Archive for March, 2014

31
Mar
14

An open letter to Dr M

An open letter to Dr M – Ice Cream Seller

Dear Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad,

We refer to your recent testing of the waters to see if you would be welcomed back to take over from our missing prime minister.

Thank you, but most of us are once bitten twice shy and have no stomach for another spell of your tenure.

You say you want to curb the Internet because it contributes to social problems and a rise in the crime index.

Actually, our social problems stem from many sources. Dumping of newborn babies is not something picked up from the Net. Incest and rape were already prevalent. Khalwat and zina thrived well before the age of the Net. Drug abuse was there, too.

Thanks to the Internet, these are brought to our awareness and not censored by your pliant media. Not to mention the numerous scandals of your and subsequent administrations

You say you gave your word about the Internet but not any assurance that it would not be filtered.

Frankly, we don’t care any more what you remember and what you choose to forget.

“Melayu muda lupa,” you say. But are you really Malay enough to forget? Selected amnesia is a skill you have honed since retirement.

You claim we have long held the expertise to censor the Internet. I don’t know about that but if it is anywhere as good as our capability to detect and track flight U-turns, then it is fine with me.

You blame the Internet for violence in film and television. To some extent, you are right. But what about the violence threatened by organisations which you are patron of?

Would they have behaved or postured differently had there been no Internet? Or is it the fact that their activities are being reported on the Internet while the mainstream pretend that they don’t exist being the reason you are irked?

You say our country has the right to uphold its security. That is so very true. But who says you have the divine right to determine how this security is upheld?

We have already seen it compromised in the substandard, overpriced equipment we have bought for the army, navy and air force.

What kind of security are you referring to when you brought in millions of illegals with the sole motive of perpetuating your tenure and compromising our judiciary to such an extent that it beggars belief.

The contamination our education standards with a venomous mixture of bigotry and religiosity and reducing the police force to what it is compared with 40 years ago was under your watch – whether you were instrumental or not.

You contemptuously state that people (meaning us) are too ill disciplined and immature to practise democracy. Well, as a previous education minister you have unintentionally admitted to be instrumental in creating and perpetuating an immature people.

You could have put that right in your subsequent 22 years as PM if you wanted to or if you thought it was the best for the country.

Actually, you selfishly ensured that the populace were only given a mediocre education for the insidious purpose of what Hishamuddin Rais referred to as the “bonsaification of the mind” thereby enabling you and your party to continue to rule at will.

Ignorant people are easier to manipulate, confuse, mislead and deceive. That is why for everything, our excuse is that “it will confuse our people”.

This mantra of our people being confused is now being adopted by the home minister in his recent comments about criticism from the Chinese press over the handling of the MH370 saga.

He himself avoided all the press conferences and instead sent his IGP. Maybe he was afraid he’d be confused by the barrage of questions that would be thrown at him. At least for that, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein earns some respect from me.

While on that subject, I must say the conduct and demeanour of MAS’ chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya also stood apart from the rest.

As you home in your 90th year, please rest, stay home and take time to smell the flowers and don’t mind the occasional haze that blights Kuala Lumpur.

Take a drive once a week or so to the Proton factory and see if they can catch up with the Hyundais and the KIAs. Maybe even take a long holiday to Kerala – god’s own country and relish the fish moli.

The wasted generation have enough on their plate. – March 30, 2014.

…more
An open letter to Dr M – Ice Cream Seller
March 30, 2014 – TMI

30
Mar
14

MH370: Catalyst for political change?

Malaysia Airlines: Catalyst for political change? – Aljazeera

Some Malaysians are asking serious questions about how the government has handled the MH370 crisis.

I recently wrote about the communications fiasco that was the Malaysian government’s handling of the Flight MH370 crisis. The piece argued that the confusion over the investigation and communication in the days just after the plane vanished on March 8 was perfectly reflective of the leadership’s entrenched political makeup.

It was a sad inevitability for any Malaysia watcher. Under the thumb of a virtual one-party state, Malaysians were long resigned to a government changing its mind at will. Most of the outside world – more used to a country of the Malaysia truly Asia advertising campaign – was not.

This has been a milestone experience for Malaysia. The leadership has been thrust into an awkward global spotlight in which it has been forced to be accountable and open to the international community.
Inside Story – The mystery of flight MH370

Once the dust settles on this tragedy, could the lessons learnt act as a catalyst for the political shake up, or even awakening, that Malaysia so urgently needs? Will the Malaysian people demand a more answerable government from now on – and more importantly will the ruling elite deliver?

Clumsy communications

At a communications level, in fits and starts the government has learnt valuable lessons about the saga. Namely that it is imperative to verify and corroborate information before it is disseminated to a critical and connected world. We saw the turmoil after the search for the Boeing 777 in the South China Sea was abandoned, distress over conflicting reports about when the Aircraft Communications and Addressing Reporting System was disabled and suspicion cast around one of the pilots’ support of opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim.

Yet, the administration bumbled on making fundamental communication errors.

On March 19, 12 days into the search operation, Malaysian security dragged out Liu Guiqui, mother of Malaysia Airlines passenger Li Le, virtually horizontally, from the media briefing room, screaming, “My dear – I don’t know where my dear is – twelve days! My son! Where is my son? Why don’t you give me an answer?” The pictures of a distraught Liu Guiqui shoveled more criticism into the laps of the Malaysian government. Moreover, the administration banned the relatives from talking to the media – behaviour more in line with an authoritarian government than one with a global community to which to answer.

Divided support

Malaysians are split about the way the leadership has managed these catastrophic events – a fissure that mirrors a virtual 50-50 political divide between the government and the opposition.

The less urban, latched on population believe the government has been doing a sterling job. This demographic tends to back the ethnically Malay ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and is buoyed by how calmly Acting Transport Minister, Hishamuddin Hussein, has been toughing it out in front of the world’s media.

In fact, many Malaysians have felt the international media is giving them an undeserved kicking. Night after night, the emotions of Chinese relatives have been aired on mainland media, while in the US, Republicans and Democrats have demanded more American involvement in the search and investigation.

In fact, many Malaysians have felt the international media is giving them an undeserved kicking. Night after night, the emotions of Chinese relatives have been aired on mainland media, while in the US Republicans and Democrats have demanded more American involvement in the search and investigation.

Malaysians have equally felt that their national carrier has been taking great pains to treat the families of the 239 victims on board the Boeing 777 with care and sensitivity. Malaysia Airlines, until now with a reputation as one of Southeast Asia’s best carriers, is a great source of pride for many in Malaysia.

The urban, plugged in, analytical rest of the population are more cynical. Nineteen days into the tragedy they want to know why, despite the widespread availability of 21st century communications equipment, that Malaysia, of all countries, managed to “lose” a plane. The failure of the Royal Malaysian Air Force to intercept the jet has left many Malaysians feeling unprotected and embarrassed by the laxness of their armed forces.

…more
Malaysia Airlines: Catalyst for political change?
Zarina Banu
26 Mar 2014 – Aljazeera

29
Mar
14

Election 2013 broke every rule in the book

Election 2013 broke every rule in the book, Bersih panel finds

SUBANG JAYA, MARCH 25 — Every single principle governing the running of a free and fair election was breached during last year’s May 5 federal polls, Bersih’s People’s Tribunal concluded in its findings released today.

Panel member former United Nations Special Representative and constitutional law expert Yash Pal Ghai said Election 2013 had fallen short of every aspect of democracy and violated the standard of free and fair elections.

He agreed that the election had been free to some extent because those who were registered voters were not blocked from casting their ballots but said this freedom was more in a “narrow sense” of the word.

During Election 2013, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) retained federal power with 133 seats to Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) 89 seats despite losing the popular vote contest to the federal opposition, garnering just 49 per cent of the total votes cast.

“We have found ourselves compelled to reach a conclusion that there were multiple failings in the way GE13 was conducted and that virtually every tenet of free election was violated at some place and at some time,” said Yash Pal, who headed the tribunal.

“There were so many breaches of law, disregard of procedures that we have to conclude that elections were not free and fair,” he said, reading out the verdict and recommendation of the five-person panel.

The recommendations, which included proposed amendments to the constitutions on electoral reforms, were concluded after the panel considered sworn statements from 75 witnesses.

Of the 75, 49 appeared personally during public hearings from September 18 to 21 last year.

The panel also proposed reduce the voting eligibility age from 21 to 18 years, and called for equal voting access for Malaysians living abroad.

Yash Pal said the various complaints from individuals who never registered as voters and those who were transferred out of their voting districts, indicate a “deliberate act of fraud”.

“Registering one or two people in the wrong constituency might be carelessness; registering those who have not sought registration is suspicious,” said Yash Pal, adding that it is hard to exonerate the Election Commission (EC) of collusion as identification cards are required upon registration.

Noting the difficulty in ensuring an electoral roll is completely void of discrepancies, another panel member, lawyer Datuk Azzat Kamaluddin, said political parties should establish a specific unit to check the voter registry.

This, he pointed out, is to prevent from a complainant running into legal constraints when it comes to challenging discrepancies in the roll. The Election Act 1958 provides no legal avenue to those who want to challenge a gazetted electoral roll.

On the first-past-the-post electoral system practiced by Malaysia, Yash Pal labelled it questionable as it relies heavily on the fairness of delineated electoral boundaries, which has been repeatedly questioned by federal opposition lawmakers and activists here.

“Individual voters will not be equally represented if they are in constituencies with significantly different number of voters and the actual outcome of overall results can severely be affected by moving boundaries.

“A witness gave evidence that, on average, a vote for BN was worth 1.6 times a vote for PR, because PR-leaning constituencies are on average larger,” he said, adding that it does not reflect “the principle of one person, one vote, one value”.

In order to reduce the glaring ratio, the panel proposed amendments to laws defining the criteria on the size of urban and rural constituencies, crucial to the delimitation process.

The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), a study by University of Sydney and Harvard University, recently showed Malaysia’s electoral demarcations as the worst of 66 countries in terms of fairness and integrity of its electoral boundaries.

…more
Election 2013 broke every rule in the book, Bersih panel finds
By Pathma Subramaniam
March 25, 2014 – Malay Mail Online

28
Mar
14

SPM grade marks a government secret?

Shhh! SPM grade marks a government secret

Is an ‘A’ in the recently released SPM results really worth an ‘A’? It’s a government secret, laments PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar.

Nurul said the government’s refusal to release the exact marks for specific grades meant that the real achievement of students’ cannot be evaluated.

“How can we be confident that the results are good when the passing and grade marks in the examination are considered secret under the Official Secrets Act?

“We should have the right to evaluate how far these results fulfilled our national education achievement targets,” she said in a statement today.

On Thursday, the SPM examination results were released with 13,970 achieving straight As compared to 13,720 students last year.

Despite the rosy results, Nurul pointed out that they have not been consistent with international benchmarks such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

She noted that according to TIMMS, Malaysia’s mathematics and science performance had plunged from 16 to 26 place and 22 to 32 place respectively in the last 12 years as at 2011.

In the Pisa 2012, Malaysia ranked 52, 53 and 59 for Mathematics, Science and reading respectively, far behind Vietnam which ranked 17, 8 and 19 for the same subjects.

“Clearly, the SPM results give a blurry picture that does not reflect the real state of our education.

“Malaysia clearly cannot compete internationally. Is SPM manipulated by the government as a smokescreen for the rakyat?” she said.


…more
Mar 22, 2014 – Malaysiakini
Shhh! SPM grade marks a government secret

27
Mar
14

The need for RCI on MH370

The need for a royal probe into MH370’s mysterious disappearance

Malaysia mourned flight MH370 last night when it was proved that the Malaysia Airlines jet with 239 people on board ended up in the Indian Ocean after it went missing on the way to Beijing on March 8.

As Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak put it succinctly, it had been a heart-breaking few weeks after the Boeing 777-200ER (9M-MRO) vanished.

Perhaps this is the time for grieving and reflection on what has been dubbed as an “unprecedented aviation mystery” that has transfixed the world the past 17 days.

Where the confusion and lack of information had made so many clutch to rumour, innuendo, speculation and far-fetched theories and dreams about the fate of the 11-year-old jet, its 227 passengers and 12 crew members.

Was it a rogue crew? Was it a fire? Was it hijack? Was it slow decompression? What was it actually that turned a routine red-eye flight into a modern-day mystery equalling Amelia Earhart’s missing Pacific Ocean adventure?

We might know when the plane’s black box is found and analysed.

But make no mistake, there will be a time when Malaysians and the world community must demand for a thorough and honest appraisal on the circumstances surrounding flight MH370.

And we Malaysians will be derelict in our duty to the passengers and crew and their loved ones if we allow the Najib government to close the book on this sad episode without a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) or public inquiry.

For more than two weeks, we have hoped and prayed for a miracle. And in some small way, we have become family members of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, the Gomes clan, the Nari household, the 154 Chinese passengers, the Iranian immigrant and others on board the plane.

All religious and racial divisions – put in place by politicians and emphasised by politicians –have been forgotten since MH370 went missing on March 8.

For more than two weeks, we have witnessed the best and worst of Malaysia.

The best: the empathy, outpouring of love towards those who lost their lives and those they left behind.

The worst: the mediocrity of Malaysia’s government agencies; the abysmal decline of competence and the command of English at the highest levels of government.

We have also become Malaysia Airlines, our loss-making flag carrier that went all the way to take care of the families and loved ones of MH370’s passengers and crew members.

Military personnel and experts from nearly 30 countries have become a part of us in the search for the missing plane since March 8.

So, if the government truly respects the lives lost and the help given to Malaysia, then Putrajaya must convene an RCI on the crash that has become the world’s focus.

After all, Najib last night said that two factors under pinned the investigation into MH370: commitment to openness and respect for the families of the passengers.

The families need to know. The government needs to know. And we need to know all the circumstances surrounding flight MH370 from the moment it left Kuala Lumpur until it ended up in the Indian Ocean. – March 25, 2014.

…more
The need for a royal probe into MH370’s mysterious disappearance
COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
March 25, 2014 – TMI

23
Mar
14

Education Ministry does a turn back on school-based assessment

Ministry does a turn back on school-based assessment

Opinion
by Zakiah Koya

AFTER three years of protests by teachers and parents against the school-based assessment system (PBS) since its implementation in 2011, something finally clicked in the Ministry of Education (MOE) and they did a turn back.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the education minister, said that teachers do not need to input any more data online about their students’ performance.

“Teachers can now assess students based on their observations and maintain their records offline. The record is for their own reference.

They need not submit it to the ministry,” he said.

He added that teachers are allowed to record students’ performance using their own methods and whenever they find it convenient.

He added that the move, taken in view of complaints from teachers, would also allow them to have more free time to interact with students.(When PBS was first introduced, it was touted as a more holistic assessment of the students as compared to the examination-oriented system in the national schools.)

With this announcement by Muhyiddin which he claims is aimed at improving the PBS to lessen the burden of the teachers, MOE is literally saying that there is no PBS.

The reason for introducing PBS was to assess students online, with the students being graded according to bands based on the entered data.

As for recording students’ performance offline, this is already being done by teachers – any teacher who does not do that is either retired or “makan gaji buta”.

MOE is now a laughing stock among the teachers and parents with its flip flops.

As the main complaint from the teachers is that the servers cannot be accessed and keeps hanging, with Muhyiddin’s announcement, this means that after millions of ringgit was spent on the infrastructure to set up the PBS system, the MOE has failed to respond to the teachers’ complaints and is taking the easy way out, in short the EXIT door.

And as for the teachers now having to keep the records offline and not having to submit them to the ministry, what are the staff members in the MOE who are entrusted to operate the PBS going to do now? Would they be visiting schools to look at the offline records or would they be claiming their salaries doing nothing?

The PBS was set up with the taxpayers’ money.

Millions of parents and teachers have had to put up with the PBS – parents not knowing how their child is doing in school and teachers burning the midnight oil becoming data entry clerks.

When the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), the biggest teachers’ union in the country, kept telling them nicely that MOE should not be spending so much on a system that has been abandoned by many developed countries, MOE chose to ignore their input, even in their face, as they were invited to meetings but their suggestions were brushed off.

When teachers went online and protested virtually, the State Education Departments became little Napoleons and transferred some of the “rebelling” teachers.

Now that MOE has announced that teachers need not maintain an online record and report their assessments to the MOE and keep only records offline, teachers nationwide are celebrating.

But Muhyiddin should provide answers to what is to become of the millions of ringgit worth of infrastructure, in the form of servers and the portal that was the core of PBS. Millions of ringgit which could have been used to set up more schools and trained more teachers?

What about the contracts with those companies that maintain the portal – have their contracts been rescinded?

Would all the servers now be merely gathering dust and come out in the Auditor-General’s Report as “assets which could have been sold off and MOE could have cut losses”?

…more
Ministry does a turn back on school-based assessment
Mar 19, 2014 – fz.com

22
Mar
14

Mishaps Mar Malaysia’s Handling of Flight Tragedy

Critics furious over crossed signals from government officials as search grows more confused

Miscues and media gaffes are turning Malaysia into an object of anger and criticism in the aftermath of the disappearance early Saturday morning of a Malaysian Airlines jetliner carrying 239 passengers and crew.

No trace of the craft has been found despite a search encompassing thousands of square kilometers. On Wednesday, the day was dominated by confusion over reports that the aircraft might have attempted to head back toward Malaysia before it disappeared.

Malaysia’s air force chief told reporters very early Wednesday that the plane had veered off course. Later in the morning, the same officer denied the report sharply. By Wednesday afternoon, the government seemed to reverse itself again, requesting assistance from India in searching the Andaman Sea, north of the Malacca Strait, where the plane may have gone down far from the current search area off the coast of Vietnam.

Officials finally said the plane “may” have been heading toward the Strait of Malacca when it disappeared and that the search was now also concentrated in that area.

Other countries have grown frustrated. The Chinese, with 152 passengers on board, have complained about a lack of transparency over details. They have also complained that Malaysian Airlines staff handling relatives of the victims in Beijing have been short of information and in many cases don’t speak Mandarin.

From the start, according to critics, the Malaysians have treated the disappearance and ensuing inconsistencies as a local problem instead of one that has focused the attention of the entire world’s media on the tragedy. In a semi-democratic country with a largely supine domestic media, the government insists it has the situation in hand but that hardly seems the case.

Often, those giving press briefings about the affair communicate badly in English to an international press whose lingua franca is English. Because of widely differing reports of where the aircraft actually disappeared, the picture being delivered is one of incompetence. Networks like the BBC and CNN are openly declaring that the post-accident situation is a mess.

…more
Mishaps Mar Malaysia’s Handling of Flight Tragedy
WED,12 MARCH 2014 – Asia Sentinel




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?

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