Young and Poor

A Merril Lynch’s report , which I picked up at MI site, shows that by year 2030,  Malaysia would still be relatively young and poor.  The per capita income may have risen, but if we take real inflation into consideration, it would not have meant much.

We will still remain in the middle income trap, while the 4 little dragons, Singapore, Hong kOng, Taiwan, and Korea would have gone so far ahead that they will overtake UK and Australia.

Looking at the leadership quality we have in BN and PKR(which will be the dominant party if PR captures the Federal seat), I have doubts tht Malaysia can move away from the corrupt and patronage mentality that is so prevalent that it has already become a culture.  I have always thought that a 2 party system would be good to bring about drastic changes , with perhaps a small third force to play check and balance, but looking at the scenario, and the quality of leadership, i am getting a bit pessimistic about the future.

One consolation: by year 2030, because the population is young, malaysia can send many of them overseas to work as maids or construction workers…Another consolation: many of us in the fifties now would not be here anymore by year 2030, having emigrated to another world….


Entire world sees the goal except…..

I like to watch World Cup football, especially when certain teams are playing and the game is shown not  too late at night.

One such match was Germany -England  last night.

It was certainly a good match especially the first half, when the play was fluid and fast and you probably see European football at its best in the first half of the game.

Germany won the match 4-1, but by half time the score was 2-1, and in actual fact, it should be a 2-2 score at half time. A goal that was clearly a goal was not considered a goal by the referee  who did not see the goal went into the goal, even when the whole world saw the goal hit the ground past the goal line.


(I saw it with my eyes, Rooney gestured to the man-in-blue)

(sorry, my back was facing the goalpost ! )

I am no  supporter of England and Germany  ( My old favourite was French which was no more my favourite after Zidane retired, and now I support Brazil and Netherland), but in football, had the tie been 2-2 , it could be another ball game altogether in the second half.

It is a bad call. Football refereeing is still in its medieval archaic form. Even Badminton, a minor sports, has assigned officials to watch the lines, why can’t they do it in football. Or use one of the modern technology, like a palm size monitor where the referee can immediately replay and see what was the real situation, without stopping the match for too long.

ALmost every World Cup, there were bad calls by referees, which were actually not entirely their fault since no one person can really cover the whole field. He needs more helpers, and technology is now readily available to reduce this sort of poor calls.

FiFA as an organisation should be responsible for making sure that this sort of happening be minimised, by the use of modern technology.

I hope after this game, FIFA would start to adopt technology to help their officials…and make it more precise and fair.

Even the German goalkeeper admitted that he knew it was a goal and he tried to fool the referee here. ( I suspect if it was George Washington– who admitted cutting down the cherry tree– he would have told the referee that it was a goal..See how the world has come a long way since the days of our forefathers).

How about this article: Entire world sees the equaliser except the referee.

History is repeating itself

One opposition party which is in power in the state in which i stay is involved in a power struggle, with a vice president trying to topple a MB.

I can only say that if this MB is toppled this way, this party is going to lose a lot of votes.  The culture of the Big Brother unfortunately has rubbed on this party….. Many of those holding high positions were from the Big Brothers…..The MB has not practised the politics of patronage and this has led to the infighting led by the ambitious VP which unfortunately is an old product  from the Big Brother…Old habits die hard.

This reminds me of the Taiping Rebellion (Tai Ping Tian Guo or the Heavenly Kingdom of Peace) during   the Qing Dynasty of China .

The rebellion started because of the corrupt and abusive Qing government, which had resulted in widespread famine, hardship and economic problems in China.

Led by the Christian convert Hong Xiu Quan, the rebellion initially was able to attract hundreds of thousands and succeeded in conquering many provinces in South china.  At that time, there was a real chance for this rebellion to succeed and overthrow the corrupt Qing Dynasty..

Unfortunately, after the initial success, there were infighting and difference of opinion among the leaders as to the policies. They were also engrossed in dividing the spoils of war, so much so that cracks resulted and morale were affected.

In the end, imperial army under the able general Zeng Guofan managed to defeat the Taiping rebels, which were so full of potentials initially.

Sounds familiar? Yes. We can always learn from history and for those who never, history will repeat itself.

After 308, many states fell under tha rule of Pakatan government. There was a real chance that a real 2 party system can emerge in Malaysia. There was a real hope for change. But before they could have achieved their aim of taking over Putrajaya, infighting and position- fightings occur, and many of their leaders are following the old habits of their Big Brother, asking for spoils and what-have-you.

Those who do not practice politics of patronage are rebelled against by ambitious second in commands, and if they cannot achieve their own personal aims, they become frogs and hop..

There is now a real chance of them going down history like the Taiping Rebellion. Even RPK, the one who is instrumental in changing mindsets resulting in the tsunami, had predicted that if they do not mend their ways, they will be facing their last days…

Read also this article: please pack up and Martin Jalleh in the breaking news of MI.

A big insult

One moronic Quote which reflects the ridiculously simple-minded simpletons who are holding high positions:

“You must remember that the country does not belong to the Muslims. There are things that sometimes non-Muslims do, for example, gambling. It is their culture, their way of life and we have to respect their rights”.

Simplistic thinking:

Non muslims= gamblers.

I am a non muslim and to equate me with a gambler culture is a big insult to me and my late parents. Our family had never gambled before. I have never entered a sports toto or magnum shop before. My parents did not gamble,  even though as middle class (both parents were teachers) we just had enough to get by. It was the confucianist and moralistic upbringings that they had and which  had instilled in us children that all of us did not gamble. I did invest in shares, but I had never speculated, even though sometimes people gave me tips, saying that such and such counters would sure go up, I had never succumb to temptations and only invest long term based on fundamentals.

i am not alone among the nonMuslims that do not gamble. I know of many friends who are non gamblers and perfect family man.

The perceived culture of gamblings in fact arises from lack of enforcement and corruption that had resulted in illegal gambling initially which led to legalised gambling later on.

To use the argument that even if we do not legalise gambling, there will always be illegal outlets is wrong, wrong and wrong. Two wrongs do not equate to a right!.

It is like saying that since smuggling will always be there no matter how, why not legalise  smugglings and let everyone rich ? or legalise prostition just because there will always be people who indulge in this?

To combat these types of wrong and immoral behaviour , we have to start from education but at the same time there must be strict enforcement and harsh  punishments .

Most,  if not all,  religions discourage their followers from gambling. So to say that only a particular religion is against gambling is factually wrong, and that is why there is so much misunderstandings among the various faiths in this country, despite being a multi-religious country.

I spoke very passionately against legalising sports bettings in a crucial meeting which resulted in a public stand taken… I cannot indulge more as i was still bound by my oath. it is just not right to legalise something which is wrong and immoral.

Indeed, morality is important not only in politics, but every aspects of our lives….




The ‘A’s mentality – UPSR and PMR


The ‘A’s mentality – UPSR and PMR

There are  suggestions that we use a school based system to replace the standardised national examinations  like UPSR and PMR.

In countries like Finland, indeed the first stage of education is based on school grading and students did not need to sit for any standardised examination  until they finish their upper secondary school.

In some of the international schools in the country, students  do not have to sit for any external examination from Form 1 to Form 4, and they sit  for Cambridge O level at the end of form 5. From Form 1 to Form 5, the assessment of students were school based, and the streaming done in Form 4 were based on the assessment of  teachers and the scholastic aptitude of the students.

School based system can have less stress on students and can be very good , but in the Malaysian context, I do not think it is workable at this moment. This is because in Malaysia, everything finally boils down to ethnicity.

What is there to prevent certain racist headmaster to abuse his power and give a poor assessment of a bright student of another race?  What is there to prevent parents bribing certain teachers to give a good assessment of their children so that they get good grade even though the child may not even know ABCs? It is like the driving license now. How easy to get a pass even with just 3 hours of driving training.

School based assessment  can only be applied here when we have done away with 2 most important aspects of our society:

1. when race based politics is abolished and a fair and equitable system has been adopted with affirmative action only towards the poor and the handicapped,

2. When corruption culture is wiped out (it may not be totally but at least there must be a drastic reduction of corruption).

Even so, in a school based assessment system, a grade of a child cannot be determined by one teacher only, but by a group of teachers who have taught that particular student, and there must be a good check and balance system on top of this assessment group.

The reasons why students now are so examination orientated is not because of assessment examinations like PMR or UPSR. It is rather the glorification of the all ‘A’s students, resulting in  parents wanting  their children to  get all ‘A’s in order to show off to their neighbours or friends. Never mind that the ‘A’s students may have got only 6 answers right out of ten.

In the culture of glorification, it is not what they know that matters, it is what they can show off in a certificate that becomes the more important objective.

They have forgotten that the aim of education is to let the students learn and acquire knowledge, and examination is only the assessment to determine whether they have acquired the knowledge that what they are supposed to learn.

It is really a  serious case of Kiasu, compounded of course by their love for their kids and not wishing to see their kids losing out to their peers.

In the 60s, this problem was not that acute. Very few of us were chasing  ‘A’s. In those days, the passing marks were high and to get an ‘A’ needed really high marks, so only very few got all ‘A’ results, and because of that , most students were quite satisfied with getting credits instead of distinctions for their subjects (A credit is like the ‘B’s Now). Those who got credits in fact were more knowledgeable than some of the ‘A’ students now.

We need to tighten up our examination markings, raise the marks for getting As,  so that only the very top students get all ‘A’s, and not like the scenario now, in which almost  every Tom Dick and Harry come home with 16, 17 As.. If there are really so many good As students, Malaysia would have surpassed Korea or Taiwan long ago in technical areas.…

So while the whole system needs to be revamped,  in the mean time we should still retain the exams,  but  the markings and the awards of As must be made TRANSPARENT, so that every parent will know how the whole marking curve is positioned. You cannot skew your passing  curve so low that 30 marks are considered a pass, and 60 marks are considered as As.

Those ‘A’s would have no meaning at all. The perception is that  it is  this kind of marking system that has helped to cultivate the exam orientated mindsets in Malaysia, both among the parents as well as the students.

Overhaul the whole education system

The government has proposed to do away with UPSR and PMR examinations.

The kids will like it, of course, and many parents will welcome it, too.

However, I think any removal of these examinations should be coupled with a total overhaul of our education system, which at the present moment is producing –sorry to say– mediocre students; students who may get all As but cannot even write a coherent essay or cannot even pinpoint where is Malawi….  There are exceptions of course but these are real minority . I think many of those in the 40s and 50s will agree that in the 60s and 70s, even students with average results have better general knowledge than the students now.

So the thing is the whole system must be overhauled and the general lowering of standards of students should not be blamed on examinations such as UPSR and PMR  alone.

One model which the government should look at is the Finnish Model. Finland has consistently be ranked as the country with the best education system.

The Finnish system consists of one year of preschool at age 6. This is followed by 9 years of compulsory basic education. After the 9th year, students can opt for 3 years of higher secondary education or a 3 year vocational school. The curriculum is such that those from vocational school can switch back to upper secondary and vice versa, and also those who finish in one branch  can go back to finish the other branch if they so wish . Both branches  can go to university or polytechnic with bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Children in Finland are not graded until the 5th grade. For the first 4 grades, only the teachers know how a child is doing, and all the teachers of a particular class will meet weekly  to discuss the progress and remedy for children under their care. The parents as well as the students are not told how they are faring, and this helps build up self esteem and confidence of  a child , and cultivates a life long habit of treating learning and knowledge seeking as fun and as something most important in life.

The teachers of a particular class make the decision of how fast or how slow to go on their teaching, and they run the class with almost total autonomy.

Of course in the higher grades, there are assessment examinations, and Finland too have a national examination. By then the students are all well developed and able to cope with the heavy load in their higher secondary years, and the wide range of studies in higher secondary years enable them to switch to vocational schools and vice versa without being handicapped in any way.

The upper secondary school education completes with a matriculation examination, which is a national examination.

Education in Finland is regarded as egalitarian in which no tuition fee is collected. Students in the primary and secondary stage are also given free meals.

Any wonder why they , as a small nation, sell a brand of mobile phone which is better than most produced in big countries like US and Japan?

The teachers are of course well qualified, most of them with master’s degree. And well paid too. Because of the high productivity and versatility of the teachers, education expense per capita is not necessary excessive.

Perhaps, we should emulate the Finns. Even if we have to spend more initially to train good teachers by sending some of them overseas for specialise training, the cost is worth it in the long run, since excellent teachers will produce excellent students; excellent students will become excellent teachers themselves and the cycle repeats. It is better than spending billions on useless projects like the proposed 800 millions new Parliament etc.

Education is an investment. Education is about the future of the country. Education is about lifting people from poverty.

Ultimately the success of a country depends mainly on the success of its education system.

a short break

Taking a few days leave from bloggings, since these few days extremely busy…

Will be back next week!

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