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Tag Archives: Mahathir

For as long as the Prime Minister Najib is not able to answer the question on where the rest of the loan of the 42 billion taken by the Malaysian government sovereign fund 1MDB is, the so-called crisis between him and the ex-long serving Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir (1981-2003), will continue. Never had any past PM taken such a massive short-term loan for long-term development and what is worse, he is unable to account for it.

No one else in Malaysia would dare to question Najib on financial mismanagement of  such a gigantic proportion, if not for the straight talking and no nonsense ex-PM who is 90 years old (I pray for his health and longevity to see this scandal through). Najib is accusing Dr Mahathir of having self-interest in the issue but many of us do not buy it.

Najib is saying that Malaysia would be paralysed if BN (National Front) lost in the next General Election as the opposition is in disarray. Well, for people who have made up their mind, they wouldn’t care. Paralyse or not, they don’t want BN to be led by Najib.

PM Najib on the left. Just answer the question Najib and end this crisis and no need to point your finger.

PM Najib on the left and Dr Mahathir. Just answer the question, Najib and end this crisis and no need to point your finger at the old man. (Photo – Malaysiakini)

As for me, I will not vote for BN for as long as Najib is the President of UMNO (United Malay national Organisation) the main component party of the ruling BN simply because I value integrity in a leader and Najib lacks tons of it. In the meantime, let’s see whether  he can answer Dr Mahathir’s question on the “missing billion” and how long does he take to do just that.

Najib has not yet answered satisfactorily, instead he asked Arul Kanda the new CEO of 1MDB to do so and the latter quickly proceeded by presenting the fund’s debt allocations into “boxes” and shove them to the newspapers to be printed for public consumption.

Being both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, the check and balance is virtually absent allowing the PM to do practically anything he likes, even bypassing the cabinet. No one in their right mind would agree that this is a healthy practice.

Just answer the question truthfully, Najib and end this crisis.

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By now we Malaysians have already known that foreigners are being recruited to rejuvenate our two dying organisations. One dying of talent and the other dying of ideas.

For some years now the former, Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) has been depending on one man, Lee Chong Wei, to carry the Malaysian flag at the international level. We lack depth in our line up of players. We have problems of management fighting with coaches until one of these coaches is riled up and sulking that he decides to stay away and with him his skill at playing badminton which won him a place in the world tournament and at the Olympics.

BAM and indirectly Malaysia has been depending on her star player who has been the number one in the world but his recent positive dope test at an international tournament in Denmark has sent away all hope on him as he is looking at a two-year ban from playing badminton, to be meted out by the world badminton body. Malaysia is suddenly left with no representation at the international competition.

For this sports Malaysia in its bid to produce world-class badminton players have sought foreign coaches from Indonesia, China, Korea and even Denmark. Yes, Morten Frost was here as a badminton coach some years ago and now he is being asked again to return to help Malaysia improve skills and instill some disciplines and mental tactics in the players. And I don’t know about you all Malaysian readers, but my impression is if there were a European man (read “white man”), those sports administrators would not be as daring as to meddle with his coaching methods like what they did with Misbun Sidek, our self-banished local badminton coach.

And no one has come out to slam BAM for hiring Morten Frost, a foreigner from Denmark to “turnaround” the state of badminton in Malaysia! Mahathir and Kit Siang, where are you? I did not hear Mahathir, our long-serving ex Prime Minister arrogantly saying, “Malaysians are too stupid to be good badminton coaches” as he pointedly told Malaysians that they are too stupid to be MAS’s CEO.

Morten Frost - Our new badminton coach

Morten Frost – Our new badminton coach (God has willed)

It is a different situation altogether with MAS (Malaysian Airlines) which is dying since it was blatantly privatised in the eighties by none other than Mahathir, our clever and visionary PM (Prime Minister) then whom I have so much respect except in certain matters like his insistence that the Sedition Act 1948 should be retained.

MAS used to be a very profitable company and its share price was RM12.00 in early nineties but privatisation headed by a man chosen by Mahathir had sent the company roiling to its present state when early this year its share price was a mere 0.25 sen! So do we listen to Mahathir on this fresh effort to help MAS?

Naturally, another area of my deep disagreement with Mahathir is him being against hiring a foreigner to helm MAS to attempt to bring it back  from the brink of death. Khazanah, the current GLC (government-linked company) that has taken MAS private has looked high and low for a qualified Malaysian to head MAS to “turnaround” the business. How many local have been appointed as CEOs? And yet after spending billion of ringgit and still unable to lift MAS out of its rot started by Mahathir, continued by Abdullah Badawi and helplessly dawdled through by Najib, the current PM.

I am no lover of Khazanah but what they are doing by hiring a foreigner is in effect the last resort. Mueller is not just any foreigner, he has the track record of turning around weakened airlines. A man who knows the airlines industry well. We have to get someone like him to breathe life into MAS lest we die trying. As a disappointed ex MAS minority shareholder, I implore upon these high and mighty politicians to support this effort and give it a chance to save our National Airlines.

I do not think any Malaysian would want to head MAS at this stage of its worthless life because they know what kind of garbage they will face when trying to turnaround this mammoth. It’s not worth their time which could be best spent somewhere else. They would not only be harassed by politicians looking for business contracts, they would also be harassed by the so called VVVIPs, the royalties, the elite, the political cronies and those who think that they are damn important, looking for travel upgrades and special attention when traveling using MAS at the taxpayers’ expense. All kinds of interferences would be there to derail their efforts to infuse good governance and practices in the organisation.

Christoph R Mueller - Our new MAS CEO (God willing)

Christoph R Mueller – Our new MAS CEO (God willing)

I bet you all that with a “white man” at the helm, those trouble makers and detractors would not be as bold to ask for favours and interfere in MAS’s affairs.

Someone suggested that Mueller should be made an advisor rather than  CEO, obviously that crackpot does not understand the responsibilities and authority of each appointment.

At this juncture, I am also encouraged to make another analogy. Look at Manchester United, the world famous football club, what has become of them in the UK Premier League after their long-serving manager Alex Ferguson left? Same players but a different manager and they cannot seem to perform as well as they used to under Ferguson, losing million of dollars in income as a result.

Forget bloody politics, let’s support and give Christoph R. Mueller, the CEO designate of MAS a chance to revive MAS as we support Morten Frost in helping to restore our badminton to its former glory.

By the way, I am quite aware of the difference between a coach and a CEO but all the same they  both need the skills to do a good job. In this instance, they are both highly qualified.

I might not be able to debate till kingdom come on this new MAS CEO’s issue with Mahathir and Kit Siang because I am no politician.

Welcome to Malaysia Morten Frost and Christoph R Muller!

Like most law-abiding and peace-loving citizens of Malaysia, I am appalled reading the news on alleged terrorists’ activities which are recently exposed here and  here. It looks like what the former long-serving Prime Minister , Mahathir, did to bring into the political mainstream, the religious elements instead of rejecting them outright as done by Suharto of Indonesia, has caused a slow-burn rather than the incendiary impact seen in our neighbour with the largest Muslim population in the world today.

The news article here also gives you a sense of insecurity that religious violence of this nature might occur anywhere in the country. Why is this hatred against others so vile that these people are willing to kill innocent human beings? More importantly, who are these people? How do they become radicalised? What make them so single-minded and paranoid that their lives would be less happy when others do not subscribe to their theology?

It is worth noting that only a certain small percentage of  children are born abnormal, be it physically or mentally. Others are normal and their characters and outlook on life are shaped by their environment. The people who are responsible in bringing up the children and educating them cannot escape the spotlight turned on the homegrown terrorists in our midst.

The education system in this country has created a generation that is not only hostile to one another but one which is designed to maintain the supremacy of a race and religion over others. As if that is not enough, religionization of  schools and teachers is carried on without a consideration on its impact on the young people.

The so called religious schools are built using taxpayers’ money and yet exclusive to only one race and faith. This policy is poorly thought-out. The congregation of one race and one religion breeds paranoia that has persisted from primary schools right to tertiary levels.

The instillation of Islamic values in all government agencies, schools and institutions of higher learnings is no longer conducted in the spirits it was initially founded on. It has become a platform to force others to submit to the will of the strong proponents of pure Islamisation: no half-way, it’s my way or the highway.

The ongoing Islamist-related terrorism in the Middle-East, South Asia, Africa, Indonesia and South Thailand is helping to fan the fire of militancy or terrorism  among impressionable Muslim youths in Malaysia. This slow-burn should not be ignored if the country values peace and peaceful co-existence. We should not wait till attacks on the innocents take place. At this juncture, I would like to commend the police on their effective surveillance and intelligence leading to the arrest of those alleged militants or terrorists.

These people will need to be de-radicalised and apparently it takes about three years to “re-wire” the mind of each of these fanatical religious freaks, as the Indonesian experience shows. I hope the politicians from both the political divides can see the future danger wreaked by young Muslim generations being fed with hatred and suspicion of people of other faiths on account of the segregation forced upon them by the education system.

At least the Mission Schools allow students of other faiths to study in their schools but not in the case of Sekolah Ugama (religious schools) run by the Education Ministry in Malaysia: Sekolah Ugama are out of bound for students of other faiths. Now, whose brainchild was it that created this ” education apartheid“? The islamisation of public schools also drive away students of other faiths resulting in an unhealthy environment for the country’s social cohesion.

People talk about racial polarisation and factors causing them and yet the government has perceptively chosen to ignore it by sticking to the structurally ill-conceived education system: a breeding ground for mediocrity and religious tension.

I am obliged to construe that there would be more religious extremists , terrorists or militants in the making and are raring to perform their “sacred” duty in the name of the religion. It is conceivable that, presently, the authorities might be dealing with only the tip of the iceberg.

Taking the Bull by the Horns, is not the domain of weak and clueless leaders.

Can the current PM Najib take the bull by the horns?

I also cannot foresee that the current government leadership can take the bull by the horns. Its anti-terrorism measures would instead be more in the form of firefighting.

Malaysia’s ex- long serving Prime Minister has risen the temperature and tension on the Allah issue by stressing that the term Allah is exclusive to Muslims in Malaysia a few days ago. He  said that the term was not used by the Christians years ago and he even accused that the term is used to surreptitiously convert Malay Muslims to Christianity.

My arguments are, firstly the term was not used by the Christians years ago because the sermons in churches were in other languages such as English and Chinese. With the formation of Malaysia, there are now many natives from East Malaysia who are Christians and not able to understand the sermons, especially in English.

By the way, Malay Nationalists who Mahathir would love  to include himself, insist on the Malay language to be the national language of this country and so the churches embrace this national language policy by giving the sermons in Bahasa Malaysia.

There are thousands of Christian natives of East Malaysia working in the peninsular especially in vibrant Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. And so his argument about the term of Allah has never before been used,  lacks a sense of progressiveness. We are in the 21st century now and we have the East Malaysian states with us. We move with the time.

Secondly, the paranoia about Muslims in Malaysia being converted to Christianity is really outdated and irritating. There is that clause about non-proselytisation of Muslims, which has been in place after Independence from the British in 1957. Christian groups are fully aware of this prohibition. They are not going to sacrifice what they already have and be foul of the authorities. It is already 56 years since Independence, how many Malay Muslims have been converted to Christianity?

Thirdly, this excessive fear of Malay Muslims converting to other faiths is a wasteful obsession engaged upon by insecure people. For a start, faith is a private matter. And on top of that our country’s Constitution spells out what a Malay is and it is difficult to just convert and made yourself public without  being ostracised and brought to Shariah Court  and forcibly made to repent and spend time in jail etc. It is not that easy for Malay Muslims in Malaysia to convert openly and so why the brouhaha about others calling God, Allah? It just doesn’t make sense.

Dr Mahathir, I respect you and love you as an outstanding Malaysian PM and a leader with an astute mind as evidenced by my previous postings on you and I am hard pressed now trying to reconcile your present stance on the Allah issue in these late stages of your life.  You should be uniting us and not alienating us. Do not waste your 22 years of great service to this country on this issue. I recall that the great Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did remark on the great sin of the people who sever relationships (silaturrahim). What you are doing now is severing inter-religious relationships of Malaysians.

You are a great man but your greatness is tarnished by your insistence on this issue of faith. I pray to Allah swt that you be shown the right path in your capacity as an elder, dare I refer to,  “statesman”?

I have gone through Mahathir’s prime ministership and have seen the massive development of infrastructures that he planned and executed. Whenever I am at KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport), I think of Mahathir, whenever at Petronas KLCC, I think of Mahathir and I thank Mahathir whenever I am travelling on the North-South Highway.

The facilities on this highway are first-class.  The toilets are clean and well maintained, better than those at KLIA. I just travelled from KL to Johor Bahru back to KL and up to Alor Star and Penang and back again to KL yesterday. I have nothing but praise for PLUS which manages the highway.

I think about Mahathir, Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister, when I am surfing the internet and blogging. Gosh, I think of Mahathir most of the time!

So I read his blog today on his response to his successor’s scathing attack on his supposedly spendthriftiness! His sarcasm is brilliant; (reproduced in full below).

When do I think of Abdullah Badawi? Hardly, I must admit, or rather I’d like to just push him to the most distant fringes of the universe of my mind.

To be fair though, there is a couple of things which he mooted that I appreciate like the National Cancer Hospital, a humongous yellow building in Putrajaya, ostensibly in memory of his first wife who died of  breast cancer in 2003. Then his late formation of  Malaysian Anti-Corruption Council (MACC) just before his stepping down.

On the whole, his tenure was a huge letdown. Instead of curbing corruption, he seemed to have systematised it. He dealt directly  with businessmen and contractors, signing off approvals without checking with the executives and when pointed out that certain procedures needed to be adhered to, to ensure transparency and check and balance, he labelled those executives as “LITTLE NAPOLEONs”!

One senior civil servant opined that almost 50% of fund under the then five-year Malaysia Plan’s total allocation could have been wasted due to this kind of unchecked direct dealings and fast prime ministerial approvals. What kind of thriftiness is this?

Yes, he gave the impression that he was the BIG NAPOLEON, good lord! he will  never come close to be compared to Napoleon in terms of mental acuteness. His degree in ‘religious studies” makes him think that he could manage and control people “fatwa” style. No wonder he lost big in the 12GE.

Abdullah Badawi - Sleeping during a lively UMNO meeting...

Abdullah Badawi – Sleeping during a lively UMNO meeting…

The most memorable features of Abdullah Badawi (or Bodohwi), the 5th PM, are his sleeping on the job and his habitual lateness at official functions. When he was supposed to come at 9am, he turned up at 12 noon! He virtually had no respect for other peoples’ time. I had ever missed a flight for an important company meeting in Singapore due to his tardiness.

Another irritating aspect was his long-winded rhetorics, substanceless, uninspiring and delivered  sermons like.

His dismantling of his predecessors’ projects appeared vengeful rather than thoughtful and is well described by Tun Mahathir in his blog. It is sad to to see the truncated monorail, still standing as uncompleted structures in Putrajaya. That rail system would have solved the traffic congestion and parking problems in and around the  massive government complex.

But this slow witted man would rather give the money to build what he called “towering individuals”. One of the individuals he created was his own brother who was given a 25-year contract to cater food for MAS (Malaysia Airlines) at an exorbitant rate.  Another is his son-in-law, that Oxford trained man who never have to “work” in his life. Yet another is his sister- in – law with her hotel business.

“Mr Clean” as he was labelled before he became PM , curbing corruption? I would say “Balderdash, Bodohwi! You truly fooled us”.

This is the kind of leader UMNO (United Malay National Organisation) gets and sadly we Malaysians get, through that flawed system of “NO CONTEST” for its President’s post.

Precisely,  Abdullah Badawi is a forgettable glorified politician.

 

“Quote:

ADVICE THAT WILL BANKRUPT THE NATION

As the UMNO General Assembly is getting nearer, we have been hearing  proposals from within UMNO for the top two positions of President and Deputy President not to be contested. The reason given being, if contests are allowed, there would be possible detriment, division and conflict in the party.

The ex- Prime Minister and long-serving UMNO president has voiced his support of no-contest proposal  here, speaking from his experience in the past. Other UMNO politicians  like the Chief Minister of Pahang  feels a contest should be allowed. A blog  (outsyed the box) which ran a poll for his readers to vote whether there should be a contest or not recorded 95% ( over 1000 votes) wanting a contest reflecting the general view of his mostly Malay readers.

Despite embracing democracy for more than 50 years since Independence, UMNO members are still unable to face its principle of majority choice. The loser backed by a minority is bound to cause chaos and segregation and hence weakening the party. Basically most UMNO members lack political maturity.

UMNO General Assembly - Najib and Muhyiddin can hang up their gloves, can't they?

UMNO General Assembly 2013 – Najib and Muhyiddin can hang up their gloves, can’t they?

Come to think of it, UMNO has in recent years produced leaders on the premise of no-contest. So they have Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak and Muhyiddin. The first one started the rut  and was “gently” forced to step down, the second and third have not done any better in terms of getting UMNO back on track pre-2008 debacle. And yet they still appear to want to go for no-contest to keep churning non-performing leaders.

Without a contest, UMNO the dominant partner in BN (National Front) that  recently won the general election with a reduced number of seats, will have the same leaders possibly overseeing its demise in GE14.

The President of UMNO is automatically the chairman of BN (Barisan Nasional) which is a coalition of parties, the other major ones being MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association)  and MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress). He also automatically becomes the Prime Minister should the coalition won. It is therefore crucial to elect someone who can lead and deliver in the next GE14.

The members’ voices are typically drowned by fear mongering party veterans and insecure grassroots. What’s the use of enlarging the number of party delegates eligible to vote in its General Assembly if there is no contest for all the posts? An increase in number of voting members is to stem corrupt practices which were rampant during UMNO general assembly when wealthy candidates paid the delegates for their votes for the supreme council’s seats.

It’s like the Communist Party of China (CPC), there is no contest for its top post, it has been decided earlier and the 2000 delegates just endorsed it. You can excuse them because they do not practice multi-party democracy like us and most other countries do. In fact, there is hardly any election  in China. But the major difference is they replace their top leaders every 10 years giving younger members an opportunity to lead.  So there appears to be  unity in the party and country. No conflict,  no  infighting,  no voice… er er.. no rights. A utopia?

To be transparent and to submit to majority’s wishes, there must be a contest. That is the time when you as members of a party must decide who should lead you and be responsible for your choice. For all you know the delegates might want to retain the current top leaders and that is of course their prerogative. However if the practice of no-contest for top posts is entrenched then you should not whinge when your rights are suppressed by those above and around you.

Because you are no longer  supposed to have a voice.

People need to be preoccupied in order to stay healthy. Just look at people who have retired. Those who continue to be active and work in whatever capacity tend to stay robust in health while those who do nothing or RTM ( rehat tunggu mati or resting while waiting to die) after retirement tend to be sickly.

That is my observation of Tun Mahathir, Malaysia’s longest serving ex- Prime Minister from BN (National Front, a coalition of race-based parties in power for over 55 years). I remember Mahathir was constantly not well during the sleepy Abdullah Badawi’s tenure as Prime Minister. As is well known, Badawi, the ingrate, had sidelined his former boss in all activities, political and non-political.

The old man responded with much venom and even resigned from his beloved party UMNO out of disgust for Badawi’s treatment of him. That very act had caused a rift of sort in UMNO. The 2008 GE12 debacle which saw the loss of two third majority for BN and five states in Peninsular being taken by the opposition sealed the fate of the inapt Badawi.

Tun Mahathir becomes healthy after Badawi is removed as Prime Minister in 2009 (net image)

Tun Mahathir becomes healthy after Badawi is removed as Prime Minister in 2009 ( net image)

With Najib at the helm of BN following the “removal” of Badawi, Mahathir returned to UMNO and “political activities” and believe it or not he has been in the pink of health ever since. Amazing don’t you think?

The influence of Mahathir is still strong, say what you like. He still has star power and able to throw punches that badly bruise some opposition politicians. Numerous pejorative remarks have been thrown at  him but he could not care less because his commitment is steely, be it to ensure his son’s political ascendency or to fight against forces he deems as destructive to his Malay race or to other possible personal interests.

He must have been quite effective otherwise the likes of Uncle Kit (Lim Kit Siang) and Anwar Ibrahim would not have been rattled and annoyed. At 87 Mahathir is sprightly compared to his contemporary Margaret Thatcher, the ex-British Prime Minister who suffered from dementia and was incapacitated before her death in early April 2013 at the same age.

Bravo Tun! We all would like to know your secret for healthy living (one of them surely is due to Najib giving him the opportunity to be active again in politics something that he loves). I for one have hoped that Mahathir would retire gracefully like Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and GW Bush and become an elderly statesman but I realise that he would be sad and restless and sickly had he stayed inactive politically and discontinue  fighting  his “war”, remember he once remarked that his “Perjalanan yang belum selesai“? ( unaccomplished journey).

Anwar Ibrahim - who are you to wish for Tun Mahathir to die?

Anwar Ibrahim – who are you to wish for Tun Mahathir to die? ( net image)

Coming now to the exasperated Anwar Ibrahim who, like the glib character that he is, has called on Mahathir to “just die” instead of campaigning for BN. He is quoted in the news to have uttered the following during a recent political talk on 25 April 2013 in Kampung Abdullah, Segamat Johor:

Sudah mau mati,dah 83 (sic) tahun. Berapa lama lagi? Kalau dah nak mati, mati sajalah (How long more? If you are going to die, just die).

Such uncouth and toxic public remarks in vile language shows what type of person Anwar Ibrahim is. God forbids if he ever becomes the Prime Minister of Malaysia! His crude utterance is as if he is blaming God for not taking Mahathir’s life. His wrath has transcended the line of decency and may God deal with him accordingly.

I hold Tun in awe for what he has done for Malaysia vis-a-vis physical development computer literacy and digital connectivity though I must admit,  I am disappointed with him sometimes when he says things like if Uncle Kit wins in Gelang Patah, the harmonious inter-racial tie in the constituency would be affected. I think Tun should not have said that. It would have been better if he had said something like “For continued progress and stability  it is better to vote for BN”. Less acidic and certainly not hurtful or sounding racist.

As for Anwar exercising his rights of freedom of speech by wishing Tun to die, I believe he has stooped too low this time around and his human wrath could well lead to divine retribution.

One cannot help but notice the silence treatment Najib gives to PPSMI reinstatement’s call and that persistent calls for review of the seemingly lopsided deal between MAS and Air Asia. No words have come out from him publicly on the issue of the so-called airlines collaboration. Obviously the people who make noise regarding the two issues are deemed not influential or important enough to change the outcome of the 13th General Election results.

Najib -eerily silent and so it is and so be it.

Who are the people who wanted PPSMI to be reinstated? The educated,urban,socially-conscious and globalisation-savvy citizens and who are the people who are not happy with the unfair share swap between MAS and Air Asia? Yes, it is likely to be a similar group of people ( not the same but similar in awareness and a sense of fairness). The less educated kampong (rural) folk who make up the majority of UMNO supporters are just not bothered.

PPSMI has currently remained abolished as we now care to acknowledge and so too would MAS-Air Asia share swap deal not be reviewed. It’s a done deal people. With CIMB brokering the deal, Najib is in the thick of things for all we know.

And so say what you like PM Najib is not going to review this share swap deal as many of us would have wanted. I feel deeply sorry for those MAS employees who have been loyal to the company all these years since the establishment of the company in 1972 only to be treated shabbily by politicians who should know better. They have worked hard all these years and have won several international awards besides promoting Malaysia as a tourism destination.

The failure of privatisation of MAS during Mahathir’s era and successive bad management was actually the start of MAS’s woes. And The establishment of Air Asia in late nineties and the later management of it by the audacious Tony Fernandes and the decline of the global airlines industry following 9/11 seal MAS’s fate.

For people who have a strong sense of dislike against unfair (corrupt) practices, we join in the arena to express our unsolicited views, granted many of us do not really have the full facts of the case. Our perception disturbs us and our conscience would not let us keep quiet.

Should those who make decisions listen to or care to address the controversial issues at hand, then we are rewarded and feel vindicated in some ways.

For my blog readers who would like to follow up on the MAS-Air Asia share swap saga, I would like to give you links here and here and here and my favourite one here which give you more information and arguments to help you decide and reach your own conclusions.

People must not remain silent on issues gnawing at our sense of justice and fair play. We must make our voice heard especially through the ballot box. We must not let politicians with self-interests rule over us. Malaysia will be a better society when served by sincere politicians and not those with a lot of skeletons in their closets!

There is nothing else worth writing on the advantages of English as a global and scientific language. I have read numerous passionate letters and excellent articles related to the use of English in the teaching of Mathematics and Science and I am sure most of you have too.

I cannot help but feel that those recalcitrant politicians also know the supremacy of English as a language of instruction in technology subjects but they have chosen to ignore it for their political purposes and survival. Their misguided and arrogant conviction would prove to be costly for this country in years to come. They love their ideal more than their country.

I am therefore encouraged to read about our ex-visionary Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir who was instrumental in implementing the PPSMI policy, still talking about continuing it. He emphasised that science and maths are progressive and living subjects as opposed to history,geography and literature. You can read it here and his blog written in BM (Malay language) to convince the hesitant Malays, fearful of their language taking a back seat in the name of development.

Tun Mahathir -The Titan of PPSMI

Tun Mahathir is the Titan that can speak on any subject and be taken seriously by Malaysians. He is a Malay Nationalist, a true blue one if you cared to read about his pre-independence exploits and his tiffs with the first Prime Minister on the political and economic status of the Malays in this country.

His legacy will live on for generations as no Prime Minister of Malaysia has gone over an education policy cycle like he has. He was the Prime Minister when English, as a medium of instruction was ceased in 1982 and the same Prime Minister who foresees the need to reintroduce English in 2003 as a language in the teaching of maths and science. The advent of the internet in early 1990s has convinced him that Malaysians have to take giant leaps instead of baby’s steps towards embracing technology and achieving global prominence.

Whose vision was it that propels us into the world of information and communication technology? Even his detractors and political enemies admitted his farsightedness. I remember Uncle Kit (Lim Kit Siang of DAP, an opposition party) praising Tun in an ASTRO TV program on the latter’s singular achievement.

Tun is in his mid-eighties and I can understand his frustration and perhaps sadness and disappointment that the current crop of politicians have not seen it fit to go along with his vision of a competitive Malaysia through human capital development.

I hope Tun would write a memoir of his dreams and thoughts on PPSMI for future politicians to ponder and who knows there might come a leader who could unite all Malaysians and reverse the policy back to PPSMI in the future. As Tun says we cannot afford to be technology consumers indefinitely. We cannot go on buying outdated military technology and expect to protect our country. We need to have people who research, network, create,invent and innovate and English is the fastest vehicle to bring on and mould such people.

Yes, this is the Titan’s last stand in a fight for the future k-generation in Malaysia. I salute the Titan and he is in my prayer in the twilight of his life despite my occasional disagreements with his actions.

.

I would like to share a keynote address delivered by the Minister of Education in 2003. Tan Sri Musa was a brilliant and respected academic at University Sain Malaysia (USM), its visionary Vice Chancellor (1982-1995). He was roped in by Dr Mahathir, our ex-Prime Minister, to the hot post of Minister of Education in 1999. He was apolitical and had made his name internationally in the field of pharmaceutical research and as you can see in his speech, he is very much a science-oriented person. He understands the important of facts. So you can expect him to have the passion about science and mathematics unlike the present Minister of Education who makes his decision on pure political and cultural/emotional considerations.

You will note that the post of Minister of Education is very powerful politically. He can garner a lot of grassroots support from all those teachers in contact with the voters on the ground. This person could cause intra-political upheavals and creation of factions. So you will notice during Mahathir’s time after Anwar as the Minister of Education, you have the late Suleiman Daud ( A Sarawakian politician and non-UMNO member) being appointed to the post a couple of times to ensure no power building around the personality (had it been held by an UMNO man). Mahathir was smart.

Musa Mohamad, a PhD holder, was also the first non-politician to be appointed the Minister of Education of Malaysia from 1999 – 2004. A brief summary of his contribution to education in Malaysia can be seen here.

Under Bodohwi, Hishammudin Hussein was made the Education Minister but he was not that effective and neither was he clever/charismatic enough to develop a power base. And you see now a clever and rather dexterous politician in Muhyiddin as the Education Minister and he certainly knows how to play politics and how to cement his position in UMNO. My guess is, he is put there to oversee the “extermination” of PPSMI. If this were the case, no memorandum or amount of appeals will get PM Najib to change his government’s mind to do away with PPSMI and let everyone “sama-sama masuk longkang” (all going down the drain)…. ooops! Not every one, as children of Ministers and wealthy people can study in international schools where they teach in English. Talk about equity and social justice!

Musa Mohamad, Minister of Education (1999-2004)

I am re-posting the then Education Minister’s speech delivered in 2003, below: (Note- the highlighting in blue is mine)

EteMS is the English short form for PPSMI

Quote:

KEYNOTE ADDRESS
TAN SRI DATO’ SERI MUSA BIN MOHAMAD
MINISTER OF EDUCATION
THE ELTC EteMS CONFERENCE 2003

TEACHING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS IN ENGLISH:
THE WAY FORWARD
DECEMBER 2
11.30 AM
PEARL INTERNATIONAL HOTEL
KUALA LUMPUR

1. Firstly, allow me to bid each and everyone present here today, a very warm welcome and Selamat Datang. I would like to congratulate the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) and the Teacher Education Division (TED) for organizing this conference and to thank them for inviting me to present this keynote address.

Implementation Of ETeMS
2. It has been one and a half years since the Cabinet announced the use of English for the Teaching of Science and Mathematics (EteMS). It is now one year since this curricular innovation has been implemented in our schools. As we stand poised to enter into the second year of implementation of this innovation, this conference is to me both timely as well as apt.

Public Interest On Implementation Of ETeMS
3. No other policy change in recent years has attracted as much media attention, and invited as much public and political debate. Some of the comments and opinions have been unexpected what to others can perhaps be ascribed to apprehension and anxiety. However, many of these comments and opinions do reflect legitimate concerns. It seems to me that the concern for the decline of English, the concern for mother tongue instruction and culture and awareness and concern for the ‘critical’ subject status of English, science and mathematics, have all contributed to this public and political debate.

Implementation Difficulty
4. Though there has been dialogue over some of these issues, misconceptions persist about EteMS. In this multicultural country of ours, there is always a tendency to be suspicious of any policy change that impinges on education and language. These suspicions however grow out of a healthy awareness that education is the driver of economic growth and socio-economic change. Therefore, any potential change to the existing framework of education provision will invite criticism and resistance. Additionally, there is always the fear of change itself and how it will impact on existing structures and beliefs. Researches support the theory that implementation of an innovation is difficult caused partly by the threat to the comfort practice and environment of implementors.

Change Versus Growth & Development
5. However, it is from change that we get growth and development. We cannot get trees if seeds do not undergo transformation. As a nation, we have great hopes and a magnificent vision. We want to be on par with the developed world and we want to be a world-class center of education excellence. However, aspirations cannot be realized if there is no proper and effective action.

Change Versus Vision
6. A great vision demands great change. And great change demands great flexibility. We must develop the capacity to adapt quickly and continually in order to acquire and master new knowledge and skills. We need to actively engage our people in change so that they may own that change. As we work together towards realizing our vision, we require a shift in our mindset. In the words of Peter Senge in his ‘Fifth Discipline’, we need a
“….shift of mind from seeing parts to seeing wholes, from seeing people as helpless reactors to seeing them as active participants in shaping their reality, from reacting to the present to creating the future.”

Change Unavoidable
7. We need to recast our Future in a new mold that we are still in the process of shaping and defining that future. We have to be willing and able to go beyond the mere rhetoric of change.

Increased Rate Of Change
8. Change and chaos are part of the natural order. Paradoxically, it is from change and chaos that we create a sense of permanence and order. It remains a fact that the pace of change in the 21st century will far exceed that which humankind experienced during the agricultural and industrial revolutions. While the agricultural revolution evolved over a period of thousands of years, the industrial revolution took only three hundred years. The technological revolution will take mere decades.

Globalisation Threat – Agenda For Action
9. Malaysia today is a mature developing country but still an infant in the developed world. The impact of globalization, both positive as well as negative, is everywhere in our nation – the rapid growth of technology and service-based industries, the appearance of foot-loose industries that are only too quick to move on to cheaper, more economical pastures, the ubiquitous computer in every home; the people who are deskilled and rendered unemployed by computerization and technological change, etc., etc. If we want to realize our vision, we can neither wait for things to happen nor can we merely react to things as they happen. We have to seize the initiative and strike out on our own, and we must start with the education of our people.

Agenda For Action – Human Resource Development
10. In this new global economy, intellectual capital has supplanted physical capital as the source of present and future wealth. The ultimate resource of any country is therefore its human resource. To assure our Future, we need a skilful, creative, flexible and knowledgeable workforce. To compete and secure our place among the nations of the world, our people must be well trained and highly skilled. To participate meaningfully in the global village, our people must have multiple literacies – linguistic, scientific, mathematical and technological. To succeed, our people must not only be highly trained and highly skilled but also develop emotional competencies that are imbued with logic and rationality. The issue here then is, can traditional or conventional approaches to education fulfill our needs?

Current Requirement For Human Resource – Knowledge
11. One of the greatest impacts of globalization is the heightened pace of knowledge through enhanced technologies. In the 1970s we were able to survive with the use of translated texts. However, in the 1990s, the profusion and proliferation of knowledge proved to be a daunting challenge to our translation industry. Allow me to illustrate this with a few facts and figures:

· In Chemistry, since the beginning of the 1990s, more than 1 million articles have appeared in specialized journals every 2 years (Clark, 1998). Between 1978 and 1988, the number of known chemical substances increased from 360,000 to 720,000, reaching 1.7 million in 1998 (Salmi, 2000)

· In Biology, only in 1977 was the method designed to determine the base sequence of the letters that codify the information in DNA; initially, it was possible to determine the sequence of 500 bases per week. This same method, today perfected and automated, can decipher the 3 billion bases of the human genome in a few years. Presently, a genome center can determine a million bases per day (Brunner, 2001)

· In Mathematics: 100,000 new theorems created every year (Madison, 1992)

· In the discipline of History: In two decades, – that is, between 1960 and 1980 – more publications were produced than in the entire previous period since classical Greece (van Kijk, 1992)

· Finally, in recent years five new Management books are published every day (Clark, 1998)

12. Considered together, it is estimated that knowledge, defined as the disciplinary base published and recorded, took 1,750 years to double in the period between 1 A.D. and the year 1750 A.D. It then doubled in volume, successively, in 150 years, 50 years, and now, every 5 years. It is estimated that by the year 2020, this knowledge base will double in 73 days.

13. Under these conditions, according to Gardner (1999:53),
… the individual (or “intelligent agent”) who can examine these bodies of knowledge and determine what is worth knowing will be at a tremendous premium. Even more esteemable will be the person (or browser) who (or that) can synthesize the exponentially expanding domains of knowledge so that vital information can be made available in useful form to the average citizen and the average policymaker.

14. All of this presents serious challenges to the education systems in general and to schools in particular. Who will be the synthesizers of knowledge of tomorrow? What other areas will be added to the concept of “basic skills” (computers, net surfing, use of multi-media), when, and in what modalities? In terms of curriculum, how can we organize global knowledge that is constantly changing and growing? How do we cope with the fact that a growing proportion of relevant knowledge is trans-disciplinary? How much emphasis should be placed in education on the disciplines

Strategy To Achieve Goal – Facilitate Learning
15. The exponential growth of knowledge that I have described renders translation an untenable option for us. If our national education system is to prepare our people to function in the information-rich world of the 21st century, then we must adopt better ways to facilitate learning at the various levels of our education system. We must consider novel and innovative ways to educate our people even as we develop new ways to live among the very determined and compete among the very strong in the global world. It is only if we do this that we will succeed in developing world-class citizens who are able to compete amongst the best in the developed countries of the world. In order to address this challenge, the government planned and implemented, among others, the Teaching of Science & Maths in English or ETeMS.

ETeMS – Facilitating Science & Mathematics Learning and Raising English Standards
16. The implementation of ETeMS has raised several issues. One of these is the persistent debate over whether ETeMS is intended to raise English language proficiency or facilitate the acquisition of scientific and mathematical knowledge. In fact, the introduction has both the aims. As I have mentioned earlier, there is an urgent need for us to recast our worldview. As we take our first steps into the 21st century, I would argue that education may soon not be as compartmentalized and structured as it is now, that the borders between subjects will blur as new knowledge frontiers are opened up for investigation.

17. The debate over whether the Ministry of Education is attempting to upgrade English proficiency or facilitate the learning of mathematics and science indicates that we remain focused on the conventional notion of subjects. I would argue that it is more pertinent and more important that we ponder on the value of what we are teaching at school. We need to realize that in the real world of work, it was not the knowledge of subject disciplines alone that determine success.

18. So what does it mean to be literate in the 21st century? What should we teach at school? Should we continue to focus on subject content or should we infuse content into an instructional programme that fosters the skills needed for growth and creativity amongst the young?

Modern Literacy – Standards For Individuals
19. Let us consider what it means to be ‘literate’ in the 21st century. Traditionally, a literate person is defined as an educated person, one having certain knowledge and competencies primarily related to the linguistic domain. But today, we need to recast this definition of literacy. The ability to read and write has long since been replaced by the more demanding requirements of our fast changing world.

Modern Individuals – Scientifically & Technologically Literate
20. As we move into the 21st century, literacy has come to include knowledge and competencies associated with science, mathematics and technology and their impact on our everyday lives. A scientifically and technologically literate person is one who is aware that science, mathematics, and technology are diverse but interdependent human enterprises. He must understand key concepts and principles of science and mathematics in the natural world; and, applies scientific and mathematical knowledge and ways of thinking for individual and social purposes. Central to these literacies is the ability to understand and explain clearly and correctly scientific, mathematical and technological concepts. Knowing how to read and write is a necessary but not sufficient criterion for literacy in the 21st century. The literate individual must have the awareness and the ability to reflect on our understanding of the world around us, to make informed decisions, and to think clearly and objectively in relation to the impact of scientific advancements on our lives.

Global Citizens
21. An active and critical engagement with science and technology is a fundamental element of scientific literacy. The awareness and understanding that comes from being literate has important implications for our role as global citizens. Responsible citizenship is a global concern because our future citizens must understand the need and the ways to protect this fragile planet. An understanding of science and technology as mere subjects is of little use if there is no connection with real life.

22. The development of scientific literacy, other than an enhancement of subject knowledge is fundamental to good citizenship. The ability to analyze and to criticise the applications of science and technology therefore has to be an important part of education. The new generations of Malaysians therefore must have the ‘knowledge-how’ rather than the mere knowledge about the subjects. Good scientists, technologists or mathematicians too must be as literate. This is consistent with our National Philosophy of Education which aims to prepare citizens who are “knowledgeable and competent, who possess high moral standards, and who are responsible and capable of achieving a high level of personal well-being as well as being able to contribute to the betterment of the family, society and the nation at large”.

23. The change in policy is therefore not just about preparing citizens to be knowledgeable about English, Science, Mathematics and Technology as subjects per se. The focus is more on the development of individuals who will be articulate and responsible citizens of the future. This has important implications for curriculum design, evaluation, teacher education and resource development.

Choice Of English Over Other Languages
24. The use of English in the Teaching of Science and Mathematics is not a policy reversal as many people think it to be. It is, actually, a way forward and a response to the emergent needs of the country. We have successfully negotiated the nation-building phase of our national development. Today, the next phase of our development is to prepare the nation to face the challenges posed by rapid regional and global developments. However, this does not mean we will do away or play down the role of our national language or of any of our vernacular languages.

25. We have worked hard to develop our national language and we have spared neither money nor energy to ensure its development. Today, Bahasa Malaysia has evolved into a robust language that will continue to grow and develop. Bahasa Malaysia is already an international regional language in South-east Asia. In years to come it may yet become an important international language if we ensure its wider use perhaps through forging new links and networking with English-speaking countries. We must not be myopic in our vision and accept the status quo. We must view every partner as a potential Bahasa Malaysia speaker. Languages grow and develop through borrowing from other languages. A number of the words that we consider to be English words are, in fact, borrowed from Latin, French, Spanish, Chinese, Bahasa Malaysia, and so on. No language is ‘pure’ in the strict sense of the word. There is every possibility that Bahasa Malaysia will not only contribute words to other languages but be an important international language in its own right.

26. But as we strive to advance into the future, we need a language that will facilitate our communication with the wider world – a language that will enable us to retrieve and to process information in this globalized world. English should be seen as a national asset, which we can use to further our own agenda. The issue of being less nationalistic does not arise. Our fears only serve to reflect our insecurity and lack of trust in our own development over the past 30 years. The challenge is for us to maintain the momentum of our development while we seek ways to promote and document the growth of Bahasa Malaysia as a regional and international language. We should consider the implementation of ETeMS as an opportunity to develop links with the rest of the world who may want to learn Bahasa Malaysia.

Use Of English In Vernacular Schools
27. Yet another issue that has attracted a lot of controversy is the use of English at the primary level in vernacular schools. Research findings on this issue are not totally conclusive. We have conflicting findings depending on the context in which the data was collected. I would suggest that while we need to listen to the experts in the field, we must also not forget the Malaysian multicultural and political context.

Acquiring English In Pre Schools
28. Bilingualism and multilingualism are a fact of life in Malaysia. From an early age, our children are already aware of their multicultural and multilingual backgrounds. By the time they start their schooling, most of our children are able to speak at least two languages. I believe that pre-schools can assist our children in acquiring English. A large proportion of our children already go to pre-school. This trend will continue to grow judging by the large number of agencies applying to set up pre-schools.

Ladies and Gentlemen.
29. The Ministry has formalized the pre-school curriculum focusing on literacy development. We know that literacy development during the early elementary school years has an ever-widening impact on later academic achievement. It is important that we address this need for pre-school education in order to ensure that every child starts on an equal footing. Pre-school provision will continue to be one of the focal points of the Ministry to ensure equity and education for all.

Learning Aids – Current Environment
30. In addition, we must not forget that our younger generation learns in different ways from us. A large number of us did not have access to television when we were young. In fact, there was no television then. Nor were there computers, multimedia and all the other things that we now take for granted. Our learning resources then were static. We developed attentive listening skills and text-bound comprehension. The world of our younger generation is however bombarded with visuals, moving pictures and sound. Many of our children can perform multiple tasks – reading a text, viewing television, talking on the mobile and writing an assignment – all at the same time. If our children are capable of multi-tasking, how will they respond in a classroom dominated by the drone of a teacher’s voice?

31. We have the mechanisms to address both the cultural sensitivities as well as the criticism that ETeMS has attracted. We have taken the initiative to provide various forums to offer the public the opportunity to air their views. Our approach has not been confrontational. We have responded to criticisms and negative comments with logic and rationality. We have demonstrated to our critics that our actions are based on informed decisions. We have also demonstrated that we are capable of seeing the bigger picture as we work towards securing the future of this nation. I would like to assure all of you that the Ministry of Education is indeed aware of the issues attendant to the implementation of ETeMS and that our policy and practice takes account of the views and concerns of all interested parties on the basis of our understanding of the wider context.

32. Although the implementation of ETeMS is already underway, there are however still many issues and questions that we need to continuously review and evaluate.
In Teacher Education, we need to continuosly determine what changes in pre-service teacher education are required to ensure that our new graduates will be able to teach in English? How is this monitored? What changes are there in place for a trans-discipline approach to teacher education and continuing professional development? What is the research base on teacher learning and trainer development? What are the standards set for teacher education? Who or what can we benchmark?
In Assessment, the issue is how will bi-lingual rubrics affect assessment and evaluation? What provisions are there to measure multiple literacies as against subject knowledge competence? What is the progress on alternative assessment?

With regards to Materials and Technology: Do the materials reflect the trans-disciplinary nature of knowledge? How interactive are the materials and how do they allow for teacher intervention? How do they contribute to the development of literacy?

In Curriculum Design: How are linkages established between the disciplines? What provisions are there to foster student learning across the disciplines? What is done to ensure literacy is attainable by all? How loaded is the curriculum? What has been done to reduce the loading? What should be the optimal number of subjects in a school curriculum?

On School Inspection: How proficient and competent are the Inspectors? How much autonomy do teachers have in curriculum interpretation?

On Textbooks: Do we have competent local textbook writers? Will the translation of texts enable us to meet the demand of books in time? How different is the content of published books from our prescribed syllabus? How do textbooks adapt to different student needs in different parts of the country? What is the function of school textbooks in the 21st century?

On School Management: What provisions are there in terms of time and space for teacher collaboration in curriculum interpretation, materials production and teacher learning? What has been done to involve the community and industry? How are the school resources managed for accountability especially under the Smart Schools and ETeMS programs?

On Higher Education: What provisions are there by way of policy to foster multi-disciplinary learning and skills development? How close is higher education to teaching at the chalkface? How many of our academics are trained in education? How many are qualified teachers or trainers? How much does higher education interact with the workplace? Should higher education be merely reactive to the needs of the market or should it be agents of change as in the past and be proactive to affect changes?

33. Some of these questions might have already been addressed. But it does not mean having been addressed; there is no room for review and improvement. There is always the need to respond to feedback and to take account of national and global developments.

Ladies and Gentlemen.
34. Finally let me emphasise again that English is an indispensable tool that will enable us to achieve our aspirations for the 21st century. Fluency in English will enable us to prevail against many of the challenges posed by the effects of globalization. We have to accept that English is a global language. It has the second largest number of speakers in the world. In addition, most of the books and other resources are written in English. The implementation of ETeMS represents our weapon in ensuring that our people are ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

35. I hope this conference will provide the platform for both theorists as well as classroom practitioners to share their ideas and voice their views and concerns. We need to deliberate on further initiatives that can be undertaken to assist teachers and students to cope with this change. We need to develop ideas and forge programmes that will ensure the continued smooth implementation of this innovation. The meaningful dialogue that emerges from this conference will surely enable us to anticipate potential challenges and inform us of new practices and policies to make the second year of the implementation of this program an even more successful year.

36. I wish you a fruitful conference and dialogue. Once again, I would like to congratulate the English Language Teaching Centre and the Teacher Education Division for your commitment and with this I declare the conference open.

Thank you.

Unquote:

That is the full text of the 2003 visionary speech. It looks like in the past when they talked about TRANSFORMATION they really meant it and realised it through actions. Today when they talk about TRANSFORMATION, it is just an empty talk, a political ploy and a mere fantasy!

In 2003 it was THE WAY FORWARD and comes 2012 we are on our WAY BACKWARD.

I feel sorry for our Malaysian children, our future generation.