Archive for March 28th, 2007

With MUST regarded as success, what hope for future of quality higher education?

In response to my query during the 2007 budget debate on the Higher Education Ministry in Parliament on December 5 last year, Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapha Muhamad held up Malaysia University of Science and Technology (MUST) as an example of a successful “smart partnership” with an “international centre of excellence in research”, i.e. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Mustapha was clearly misinformed or he had misled Parliament, for a week later, he was reported as saying that the government was taking a hard look at the future of MUST, as the enrolemnt of the post-graduate university had dwindled and was operating with about 10 students left. MUST boasted research tie-ups with the world-renowned MIT when it opened in 2002.

I could not believe my eyes this morning when I read Mustapha’s reply to my question asking for the reasons for the failure of MUST despite government support, to the tune of at least RM100 million, and its “smart partnership” with MIT.

Mustapha’s reply raises the larger question as to what hope is there for the future of quality higher education in Malaysia when the Higher Education Minister is still stuck in denial – continuing to regard MUST as a successful example of international “smart partnership” when it is a major flop with MIT washing its hands of any “collaboration”!

This is Mustapha’s reply: Read the rest of this entry »


IRB, It’s time to “think out of the box”

Tam Yeng Siang copied his letter to New Straits Times, as follows:

I wish to refer to the letter by Ong Wai Leong, again on the issue of the Income Tax’s inability to repay taxpayers’ tax refunds promptly. So many letters have been published by you on the matter that this proves that something is seriously wrong with the delivery system of the IRB. In spite of the Director General’s recent TV interview, in which she promises such refunds to be made within three months, I would like to say that it’s an impossible dream, as long as the current procedures are not changed, and with it, the concept of Tax refunds at source. Allow me to elaborate.

*First the IRB is vigorously promoting e-filing which is a good thing. But in encouraging e-filing, has the IRB considered those who never use computers and ICT in their daily business?

*Second, in order for the IRB to effect refunds arising from dividends paid to individuals, the IRB requires the original dividend vouchers to be sent BY POST to Pandan Indah. These vouchers must be original, and must be verified individually by assessment officers, either against the E-forms, or the BE forms submitted manually together with the original vouchers. As long as the manual process of verification and authorisation is required, it is near impossible for the IRB to do this onerous task within a three month period, year in and year out.

*So, the way out of this mess is to re-think the issue of tax on individual dividends completely. Many years ago, the IRB made a very good decision to resolve the problem of taxpayers not declaring fixed deposit incomes in their yearly forms. They made the banks deduct a fixed rate of tax from the Interest incomes, and the banks then sent the taxes to the IRB directly. This decision had 2 positive effects. Moneys formerly hidden under pillows found their way to the banks, and the IRB found a relatively straightforward way of collecting tax from Interest income.

*For Dividend payments made to the individuals, the IRB can instruct the corporations to collect, say, just 5-10% of tax, remit the tax to the IRB, and refund the balance to the Individual taxpayer. The refunds can be easily made by the corporations at the same time the dividends are paid. Read the rest of this entry »


10 recommendations of Royal Police Commission, like IPCMC, disappeared into a “black hole”?

As part of the flurry of publicity in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the Royal Malaysian Police, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan launched an intensive media campaign to present the police in the best possible light, including announcement of the creation of a new mission and vision in line with the recommendations made by the Royal Police Commission, culminating in a call for a new and better scheme of service for the police which is 20% more in basic salary than any government servant.

In the media blitz, Musa told Bernama on Saturday that about 90 per cent of the recommendations of the Police Royal Commission “have been put into action while another four are in the process of being enforced”.

This is at variance with the answer given by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also Internal Security Minister, to my question in Parliament on Thursday on the status of the implementation of the 125 recommendations of the Royal Police Commission.

Abdullah said that out of the 125 recommendations of the Royal Police Commission, 102 or 82 per cent have been implemented while 23 or 18 per cent are still under detailed consideration.

There is a big difference between the 82 per cent of 125 recommendations cited by the Prime Minister in Parliament and the 90 per cent claimed by the Inspector-General of Police, which works out to a difference of 10 recommendations out of 125 recommendations.

Have these 10 recommendations of Royal Police Commission like the IPCMC proposal disappeared into a “black hole” without accountability whatsoever? Read the rest of this entry »