Rosmah’s Trial Exposes How Corruption Impacted Education In Sabah And Sarawak

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.


Learn From The Mistakes Of PPSMI

I strongly urge the government to reconsider the announcement made by the Prime Minister cum Acting Minister of Education, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the possible revival of the use of English in the teaching of science and mathematics in Malaysian schools.

We must accept the importance of English, but to reintroduce PPSMI has a major impact on the effectiveness of education. It is hence important for us to recall why the PPSMI was abandoned back in 2012.

Basically, the PPSMI as implemented led to students with weak English skills facing difficulty in learning mathematics and science.

An entire generation of students from such backgrounds were arguably “lost” to those subjects as a result.

Indeed, there were teachers during that period who faced the dilemma whether to make the switch to English as they had students who simply could not keep up.

This was to say nothing of the fact that there were also educators whose English was not good and who could not be brought up to scratch or be easily replaced.

We must be clear about what our objectives are in the first place.

If Malaysians want to strengthen the standard of English among students, we should work to improve the quality of that subject and its syllabus in our schools.

That would do more to improve the standard of English in our country rather than switching the teaching of other subjects to it.

On the other hand, if we want to strengthen our mastery of mathematics and science, we should not forget that the Dual Language Programme (DLP) has been in place since 2016.

The DLP basically gives eligible schools the flexibility to use either Malay or English in their teaching based on the capacities of their students and choice of parents.

I am sure that this is the better approach as parents and individual schools will have a better gauge of their own students and teacher’s abilities compared to a one-size-fits-all system.

Look I am a father of a school-going kid in a national school. I would rather the government make the existing system work than keep tinkering with things.

We should avoid making sudden and changes to our education system without planning and patience. The students and teachers will suffer as a result.

We should be seeking to uphold the spirit of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 that was issued by the-then Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. The parameters that it set ought to remain the framework that governs our educational policies.

Our focus should be ensuring that all Malaysians have access to the best educational opportunities possible as well as boosting investment in the same.

Also, efforts to strengthen Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) should continue, as well as ensuring that our students at all levels are being prepared to compete in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Again, what is required is consultation, foresight and patience.


Government Must Prioritise Bread And Butter Issues, Says PKR Lawmaker

by Syahirah Syed Jaafar /
December 02, 2018 19:43 pm +08

PETALING JAYA (Dec 2): While institutional reform is needed in the country, the “basic bread and butter economic issues” must be prioritised to prevent backlash from the people, says Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

“It’s about solving the basic needs of the people. You can talk about institutional reform, but if the bread and butter issues such as wages are not solved, then we will get backlash and we are already seeing signs of that,” the Member of Parliament (MP) for Setiawangsa said at the launch of his book entitled “9 May 2018: Notes from the Frontline” by PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today. The price of the book is at RM25.

Nik Nazmi said while the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition managed to secure the majority of parliamentary seats during the recent 14th general election (GE14), it did not, however, get support from certain quarters of the country and must therefore work harder to earn their trust.

“Even though we have won, we did not get a majority of support from the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, everyone knows that. We also did not get Malay support from Perlis, nor in most seats in Sabah and Sarawak. So these are the things that we need to realise and try to reach out to them,” he added.

For Nik Nazmi, GE14 was a personal milestone as he was contesting for the first time at federal level. He clinched the Parliamentary seat of Setiawangsa, the only seat in Kuala Lumpur that Barisan Nasional had never lost previously.

In his book, Nik Nazmi gave his behind-the-scenes take on the political developments in the opposition coalition from the disappointing loss of GE13 to the ecstacy win of GE14.

“I thought it was important that we document this experience and I wanted to contribute my account so that we can remind ourselves as we embark on a New Malaysia,” he said.

Recalling the fall of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition and the founding of Pakatan Harapan, he also gave his first-hand account of the back room politics, the party conferences, the development of the non-profit organisation INVOKE Malaysia, working with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as well as insight into the campaigns he worked on in Selangor and Setiawangsa, and in marginal seats from Perlis to Sabah.

Meawhile, Anwar conceded that a lot more has to be done to address the bread and butter issues, especially the poor and marginalised groups.

“Now that I am MP for Port Dickson, I see that poverty remains an issue till today. While I advocate for dismantling the New Economic Policy to create more progressive ones, many Malays in the rural areas remain suspicious of our efforts because we are not seen as creating tough measures to elevate poverty.

“But I am mindful that to succeed, we must be clear that we will work on getting rid of corruption and show more compassion towards the marginalised,” he said in his speech at the book launch.

Nik Nazmi previously served as private secretary to Anwar from 2006 to 2008. Nik Nazmi also held the position of the first Pakatan Harapan Youth Leader from 2017 to 2018 and PKR youth chief from 2014 to 2018. He was a two-term Selangor state assemblyman until 2018.

Later after the launch, Anwar urged Umno and PAS leaders not to proceed with the rally linked to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) on Dec 8.

He said they should not deny that there was currently racial anxiety, in addition to Putrajaya having said that it had decided not to ratify the United Nations convention.

“I am asking for the wisdom of Umno and PAS leaders as we can’t deny there is racial anxiety now,” he added.

Anwar also called on leaders to show more courage to tackle racism in the country.

“The agenda of reform does not finish necessarily with a change in leadership. On May 9, Malaysians showed that they were willing to stand together to fight corruption, racism and bigotry.

“We may have won (GE14), but we must continue the fight especially with the rising racism in the West and other nations,” said Anwar.

“Yes, we have problems like with what happened (rioting) at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in USJ25 recently. But I believe Malaysians can be better.

We should never be proud of these religious bigots, they are there waiting for the chance to screw up the nation. I believe if we remain steadfast in our conviction to our promise for reform, we can achieve justice for all,” he added.

Respect Opposition Representatives

I cannot agree with the stance taken by the Minister of Education YB Maszlee Malik, who stated in Parliament that opposition legislators must apply for permission from his Ministry via the relevant State Education Department Director before they can enter government schools.

MPs, ADUNs and local councillors are often invited to such institutions. They are important places in the civic life of our country.

Barring opposition figures from schools and other institutions of learning was one of the worst abuses under the previous Barisan Nasional government.

Many Pakatan Harapan legislators—including myself—fell victim to it.

Despite serving as Selangor State Exco for Education from 2014-2018, I was constantly barred from visiting schools there.

I was even prevented from speaking at my alma mater, KYUEM, allegedly due to political pressure on the school authorities.

On another occasion, I was forced to pretend to be a student—including riding into campus on a motorbike—in order to fulfil an invitation at Universiti Malaya.

Now that Pakatan Harapan is in power federally—it must continue to take the moral high ground.

There is no reason why we should adopt repressive practices and pettiness of the previous government.

We must trust all legislators—whatever their parties—to behave responsibly when carrying out their public engagements.

Action can of course be taken if any MP or ADUN abuse these platforms, such as by inciting racial or religious hatred or pushing a partisan agenda.

But in all other cases, legislators can and should be allowed into schools, colleges and universities when they are invited to do so.

I cannot understand why issues like this even arise in the New Malaysia.

The Minister ought to know better. He certainly should be more open-minded.

Pakatan Harapan must be different. We must do better in this and all things.


Government Decision To Retain BTN Disappointing

The federal government’s decision to retain the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) is disappointing.

As has been stressed time and time again, not only by politicians in Pakatan Harapan but also media and civil society stakeholders, the BTN has had a highly negative impact.

It has become a tool for political propaganda as well as inciting hatred and fear among the different racial and religious groups. We have also committed in Buku Harapan to abolish BTN.

Moreover, the Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman was reported as saying on 9 July 2018—less than a month ago—that “BTN will be abolished.”

What has changed since then?

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Farid Md Rafik has of course promised that the BTN’s modules will be “fine-tuned” and “rebranded”.

I do not doubt that, in good faith, he believes that this can and will be done.

However, similar promises have been made in the past without any impact.

The leaders of Pakatan Harapan must realise that the coalition was voted into government to reform Malaysia.

“Reform” must also include the political sphere—indeed, all other changes will fail without it.

A body like BTN, which seeks to in effect control the thoughts of Malaysian citizens, is archaic in this 21st Century. Whether BTN promotes the ideals of Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan, it still goes against the norms of a modern democratic state.

Abolishing it can be done without infringing on anyone’s rights or interests. Full time BTN employees can be transferred to other departments.

All that matters is whether the government has the political will to do so or not.

Malaysians are watching the government’s every move and their estimation of it will rise or fall on how it performs in implementing its election promises.

The BTN must be abolished, full stop.


Mahdzir Is Wrong, Teachers Are Free To Choose In Elections

I refer to the recent statement made by Education Minister, Mahdzir Khalid, threatening teachers and officers who are supportive of the opposition that they will be fired from their job.

Following the strong public backlash, the Education Ministry’s communications team then sought to spin the statement to say that the Minister was only giving ‘fatherly’ advice.

First of all, it was unbecoming of the Minister to influence public servants, especially teachers, and put fear on them so as not to support the opposition.

As Education Minister he should be educated enough to understand that we are a democratic nation and every citizen has the right to support, and express support for any party that they want to.

The Minister’s response following the public backlash in an effort to hide behind this ‘fatherly’ persona undermines the intelligence of the public who have heard such threats time and time again – especially with the election looming.

Teachers are the backbone of society, and they are not only role models but also have a role to shape future generations, and therefore it is wrong to treat them as political tools. They should be able to think and act for themselves.

My message to the teachers, officers and public servants is this; you have the right to vote whichever party you think will best lead the nation, and your vote is your voice.

Pakatan Harapan will do our best to ensure that your job and livelihood is well taken care of, regardless of your political beliefs.

Let us teach those who dare to intimidate and undermine us a lesson, that it is they who should not hold any position due to their recalcitrant attitude.