Archive for October 2010

UMNO has to face the political and economic reality sooner or later.

October 28, 2010

PM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said in the 61st UMNO general assembly, that the Barisan national component parties have agreed not to raise sensitive issues that are enshrined in the constitution like the Malay special rights. A mere mention about the legitimate rights of non-Malays will rile up UMNOPUTRAs into hysteria and turn them aggresive. To top it all, we saw the jingoism and provocative statements from UMNO delegates with regards to the presence of non-UMNO parties in BN. UMNO suffers from inferiority complex unlike PAS which seem to be more confident in dealing with non Malay Malaysians. If the non-UMNO parties can stomach what was insinuated and derided by UMNO delegates and still remain in BN, then they certainly cannot claim to have the courage and moral authority to represent the other races. It is pure opportunism; cowardice and ignorance of the non-Malay party leaders that make them remain in BN.    

UMNOPUTRAS are so indignant and intolerant towards any mention of race relations and legitimate interest of other communities. But it is implicit in Article 153(1) that “It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) to safeguard the special position of the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interest of other communities”. However ambiguity arises when one realizes that the scope and meaning of the words “legitimate interest of the other communities” which are not defined in the federal constitution. UMNO and its running mates never allowed the parliament or the courts to decide on its scope and meaning of the “legitimate interest of the other communities”.  To redress this legal ambiguity an effective and well drafted Race Relations Act is advocated.

This proposed legislation concerning race relations is to address the issue of racial discrimination in award of job opportunities, scholarships and business opportunities in both public service and private sector. This proposed legislation can also promote good race relations amongst the different races. The Race Relation Act (RRA) will provide the balance that the original drafters of the federal constitution had intended when they inserted the words “legitimate interest of the other communities” into Article 153 of the federal constitution. Countries like US, UK, Canada and India with different ethnicities have similar legislations to regulate, guide, manage and promote the race relations. Unfortunately after 53 years the BN government has done nothing towards promoting and integrating the different races.    

UMNO and BN cannot promote Malay interest exclusively and close one eye with regards the legitimate right of other Malaysians and expecting the non-Malays to embrace 1Malaysia blindly. Such narrow parochial enforcement of national policies and practices cannot bring sustainable development and progress.

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History subject must be passed was made compulsory in UMNO AGM.

October 24, 2010

Muhyiddin Yassin the deputy prime minister who is also education minister, announced during his winding-up speech in UMNO AGM that history subject is now made compulsory in all secondary schools. Students have to pass the history subject along with Bahasa Malaysia to obtain the SPM certificate. This was in respond to a complaint by one UMNO delegate about the state of the younger generations’ knowledge of history. It was previously made compulsory for students to take history as a subject in the secondary SPM examinations but Tan Sri Muhyiddin said starting 2013, it would be compulsory for students to pass the subject, along with Bahasa Malaysia.

UMNO’s history subject will include ketuanan Melayu, one sided social contract, Hindu prayer strings as dog leaches, pendatang, penumpang, si-botol, si-sepet racial slurs. Everybody knows UMNO history subject will polarize Malaysians even further apart.  This impromptu decision by an education minister is unprecedented and irresponsible by any standard. But the Malaysian education minister made the decision off the scarf without any consultation with concerned educationists and stakeholders. It implies that the minister knows better what changes needed to make our younger generation accept the present reality and move forward as one nation competing with the other countries. If UMNO delegate’s proposal gets such an urgent and immediate attention, we don’t need expert opinions and public consultations. This can only be expected from a deputy prime minister who is Malay first and Malaysian second.

But our education system is going down the drains. Malaysians who migrate to other countries cite the deteriorating education quality as one of the key reasons for moving out. Malaysia is finding it difficult to attract foreign and overseas talent because of our poor quality education.  Richer Malaysians sent their children to international schools. 70000 Malay children are in Chinese schools. Thousands of Malaysian children cross over to Singapore for schooling every day. Even those who sent their children to national have to spend quite a fortune on tuition classes. Tuition is a thriving business in Malaysia. Without tuition classes the results in national schools will be atrocious. Islamization of national schools is of great concern to many parents. The quality of headmasters and teachers are pale shadows of the past. Education in Malaysia should be in ICU now undergoing rigorous test of its validity and general health.

Knowing UMNO politicians, the history subject will now be stuffed with UNMO politics and Islamized and the contribution of non Malays will be distorted if not deleted. This will make our students further dislike history subject and will make the teaching of history more difficult for history teachers. It was reported in the media that “Ministry of education will improve the contents of the history syllabus by emphasizing the aspects relating to the country’s constitution, with the aim of shaping a deep understanding of how this country which we love was shaped,” said Muhyiddin. He added that in 2014 would also see the introduction of history as a core subject in primary schools under the Primary School Standard Curriculum. This report makes us a laughing stock and history subject is certain to be unpopular. Students will be stuffed with lies, half truth which will polarize thinking students leading to confusion amongst Malaysian students. Thanks to UMNO!

Did the Budget 2011 address the widening income gap?

October 17, 2010

The much awaited budget 2011 was tabled in parliament on Friday 15th Oct, 2010 with the promise that we are on the path of transformation. Earlier the 10th Malaysian 5 years plan was launched with specific target of attaining high income economy. With all the high growth from 1990 to 2007, the middle 40% and the bottom 40% of household’s income level recorded only a moderate growth. A  World Bank study found that the wage trend in Malaysia has recorded only an annual 2.6% growth during the past 10 years.  A study on wages initiated by the Human Resources Ministry reveals that almost 34% of about 1.3 million workers in the country still earn less than RM700 a month. Malaysia’s gini coefficient grew marginally from .456 in 1987 to .459 in 1997 but dropped slightly to .441 in 2007. Malaysia is 101th out of 127 countries in terms of gini coefficient. Looks like Malaysians are caught in the low income trap unless some drastic step is taken.

Did the budget 2011 outline any strategies to uplift the lower income group to higher? Minimum wages is once again postponed and left with the wages consultative council. Looks like the government really dragging its feet on minimum wages. No political will due to the pressure from Malaysian employer’s federation not to yield to workers demand. Only security guards got a confirmation of minimum wages between RM 500 to RM700 that is below hardcore poverty limit of RM720. How to increase productivity of lower wage earners?

As for education, funds are allotted to principals of high performance schools. How is high performance measured when UPSR and PMR are converted to school based examinations? The prime minister has pleased his wife with his generous allocation of RM111 million to PERMATA, his wife’s pet project. How inclusive is PERMATA in recruiting staffs and students of all races be in estates, squatters, new villages or kampong is yet to know. RM250 million for Chinese, Tamil, missionary and Religious school but no details are given. The devil is in the details. RM576 allocated to develop teachers competency. Billions were spent to teach mathematics and science in English. But after 7 years the whole project shelved. A further RM 213 million allocated to enhance BM proficiency and recruit 375 UK and Australian teachers to teach English. All these measures will upgrade the quality of education is yet to be seen.

Talent attraction measures are all about increasing the number of PhDs and upgrading lecturers and implementing skill programs. All these initiatives must be market driven to meet the market needs. It is important to reevaluate the effectiveness and results of all the various programs implemented and conducted in the past years. Lots of money was already spent on training programs. Graduates upon completing university studies need retraining. We need state of art training, forward looking attitudes and proactive initiatives. Real quality researches are not promoted in Budget 2011. No proposal for these realistic changes. Besides, there was no mention about reducing fees higher education. Private higher education is very expensive.

Having said all these, this budget is like any other earlier budget about awarding projects. Construction industry as usual is the main beneficiary. Tallest building and many more projects awarded to GLCs and cronies but nothing to ordinary SMEs and small time businesses.  No innovative ideas to reduce traffic jams besides MRTs. This budget doesn’t seem to be transformational and evolutionary nor is it 1Malaysia. It’s all rhetoric with little substance to reduce the income gap.

Government effort to win back Indian voters

October 16, 2010

Special task force headed by Datuk Dr S.Subramaniam gives direct access to government departments and agencies like national registrations, social welfare and skill development programs, socso and Tekun National reports the media. They have registered thousands of people in need of help in Ijok, Sepang, Kulim and other areas. While these developments said to be winning back voters to BN, but at the same time creating ripples and tension in MIC circle between Palanivelu and subra factions in view of the fact that MIC long term president has finally agreed to step down in January, 2011. So what may be benevolent for the Indian community may not be the same to MIC itself. Let’s take a deeper look at the caring and concerned effort of MIC. Those who seek help may not be BN supporters.

First of all, the approach taken by government shows the level of marginalization and neglect of Malaysian Indians from the main stream of government services. Few hundred thousand Malaysian Indians still having red identity cards despite being born in Malaysia since 1957. Many from rubber estates forced out of estates resettle in urban fringes in all major West Malaysian towns and cities without any skills. Many also are quite old having toiled the rubber estates and squeezed like sucked oranges with no social support. They need social welfare support. Their children have fared no better than their parents and are no help to their aged parents. Those who have met with accidents during work, make many trips to SOCSO offices with problems not solved. Then the poor Indians give up hope after encountering many disappointments with government departments. These frustrations forced for the first time the majority of Malaysian Indians to vote against the BN government.

When Malaysian Indians don’t vote BN, they come down to solve our problem. Might as well don’t vote for them at all. They will be always sensitive to the needs of Malaysian Indians. I would like to remind the prime minister that the approach he has taken confirms that the doors of government service are closed to Malaysian Indians. Malaysian Indians can only access government services through special doors created through the special task force. Malaysian Indians are forever marginalized and sidelined in Malaysia. MIC and the other BN component parties allow Malaysian Indians to be marginalized and sidelined for their own survival. Instead of integrating the Malaysian Indians into the main stream, MIC wants to segregate and create a role for itself in between. UMNO then conveniently outsource Malaysian Indian’s problem to MIC which can’t solve any of it. Racial politics only benefit the majority. Minorities need the support of opposition to highlight the grouses. The Minorities need to remain relevant to be taken seriously. For this to happen we need a two party system which the voter has to decide. We cannot blame anyone for our problem. We did not vote wisely in the past therefore we suffer now. Let’s change now and make the political system relevant for the next generation.