Can there be a SPM trial exam question: Is it appropriate for police to use tear gas, water cannon or physical violence against peaceful demonstrators?


Would the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his two deputies, Puad Zarkashi and Datuk Wee Ka Siong give their tacit approval or close their eyes and shut their ears if any of the following questions had appeared in a SPM trial examination paper for Moral Education:

• Is it appropriate for the police to use tear-gas or chemically-laced water cannon or used physical violence against peaceful demonstrators comprising all races, religions, age and gender who merely wanted to send a clear and unmistakable to the government that they want free, fair and clean elections?

• Is it appropriate for any government to misuse public funds for political party purposes especially in the run-up to a general election?

• Is it appropriate for voters in a general election to support candidates from a political coalition which is responsible for Malaysia having the lowest Transparency International Corruption Perception Index ranking of No. 60 as well as lowest CPI score of 4.3 in 2012?

• Is it appropriate for any Minister or MP to go against national unity efforts as publicly dissociating from the 1Malaysia policy, declaring that he or she is Malay first and Malaysian second?

Of course not. There can be no shadow of doubt that if such questions had appeared in any school SPM trial examination paper, there would be an orchestrated howl of protest and condemnation in the mainstream mass media of Utusan Malaysia, New Straits Times, Berita Harian and the Star as well as on government/Barisan Nasional radio and television channels, followed by a witch-hunt to expose, penalise and even criminalise those responsible for setting the questions.

Surely, Puad would not say: “As long as it does not affect the racial or religious sensitivities or malign any individual, I feel (the question) is not a problem…It is up to the rakyat to decide”.

This is what Puad said when commenting on a question in a school SPM trial examination on Moral Education in Johore Baru, which featured two photographs of the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, and asked: “Is it appropriate for a citizen to participate in an illegal assembly?”
A photograph of the question referring to the Bersih 3.0 rally from a an SPM trial examination paper at a school in Johore Baru appeared on Facebook, which showed that the answer given by the student – “tidak wajar (not appropriate)” – was ticked as correct.
Would Muhyiddin, Puad and Wee take the position that there is nothing wrong with the setting of questions like the four above for students, just as they now strike the posture that its “not a problem” for such a Bersih question to be posed in the SPM school trial examination?

In fact, in another trial examination for STPM General Paper in a school in Johore Baru, there is a clear insinuation that those who supported the Opposition could have their citizenship revoked?

Would Muhyiddin, Puad and Wee agree and approve if STPM General Paper school trial examination poses the question whether a person who supported corrupt political leaders have failed their citizenship responsibilities?

Clearly the politicisation of education has reached a new low with the Education Minister and his two deputy Ministers failing to condemn in the strongest possible terms the setting of these tendentious and misguided questions – which amounts no less to an irresponsible attempt to indoctrinate and brainwash schoolchildren to parrot the views of the ruling coalition.

With such continued politicisation of education, there can be very little
public confidence that under continued UMNO/Barisan Nasional government, the education system could unite rather than divide Malaysians or that the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 recently launched by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak would be able to make any fundamental difference to the problems of politicisation and deterioration of educational standards in Malaysia.

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  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Friday, 28 September 2012 - 3:09 pm

    Wait till you see what will be written in the History books when the subject becomes a compulsory subject in the coming years. It will be History as what UMNO / BN (if they are still in power) wants it to be written and told. Should any student answer differently from that textbook, they will sure get Grade 9 – Fail. But if you diligently write what they want to see and hear, you will sure get A*.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Friday, 28 September 2012 - 8:19 pm

    I’ve said it many times before: the word “shame” is not in UMNO’s dictionary. I guess the deficiency has spread to all of BN.

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 29 September 2012 - 3:42 am

    With two photographs of the Bersih 3.0 rally Question is: “Is it appropriate for a citizen to participate in an illegal assembly?” (Indirectly this is asking whether its appropriate or not for citizen to break the law as the question from word “illegal” ascribed to assembly implies that law has been broken. Appropriate or not (a value judgement) depends on (i) what’s a citizen’s rights, (ii) whether or not the law actually has been broken or misinterpreted as being broken (iii) whether that law, if broken, is a good or bad law as against constitutional right to assembly, and whether there’s selective enforcement of the law (iv) whether there are higher societal objectives of greater importance than the immediate upholding of a specific law and so on and so on……So how can it be reduced to a simple question – appropriate or not appropriate as correct or wrong answer? It shows those who set questions in moral studies only proceed at face value on simple cliché of daily co-existence saying it is moral to have mutual respect, responsibility, tolerance, obedience to law, (therefore break law orparticipate illegal assembly is inappropriate) and know or care next for nothing about “morals” or moral relativism in the context of those who study the subject in Philosophy or Moral Philosophy and certainly nothing about the open textured nature of words/terms like “appropriate ”or not “appropriate”, “legal” or not “legal” in terms of verifiability ala Friedrich Waismann & Ludwig Wittgenstein works…

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 29 September 2012 - 3:59 am

    Arising from above posting it shows that Moral Studies, that seeks to evaluate the knowledge of examinees/students on morals by a simple “yes” or “no” answer (objective test) and not at least an essay as the question – involving open textured and open ended subjects, implicating value judgments and permitting different points of views – deserves, is basically misconceived. Is Moral studies just memorizing 64 nilai-nilai murni and associated kata-kata kunci??? Puad Zarkashi says trial exam has nothing to do with Education ministry; question was set y school. HM of JB’s SMK Aminuddin Baki which set it said there’s no politics involved “We only emphasise good values and about the damage that happened (in the rally),” he said. Whatever- main thing is education is already politicized when its policy to have Malays study Religious study, and non Malays, Moral studies. And when one has Moral studies conducted and examined in such simplistic manner, it makes a joke whether our education enlightens or stultifies young minds. I think to reduce Moral studies question to an objective test – appropriate or not appropriate stultifies the mind. I am not sure though whose mind is actually stultified – the teacher who sets such a question and expects the correct answer to tick is “inappropriate” or the student who answers based not on what he thinks is the correct answer but what would the examiner wants him to tick, to give the marks!

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 29 September 2012 - 4:24 am

    There’s nothing wrong per se with the question -“Is it appropriate for a citizen to participate in an illegal assembly?”- in context of Moral Studies. Its just that the question, just like other questions posed by Kit here, requires an answer more “appropriately” expressed through an essay to assess whether the students have been taught (educated) (for which they are now being examined) to evaluate issues including the subject/idea of assembly not from just the from the simplistic line of legal or illegal assembly in any particular terrain like Dataran Merdeka but also exploring the links with other wider areas of law, politics, values, and seeing each from a variety of vantage points, so as come to a sense of the whole. To just ask objective style question “ appropriate” or “not appropriate” does not measure or test critical judgment or analysis. It may facilitate as a political propaganda tool though, if that were the intent! It only shows that those in charge of education are themselves bereft of these qualities (critical judgment or analysis) which it is their duty to nurture and inculcate in those supposedly under their charge. It makes Moral studies (as a subject) and by extension the wider educational process a laughing stock.

  6. #6 by yhsiew on Saturday, 29 September 2012 - 6:37 am

    Education Blueprint 2013-2025 is doomed when politics interferes education.

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 29 September 2012 - 9:41 am

    Then 64, now 36 nilai-nilai murni with 6 bidang pembelajaran (“core values”) (to be revised again) !

  8. #8 by waterfrontcoolie on Saturday, 29 September 2012 - 9:56 am

    They should include: Is Corruption part of our culture? How many cows can be kept in a condominium? How much would it cost to keep cows in such place? If you buy a square foot of land at $6.00 per sq ft; how much profit if you can sell it to the Gomen at $27.00 per sq, ft? How come our MRT is built at the highest cost per Km around the world, even though most of the length is ABOVE ground? Is agency the best way to start business; especially if you have connections to UMNO?
    Looking at Malaysian scenario, can you say that we can become a top MRT construction company by being close to the Gomen?
    Such questions may set the students thinking!

  9. #9 by monsterball on Saturday, 29 September 2012 - 2:38 pm

    Malaysia is the only country in South East Asia governed by corrupted dictators.

  10. #10 by boh-liao on Monday, 1 October 2012 - 1:58 am

    An SPM trial exam Q: Agree or not NR n UmhoB/BN hijacked Budget 2013 2 buy votes

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