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Thursday, April 25, 2019

THERE IS NO SHORT CUTS TO GAIN A QUALITY EDUCATION, INCREASING THE QUOTA IS JUST INVITING MORE PROBLEMS.



A good write-up on the history, so-called solution and problems that would arise later on the matriculation programme intake, read below:

1.  Matriculation woes: Failure to address the elephant in the room

2.  Why quota system for matriculation studies was retained

3.  Regressive matriculation policy perpetuates discrimination

It need to be agreed that the actual idea to create this matriculation programme was to correct the imbalance of the Malay students who were classified weak and who fail to meet the examination standards to obtain their STPM so that they could pursue a university degree course.

Increasing the intake from 25,000 to 40,000 just adds to worsen the educational situation further.

It would have been easier to offer an additional 2 to 3 thousand places to the non-bumiputras to solve this issue.

Now more education institutions need to be opened up, lecturers recruited and many other incidentals to be borne by the taxpayers when the financial situation is in a critical situation.

This issue actually arose due to an PH election pledge that more educational places will be offered to non-Malays, especially Indians, who are now deemed to be the really backward class of citizens in Malaysia if PH regains Putrajaya. Knowing fairly well, the Education Ministry fail to address this intake issue with all the stakeholders. 

The previous UMNO/BN government had actually provided addition places for Indians after realizing the Indian issue and had agreed to increase this number for the preceding years to come so that the Indians could come in par with the other communities in Malaysia and would not be a "menace" to society any longer.

The Education Ministry to avoid criticism, quickly claimed that the previous intake of 2,200 Indian students and 1,000 Chinese students offered by UMNO/BN government last year was a one-off thing and further claimed that it was actual meant only for bumiputra students.

The matriculation course is much easier to pass and done within a year while STPM is more complicated and harder to pass and took one and a half years to complete. The matriculation programme is only recognized locally while the STPM is recognized internationally, equivalent to the GCE A levels.

Once these 40,000 students complete their studies, another major crisis will arise as to where to place them together with the STPM holders. - Mohd. Kamal Abdullah

CONFESS TO YOUR SINS – U.S. DOJ TELLS GOLDMAN TO PLEAD GUILTY TO 1MDB WRONGDOINGS: AND THE SAME GOES FOR NAJIB & CO

THE Department of Justice is calling for Goldman Sachs to plead guilty for its role in the massive corruption scandal involving Malaysian investment fund 1MDB, The Financial Times reported yesterday.
That recommendation applies to any settlement between Goldman Sachs and the US or state authorities, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.
It would be the toughest penalty the DoJ could impose, as it potentially could affect the financial giant’s licence and ability to conduct business.
According to a source close to the investigation, the hard-line recommendations by investigators is not surprising, but the final settlement is likely to be less onerous.

US authorities have accused a Malaysian financial intermediary, Low Taek Jho, former Goldman partner Tim Leissner and former Goldman banker, Ng Chong Hwa, of conspiring to launder billions of dollars from 1 Malaysia Development Bhd, a fund set up to finance development projects.
US officials say more than US$2.7 billion in funds was misappropriated while Goldman garnered US$600 million in fees and revenues from three bond issues in 2012 and 2013.
Leissner pleaded guilty, while Low and Ng deny the allegations.
Goldman Sachs has tried to distance itself from its two former employees.
Asked about the guilty plea recommendation, a bank spokesman told AFP, “We do not believe that such a charge would be warranted by the facts of the case or the law, particularly because senior management was unware of the criminal activity by Mr Leissner and his associate who took extraordinary efforts to hide their part in the illegal scheme from management, compliance, and legal functions at the firm.”
– AFP

MACC nabs CEO, company advisor over bribery allegations


PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested a chief executive officer and an advisor of a company to help investigations into claims of giving bribes to enforcement officers of a ministry.
They were said to have given bribes to the officers amounting to several hundred thousands of ringgit last year.
The 49-year-old CEO, a Datuk Seri, was arrested around 5.30pm Thursday (April 25) at Dutamas Raya in Kuala Lumpur.
Sources believe that the two were working in cohorts to bribe enforcement officers of a ministry to not take action against the company for illegal deposit activities sometime in 2017.
MACC investigations director Datuk Seri Simi Abd Ghani (pic) confirmed the arrests.
He said the two will be taken to the Putrajaya magistrate's court to be remanded on Friday (April 26).-Star

Grace period for smoking ban at eateries extended by 6 months

Health ministry officials have been hauling up smokers at restaurants to issue warning letters and telling them to smoke 10 feet from eateries.
PETALING JAYA: The health ministry has decided to extend by another six months the grace period for the smoking ban before punitive action is taken.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said today the extension was to raise awareness and knowledge about the dangers of smoking.
The no-smoking rule at restaurants came into effect on Jan 1 and the ministry had said it will give six months for the public to follow the rule before summonses are issued from July 1.
Dzulkefly said the grace period will be extended by another six months until end-December 2019.
He said the decision was made following a steering committee meeting he chaired on April 16 with 10 other ministries and an NGO representative.
The health ministry has asked for extra funds from the Cabinet so that smokers can be assisted better with the mQuit programme — an integrated “quit smoking” service. About 580 people are now using this service.
Under the law, smokers can only smoke 10 feet (3m) away from any restaurant. Offenders can be jailed up to two years and fined RM10,000.
Restaurant owners can also be fined RM5,000 or six months’ jail if they allow smoking at their premises.
Dzulkefly said his ministry was aware there are still smokers who lit up at places designated as no-smoking areas.
He said a survey by the National Cancer Society from April 1 to April 17, involving 173 eateries in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, found that most of them were observing the ban.
About 98% (170 eateries) did not provide ashtrays, according to the survey.
About 60% (104 eateries) were totally free from any “smoking activity” while 40% (69 eateries) didn’t have more than three smokers present on their premises.

However, the survey found that 76% (131 eateries) did not have a “clear” no-smoking sign in place. - FMT

Tawau, Sandakan new transit points for IS militants

Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun says IS has increasingly turned to Southeast Asia as its new hub following heavy defeats in Iraq and Syria.
IPOH: The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has now made Tawau and Sandakan in Sabah the new transit points for militants to enter the southern Philippines and Rakhine, Myanmar.
Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun, who revealed this today, said the group had increasingly turned to Southeast Asia as its new hub following heavy defeats in Iraq and Syria.
“We are always closely monitoring the issue, and from time to time, arresting those militants who want to enter the southern Philippines.
“They are not only from among our citizens but also other nationals, for example Indonesia, as well as other countries around Southeast Asia,” he told reporters after attending the Pingat Jasa Pahlawan Negara award ceremony for the Perak police here today.
Fuzi was responding to questions on Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu’s statement that the defeat of IS terrorists in Iraq and Syria was not an end to their violence.
Mohamad said this was because IS-trained terrorists were spread all around the world and remained a threat to global peace and security.
Fuzi said the strength of the IS terrorist group was diminishing as the number of militants, which previously stood at 45,000, had now been reduced to 35,000.
“This information is based on intelligence gathering and exchanges with fellow agencies. So, the issue here is they are currently looking at new sites.
“Southeast Asia, the southern Philippines as well as Rakhine, in Myanmar, are among their targets,” he said.
Fuzi said in Europe, the terrorist group is now focusing on Balkan countries like Bosnia.

“We are always monitoring the IS issue closely, not only at the domestic or regional levels, but also globally,” he said, adding that there had been no recent arrests of IS militants in the country. - FMT

The PH GE14 manifesto and BN Education Blueprint

Education Minister Maszlee Malik has announced that the Bumiputera quota for matriculation programmes will remain at 90% while increasing the intake from 25,000 to 40,000. Non-Malay admission will only receive an increase from 2,500 to 4,000 places despite the hype about constructing a “New Malaysia” after the majority of non-Malay voters contributed to PH’s victory at the 2018 general election. The perpetuation of this deeply flawed and racially discriminatory policy is cause for a sense of betrayal amongst democratic Malaysians who had been led to expect more inclusivity and meritocracy from the “new” Pakatan Harapan government.
The Pakatan Harapan manifesto promised to reform the education system to make national schools “the school of choice”. The manifesto included commitments to return residential schools to their original focus on low-income students and indigenous peoples without focussing on racial quotas.
The Education Blueprint formulated by the previous BN administration promised:
“By 2025, the Ministry aspires to increase access to and enrolment in higher education. If Malaysia were to successfully improve tertiary enrolment rates from 36% currently to 53% (and higher education enrolment from 48% to 70%), this will bring Malaysia on par with the highest enrolment levels in Asean today. This growth scenario will require an additional 1.1 million places by 2025, mainly through growth in technical and vocational education and training (TVET), private HLIs (higher learning institutions) and online learning.”
Note that through all that grandiose phraseology scripted by international consultants McKinsey, there is no mention that the decades-old racial discriminatory policies regarding enrolment in public institutions such as the matriculation programmes would continue.
Racially discriminatory quota system
The reality is that even within the national education system non-Bumiputeras suffer discrimination such as in access to scholarships, special schools and tertiary institutions. For decades we have witnessed the annual spectacle of non-Bumiputeras with straight As being rejected for entry into the courses of their choice at public sector universities. At the same time, there is extensive provision for Bumiputera education. There are at least 42 fully residential elite Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) (Mara Junior Science College) with 12,440 places also in the fully residential schools. These schools have been almost exclusively reserved for Malay-Muslim students with perhaps a few token non-Bumiputeras who excel in sport to add glory to the schools. Non-Bumiputeras are largely excluded from other elite schools such as the Royal Military College, Aminuddin Baki Institution, matriculation courses and the Malay College Kuala Kangsar despite the fact that these institutions are all funded by Malaysian taxpayers.
There are two streams for entry into the public universities. One is through the matriculation 12-month programme and the other is through the 18-month and much more stringent STPM programme. The matriculation programme is mainly reserved for Malays although the government began offering 10% places for non-Bumiputera students in 2003. University entrance criteria is not transparent and appears to be based on arbitrary factors. The same lack of transparency applies to the eligibility criteria involved in the selection process for the choice of courses, award of scholarships and loans for study. Preference for admission into public universities is reserved for Bumiputeras. One university with a student population of 170,000 in 2011, namely, UiTM, is open ‘for Bumiputeras only’ while the other 19 public universities have an overwhelming Malay majority in their enrolment. And it cannot be overstated that all of this is funded by ALL Malaysian taxpayers.
There is also discrimination in the allocation of students to competitive courses. Only a handful of seats in medical faculties of the public sector universities are made available to non-Malays. For example, out of the 62,000 diploma places and 60,000 degree places at 27 polytechnics in Malaysia in 2010, only a small number of places were allocated for non-Malay students regardless of their qualifications.
Such blatant racially discriminatory policies are the real reason the BN and PH governments have been reluctant to ratify the International Convention on the Eradication of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world that practices such blatant racial discrimination.
The quota system was not part of the Independence Agreement
The Malay-based parties and their legal advisers arduously try to avoid this inconvenient truth: The quota system that has been practised in the country since 1971 was never part of the 1957 Independence Agreement! It was through the terror unleashed by the May 13 incident that the country was presented with a fait accompli by the new Umno ruling class who proceeded to amend Article 153 with a new clause (8A):
“…where in any university, college and other educational institution providing education after Malaysian Certificate of Education or its equivalent, the number of places offered by the authority responsible for the management of the university, college or such educational institution to candidates for any course or study is less than the number of candidates qualified for such places, it shall be lawful for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by virtue of this Article to give such directions to the authority as may be required to ensure the reservation of such proportion of such places for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may deem reasonable; and the authority shall duly comply with the directions.”
This is the “quota system” we have lived with for the last 40 years or so and which has created so much acrimony for that length of time. Strictly speaking, if we were to go by Umno’s “social contract” at Independence in 1957, that “social contract” certainly does not include Clause 8A of Article 153 since this clause was introduced 14 years later.
And if we scrutinise this Clause 8A more closely, we will see that it is definitely not a carte blanche for the blatant racial discrimination as is the case of enrolment at institutions such as UiTM. The 100% Bumiputera enrolment policy at UiTM and the 90% Bumiputera enrolment in matriculation courses make a mockery of the quota system itself and the justification for any affirmative action.
Compared with the affirmative action policies of other countries, for example the United States, we find some glaring inconsistencies in this country:
1. The beneficiary group in Malaysia happens to be the politically dominant and majority Malay group while the most obvious beneficiary group in any affirmative action ought to be one whose people have been historically discriminated against such as the Orang Asli;
2. Any preferential treatment for any group should be followed by specific goals, quotas and sunset clauses rather than the “Never Ending Policy” of the NEP in Malaysia;
3. Affirmative action policies are fundamentally not “special rights” as they are portrayed in Malaysia but rather, policy adjustments to rectify social inequality with sunset clauses once the objectives have been reached;
4.The definition of “the Malays” being an under-represented group is imprecise and flawed when any Muslim who is not ethnically Malay can claim to be a beneficiary;
5.Affirmative action should be extended to all discriminated groups, for example, women and other marginalised groups.
The Way forward
This gross racial discrimination in the Malaysian education system is one of the biggest obstacles to national progress and development. If the education minister and the new PH administration cannot see this, we will continue to flounder as a nation with this never-ending flawed education system.
Education is the crucial institution for developing an inclusive society that is just and tolerant, and that respects diversity, equal opportunity and participation of all peoples. Our national education philosophy calls for developing the potential of all in a holistic and integrated manner, so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonious. This will never materialise while racially discriminatory policies abound. The government’s call for promoting integration by doing away with vernacular schools rings hollow while there is apartheid in institutions such as UiTM.
It is time for the new education minister to turn his attention to equitable education access for all citizens to our national institutions, to think of ways to develop quality institutions, national integration and academic freedom. To start with, he should review and reform our policy of student intakes at all levels of colleges and universities, including the matriculation programme, with the aim of striking a balance between fair representation of ethnic groups, special assistance for the B40 regardless of ethnicity while maintaining academic excellence of all our institutions.
With such an inclusive vision and policy, PH could facilitate the growth of an education system that proudly welcomes its richly diverse peoples equitably, empowers all poor out of poverty and taps into the talent of ALL its citizens for the good of all:
“Ensuring that each individual has an equal opportunity for educational progress remains a challenge worldwide. Sustainable development emphasises inclusion and equity as laying the foundations for quality education. International human rights treaties prohibit any exclusion from, or limitation to, educational opportunities on the basis of socially-ascribed or perceived differences, such as by sex, ethnic/social origin, language, religion, nationality, economic condition, ability. Reaching excluded and marginalised groups and providing them with quality education requires the development and implementation of inclusive policies and programmes”.
– The UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, 1960
Kua Kia Soong is the adviser to Suaram.

Reid Commission altered rulers' absolute power



State constitutions existed before 1957, and still exist and are in force. But the ruler's power to interfere in the administration of the state was curbed drastically when the Federal Constitution was enacted on Malaysia’s independence in 1957. From absolute rule to that delimited by the Federal Constitution.
Before then, the ruler presided at meetings of the executive council which administered the state. He was advised by the executive council, and by a Council of State presided by the menteri besar (MB). The MB was appointed by, and responsible to, the ruler. The ruler had the power to overrule the advice of the executive council and the Council of State. In short, he exercised absolute power.
All this changed when the Federal Constitution was enacted. The Reid Commission, which crafted the constitution, altered this absolute power to that delimited by the constitution. Its remit was to safeguard “the position and prestige of Their Highnesses the Rulers as constitutional rulers of their respective states”. 
Defined by the commission as “a ruler with limited powers, and the essential limitations are that the ruler should be bound to accept and act on the advice of the menteri besar or executive council and that the menteri besar or executive council should not hold office at the pleasure of the ruler or be ultimately responsible to him but should be responsible to a parliamentary assembly […]”
It would not be right, the commission declared, that the ruler as a constitutional sovereign should be involved in political matters. Henceforth the appointments to the state’s executive council “must lie in the hands of the menteri besar. Crucially, a new menteri besar must be free to appoint a new executive council in the same way as the prime minister appoints his ministers. In appointing or terminating the appointment of a member of the executive council the ruler must act on the advice of the menteri besar”. In all this, the ruler no longer had any decisive say.
The constitution thus reflects the ethos of parliamentary democracy. It provides that all states must include in their constitutions provisions which say that the ruler shall act on the advice of the executive council or any authorised member of the council and this advice must be followed.
If a state does not include this provision in its constitution, then Parliament can by law introduce this provision or remove any provision in the state constitution which is inconsistent with it.
It is in this context that we must read the prime minister’s statement that the State Constitutions were nullified. Essentially meaning that the absolute power of the rulers to run the administration of the state (as existed under the previous state constitutions) was abrogated. And that the Federal Constitution in this regard was the supreme law – subjecting all and sundry, no matter how high, to its commands.

The writer, Gurdial Singh Nijar is a former law professor at Universiti Malaya. - Mkini