance, bad faith and outright prejudice from the current Perikatan Nasional government.
Expecting a resolution to these problems from the administration of the day is perhaps a remote prospect when one considers how it is essentially a confederation of vested interests—many of whom were voted out of office during the 2018 General Elections—brought together for the sole purpose of arrogating power to themselves.
Malaysian voters—especially those in East Malaysia—can and must judge for themselves which coalition is better placed to ensure the well-being of their future generations.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN PARLIAMENTARY EDUCATION SPOKESPERSON
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
The Slim by-election has taken place. I congratulate both the winner and his competitors as well as the constituency’s voters for the successful exercise.
Nevertheless, the results were not what we, the combined Opposition of Malaysia, would have liked. The fault does not lie with the candidate which was run—he tried his best against difficult odds.
However, the Slim bye-election is cause for all Malaysian Opposition parties—especially KEADILAN and Pakatan Harapan (PH)—to seriously reflect and consolidate, especially in terms of strategy as well as approach.
But it cannot be denied that the Independent candidate that was backed by the Opposition was still defeated by a party whose leaders are facing criminal charges in court and who are part of a “backdoor” government that is increasingly fractious as well as unstable.
Indeed, the candidate selected by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s PEJUANG party was not only defeated in Slim, but with a majority 5-times higher than in 2018 (i.e. 10,945 votes compared to 2,183) in a seat that us almost 75% Malay. This was despite claims by some PH politicians and analysts that Tun Dr Mahathir’s presence was absolutely necessary to swing the Malay and other voters, that no one else could do it.
What’s more concerning for the Opposition is that the BN candidate polled 13,060 votes, i.e. more than the combined total of UMNO and PAS’ 2018 votes (12,430). Moreover, BN reportedly won all polling stations in Slim—including those which were predominantly non-Malay.
The PEJUANG candidate this round got 2,115 votes compared to BERSATU’s 6,144 in 2018 (when it was still with PH). This suggests that large swathes of Opposition-leaning supporters stayed away from the ballot boxes or went to BN, which is also worrying.
It is true that Slim was a BN/UMNO stronghold. Moreover, the late incumbent was popular and the candidate UMNO ran to replace him had worked closely with him in the past. Voters may have been swayed by other local factors.
But it is also a fact is that PEJUANG ran a campaign that was largely devoid of issues or a message beyond expecting voters to back them simply because of who they are and who their Chairman is. This is an entitled attitude and a recipe for disaster.
When GE15 comes, PH certainly cannot go to voters offering nothing but relitigating the feuds of the last decade, whether it is the 1MDB scandal, the issues that confronted the federal government we led from 2018—2020 or the “Sheraton Move.”
I am not saying that these points are irrelevant, but it cannot the only things that we run on. And PH certainly should not be aligning itself with other parties who cannot see or understand this.
“Kleptokrat”, “Kerajaan pintu belakang” and “pengkhianat” will not be slogans we will win the next General Elections on. Not on their own.
The fact is that PEJUANG did not offer a compelling economic message to the voters of Slim. The party could not persuade them that their lives and livelihoods would improve if they voted for their candidate. There was no vision, no hope or promise for the future.
And that is why the PEJUANG candidate lost. This is the mistake that PH must avoid in the next election.
Of course, we don’t have to shy away from exposing the abuses and lack of legitimacy of the current government. But this cannot be in the absence of a plan for bettering the economic prospects of Malaysians, especially in light of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.
The heavy defeat at Slim can be a turning point for KEADILAN and PH—but only if we learn the right lessons from it.