Archive for April 24th, 2012

How do you discern?

— May Chee Chook Ying
The Malaysian Insider
April 24, 2012

APRIL 24 — What do you pray for when you pray, as when you speak to God? I was educated in a convent. So, from young I was “exposed” to the Catholic faith. So, I learnt how to pray, at least I think I know how to pray. Apart from the set prayers, I learnt how to talk to God.

My first and only gift I’ve asked from God since my primary years has been this — a conscience. A heavy conscience can be so inconvenient but that was what I asked for and that was what I got. I asked for it, so to speak!

So, what’s a conscience? The Oxford dictionary defines a conscience as a moral sense of right and wrong. I guess it means that when you have a conscience, simply put, you do know when you are doing right or wrong. When it’s right, you feel good and liberated. When it’s wrong, you feel lousy and imprisoned by guilt, fear, doubts, etc.

Please bear with me when I speak of conscience from the viewpoint of a Catholic. The size of the world depends on your conscience. Conscience can make the world bigger or smaller. It was the Lord Himself who said this: Two men can look at the “lily in the field” and the one sees more than the other. The first sees the stem and the petals of the flower. The second sees this and something beyond: the Providence of the Father who clothes it more magnificently than “Solomon in all his regalia”.

For the second man, his conscience is something more than a “still, small voice” at the back of his head. His world is bigger and he is too big a person to be crippled by the chilling fear of punishment when he does wrong or a feeling of guilt when he dares to be unconventional. Such a man can see the whole stage and not just part of the scenery. His conscience is what we, Catholics, call “the Vision of the Whole”. Read the rest of this entry »


PTPTN loan is good, but …

— Stephen Ng
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 24, 2012

APRIL 24 — It was on November 1, 1997 when the National Higher Education Loan (PTPTN) scheme started giving out loans. At that point in time, private colleges were starting to bloom, and foreign universities such as Monash University and Nottingham University were also invited to set up their campuses in Malaysia.

The PTPTN was created to be a rolling fund to provide loans to students who could not afford tertiary education, because very few banks in those days were willing to provide the loans. Even banks were charging higher interest fees for students who opted for the loans compared to the PTPTN.

Besides, the cost of private education is higher than that offered by the public sector. This is understandable, because they are linked with international universities and were catering to a generation of students who would have otherwise opted to go overseas. There was also no government funding to make available teaching equipment in these private universities.

I remember former Health Minister Dr Chua Soi Lek visiting a medical faculty in a private college. He made such a big fuss, complaining that the facilities for the newly set up medical faculty were not on par with the public universities. In my heart, I asked: “In the first place, how much has the government provided in soft loans to these private colleges?” Dr Chua, of course, never helped to fight for government funding to boost private education sector.

As I see it now, with the exception of certain colleges, the private education sector has in fact met the aspirations of the young people of Malaysia. Because of the PTPTN, many students have been able to pursue their education. Otherwise, they would not have been able to continue their education overseas, or even locally in the public universities due to the quota system.

My question therefore is why is the PTPTN now the subject of ridicule? Read the rest of this entry »


Peaceful transition of power: Open letter to all political parties

by Dr Lim Teck Ghee
Tuesday, 24 April 2012

With the general election imminent, one key question remains yet unanswered: Will the Barisan Nasional respect the outcome of the polls and ensure a peaceful transition of power?

This is the sixty four thousand dollar sensitive question – unasked in our repressed mass media, largely unexplored by political analysts, never-to-be-publicly wondered but lurking in the mind of many concerned Malaysians.

One exception to the unwritten rule of never posing such a politically incorrect question took place in a private lunch talk organized by the Royal Selangor Club (RSC) for its members early this year. The January 12 event featuring Prime Minister Najib Razak as speaker had attracted an audience of more than 200.

An RSC member (who identified himself as the son of a former long-serving staff of Najib’s father, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein) asked the following towards the end of the talk:

“Mr Prime Minister, would you make the transition of the government for Pakatan a smooth one if the opposition wins the next general election?”

According to some of those present, after some hesitation the prime minister responded: “I do not have to answer that question” or words to that effect; following which he abruptly left, ostensibly for another function. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Malaysians 0verseas are joining Global Bersih 3.0

– Yolanda Augustin
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 24, 2012

APRIL 24 – My name is Yolanda Augustin and I left Malaysia 14 years ago to study in the UK, where I now live and work as a doctor. I’m writing to explain what inspired me to get involved in the Bersih movement and global solidarity work for Malaysia.

For many years, I felt a sense of helplessness and frustration as I followed Malaysian current affairs and saw the country I grew up in stuck in a downward spiral of poor governance and deteriorating civil liberties and human rights. What really got to me was the complete waste of potential – Malaysia was and remains a beautiful country – rich in natural resources, great weather, fantastic cuisine and diverse culture. It has a small population of 28 million people that could enjoy a world class healthcare and education system if the money spent on hapless vanity projects and siphoned off to fund the multimillionaire lifestyles of government ministers was spent on improving the lives of the rakyat.

I was also struck by the vast number of Malaysians I met living overseas – many of them doing interesting and inspiring things – writers, scientists, entrepreneurs, doctors, chefs, bankers, lecturers, lawyers, nurses, town planners, engineers, actors, the list goes on. Many of them still with strong roots and a sense of connection to their place of birth. Many of them wanting to contribute something good and positive towards Malaysia but not knowing what, where or how. Read the rest of this entry »


Umno’s looming end (Part 2)

— Sakmongkol AK47
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 23, 2012

APRIL 22 — Some of my readers will recognise that my previous article borrowed its title from Fukuyama’s hugely popular book. I am sceptical, however, that someone who writes of Najib Razak as being the prime minister of this blessing land instead of this blessed land has read Fukuyama’s book.

I haven’t got the time to enter into useless polemic with this fellow as it would only serve to dignify his blog, which isn’t widely read anyway.

One admission. My blog nowadays does not pretend to be a forum for unbiased debate. Since I joined the DAP, while I try to present an objective viewpoint, I am functioning increasingly as a pamphleteer with a specific political objective. I don’t have to explain myself as many know what I am inferring of.

Back to Fukyuma’s “End of History”. It tells the end of totalitarian and undemocratic rules all over the world. Whether it has brought about the emergence of liberal democracy in exact terms as described by Fukuyama remains to be seen.

What is happening all over the world is this: ALL totalitarian and undemocratic rules in the world have had to adjust to the new realities brought about by the empowerment of people. This is what is happening in our country too.

As a result, despite the shamefaced claim of the rise of the PM’s popularity, of promises of development that they have failed to deliver for so many years, there is an unmistakable sense of nervousness in the ruling government that this time; it’s not going to be business as usual. Read the rest of this entry »


Reforming Education: Post-Form Five Options

by M. Bakri Musa
(Fifth of Six Parts)

In the previous four essays I reviewed the particular challenges facing students in rural and residential schools. This essay delves into the six-month period in which our university-bound and other students find themselves in academic limbo following their Sijil Persekutuan Malaysia (SPM) examination.

In reviewing the recent SPM results, Education Minister Muhyiddin did not once pause to ponder what those nearly half a million 17-year-old Malaysians were doing since they sat for their test last November. These are the youngsters infesting our shopping malls, roaring around on their motorcycles, or otherwise getting into mischief. For over six months they are unable to plan for their future. They cannot even enjoy their break as their future is uncertain. The government’s myriad post-SPM programs like Sixth Form, matrikulasi, polytechnic institutes, and teachers’ colleges depend on the SPM scores, and therefore do not begin until the middle of the year.

This long period of uncertainty and inactivity during a critical period in a teenager’s development is unhealthy. The expression “an idle mind is a devil’s workshop” is never more true than for teenagers. Even if they could ward off the devil’s machination, with the long hiatus would come considerable attrition of knowledge and good study habits. This is particularly critical for those aspiring to go to good universities. Read the rest of this entry »


How to steal an election

— Faizal Tajuddin
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 23, 2012

APRIL 23 — Step One: Pretend you’re reforming and making changes. For the better, of course. And make sure people notice it, and to make doubly sure they don’t forget, don’t make the changes too early. Do it late. Very late. A month or two before General Election late. Then you can appear on mass media and go “See? See? It was a struggle and a sacrifice and it was tough but we did it for you. For the people!”

Step Two: Real reform can be dangerous. Especially if one is too comfortable holding on to power. The power is practically a permanent mandate now. An entitlement. And real changes might mean you’d lose that power. So don’t really change anything, appear to change something. A little bit of window dressing or a new coat of paint, something along the lines of: Telling people you’re going to scrap the ISA, but then replace it with something just as nasty. Or tell people they can protest peacefully now, no need for permits, freedom of assembly is upheld etc, blah blah blah, but then designate practically everywhere as non-assembly zones.

Step Three: Really change something. Only this time, something of benefit for powers that be and not for people, then slip in that tiny, innocuous real game-changer along with the big pronouncements and make the necessary amendments at the parliament. Rush all those bills in one day, get it all done and announce it to the media. With any luck, everybody would concentrate on the big public relations “reforms” and ignore that one tiny innocuous nothingness that really changes a whole lot.

Step Four: Celebrate. You just won the election again. Read the rest of this entry »