Saturday, 25 November 2017

Extremism is a lot more dangerous than Atheism lah Asyraf

I hope Asyraf Dusuki do a lot more research on the Perlembagaan before he opens his mouth in Parliment again!

‘Freedom of religion includes freedom to opt out of religion’

PETALING JAYA: Lawyer Azhar Harun today responded to a deputy minister who claimed atheism was in contradiction with the Federal Constitution, saying freedom of religion includes the choice to “opt out of religion”.

In a Facebook post addressed to Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, Azhar, popularly known as Art Harun, said just because the Federal Constitution made no mention of the freedom not to have any religion, it did not mean that atheism was unconstitutional.

“Implied within the word and concept of freedom is the exercise of choice.

“When the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, that freedom carries with it the choice to opt out of religion.

“That provision is not an imposition to profess a religion. It is merely a guarantee to all citizens professing a religion to practise their religion freely,” he said.

Yesterday, Asyraf said atheism had no place in Malaysia as it contravened both the constitution and the Rukunegara.

Speaking in the Dewan Rakyat, he said in the Malaysian context, freedom of religion did not mean freedom from any religion.

He added that atheism attacked other religions, which would contravene laws on public order.

However, Azhar said the Federal Constitution also guaranteed freedom of association and expression, with no mention of a person’s right not to associate or express themselves.

“Using your superior logic, not associating oneself with any party or not expressing oneself is unconstitutional.

“The Federal Constitution also does not guarantee freedom to buy a car, drive an Alphard or the right to marry more than one. Or to be autistic. Are those things also unconstitutional?” he said.

The issue of atheism surfaced earlier this year, when the Kuala Lumpur chapter of a group known as the Atheist Republic posted a picture of its members attending a gathering.

This sparked an uproar among some Muslims and led to threats of death and violence against the group on social media.

The government subsequently said it would investigate whether any Muslims had joined the group.

Asyraf said then that any Muslims found to be in the group would be sent for counselling, while attempts to spread atheist ideas could be prosecuted under existing laws.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Time for Judicial Reform?

From the FMT:

Time for far-reaching judicial reforms

November 12, 2017

By Gerard Lourdesamy

The recent allegations by the fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin that the former chief justice of the Federal Court and the current chief justice and president of the Court of Appeal purportedly had a meeting with the prime minister in 2015 on a supposed plot by the former attorney-general and others to bring down the government through the 1MDB and SRC International investigations, which is at present the subject matter of a police investigation following a report lodged by the current attorney-general, while seeming to be far-fetched given the source of the story, cannot be simply disregarded because it has the tendency to erode public confidence in the judiciary, the administration of justice and the rule of law.

It is unfortunate that none of the three senior judges implicated in the article that was published in the Malaysia Today website has denied the allegations or made a police report either individually or through the chief registrar of the Federal Court to refute these highly inflammatory allegations that not only question their personal integrity and fitness for high judicial office but also the ideals of an independent and impartial judiciary that is the cornerstone of any functioning democracy. It is not the role of judges to get involved in the machinations of politicians. Even if there existed such an infamous plot, it was a matter for the sitting prime minister, Parliament and the King to resolve.

It is also surprising that the Bar Council did not issue any statement on the matter and one is left wondering whether this was due to the government’s not so subtle attempts to control the Bar Council through the wide-ranging amendments being proposed to the Legal Profession Act 1976 that would effectively weaken and undermine the independence and authority of the Bar Council.

It may be prudent not to comment on the allegations made by Raja Petra since they are the subject of a police investigation but this story again calls into question the public perception of the judiciary as an institution that is supposed to defend the Constitution and the rule of law and dispenses justice without fear or favour. It is often said that a truly independent judiciary is supposed to be the final bastion against tyranny.

However, some of the recent decisions of the Federal Court have caused alarm and disquiet not just among legal practitioners but also the general public. The constitutional jurisprudence of the apex Court seems to be regressing in the last couple of years. Rather than giving the Constitution a broad and liberal interpretation in so far as the provisions of the fundamental liberties are concerned, the Court has been taking a literal view on such freedoms by giving a very restrictive and at times pedantic interpretation to the bill of rights in the Constitution in favour of ordinary laws passed by Parliament that effectively deny if not deprive the citizens of any effective exercise of these fundamental rights in any meaningful or purposeful manner. The Court has refused to consider the reasonableness of a restriction imposed by Parliament in favour of the more limited proportionality test contrary to the established jurisprudence in most Commonwealth countries with a written constitution.

Equally disappointing is the apex Court’s increasing tendency to disregard new developments in constitutional jurisprudence from Commonwealth countries that have a written constitution like ours or where the constitutional provision is similar to ours despite some of these countries having a much older constitutional and common law tradition compared to us.
The Federal Court seems to want to be shackled by precedent from decades ago when the constitutional jurisprudence of countries like India and even England that does not have a written constitution, favoured a restrictive approach to the interpretation of fundamental liberties in the constitution by allowing parliament to qualify these rights in order to preserve public order, security and morality.

But what is surprising is that the apex courts in countries like India, England, Australia, Canada, South Africa and even Pakistan have moved with the times and have either departed from or overruled their own earlier decisions in favour of a more far-reaching, profound and holistic interpretation of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the constitution in an age of increasing concentration of power in the executive to deal with matters of national security and public order.

The recent decision of the Federal Court not to grant leave in the Tony Pua case is a case at hand. Given that there were at least eight conflicting decisions of the same Court on the purport and extent of Article 5 in the Constitution with only two decisions of the Apex Court dealing exclusively with the Immigration Act 1959/63, the least the Court could have done was to allow the leave application and constitute a full bench of the Court to hear this important constitutional challenge.

But this was not done and instead, the Court reaffirmed its 1979 judgment in Loh Wai Kong which was a case largely influenced by the decision of the Supreme Court of India in the Gopalan v. State of Madras case which was decided in 1950. But the same court in 1978 in the celebrated case of Maneka Gandhi v. The Union of India effectively consigned Gopalan to the dustbin of history and ruled that the right to travel abroad was guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which is similar to our Article 5. Later decisions of the Indian Supreme Court have extended the purport of Article 21 beyond what our Federal Court can even comprehend in the 21st century.

The apex Court failed to even consider if ouster or privative clauses so prevalent in ordinary laws passed by Parliament in this country under the guise of public order and security could muster the test of constitutionality given that they effectively deny the aggrieved party access to justice and due process which are housed in Articles 5 and 8 of the Constitution.
Before the dust could settle, the Federal Court in the Kugan case had effectively ruled that the estate of a deceased person who is the victim of extra-judicial killing while in the custody of the state cannot claim for exemplary damages against the government because it is not permitted under Section 8 (2) (a) of the Civil Law Act 1956.

Exemplary or punitive damages have been available in the common law since at least the 18th century for oppressive, arbitrary or unconstitutional actions by servants of the government, as confirmed by the House of Lords in Rookes v. Barnard in 1964. The unlawfully killing of a person while in the protective custody of the state is the most obvious example of a serious and egregious violation of Article 5 of the Constitution on the right to life and liberty.

And yet the majority of the court, elevated a pre-Merdeka law to a status superior to the Constitution rather than striking down Section 8 (2) (a) of the Act on the grounds that it offends Articles 5 and 8 of the Constitution or at least as suggested in the now celebrated dissent of her Ladyship Justice Zainun Ali to interpret the Act in conformity with the Constitution.

Rather than protect the sanctity of life, the majority of the bench favoured exculpating the government from liability in punitive damages. It is often easy to opine that the remedy lies elsewhere after the family of the victim of unlawful killing by the state have reached the limit of physical and financial exhaustion after years of meandering through the labyrinth of the judicial system.

Even the Bar Council was not spared the ignominy of defeat when the Federal Court refused to grant leave on the important constitutional question of whether the discretion of the Attorney-General under Article 145 (3) of the Constitution to institute, conduct or discontinue a prosecution was subject to judicial review notwithstanding dicta to support such a contention in two 1979 decisions of the Federal Court and the Privy Council and a more recent decision of the Singapore Court of Appeal.

Surely, even if the weight of jurisprudence from within and without Malaysia would favour a restrictive interpretation of Article 145 (3) for reasons of public policy the least the Federal Court could have done was to allow the parties to fully ventilate the issue in a proper appeal given the public interest involved rather than simply affirm a previous decision made by the Court in 1974.

The regression in the jurisprudence of the apex Court may be due to the mindset, experience and background of the judges appointed to the highest court. It is not disputed that the overwhelming majority of the bench are appointed from the Judicial and Legal Service of the federation. Most of them have exemplary service records and often view judicial appointment as a promotion or reward for their years of dedicated public service. Some after their appointment still have a sense of gratitude to the government for appointing them to the bench.
Therefore, there may be a tendency among some judges to still consider themselves to be part of the public service. By extension, there would be compelling reasons to defer to the expectations of the government when it comes to matters pertaining to public order and security or the national interest in more problematic areas of the Constitution and the law.
But I am not suggesting that the judges lack independence but rather that their view of judicial independence may be somewhat myopic given their circumstances as opposed to public expectation.

If an empirical study is carried out based on the statistics of the Federal Court it will show that in public law cases where the Court of Appeal has made an adverse decision against the government, leave to appeal to the Federal Court is more often than not granted and the decision is likely to be reversed on appeal. But the converse happens in similar cases where an individual or body is aggrieved by a decision of the Appeals Court. It cannot be that the Court of Appeal is always wrong on constitutional interpretation and the Federal Court is always right?

With an election around the corner, whichever party that wins a clear majority to form the next government must come out with far-reaching proposals to reform the judiciary so that public confidence in the institution can be further strengthened and augmented.
Some reforms that could be considered would be:

1. Legislating the creation of a Judicial Oversight Committee consisting of senior serving and retired judges to deal with matters pertaining to integrity and ethics. Judges should make asset declarations for themselves, their spouse and unmarried children to the committee and the MACC. The committee must have the power to censure judges if there is any impropriety or misconduct on their part and in the most serious cases recommend to the prime minister for their removal for misbehaviour in accordance with Article 125 of the Constitution;

2. The Judicial Appointments Commission be expanded to include not just a senior serving or retired judge but also representatives from the Attorney-General and the Bars of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak and laypersons appointed from civil society. The commission must have the power to deal with all appointments and promotions within the judiciary. Notwithstanding Article 122B of the Constitution (which may need to be amended if there is a super-majority in Parliament), the Act setting up the commission could be amended to state that the prime minister is bound by the recommendations of the commission when tendering his advice to the King under Article 122B. In making appointments to the bench, the commission apart from the established criteria should ensure that at least 50% of the appointments come from the practising Bar so that the judiciary will have a cross-section of judges from different backgrounds and experiences;

3. The Fundamental Liberties in Articles 5 to 13 of Part II of the Constitution ought to be reviewed and amended so that where Parliament is given the right to restrict the exercise of these rights, such a restriction must be reasonable. In the absence of a super-majority to amend these Articles, an ordinary law called the Constitution (Interpretation of Fundamental Liberties) Act could be passed mandating that in interpreting the fundamental liberties in Part II of the Constitution the courts shall give a broad and purposive interpretation to those rights and where there are permissible restrictions those restrictions must be reasonable;

4. Article 121 (1) of the Constitution to be amended to its original wording if there is a super majority in Parliament and if not an amendment to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 could be made to insert a section on the doctrine of the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary including the inherent power and jurisdiction of the superior courts while conforming with Article 121 (1);

5. Article 122 (1A) of the Constitution to be amended to clarify that a person appointed as an additional judge of the Federal Court shall not at the same time hold the office of Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of Malaya or Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak as the case may be. In lieu of such an amendment, the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 could be amended to include such a provision to conform with Article 122 (1A);

6. Article 149 (1) of the Constitution to be reviewed if there is a super-majority in Parliament to ensure that any law that is passed pursuant to that article shall not impose any unreasonable restriction on the exercise of the rights provided for in Articles 5, 9, 10 or 13 of the Constitution;

7. A law is passed called the Law Reform (Repeal of Privative Clauses) Act whereby all privative or ouster clauses in any Act of Parliament currently in force are ipso facto repealed in their entirety. This will allow the unhindered right to apply for judicial review of all decisions made by any person or body exercising administrative or executive powers including in preventive detention cases subject to the procedural rules and establishing locus standi except for decisions made in the exercise of the royal prerogative;

8. The Civil Law Act 1956 to be substantially amended or repealed and replaced with new legislation in line with progressive jurisprudence from other Commonwealth jurisdictions. The awarding of damages compensatory, punitive or exemplary and aggravated should be at the discretion of the courts;

9. Requirement for leave to appeal to the Federal Court under Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 be dispensed with in all cases that involve interpretation of the Constitution both federal and state; and

10. A comprehensive Contempt of Court Act is passed.

Gerard Lourdesamy is a lawyer in practice for 25 years and an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Kemana hala tuju kita tanpa sikap toleransi untuk hidup aman dan makmur bersama

I do not know where we are headed in these times when political parties like Pas is allowed to impose their morale values on to other non-Muslims. 

Incidences and statistics showed that high unemployment, corruption, drug abuse, incest, babies born out of wedlock are many and mostly involved the Malay Muslim community... and what does a so called religious party do? they focus their attention on  concerts, dogs  and now on non muslim beer festival which is held indoors and does not involve any Muslims at all. With this kind of  so called religious political party and any other party that support Pas, the Malays will end up no where. Neither here nor there.

I think Pas in its current form would severely damage the religious and racial harmony in Malaysia patiently build up by our great leaders of the past which forms the bedrock foundation of the blessed Malaysia that we have now.

Pas offers nothing but extremism and bigotry and intolerance. Remember the Memali incident? Pas has not changed much since then, they will never change now. The moderate leaders in Pas had left to form Parti Amanah Negara.

Some interesting read:

Bekas ketua polis ingatkan kerajaan bahaya sokong golongan guna agama

KOTA KINABALU: Bekas ketua polis negara Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor berkata kini wujud satu trend yang membimbangkan dalam kalangan pemerintah untuk berusaha memenuhi permintaan golongan yang menggunakan agama untuk memperoleh sokongan daripada orang ramai.

Bercakap di forum “Malaysia in the Future” di sini semalam, Rahim berkata kecenderungan itu kini masih terhad di kawasan tertentu di Semenanjung Malaysia, tetapi memberi amaran boleh merebak jika tidak dikawal oleh pihak berkuasa.

Menurutnya, ia akan turut mendatangkan kesan terhadap kesatuan Malaysia yang menggabungkan Sabah dan Sarawak.

“Jika perkara ini diteruskan, persekutuan akan goyah dan mungkin pada masa itu, Sabah dan Sarawak akan fikir semula sama ada mereka mahu terus menjadi sebahagian daripada Malaysia,” katanya.
Rahim berkata ketika Persekutuan Malaysia ditubuhkan, ia tidak mempunyai niat menjadikan Malaysia sebuah negara Islam, kerana sekiranya demikian, ia akan menerima bantahan Sabah dan Sarawak.

Menurutnya, agama adalah isu utama yang dibincangkan oleh Suruhanjaya Cobbold, badan yang dibentuk bersama oleh kerajaan British dan Tanah Melayu pada 1962 untuk menilai pandangan rakyat mengenai gagasan Malaysia.

“Semua rakyat di Borneo, tanpa mengira kaum dan agama, tidak mahu agama rasmi untuk persekutuan baharu itu.

“Permintaan itu munasabah. Lagipun, terdapat banyak negara yang mempunyai majoriti orang Islam di dunia tetapi tidak menjadikan Islam sebagai agama rasmi mereka, seperti Mesir dan Indonesia yang mempunyai penduduk Islam paling ramai,” katanya.

Budaya Arab

Rahim dalam ucapannya berkata ramai umat Islam Melayu keliru antara Arab dan Islam. Katanya, ini menimbulkan kecenderungan di kalangan umat Islam tempatan mengamalkan budaya Arab, malah lebih daripada orang Arab sendiri.

Beliau menceritakan insiden di mana saudaranya mendakwa huruf bahasa Arab adalah milik umat Islam, tidak seperti huruf Rumi.

“Dia memang tidak begitu terpelajar. Tetapi ianya seolah-olah tidak ramai yang sedar, atau mungkin mereka pilih untuk tidak hiraukan yang Timur Tengah bukan sahaja didiami umat Islam, tetapi juga penganut agama lain,” katanya.

Rahim berkata beliau secara peribadi lebih suka kepada model “Pancasila” seperti di Indonesia yang tidak mengiktiraf agama rasmi.

Selepas 54 tahun, beliau berkata Malaysia masih mencari identitinya sendiri sementara rakyat kekal berpecah-belah, dan membawa identiti kaum dan puak masing-masing.

Ia diburukkan apabila penduduk di Sabah dan Sarawak tidak berasa mereka berkongsi persamaan dengan rakyat di Semenanjung Malaysia.

“Kita harus mengakui yang selain daripada mempunyai penjajah yang sama, Semenanjung Malaysia dan Borneo sangat berbeza dari segi budaya dan sejarah. Kita masih jauh untuk mencapai satu bangsa Malaysia.

“Meletakkan agama dalam perkara ini hanya akan menyukarkan lagi usaha ini,” kata beliau.

Art Harun dares PAS to prove negative impact of beer festivals

PETALING JAYA: Activist-lawyer Azhar Harun says PAS should provide statistics and proof to back its argument that the annual craft beer festival in Malaysia will increase crime rates.

“Has there been a study by PAS or survey by PAS to show that in respect of the beer festival every October the crime rate goes up? Or has the crime rate gone up in Germany every October?” he said when contacted by FMT today.

Azhar was referring to PAS central committee member Riduan Mohd Nor reportedly calling the annual beer festival a “vice festival”.

Riduan had questioned the authorities on what guarantee they could give to members of the public who are not participating in this annual event, “to ensure their safety from crime, free sex, rape and so on”.

The PAS leader had also warned that Kuala Lumpur could one day be known as Asia’s vice centre if such events are not stopped.

“It is something that is shameful for an Islamic country like Malaysia when ‘mungkar’ (treacherous) programmes can easily gain a place in society’s heart and it is allowed to be organised without obstruction,” Riduan was quoted as saying by Malay Mail Online.

Azhar, who is popularly known as Art Harun, said PAS objects to the beer festival on a yearly basis, adding that the party’s stance on this is not surprising.

He added that PAS should look at Palestine, a country Malaysia supports wholeheartedly, where the beer event is also celebrated.

“It is a Western non-Muslim event, it started in Germany and it caught on in other countries. It happens everywhere, even Palestine.

“So if people want to hold that in Publika, why are we objecting?” he said, referring to the annual Oktoberfest celebration.

Meanwhile, Azhar said in proposing the amendments to Act 355, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had claimed it would not affect non-Muslims, but now “they are already imposing their values despite what was said”.

“They said that when they want to amend Act355, it will not affect non-Muslims.

“Look at this, this is a non-Muslim event and they are already imposing their values and religion on non-Muslims.

“So where is PAS’ argument that hudud and the amendment of the law will not affect non-Muslims? It’s a blatant lie to me,” Azhar said.

According to him, Kelantan does not celebrate the beer festival, but the state has the highest drug addiction and AIDS rate there.

Referring to Riduan’s warning that there could be “extremist” actions in response to the “treacherous programme”, Azhar said it did not sound like a warning but like a threat instead.

“People will be worried. It is an irony PAS has come up with this when our Prime Minister (Najib Razak) has gone to meet US President Donald Trump,” he said.

Zaid says that if PAS is unhappy with the festival they should protest against Najib and not the people.

Zaid says that if PAS is unhappy with the festival they should protest against Najib and not the people.

Meanwhile, DAP’s Zaid Ibrahim said if PAS was unhappy with the festival, it should bring its concerns to Najib, not the people.

“Why protest and then make a political case out of it? You want to ban the festival go and see Najib,” Zaid told FMT.

FMT has contacted the organisers of the Better Beer Festival 2017, MyBeer Malaysia, and is awaiting their response on the issue.

The Better Beer Festival will be held from Oct 6-7 in Publika.

The festival is set to showcase 250 different craft beers from 43 independent breweries from 12 countries, and also includes a variety of food and live performances.

Stand up to bigotry, ex-Treasury sec-gen tells KL mayor

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 -- Former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim urged the Kuala Lumpur mayor today to defend the city’s cultural and entertainment life from racial and religious bigotry.

Expressing concern over Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) ban of a beer festival in a shopping centre following objections from Islamist party PAS, Mohd Sheriff said bending to pressure groups and cancelling music and cultural festivals last minute would affect the capital city’s economy.

“It is worrying to see that the DBKL is giving support to the anti-social elements who want to dictate our lifestyles according to their religious beliefs,” Mohd Sheriff said in a letter to the editor.

“We are seeing political and religious groups making demands for Muslims to be treated separately from other Malaysians at public laundry shops and toilets, at supermarkets, at cinemas  and for liquor sales to be outlawed in majority Muslim residential areas. The DBKL ban on beer festival has encouraged these groups to be more brazen in their demand,” he added.

DBKL rejected an application from Mybeer (M) Sdn Bhd to organise the Better Beer Festival 2017 scheduled next month at a shopping centre, with police claiming that the craft beer event had to be cancelled due to a terror threat. The festival was previously held annually since 2012 without incident.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor reportedly said today that DBKL would not reconsider the ban despite the organiser’s assurances of security measures, claiming that the beer festival violated the law because it involved the sale of liquor in an open area.

Mohd Sheriff pointed out that despite terror attacks in Europe and the United States, Western authorities did not respond by banning public gatherings and festivals.

“Instead, the western leaders have reiterated the need for the civilian population to face the threats with vigilance and go on with their daily life as usual. These countries are determined to  stand by their values of freedom and show to the hate groups that the western democratic way of life will not change whatever the threats,” he said.

The former senior civil servant noted that the government was spending billions to make Kuala Lumpur one of the most liveable cities in the world and to improve the capital with trendy architecture and modern infrastructure.

“All this beauty will go to waste if the city administrators give way to the few religious ideologists who want to impose their conservative values on our lifestyles. KL must not be allowed to become a hermit city with no life,” said Mohd Sheriff.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

After 60 years of Merdeka, Where art thou Malaysia?

I think this report is one of the better essays on the state of Malaysia's Education System after 60 years of Merdeka. From the Malaysian Insight:

A LOOK at developments in Malaysia’s education system over the past six decades show how the Malay language has largely dictated national education policies.

However, hopes that it would be a unifying language to achieve nation-building through the education system have not materialised, and in terms of academic performance, Malaysia has not yet scored above the global average in baseline assessments for pupils in mathematics, science and reading.

“There has always been contestation over language since the British,” Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari said.

In the years leading to Merdeka, proposals were made to “unify” the Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil schools, which were using different syllabuses and languages.

But every proposal, Zairil said, attracted objections as each community felt it was at the losing end.

The Razak Report – named after then education minister Abdul Razak Hussein – marked the beginning of Malaya’s standardised national education system. It integrated all schools, classifying them as “national” and “national-type” schools.

“The Chinese and Indian communities were upset with their loss of vernacular secondary education. The Malays were unhappy with the prominence of English-medium schools, feeling that they were ‘too English and not enough Malay (language)’,” he said.

When the May 1969 post-general election racial riots happened, English-medium schools took a direct hit with the change of guards in the government. The then-education minister Mohd Khir Johari – Zairil’s pro-English school father – was removed.

Abdul Rahman Ya’kub from Sarawak, a Razak ally, became education minister and announced in July that English-medium schools would be phased out at all levels, starting from standard one in January 1970. 

DAP spokesman for education Zairil Khir Johari says phasing out of English-medium education and other education policies throughout the years have mainly been political decisions. 

DAP spokesman for education Zairil Khir Johari says phasing out of English-medium education and other education policies throughout the years have mainly been political decisions. 

By the end of 1982, the switch was completed at all levels. The policy, including the compulsory pass in Malay language to earn the school-leaving certificate, hit teachers, students and the standard of education hard.

This phasing out of English-medium education and other education policies throughout the years have mainly been political, Zairil said.

“Politicians have too much control over education. Whenever we get a new education minister, who may not even be an education professional, we get a new policy everyone must follow.  

“Many were flip-flop decisions. We saw that in PPSMI, school-based assessments and the compulsory pass in SPM English,” said the DAP parliamentary spokesman on education.

PPSMI is the 2003 “Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English” policy introduced by then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to help Malaysia catch up with the English-speaking world in the age of globalisation. 

It took off but eventually came to naught in 2012 amid protests, and the teaching of the two subjects reverted to Malay.

A proposal in 2013 by then education minister Muhyiddin Yassin to make English a compulsory pass in SPM by 2016 never materialised after he was sacked from the Cabinet in July 2015.

In recent years, Malaysia's scores in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), although improved year-on-year, are still below the global average for mathematics, reading and science.

End one-size-fits-all policies

Zairil said long-term education policies often changed every few years before they could deliver results – a problem evident in Malaysia’s highly centralised education system.

Education matters like the syllabus and exams should be left to professional independent bodies to manage and decide, while the ministry should handle funding and making sure the system met the required standards.

“Putrajaya should not control and make one-size-fits-all policies for 10,000 schools, half a million teachers and five million pupils regardless of their different needs and circumstances,” he said.

“In the 1990s, successful education reforms in many Western countries involved decentralising the education system. You need to decentralise for education to flourish.”

In Malaysia, independent Chinese schools with their own governing bodies showed the same success, he said.

“You see better infrastructure there, and it is hard for principals and teachers not to do their best when they have parents and influential community leaders in the school boards to answer to.

“If parents have ownership over education and sit on the school boards, they will make the best decisions for their kids.”  

Political and social analyst Dr Wong Chin Huat also supports liberalising the education system. The government should respect the free market in providing education, while actively supporting weaker pupils in all schools and streams by helping them catch up.

“Our education policy so far, including the blueprint, believes in control rather than competition, and makes multilingualism a bogeyman in its reluctance to deal with the class implication of education.

“We must shift from this to embrace competition and diversity, and pursue social inclusion – the real guarantee of national cohesion,” he said.

Rethinking Malay-medium schools

Wong said Malay-medium schools have also not been successful in meeting government goals, such as nation-building, and are rarely the school of choice for parents with the means to send their kids to private schools.

Citing 2013 data, he said Malay national schools, which received the most funds, remained unattractive to non-Malays, compared with vernacular schools that were “deliberately neglected” by the government.

“There was a growing exodus of pupils from Malay-medium schools to vernacular ones, and from national schools to private and international schools, indicating a general decline in the Malaysia education system.”

As new vernacular schools are barred, Wong said, some of the top schools just become overcrowded like Johor’s Kuo Kuang primary school with 5,000 pupils at one time.

He also said vernacular schools in recent years saw more diverse enrolments than the national schools, with their more than 90% Malay population.

As schools became more homogenous, the National Education Blueprint 2006-2010 sought to address racial polarisation in schools.

In 2007, a pilot project to teach Chinese and Tamil in national schools kicked off in 220 schools, as the government hoped to make national schools more appealing to non-Malays.

Wong said the situation has not changed today, so it might be concluded that the dream of nation-building through monolingual schooling via Bahasa Melayu was dead.

“Malaysia should either give up Malay as the sole medium of instruction or allow different education streams to exist and compete.” – September 4, 2017.  

My thots:

At 56, as it is, I do not see where we are going in education for our young.

I am blessed with the English medium education and together with the Johor Religious education system had helped made me a balanced person.

As long as Education Policies are driven by politics, the system will be at the mercy of politicians in office and language and religion pressure groups with their own vested agenda which does not necessarily coincide with the interest of our young.

I pray that one day GenX leaders will come out to reinvent our education system to compete with current and future global challenges.

We are now living in a borderless, wired and connected world ...... change or get left behind.

Friday, 11 August 2017


'Malaysians should learn from past experiences of countries such as Sri Lanka and Tanzania instead of running the risk of the ECRL turning into a 'white elephant'.

The ECRL or the East Coast Railway Link is a subject of much controversy not just for the Billion2 RM price tag, its cost vs benefit and the debt that must be paid to China PRC many years after it has been completed. 

The project was launched with much fun fare a few days ago:

I would like to share this write by Prof. Jomo our very own world renowned Economist as appeared in the FMT:

The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) has been touted as a “world-class game changer” which will accelerate development in the East Coast states of Peninsular Malaysia. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that it will do so, and the rationale for such claims is dubious to say the least.

We have been told that RM55 billion is being invested in the ECRL, which will be completed by 2024. All over the world, such mega projects are notorious for cost overruns, and there is no reason to believe that this project will be the exception to the rule.

The justification for the ECRL is that it will carry almost 60 million tonnes of freight yearly by 2035. This is incredible because even the KTM only carries about six million tonnes per annum with its current nationwide network.

If the projected massive surge in freight tonnage does not materialise, the project will lose even more, meaning that taxpayers for generations to come will have to massively subsidise the ECRL.

The ECRL is supposed to greatly benefit the country in so many incredible ways that defy simple logic. But will there be enough passenger traffic to support a high-speed rail link?

What kind of cargo needs such a costly high-speed haulage connection? And which high-speed railway in the world stimulates so many businesses and jobs in all the towns it will pass through at such speed, as claimed?

Will the ECRL be an expensive “white elephant” paid for by Malaysians for many years to come? 

The Kemaman-Kuantan rail-link, completed several years ago, has hardly been used to date. Are we supposed to be thankful that it cost much less than the ECRL?

Even Wan Saiful Wan Jan, the libertarian chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) who endorsed the Forest City project in Johor Baru, found the ECRL claims difficult to swallow in a recent article arguing for improved governance generally, especially to manage investments from China.

Honest critics are already being accused of wanting to deprive the East Coast states of development. But those with longer memories know how much Kelantan has been deprived of federal funds by Putrajaya, while Terengganu has been denied petroleum revenues and its investment fund was “hijacked” to become the now-notorious 1MDB.

China firms to profit 

Of course, the deal will be good for some Chinese state-owned enterprises.

The contract was given to the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) after direct negotiations, without any open tender, although Malaysian companies have delivered on rail projects before. CCCC will be required to subcontract to local firms, but will remain the main contractor.

As we should have learnt from earlier arrangements, foreign firms find ways and means to bring their preferred partners in with them, using local partners to fulfil such requirements with meaningful technology transfer.

The international success of Ingress (eg. in Rayong, the “Detroit of Thailand”) contrasts sharply with the minimal development of Malaysian technological capacity and capabilities by many other Proton vendors due to their (mainly Japanese) principals’ practices.

The ECRL will be funded by a loan from China’s state-owned Exim Bank, with the Malaysian government, ie. taxpayers, serving as guarantor. Thus, the risk and liability will be completely borne by Malaysia.

So, Malaysia will essentially be borrowing money from a China bank to pay a China company to build the ECRL.

Very little of the loan will get to Malaysia as the Exim Bank loan will be used to pay CCCC. Malaysians will bear all the risk for the ECRL while the China firms are guaranteed profits by Malaysians.

Whether or not the ECRL is profitable, we will still have to repay the loan with interest. Malaysia does not have to pay during the first seven years, but after that, we have to settle it within two decades. So financially, this is essentially a loan for which we Malaysians will exclusively bear all the risks.

Economic cooperation with China?

To be clear, I am not against economic cooperation with China, and in the absence of other global initiatives to revive global economic progress, a creative, progressive and inclusive view of the Belt and Road Initiative is welcome.

Chinese railway construction companies have won contracts in open tenders all over the world due to their impressive record despite being relative latecomers.

Also, the Chinese offer of long-term credit on concessional terms is much appreciated by many poor developing countries. But the recent rapid build-up of foreign debt and the corresponding build-up of “contingent liabilities” guaranteed by the government should be of great concern. After all, all Malaysians are now taxpayers following the introduction of the GST.

Several years ago, the Chinese ambassador to Tanzania publicly apologised for the misbehaviour of Chinese firms in Tanzania specifically and Africa more generally.

Chinese officials are now more vigilant, but in China too, “state capture” by private interests has been taking place as the rich are now influential members of the ruling party, which helps explain President Xi’s anti-corruption campaigns.

Last week, the Sri Lankan government leased its new Chinese-built harbour facilities for 99 years to the Chinese government after the new port could not attract enough traffic to make the port viable and the Colombo government decided not to spend its precious revenue to service the loan from China.

This is a fate we should conscientiously seek to avoid.

Malaysia should have learnt its lesson after the recent credit rating jolt following 1MDB’s failure to service its RM2.6 billion (US$603 million) first instalment payment due to Abu Dhabi’s IPIC.

For most, “once bitten, twice shy”. Is this another case of “Malaysian Boleh”?

Jomo KS received the 2007 Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

Some thots from cyberspace:

Friday, 14 July 2017

Pakatan Harapan is born (finally)

Politics is certainly the art of the impossible where there are no permanent friends nor permanent enemies:

Former arch enemies Dr Mahathir, Anwar to lead PH into GE14
Former arch enemies Dr Mahathir, Anwar to lead PH into GE14

Dr Mahathir also announced a slew of policies that will be immediately implemented once PH comes to power.

They are:

* Abolishing the goods and services tax.

* Stabilising petrol prices.

* Focusing on reducing the people’s financial burden.

* Implementing comprehensive institutional reforms.

* Eradicating corruption.

* Forming a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 1MBD scandal.

* Rehabilitating Felda.

My Thots:

After 60 years of UMNO dominated Barisan Nasional, I think the time is right for  change. 

Umno under Najib is not the Umno I and my family supported, that Umno we supported is not obsessed about cash. 

This Umno under Najib is getting crazier by the day, talking nonsense and offering nothing to make our beloved country a better place for our young. 

If it need a combination of Dr Mahathir and Anwar for that change to happen then I will support it wholeheartedly.

Together lets kick out the kleptokratic and corrupt Umno/BN Government and bring in Barisan Harapan to power.

Monday, 10 July 2017

To Save Malaysia, Unity is the Key to Success

'Tunku Ismail’s message is clear: Unity is the key to success. The vision is clear. Now is the time to implement it. Malaysians of regardless of race, religion, politics and region must unite to Save Malaysia'
YB Lim Kit Siang

Every one Malaysian should read this speech by YB Lim Kit Siang at a Ceramah in Seremban on Sunday, 9th July 2017 at 9 pm.

At tonight’s DAP ceramah, I am going do something unusual.

I am going to read out verbatim the cry from the bottom of the heart of one distinguished and outstanding Malaysian, as his cry resonates throughout the country, as it represents the concerns of patriotic and loyal Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, politics or region, that something very wrong is happening to our beloved country – although the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his Cabinet of 36 Ministers, and the entire UMNO/Barisan Nasional leadership does not agree with this cry and concern.

One reason why I reading verbatim the cry of Tunku Makhota Johor, Tunku Ismail ibni Sultan Ibrahim, which was first posted in Johor Southern Tigers Facebook, is because it should be compulsory reading and study by all Malaysians, not only the citizenry but also national and state leaders.

In fact, the Cabinet should schedule a special meeting of the 36 Ministers to ponder over the Tunku Makhota Johore’s cry.

Republished by Malaysiakini, under the heading “I will always pray for your stability, Malaysia”, this is what Tunku Ismail wrote:

“What’s happening to a country I used to respect? A country that I was once proud to call my home.

A country that I pray for stability. What’s happening to my beloved friend, Malaysia? I hope that one day, you’ll be okay again.

Today, I live in a country where corruption has become a tradition.

A country in which the media protects the corrupt and victimises the innocents, to sell stories.

The uneducated are being deceived, manipulated by the system and torn into pieces.

It has become a place where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

A place where the people no longer acknowledge facts, but rather judge by the perception of what you are wearing.

Where the actors and hypocrites are hailed as heroes while the contributors and those who are dedicated to the good cause are being ignored and perceived as villains, manipulated by the pictures they see.

It has become a place where politicians are wanting to be celebrities and sportsmen.

Where a person who can’t ride a horse or play polo can be selected to represent the country.

Where individuals who don’t even go for proper military training can become a general.

A country where the institution is slowly losing its identity.

Leaders who act with what they’re wearing, but behind closed doors, forces the government to use the people’s money to pay for their private jet, are being respected.

A country where my own race has forgotten our history, heritage and culture.

A country that abandons our local traditions such as our traditional clothes and chooses to adopt foreign customs, wanting to be like the Arabs.

A place plagued by jealousy and envy. A place where you can buy titles, and now those titles have lost its value.

Some chose to keep quiet because they themselves have skeletons in their closet.

While some like me choose to speak up because we are worried about what’s going to happen to our grandchildren and our future generations.

A country where individuals want to be politicians for their personal interest and no longer believe in serving the people and our institution.

Where being in denial and ignorant has become the way of life.

Where the deceiver gains more grounds and power.

Where the truth is being ignored and lies being acknowledged.

Honour, loyalty and being genuine no longer exist. What’s happening to you, my dear friend?

But, don’t you worry, as they are still a few that haven’t lost hope.

There are still a few that will sacrifice for our future generations.

A few that will change things from within.

The vision is clear. Now is the time to implement it. Vision without execution is a hallucination. Stay strong my friend.

You’ll be ok. You’re fortunate to have friends such as Sabah, Sarawak and other places. Be kind to them.

Respect them. Unity is the key to success.

I wish you all the best and I will always pray for your stability Malaysia.

From your friend and a good partner, Johor. The humble servant of the Sultan of Johor and the state of Johor.”

Tunku Ismail has rightly taken the pulse of the nation – that we are at the crossroads facing a crisis of nation-building as Malaysia seemed to have lost its way on the 60th anniversary of our attainment of Merdeka on 31st August 1957.

Where have we gone wrong?

As Tunku Ismail Ismail has rightly put it, Malaysia has become a country where “corruption has become a tradition”; “the media protects the corrupt and victimizes the innocent to sell stories”; “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer”; “the actors and hypocrites are hailed as heroes while the contributors and those who are dedicated to the good cause are being ignored and perceived as villains, manipulated by the pictures they see”; “politicians are wanting to be celebrities and sportsmen”; “a person who can’t ride a horse or play polo can be selected to represent the country”; “individuals who don’t even go for proper military training can become a general”; “a country where the institution is slowly losing its identity”; “ leaders who act with what they’re wearing, but behind closed doors, forces the government to use the people’s money to pay for their private jet, are being respected”; “a place plagued by jealousy and envy, a place where you can buy titles, and now those titles have lost its value” and a place where “some chose to keep quiet because they themselves have skeletons in their closet”.

Why have Malaysia become such a country sixty years after our Independent nationhood in 1957, to become a country where “individuals want to be politicians for their personal and no longer believe in serving the people and our institution”, a country “where being in denial and ignorant has become the way of life; where “the deceiver gains more grounds and power”; where “the truth is being ignored and lies being acknowledged” and where “honour, loyalty and being genuine no longer exist”?
But as Tunku Ismail rightly said, “there are still a few that haven’t lost hope” who are worried about what’s going to happen to our grandchildren and our future generations, who are prepared to sacrifice for our future generations.

Tunku Ismail’s message is clear: Unity is the key to success. The vision is clear. Now is the time to implement it. Malaysians of regardless of race, religion, politics and region must unite to Save Malaysia.

May be the first step to Save Malaysia and protect the Vision of a united, harmonious, progressive and prosperous Malaysia is for the Minister for Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, who see nothing wrong in Malaysia being regarded worldwide as a “global kleptocracy” because of the international multi-billion 1MDB money-laundering scandal, to step down and invite Tunku Makhota to be responsible for TN 50 (National Transformation 2050) to restore Malaysia’s greatness and vision as world-class nation which is an example to the world of a united, harmonious, progressive and prosperous nation where diversities of race, religion, language and cultures are our greatest strength and assets and not our greatest weakness and liability.

Masuk ke kandang kambing mengembek, masuk ke kandang kerbau menguak.

'I sometimes feel that these people do not seem to realize that they are Malaysian citizens and that they are living in this country called Malaysia.

They appear to be living in their own cocooned, imaginary worlds, going on life in the ways they like.

Please, this is not progressive but self-restrictive.

Perhaps these people may want to emigrate one day, thinking life will be care-free and unrestricted. However, they will soon come to realize that they will be subjected to a new set of requirements, including competency in a new language.

The reality is, we are all living in Malaysia now. The official language of this country is Bahasa Malaysia, and as citizens of this country, we all need to have a reasonable command of this language, whether you like it or not.

Otherwise, you will find yourself sidelined by the society, making futile complaints on FB and feeling utterly sorry for yourself.'
Tay Tian Yan

What's so difficult about one subject?

Sin Chew Daily
I personally feel that the frustration of many Chinese Malaysians over the SPM Bahasa Malaysia requirement for civil servants has been unfounded and unnecessary.
Think about it: Does an American need to pass English proficiency test if he or she wants to become a civil servant or a doctor?
If anyone wants to get admitted into an American university or take up a public position or get a US citizenship, he or she must have some good command of the English language.
In other countries like the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, you need to have an English paper cert before you can work in a government office, whereas in China and Taiwan, you must do well in Mandarin Chinese if you want a similar post there.
But, people in these countries won't curse their governments for setting the language requirements nor think they are being unfair or ill-intentioned.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I haven't heard them complain or object, because this is part and parcel of the country's system, one of the specifications for government operations and an essential precondition in day-to-day life.
A national and official language -- be it English, Chinese, BM or otherwise -- is a constituent part that builds a nation, allowing people of different backgrounds to mingle and interact, and from there establish some common understanding and national solidarity. It is a medium for government functions.
In reality, it has very high practical values. It allows people visiting a government office or hospital to communicate with a language all can understand.
But here in Malaysia, many local Chinese have voiced up a marvelous range of excuses and conspiracy theories to oppose to the SPM Malay requirement for government positions and medical housemen.
I sometimes feel that these people do not seem to realize that they are Malaysian citizens and that they are living in this country called Malaysia.
They appear to be living in their own cocooned, imaginary worlds, going on life in the ways they like.
Please, this is not progressive but self-restrictive.
Perhaps these people may want to emigrate one day, thinking life will be care-free and unrestricted. However, they will soon come to realize that they will be subjected to a new set of requirements, including competency in a new language.
The reality is, we are all living in Malaysia now. The official language of this country is Bahasa Malaysia, and as citizens of this country, we all need to have a reasonable command of this language, whether you like it or not.
Otherwise, you will find yourself sidelined by the society, making futile complaints on FB and feeling utterly sorry for yourself.
My conclusion: Stop making a big fuss over something that has long been incorporated into our social contract and accepted as norm. There are a whole lot more meaningful things waiting for us to accomplish!
As for those public servants and doctors-to-be who do not have a pass in SPM Malay, they can always look for better prospects elsewhere. However, if they insist to keep their current positions, all they need to do is one simple thing: go and sit for SPM Bahasa Malaysia. Which is not that difficult after all, right?
My Thots:
I think this is practical advise, unless one is looking to migrate to greener pasture countries wherever that may be.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri

Salam Aidil Fitri
Maaf Zahir dan Batin
Ikhlas Dari
Eddy Daud

I have not been posting this whole Ramadhan because I was down with severe influenza (ARDS) and had to be hospitalised for 2 weeks. Alhamdullilah, I have recovered from the influenza but will take some time to recover my strength to normal levels. 

Berhati Hati Di Jalan Raya
Malang Tidak Berbau

and once there were three.......

Eddy Daud and Arif Eddy
Hari Raya ke 2 Tahun 2017
 @ Blue Wave Hotel Mak Long and Pak Long  Hari Raya Hi Tea

Monday, 15 May 2017

Finally somebody noticed the elephant in the room

I have my doubts and finally somebody noticed the elephant in the room:

India slams China's One Belt One Road initiative, says it violates sovereignty


'In a strongly-worded statement on the eve of the event, which will see participation of more than 60 countries, India escalated its opposition to OBOR, suggesting that the project is little more than a colonial enterprise, leaving debt and broken communities in its wake.

'We are of the firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality. Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities.'

'Like Sri Lanka, where an unviable Hambantota port project has left Colombo reeling under an $8 billion debt, Pakistan may be headed in the same direction; Laos is trying to renegotiate a railway project, Myanmar has asked for its own renegotiation; a Belgrade-Budapest railway line to be built by China is under investigation by the EU.'

'Chinese infrastructure projects in foreign countries are typically executed by state-owned enterprises, while financing programmes, which initially appear attractive, sour quickly.'

Read in full here.

Well...I pray that the Malaysia Gomen will be able to pay for all the loans we took from China for the various infrastructure projects namely the ECRL etc. on time and do not end up like Sri Lanka.