Wild claims: First Muhyiddin on education, now Hisham on custodial deaths
As if to mock the recent claim by the Education minister that the country's education standard was better than the US, UK and Germany, figures presented by the Home ministry on the number of custodial deaths in the country were found not to jive mathematically.
In its written parliamentary reply yesterday, the ministry said that in 2009, 14 deaths under detention were recorded, 3 in prison detention, 7 under police custody and 17 at immigration depots.
"In 2010, 13 deaths registered under detention, with 1 in prison, 9 in police custody and 18 at immigration depots.
"In 2011, there were 21 deaths under detention, none in prison, 17 in police detention and 18 at immigration depots detention," the reply state further, adding that most of the deaths have been due to diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, Hepatitis C, asthma and heart-related disease.
Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching reacted by saying that she was in total confusion.
“I am totally confused after reading the written reply: 14 = 3 + 7 + 17?” she quipped on her Facebook.
Netizens quickly poured scorn, and attempted to link the Home ministry's statement to Education minister Muhyiddin Yasin's claim that local education was better than developed countries in the West.
Muhyiddin had cited the World Economic Forum’s 2011/12 Global Competitiveness Report which ranked Malaysia at 14th among 142 countries in terms of quality of education.
But Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua pointed out that the WEF’s survey was based on the opinions of 87 local businessmen, who thought that the education system had met the needs of a competitive economy.
“Surely such a tiny survey with such ‘surprising’ outcomes must be benchmarked against other credible international studies before it is accepted at face value,” said Pua.
Pua drew Muhyiddin's attention to a report released last year, Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) 2009+, in which some 5,000 Malaysian students out of 522,000 students across 74 countries were evaluated.
According to Pua, Malaysia ranked 55th out of 74 countries in terms of reading literacy, 57th in Mathematics and “only marginally better” in 52nd position for Science literacy.
But even without the report, Muhyiddin's claim was perhaps more easily disproved by the Home ministry's numbers!