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Setting the record straight

Posted: 04 Aug 2013 06:53 PM PDT

Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, Malaysian Times

I READ with aghast and disappointment a press statement on Aug 3 issued by the Higher Education Section of the Ministry of Education (MoE) that refuted the pointers I had made regarding this year's intake of students into public institutes of higher learning (IPTA).

Referring to the claim by the MoE that only 39 students with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 4.0 failed to receive any offers from IPTA, I hope the MoE will not oversimplify the problem.

MoE's statement is truly unjust to students who scored the perfect CGPA of 4.0 but were offered courses that were not their chosen option, more so when the applicants had clearly indicated their interest by choosing critical courses as their top priorities during the on-line application.

In addition, MoE did not take into account the problem encountered by CGPA 4.0 students who applied for Dentistry and Pharmacy. The existing system requires students to select at least six options (two courses from research universities and four courses from non-research universities.)

The number of existing IPTAs which offer these courses (Dentistry and Pharmacy) is fewer than six, thereby forcing students to apply for other courses in the system.

The Higher Education Section of the MoE has been evasive and did not look into this matter comprehensively, thus leaving top scoring CGPA 4.0 students in a serious dilemma.

With regard to my alleged claim that "only 19%  of Chinese students received offers to IPTAs, but many Chinese students with a CGPA of 4.0 did not receive any offer", this is utterly baseless. I have never uttered such a remark before.

What I had said was, "in the past four years, the enrolment rate of Chinese applicants fell from 92% to 88.2%, followed by 86.4% to only 75% this year." The above data was obtained from the MoHE or Ministry of Higher Education then.

I had mentioned that before the government first implemented the meritocracy system, the percentage of successful Chinese applicants entering IPTAs was 32.3% but this year, the percentage has fallen until 19%. Can the MoE deny these facts? Again, the statistics which I had referred to were those which were published by the MoE.

The MoE claimed only 1% of students with a CGPA of 4.0 did not receive offers and MoE even listed out the reasons including "the applicants' having stated they would decline programmes other than the ones applied for, and being at the low merit level as the co-curricular activities' marks were low."

I believe the MoE does not comprehend the points raised by our MCA Youth i.e. there is a difference in the evaluation system for co-curricular activities between the STPM and Matriculation applicants.

Also, the information as prepared by MCA proves that there are at least two students with a CGPA of 4.0 who are willing to accept courses which were not selected by them. Again, they failed to obtain any course. Can the MoE kindly provide an explanation on this?

For the past 10 years, MCA Youth Education Bureau has been helping MoE and MoHE to conduct out-reach programmes and providing guidance talks to students on improving their opportunities of entry into IPTAs based on the criteria set by the MoHE/MoE.

We had explained the eight selection criteria to hundreds of thousands of students since 2000. If the intake results (reality) do not match the selection criteria set, MoE owes the students a reasonable explanation as to how their applications have failed to fulfill the MoE's requirements.

MoE had  failed to furnish any explanation as to how students with a lower CGPA were offered critical courses as opposed to top scorers with a CGPA of 4.0.

Moreover, MCA Youth highlighting the deteriorating trend of the percentage of Chinese students into IPTA was not given adequate attention. Another issue is that the students are unhappy to see the number of places for critical courses on a declining trend and sad to say, MoE or MoHE has never come up with any reasonable explanation.

MCA Youth hopes to help students resolve their problems. The MCA Youth Education Bureau is willing to sit and discuss with the MoE on how to overcome this situation, and we hope that the IPTA intake issue will be settled once and for all.

Meanwhile, I wish to inform that the problem addressed by MCA Youth was not deliberately manufactured by our wing. I would like to remind MoE that the rakyat hold grievances with the student admission system and MCA Youth is merely assisting students to resolve this problem.

I wish to reiterate that when I served as the Deputy Minister of Education from March 2008 to May 2013, IPTA intakes did not come under the jurisdiction of the MoE but were under the purview of the MoHE.

I wish to add that when I first helmed the MCA Youth Education Bureau in 2000, a dispute broke out with then Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad. However, after holding a dialogue session with the Minister, MoE then solved the problem immediately.

Therefore, if MoE can return to dialogue, this will indeed provide a positive outcome for the affected students.

For instance, last year, in the capacity as MCA Youth chief as well as being the Deputy Minister, I spoke up for many top-scorers (CGPA 4.0) regardless of race, thus assisting them to obtain approvals from the Cabinet in granting RM49.3mil in scholarships to help them get enrolled into private institutes of higher learning (IPTS) to pursue their desired courses.

The students have toiled for years to achieve excellent results. Equally, their proud parents have also sacrificed so much all these years to nurture such bright students. People's futures are at stake. Do not trivialise the seriousness of this issue.

(Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong was Deputy Education Minister from March 2008 to May 2013. His the MCA Youth national chairman and also heads the MCA education bureau. Dr Wee is also Ayer Hitam MP.)


The real problem in “balik Cina, balik India” not solved

Posted: 04 Aug 2013 03:57 PM PDT

She had "melatah" as is said in Malay. The words used do show some "racism" at the back of the mind. It was not right to scold the children that way, with words tainted with racism. To think of it, if the children were really to go back to China and India, that would leave the Malay children behind. How would she then tackle the indiscipline among the Malay children, or are only the non-Malay children who are indisciplined?

Ravinder Singh, TMI

Yati Dani, the principal of SMK Alam Megah has apologised. This must have been a very humiliating experience for her as the children before whom she stood to apologise are not a well-disciplined or well-mannered lot.

Does it mean the children who were so misbehaved do not have to apologise to all their teachers for their unbecoming behaviour? However, those who raised a furore are happy. But has the real issue been addressed, let alone solved? Did anyone even notice the real issue? This is an excellent example of not seeing the wood for the trees.

The real issue in this case is not racism. The principal had not pre-planned her outburst and what to say. It was a spontaneous reaction on the spur of the moment occasioned by the unruly behaviour of the hundreds of children before her (while the national anthem was being sung, as she alleged).

She had "melatah" as is said in Malay. The words used do show some "racism" at the back of the mind. It was not right to scold the children that way, with words tainted with racism. To think of it, if the children were really to go back to China and India, that would leave the Malay children behind. How would she then tackle the indiscipline among the Malay children, or are only the non-Malay children who are indisciplined?

The principal claims she also told the Malay children to go back to Indonesia. That would leave the school deserted and all the teachers jobless. This I do not believe. This afterthought statement sounds very similar to the way the principal of SM Ibrahim in Sungai Petani who had called the non-Malays "pendatang" at the assembly, turned it into "pedagang" when confronted by the non-Malay teachers after the assembly (read my earlier article).

Compare this with the Seri Pristana case where there was pre-planning and other hands involved. The PTA is said to have made the decision. If this is true, then the headmaster was only implementing the decision of the PTA. If he had not complied, and the PTA chairman was a "somebody', or had connections to the politicians in power, the headmaster could have been transferred out of that school for defying the PTA decision.

Therefore, in this case, the "innovative" action of putting the non-Muslim children in the toilet-canteen is un-apologise-able (following Mahathir's style of governance) as there was a motive for making and implementing that "innovative, religiously correct" move. The real culprit it would seem is the person who controls the PTA.

While I do not condone Yati Dani's use of racial slurs and the outburst, I fully empathise with her. Some will be quick to ask why?

I had faced a very similar situation at the SMK Batu Maung in Penang on 28 May 2004. I had been invited to give a talk to the students and teachers at this school, which at that time had 699 pupils and 40 teachers.  

The students were seated on the courtyard floor and about 20 of the teachers were present, including the discipline master. They were seated on chairs on the raised platform where I was given a chair also. I was introduced and called on to take the mike.

I was surprised that I had been invited to take the mike without first getting the children prepared to listen by getting them to keep silent. To the teachers, it seemed such a normal thing. So this is how children behaved at assemblies and no corrective measures had been taken. The children were in control of the assembly as the teachers showed they could not control the behaviour of their charges.  

I took the mike, but did not start the talk as the children were making so much noise chatting with each other. While I stood silent, neither the students (this is a secondary school) nor any of the teachers, let alone the discipline teacher, got the message that I was waiting for the children to stop talking and start paying attention.

So I had to decide whether to start talking to children who were not paying any attention and who were showing scant respect to an invited guest, to walk off from the scene and not just from the mike, or take it upon myself to bring some order before proceeding even if that embarrassed the teachers

I decided on the last option. Very firmly I directed the prefects who were standing calmly around the perimeter of the courtyard to do their duty, i.e. to go in among the students seated on the floor and identify those who were making the most noise. This was accompanied by an impromptu 'lecture' on showing respect to anyone who was speaking to them by keeping quiet. If not interested to listen, it was better to leave the assembly. It took a good 10 minutes to get the children to stop talking after which I proceeded to give my talk.

At the end of the talk, as I walked back to my seat, I could see the embarrassment on the faces of the teachers. I don't know whether it was a lesson for them in any way.



Tentang Negara Islam

Posted: 04 Aug 2013 12:28 PM PDT 

(The Malaysian Insider) - Pemimpin agama Islam di negara ini nampaknya menganggap kedudukan mereka "lebih tinggi dalam agama, jadi mereka tidak boleh duduk sama taraf dengan Bukan Islam".

Fakta: Islam adalah agama rasmi Persekutuan Malaysia tetapi agama-agama lain boleh diamalkan tanpa gangguan mana-mana pihak.

Fakta: Islam mengharamkan rasuah.

Fakta: Walaupun Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mengumumkan Malaysia sebagai sebuah "Negara Islam" pada 2001, Malaysia bukan sebuah "Negara Islam".

Bagi bekas pengerusi Barisan Nasional (BN) dan bekas Perdana Menteri itu, seperti dilaporkan oleh Bernama (17 September 2002), pengiktirafan yang diberikan oleh "dunia Islam dan bukan Islam" sudah mencukupi untuk Malaysia dianggap sebagai "Negara Islam".

Beliau juga dipetik sebagai berkata, "Alasan lain sebenarnya tidak perlu untuk membuktikan Malaysia ialah negara Islam. Kerajaan boleh menunjukkan bukti jelas bahawa segala ajaran Islam yang mampu dilaksanakan oleh pemerintahan di Malaysia telahpun dilaksanakan."

Hampir sepuluh tahun kemudian, Mahathir dilaporkan berkata bahawa beliau tidak boleh dilabel sebagai "haram" kerana beliau telah mengisytiharkan Malaysia sebagai "Negara Islam" (Malaysiakini, 11 Ogos 2012).

Pengerusi DAP kebangsaan yang juga seorang peguam yang disegani, Karpal Singh menyifatkan pengisytiharan Malaysia sebagai "Negara Islam" oleh Mahathir pada 2001 sebenarnya tidak terikat dengan mana-mana undang-undang.

Tindakan Mahathir juga dilihat sebagai bercanggah dengan lima pengisytiharan Mahkamah Persekutuan pada 1998 bahawa Malaysia sebuah negara sekular. Malah, ketiga-tiga Perdana Menteri sebelum Mahathir juga mengakui secara terbuka bahawa Malaysia adalah sebuah negara sekular walaupun Islam diiktiraf agama rasmi Persekutuan.

Malah, sekiranya diteliti, Suruhanjaya Reid diberikan mandat menggubal Perlembagaan Persekutuan apabila negara mencapai kemerdekaan pada tahun 1957 tetapi laporannya tidak menyebut Tanah Melayu (kini Malaysia) sebagai sebuah "Negara Islam".

Hujah-hujah yang dikemukakan ini pasti sudah membuatkan telinga pihak tertentu berasap kerana beranggapan makalah ini bertujuan memperlekeh, mempersenda, mempertikai dan mempersoalkan agama Islam.

Apatah lagi apabila timbalan presiden Umno, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin sudah mengeluarkan kenyataan rasmi bahawa "Tiada orang Islam yang mempersendakan agama-agama bukan Islam seperti Kristian, Hindu dan sebagainya. Tetapi yang berlaku di sini, bukan Islam telah memperlekehkan dan mempersendakan agama kita" (Bernama, 30 Julai 2013).

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