Archive for December, 2013


World Bank: Worsening education obstacle to Malaysia’s high-income hopes

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — Education standards that were deteriorating despite Putrajaya spending twice as much as neighbouring countries on schools could stand in the way of Malaysia’s plans to join the ranks of developed nations, according to a recent World Bank report.

In a report titled “Malaysia Economic Monitor: High Performing Education” that echoes criticism over the recent performance of Malaysian schools, the World Bank highlighted the critical role quality education plays in a country’s aims to gain a high-income status.

In 2011, Malaysia spent the equivalent of 3.8 per cent of its gross domestic product on education, or more than twice the average 1.8 per cent within Asean nations.

“A nation’s human capital, which is largely built by its education system, is a fundamental driver of economic growth,” it said in the report.

“The quality of cognitive skills of Malaysian students, as measured by standardized international tests, is not on par with the country’s aspirations to become a high-income economy.”

In its report, the World Bank noted that while Malaysia has extensive coverage with its schools and achieved near-universal access that has nine in 10 Malaysian adults undergoing at least lower secondary education, a commensurate increase in quality was not observed.

“In addition to ensuring the system has the broadest possible coverage (quantity), the quality of education is perhaps even more critical.”

Pointing to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey results released last week, the World Bank was blunt with its assessment of Malaysia’s underperformance.

It said Malaysia did not only trail high-performing education systems in East Asia, but also poorer nations such as Vietnam, which outperformed the country by a significant margin.

In the latest edition of PISA, Malaysian students lagged far behind their peers in Singapore, who placed second behind top-scorers in Shanghai, China, as well as 15-year-olds in Thailand.

While Malaysian students registered marginal improvement for mathematics, they lost ground in both science and reading ability.

The combined results meant Malaysia was 52nd overall out of the 65 countries, and firmly entrenched in the bottom third of the survey.

Aside from the stagnant PISA performance, the World Bank also highlighted Malaysia’s continued decline in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) benchmark in which the country once performed well.

“Learning outcomes in the TIMSS were above the international average between 1999 and 2003, but declined sharply in 2007 and further in 2011,” it said.

To arrest the decline, the World Bank said Malaysia needed to prioritise teacher quality over quantity, noting that the sharpest fall in education standards coincided with an aggressively expanded recruitment programme for educators.

It noted that the teacher population shot up by 30 per cent between 2004 and 2013, an issue that it said may have since worsened; the number of trainees enrolled in teacher training institutes have ballooned from 37,439 in 2011 to 46,491 this year.

Another problem was the low standards of those seeking to become teachers. It noted that 93 per cent of those applying for the Bachelor of Education programme did not have the necessary academic qualifications (3 distinctions or more at SPM level), while 70 per cent offered a place in the programme also fell into the category.

Only 3 per cent of offers went to applicants considered high-performers.

World Bank: Worsening education obstacle to Malaysia’s high-income hopes
December 11, 2013 – Malay Mail Online


Good access to education but quality questionable

Malaysians have good access to education but quality questionable, says World Bank

While Malaysia has made strides in access to education for all children under the age of 17, the quality of education is questionable, the World Bank said today.

World Bank country director for Malaysia Ulrich Zachau said it was of concern that Malaysian pupils had performed well below their peers in standardised international assessments.

“The peers who Malaysian pupils are being assessed against are those in the high-income economies which Malaysia aspires to compete with,” Zachau said in a press statement.

He cited the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) in which 65 countries participated. Malaysia came 52nd for mathematics, 53rd for science and 59th for reading.

The World Bank today released its report, “Malaysia Economic Monitor: High Performing Education”, which emphasised the importance for Malaysia to build a high-performing education system.

Zachau said the system was important as Malaysia transformed into a high-income, sustainable economy.

“The access and quality of learning are both vital. International experience has shown that when children from all backgrounds have access to quality education, they have better opportunities.

“When children do better than their parents and scale greater heights, they break the poverty cycle.”

He acknowledged that Malaysia had achieved near universal access to education, offering affordable schooling to children from all income groups.

“Among the Southeast Asian countries which participated in Pisa, Malaysian pupils only outperformed their Indonesian peers. Malaysia was even behind lower-income Vietnam.

“Not only has the performance of Malaysian pupils been below expectations, but evidence also suggests that it has not been improving.

“Raising the quality of education in the country is critical for Malaysia to achieve a high-performing education system which provides the human capital needed for a high-income economy.”

Malaysians have good access to education but quality questionable, says World Bank
December 11, 2013 – TMI


Why is Putrajaya protecting identity of Serdang Hospital contractor?

Why is Putrajaya protecting identity of Serdang Hospital contractor, asks DAP

DAP ticked off Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam today for refusing to take responsibility for the series of mishaps at the RM690 million Serdang Hospital since it opened in 2005.

Party national publicity assistant secretary Teo Nie Ching (pic) said until today, neither the Works or Health Minister has dared to reveal the identity of the main contractor for the hospital.

Teo, the Kulai MP, said she had previously urged Dr Subramaniam to give guarantees that ceiling collapses would not recur following the collapse of the ceiling in the maternity ward on September 30.

“When the maternity ward ceiling collapsed, that was the third time such an incident had occurred at the hospital,” Teo pointed out in a statement today.

“I challenged Dr Subramaniam then to give guarantees there would be no repeat of such incidents and that he should also tender his resignation if the Serdang Hospital ceiling should collapse again.”

Teo said it was clear at that point that Dr Subramaniam did not have the courage to respond to her challenge because he kept mum.

“His silence showed that although he did not possess the capability or wisdom to be a minister, Dr Subramaniam was not a complete idiot,” Teo said.

“If he had accepted my challenge, he would have tendered his resignation three times within two-and-a-half months!”

Teo pointed out that there have been at least six incidents reported at the Serdang Hospital since it began operations in December 2005, which is probably a world record.

“What is shameful is that until today, Putrajaya has remained silent on the identity of the main contractor and who should be held responsible for the ceiling collapses,” she said.

Despite numerous reminders to the Health Ministry about the dangers posed by such collapses to medical staff, who work long hours, Teo said nothing had been done to address the problem.

Why is Putrajaya protecting identity of Serdang Hospital contractor, asks DAP
December 11, 2013 – TMI


Another committee to solve country’s education woes?

DAP questions need for another committee to solve country’s education woes

A DAP lawmaker has poured scorn on the Education Ministry’s decision to form a special committee to improve on the country’s ranking following Malaysia’s below par performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Zairil Khir Johari, who is a strong critic of the country’s education system, questioned if the special committee would be another waste of taxpayers’ money.

“Are they going to hire more consultants to address the poor performance?” he asked, taking a dig at the ministry.

The Bukit Bendera MP was referring to the hiring of McKinsey and Co – who were not experts in education but merely general management consultants – for RM20 million to prepare the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 and the RM270 million used to hire three external consultant groups to provide training for English teachers.

“The ministry should instead get real problem-solvers and not waste public funds.”

He pointed out that the Education Ministry was the biggest spender, “without showing any results”.

In Budget 2014, the ministry has been allocated RM54 billion, or 21% of the total national expenditure, making it the largest ministry in terms of funding.

“If they spent all this money on consultants and then showed positive results, then we would be happy. But instead, the education standards have gone down,” Zairil said.

The ministry, in response to the PISA survey, was reported as saying that the special committee would be led by the curriculum development section and would also comprise professional sections from the ministry.

The task of the committee is to identify and monitor initiatives to improve students’ performance in international assessments such as PISA.

DAP questions need for another committee to solve country’s education woes
December 11, 2013 – TMI


Malaysian education system has deteriorated to alarming level

While Putrajaya lauds Malaysian education system, critics see red alert after international flop

Warning that the Malaysian education system has deteriorated to an alarming level, opposition leaders and action groups have called for drastic action to be taken to address the situation, including convening a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to examine its faults.

The strongest call for a change came from Sarawak where a lawmaker called for the setting up of a RCI after the country only managed a poor 55th ranking out of 65 countries in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Malaysia’s performance in the assessment of 15-year-olds using tests for maths, reading and science has been criticised by several opposition leaders who are calling for a major revamp and questioned the “best education system in the world” claim by Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang noted that although Malaysia had two education ministers, the country has gone steadily downhill in international education standards.

“What better proof that Umno leaders and delegates are only interested in the politics of education instead of ensuring that all Malaysian students get the best education in the world.

“With continued deteriorating educational standards, the people need to be convinced of the Education Blueprint 2013-2025 objectives for Malaysia to be in the top one-third of the countries in the Pisa survey by 2021,” Lim said.

DAP education director Zairil Khir Johari had previously said that despite the Education Ministry’s yearly massive budget allocation, students are still faring poorly in global education surveys, which is “embarrassing”.

In Budget 2014, the ministry has been allocated RM54 billion, or 21% of the total national expenditure, making it the largest ministry in terms of funding.

Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen called for a RCI to be set up to look into the educational problems following the release of the Pisa results.

The average mean score is 494 and the survey tested 510,000 students aged 15 last year, covering three examination sections, mathematics, science and reading ability. Malaysia obtained a mean score of 421.

Malaysian students fared poorly in the reading section, with a score of 398 (average: 496). In the mathematics section, Malaysia scored 421 (average: 494) and for science, 420 (average: 501).

Even Vietnam ranked 17th in the survey with 511 points while Shanghai-China scored 613 to take first place in the rankings.

Describing the deterioration of the education system as a “red alert”, Chong, the Bandar Kuching MP, said it was puzzling how students in Malaysia had done so badly despite the high number of straight As students being churned out each year.

“They may do well locally but that they will not be able to compete on the global stage,” Chong said.

The poor performance in the Pisa assessment is not surprising, said Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) Malaysia chair Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim.

She told The Malaysian Insider that “there has not been any attempt by the government to improve the rankings”.

“We had said yesterday that PAGE had not expected it to be any better than what we got,” she added.

“The simple reason is that what is being taught in schools is different from what Pisa wants.”

Noor Azimah made it clear that the quality of teachers needed to be improved greatly before any positive result can be seen.

“The quality of students and the education system cannot be better if the teachers are not up to par. Simply put, the output cannot be better than the input.

“Until this is addressed, we can’t expect to do better and we can wallow in the poor results,” she said.

While Putrajaya lauds Malaysian education system, critics see red alert after international flop
December 10, 2013 – TMI


Putrajaya’s apathy over global education survey results

Malaysia seemed unconcerned that it is ranked near the bottom among countries polled in the latest edition of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), unlike the United Kingdom which has taken its performance as a wake-up call to introduce education reforms, said DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had released the PISA results five days ago which showed Malaysia lagging far behind the United Kingdom.

“Malaysia is well below the OECD average,” said Lim in a statement.

“But the government does not seem to be concerned.”

Malaysian students are three to five years behind their peers in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea and was placed 52nd out of 65 countries with regional neighbours Singapore in second place, Vietnam in 17th and Thailand in 50th.

Since 2000, the OECD has attempted to evaluate the knowledge and and skills of 15-year-olds across the world through its PISA test.

More than 510,000 students in 65 countries took part in the latest test, which covers mathematics, reading and science, with the main focus on maths.

Lim said for starters, Malaysia should follow in England’s footsteps as the education authorities there reacted immediately after results showed that UK schoolchildren were up to three years behind their peers in the top-performing Asian countries.

The UK announced that secondary schoolteachers would provide expert tuition to primary school pupils as part of government reforms to address serious failings in the teaching of mathematics.

School pupils under the age of 11 will be set more challenging tasks designed to prepare them for the demands of secondary education.

“UK educational authorities have noted that successful Asian nations introduced all students to more stretching mathematical content at an earlier age compared to England,” Lim said.

“The issue was important enough that it was mentioned in the House of Commons on Tuesday, which is the same day the 2012 PISA results were announced.”

Lim, however, pointed out that in Malaysia, no one seemed concerned.

He wondered when Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would stimulate and reform Malaysia’s poor educational standards.

“Muhyiddin cannot continue to be dumbstruck over the 2012 PISA results when it is clear that something must be done by the Education Ministry,” said Lim, pointing out that Muhyiddin has yet to comment on the matter. – December 7, 2013.

Kit Siang takes Putrajaya to task for its apathy over global education survey results
December 07, 2013 – TMI


Value lost if ancient structures relocated

Let the experts decide whether it is proper to relocate the ancient structures from the Bujang Valley to a single site, says Penang CM Lim Guan Eng.

PETALING JAYA: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has expressed surprise at Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir’s proposal to relocate the ancient structures from the Bujang Valley to a single site.

The DAP secretary-general said it was out of character because most archaeological excavations were done on site, except when certain items such as vases or clay figurines could be taken away for display at a museum.

Mukhriz had said that it would be more practical to assemble the structures in one location because the ruins and remnants from the oldest civilisation in the region were scattered over 200sq km.

“But to move or remove the the artifacts from the original site will risk the danger of detracting, diminishing and even devaluing the unique historical significance of the site chosen by the original inhabitants 2,000 years ago,” Lim said in a press statement today.

“Let the experts decide whether this approach is sound and proper,” he added.

Lim urged the Kedah government to take immediate steps to list Bujang Valley as a Unesco heritage site.

He called upon the BN-led state to draft an Archeological Heritage Management Plan to preserve their remaining historical structures and artifacts in the Bujang Valley.

Lim described Bujang Valley as “Malaysia’s richest archeological site” which was renowned for the preserved cultural remains of ancient Buddhism and Hinduism as well as representing the beginning of early Malay civilisation.

“What is now left of the candi’s immense historical value and significance, given its birth between the 11th and 13th century, is a piece of cleared land for a housing project,” he said.

He added that such destruction could have been avoided if the Merbok Land Office had monitored and notified the developer of the existence of these historical structures.

“Not only was this not done, the developer was also given the green light to clear the site,” he added.

Lim blamed the “senseless loss of heritage” on the “sheer negligence and failure of heritage management by the Kedah government”.

“It is a black mark for Malaysia for failing to safeguard historical treasures for future generations. Saving ancient historical monuments like those in Bujang Valley is the duty of the federal and state government,” he said.

He said funds should be given to set up heritage offices in states with rich archaeological sites such as Penang, Kedah and Malacca.

Value lost if ancient structures relocated
Lisa J. Ariffin
December 9, 2013 – FMT


Ancient jetties discovered in Bujang Valley dated 487 BC

by Himanshu Bhatt

SUNGAI PETANI (Dec 10): The significance of the Bujang Valley in history has been heightened by a latest sensational laboratory report on four sections of a newly excavated jetty complex – dating them each to 487 BC.

This means that the port settlement in Kedah thrived 2,500 years ago, making it the earliest and oldest among the ancient kingdoms of South-east Asia. The civilisation lived until the 13th century AD. has learnt that the tests were conducted by the Korea Basic Science Institute in South Korea, through an Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating technique.

The results were received by the Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR) of Universiti Sains Malaysia two weeks ago.

An elated CGAR director Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin hailed the development as validating the existence of a fairly advanced society, with high mastery of engineering and commerce, at that time.

“It is very old,” he said during an expedition by to the Sungai Batu archaeological site where the jetty complex has been excavated.

“The same date was recorded on not just one sample, but four separate bricks found here,” he added, stressing that the samples were taken from different parts of the complex.

“We can confirm that this is the oldest civilisation in South-east Asia,” Mokhtar said. “There was not a single one like this in the region at that time.”

Relation to other kingdoms in region

For comparison purposes, other prominent ancient kingdoms in South-east Asia include:

> Champa, in southern and central Vietnam (200 AD – 1832);
> Funan, in Cambodia and Vietnam (100 AD – 628 AD);
> Langkasuka, in southern Thailand (100 AD – 1300s);
> Majapahit in Java (1300 AD – 1500 AD); and
> Sri Vijaya in Sumatra (700 AD – 1300 AD).

Mokhtar stressed that the only civilisations that could have had linkages with Bujang Valley in 487 BC were far away in the Indus valley on the Indian sub-continent, and in China.

Ancient jetties discovered in Bujang Valley dated 487 BC
by Himanshu Bhatt
Dec 10, 2013 –


EC chief resorts to name calling, decries Bersih

The polls reform Bersih coalition has slammed the Election Commission (EC) for failing to account as well as take responsibility for the many flaws in the 13th general election.

It also condemned the commission’s chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof for resorting to name-calling instead of addressing substantiated concerns about the EC’s integrity.

“The EC’s recently-released, 11-page media statement on its post-mortem report of the 13th general election, continues the EC’s modus operandi: denying responsibility and underplaying accountability for any shortcoming in the discharge of its duties…

“We urge everyone not to be distracted by the insults and name-calling. It is the last refuge of an EC unable to respond substantially to its critics and accept responsibility for its actions,” said Bersih in a statement yesterday.

Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin AbdullahAbdul Aziz had reportedly called Bersih’s newly elected chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah “arrogant and cocky” over her statement that the electoral reform movement and other NGOs would petition the Agong to replace the EC commissioners, according to a report on The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

EC evades responsibility

Among others, Bersih points out in its statement that while EC admitted that the indelible ink did not work, it evaded responsibility for it and did not acknowledge flaws in the procurement process.

In addition, the group says it has not responded substantially to concerns over the integrity of the electoral roll, such as cases where members of the same household were assigned as voters in different localities.

EC chief resorts to name calling, decries Bersih
Dec 7, 2013 – TMI


General Elections and badminton

Najib’s General Election laundering aka match fixing – Ravinder Singh

Money laundering or processing black (or illegally obtained) money into white is illegal, but according to Najib GE laundering, or turning illegally obtained victory into legal victory is not.

Hence Najib’s intellectual discourse on the “first past the post” system of general elections, wherein he likened BN’s win of a majority of seats despite getting a lower number of votes than the opposition, to a badminton match, was amusing.

What a pity that Najib was never chosen to play the Thomas Cup. Had he done so, on a court designed by the Malaysian Elections Commission, the Thomas Cup (which was initiated in 1949) would never have left the shores of Malaysia after it was first brought home to Malaya in 1949, then in 1952 and again in 1955.

As philosophically argued by Najib, the elections BN has been winning for the past half century were like badminton matches. “Let me put it in an analogy. Najib versus Anwar (Ibrahim) in a badminton match. In the first set Najib wins 21-15 and loses in the second set, 5-21. However Najib wins in the decider set 21-16.

“Going by the rules, Najib wins but Anwar objects because his total score is 52 to Najib’s 47. That is not right. We decide the winner based on the number of sets,” he said. He went on to lament “they (the opposition) don’t want to accept the first past-the-post system that has been in practice since 1959”.

What Najib pretended not to know was that the BN was playing on courts prepared by the Elections Commission that is under the control and direction of the Prime Minister and charged with the duty to ensure BN victory election after election, at any cost, honest or dishonest, fair or devious, etc. You see, the Election Commission, till today, has to prepare the plan of the court, show it to and get the PM’s approval, before any match is played on it.

This, when seen another way, or put in other terms, is match fixing. When football matches are fixed, there is such hullabaloo. In fact, match fixing is illegal. So why is General election fixing not illegal?

Najib’s General Election laundering aka match fixing – Ravinder Singh
December 08, 2013 – TMI

Sabahans Unite!
Vote Warisan Plus!


The dawn of A Better Malaysia!
Rafidah Aziz, Hannah Yeoh, Ambiga at TTDI ceramah


Mahathir in Putrajaya ceramah


What happened to 1MDB’s money? – CNBC Video
Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?