Archive for February 10th, 2011

Sibu Hospital : A sad story of Sarawak

Letter by Mimi

This is a sad story of Sarawak and the Sarawakians.

What went wrong in Sarawak?

From the photos taken at the Medical Ward at the Sibu in Hospital, no one would believe Sarawak is one of the largest contributors to the Federal fund.

End of Dec 2010, I spent some time caring for a relative who was admitted at the Sibu Hospital. From the outside, this hospital looks like a 3 star resort. However, inside the hospital, the story is totally different.

This is 2011. How come there is no air conditioning in the Medical ward (I didn’t have the time to check out the other wards)? During the day, the ceiling fans are merely swirling warm, muggy air in the ward. It’s so hot & balmy that the patients leave their tops unbuttoned (yes, even the female patients).
Read the rest of this entry »


Missing the ocean for the ships

by Zairil Khir Johari
The Malaysian Insider
February 10, 2011

FEB 10 — Our government recently announced that it has decided to set aside RM6 billion for the purchase of six offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Royal Malaysian Navy. These OPVs are to be produced by Boustead Naval Shipyard, Malaysia’s only naval shipyard company.

This comes up to roughly RM1 billion for each boat with all its trimmings: guns, radars, missiles and what have you. It is a princely sum to be sure, but security is without doubt an important national concern. This fact should not be underestimated. However, it also does not mean that we can discard transparency and due diligence, two characteristics that are rarely associated with the arms industry.

I would like to raise some questions about this project, due in no small part to the chequered history of defence deals concluded by our government in recent times. Firstly, let us talk about need. From what I gather, these OPVs should more appropriately be called Second Generation Patrol Vessels, or SGPVs. The name is also a misnomer for it belies the fact that they are corvette-type warships rather than “patrol boats.” Read the rest of this entry »


Present NEM for formal adoption by Parliament next month if Muhyiddin’s denial that it had been “watered down” is to have any credibility

The New Economic Model (NEM) should be presented to Parliament next month for formal adoption if Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s denial that it had been “watered down” is to have any credibility.

In fact, the revelation by National Economic Advisory Council member Datuk Dr. Zainal Aznam Mohd Yusuf on Tuesday that the NEM had been “watered down” due to pressure by Perkasa and other right-wing groups had not come as a surprise, as it merely confirmed what had been obvious to many.

The theme of my speech in Parliament on the Tenth Malaysia Plan on 21st June last year (less than three months after the official launching of the NEM by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak), was “Tenth Malaysia Plan: Long live NEP – RIP NEM”:

“The Prime Minister unveiled the New Economic Model on 30th March and presented the Tenth Malaysia Plan in Parliament on 10th June. A sea-change took place in the intervening two months, with Najib retreating from his national transformation programme when he succumbed to pressures from extremist groups making baseless and incendiary claims such as that the Malays are under siege and that the Chinese would take over the economy and country.

“As a result, instead of the first policy operationalisation of the NEM, the Tenth Malaysia Plan is a funeral requiem for the NEM. Read the rest of this entry »


Freeing Education From Politics

by Zairil Khir Johari

There is one particular issue in this country that never fails to incite fierce debate, with passionate arguments – and the occasional flying brick – from all sides of the divide. This has been the case for a very long time, and its history is one that runs parallel to our nation’s own. To chronicle its story would be to journey through the annals of our own ethno-political experience, from early immigrant settlements to colonial dominance and finally to the many compromises that have been effected since political independence was achieved. Today, the story is by no means over; it is one that is constantly evolving (and tormenting) our socio-political structure.

And what is this matter that is as naturally fundamental as it is exasperatingly sensitive? Why, it is this little matter called education.

Few would dispute the contention that there is something fundamentally wrong with the education system in our country, but polemics abound when solutions are proffered or undertaken. Take, for example, the recent remonstrations surrounding the reversal of the PPSMI (teaching of mathematics and science in English) or the sudden announcement that history will be made a mandatory SPM pass subject from 2013. Or better yet, consider also the replacement of the PMR by a school-based assessment programme. Initially reported to take place in 2016 in order to provide sufficient time for a transition that would not burden the affected students, it has now been abruptly brought forward to 2014. And then there are the really thorny issues, such as the question of vernacular education and its place in our national polity, or the standard of our national school model and curriculum, viewed by many as tools of political indoctrination and partisan propaganda. Read the rest of this entry »