Saturday, July 18, 2009

Backwards, backwards.

Though the decision has been announced and said to be final since last week, people still talk about it. Yes, I am talking about our government deciding for Mathematics and Science to be in Bahasa Malaysia, rather than the English language.

The decisions definitely shocked the people of Malaysia. I'll tell you who are these people of Malaysia.

-- The teachers that have been working so hard to cope with the English language in workshops and retaking their training exams in which if they failed - those who actually make an effort and not just sit back wailing and waiting in the government to make life easier for them.

-- The people that worked together and came up with the LCDs and programmed softwares to make English learning less tough.

-- Parents that relentlessly try helping their children, either by coaching them or sending them for expensive tuition classes despite the economic downturn as they have no choice because the school teachers may not be as resourceful.

-- And the most affected, the students. Imagine you've been trying, and finally, you did it. You managed to adjust to the system. Then, they strip everything off you, leaving you to start again.

And we all thought our children had hopes of doing better if they were to be sent abroad to study as their English would have been sharpened to a certain degree. How far can they go with BM? You talk about moving forward as a country, having the dreams of one day having to compete with countries like America, United Kingdom, Singapore. Well, I just don't see this particular move to be in consistent with that.

Yes, Bahasa Malaysia is to be protected and cherished as our national language. But doing that at a cost of the future of the next generation? Doesn't make sense to me.

I also can't help pointing out the fact that those higher in the royal hierarchy send their children abroad to the boarding schools there. Why? Obviously they do not trust our very own education system. So its alright for them to move forward and leave the other people behind? Their people behind?

Like I said in one of the previous post, its not the children that can't cope with English. Its the teachers. Children have young minds. They can be shaped. If the teachers can't or rather, would not try and help the people of tomorrow, why should the children be victims? Yes, there are some teachers who has genuinely tried. And I salute them for their initiative.

So they say, this move is somewhat catered for the people of rural areas. Then if I may highlight the obvious, the kampung people will and always remain kampung people.

Like Tun Dr Mahathir said, "Seems to me like the Government is not listening to the voice of the people'"

He recently published a poll on his blog having people to vote, and 86324 out of 100154 people voted that they did not agree with the government's decision. That's 86%.

What I think is that the government should collect votes from the students. Give them voices. After all, its them that is studying and will be taking the crucial exams. And the government's decision would affect their performances indefinitely.

So here we are, folks. Back to square one. More specific, backwards.

Monday, April 6, 2009

13 Hindraf detainees released.

Yes, I know. I have not been blogging. Mainly because I was just tired. Tired from the news on grafts and alleged corruptions in UMNO, from the childish yelling in Parliament that got him suspended, alleged dirty tactics in accordance with the upcoming by-election. (If I did blog on those issues, I might be found wrong, well at least under the Sedition Act with something called defamation. So I chose not to. And not to judge. There was really nothing to comment about. The issue itself is prima facie, and there were no two sides of the story to argue or comment about. No other good side.)

Topped with news on the trouble in relation to the G20 Summit, school assassinations, North Korea and their little missile test, and just few days ago, the appointment of Malaysia's new premier.

But just yesterday, he released 13 Hindraf detainees to their respective homes and families, which got the rakyat thinking.

Some said it was a populist move to win votes for tomorrow's upcoming by-election (in which BN would need a considerable percentage of Indian voters to take their side).

Then Najib himself countered this and said that if he did not release them, people would say the government is unfair and rigid. And he did released them and the people in turn said that is a populist move.

Then Karpal Singh from DAP commented that he should release all 65 (hopefully I got the number correct) of them, not just 13.

Lim Guan Eng also from DAP said it was an insincere move because he only released 13 out of the 65 to please the rakyat, or more so, the Indians. If he was sincere, he'd release all 65 of them.

However, Anwar, leader of PKR did highlight this move and appreciated it, but he said it was because of PKR's relentless fight against the government to uphold freedom and justice.

Aren't we all critics at the end of the day? What are your views on this?

One of my friend said he was quite thankful that Najib did release the Hindraf detainees as it was a huge relief to the families they had left behind when in prison. Which is true. Especially for those whom their husbands are sole bread winners.
When one of the wives being interviewed for the local news, all that was seen in her eyes were joy and a sense of burden lifted from her.

Najib said, just before his appointment as the 6th Prime Minister, to judge him on how he carries out his duty as a Prime Minister. Not on baseless accusations.
I'm not sure if he had gained the trust and revere of the rakyat. But its obvious that Najib has Tun Dr Mahathir' full support seen from him rejoining UMNO when Badawi gave his seat to Najib.

It is too soon to tell if he'd be a better Prime Minister from the last one. Or a good Prime Minister of Malaysia, generally. (Having a list of rumours of, well, not so pleasant things he had done, and a long line of critics having him under a magnifying glass, waiting for him to make a mistake.)

Like I said earlier, aren't we all critics? But I would love to see how he carries out his duties, having one of the top posts in Malaysia. I would most definetly love to wait and see.
Let us all not judge yet.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Welcome immigrants, not.

A couple of days back, the Home Minister decided to sign a permit, allowing 70,000 Bangladeshi workers to step into our country for employment. Fortunately, with many parties disagreeing to this, he retracted the permit.

With the RM 60 billion stimulus package, a large sum would go to the construction industry, as Malaysia is a developing country. So there would be an outflow of the money to the Bangladeshi workers, if they are permitted to be employed here, into their pockets and to their country.

And yes, more social problems. Crime rates would soar high. Theft and rape cases to high record levels. Many would say that it is not only the Bangladeshis that go around raping women. Our locals do contribute to the social problems too. But hello, would you want to add to the numbers and statistics yet by allowing more immigrants to be employed?

Our country is starting to feel the pinch of recession. Unemployment rates are rising. And yet, we are allowing the job opportunities to be obtained by our neighbours. However, this problem can't be rectified as we rely heavily on foreign workers in construction jobs and such. Why can't we be like countries like US and UK, where the locals are employed to work at construction sites?

But the Bangladeshi workers are humans too. Its not fair for them as they have paid the sum of money for the paper works for their employment in Malaysia and not being able to claim the refunds of it. Some of them might have been saving for a long time just to pay the employment fee. Struggling to make ends meet, hoping to get a job in Malaysia to feed their family back at home. And yes, lets be fair. Not all of them would contribute to social problems.
Employers of Bangladeshi workers state that they are hardworking and most importantly, are employed at a low cost.

English or Bahasa Malaysia?

Mathematics and Science in BM or English? The dilemma starts again.

Few years back, Tun Dr Mahathir's decision to change Maths and Science to be thought in English stirred up debates from various parties. Then, slowly, the issue was quietened down. People forgot about it, and adjusted to the norm of Math and Science in English.

Lately, the suggestion of reversing the language of the subjects taught back to Bahasa Malaysia caused upheavals, yet again, from the public, and some ministers. The issue that has been swept under the carpet, was now brought up again.

The argument was that teachers are having a difficult time teaching the subjects and students in rural areas cannot cope with the subject as they are not fluent in English.

Now, this is my argument. Who are we trying to benefit?
The teachers or the students? If the teachers can't teach the subject in English, retrain them. It can be done. Changing the subjects back to Bahasa Malaysia (just because the teachers are whining that English is hard) would absolutely be spoiling the teachers. Mind you, our education system should not adjust towards achieving comfort for the teachers. It is the teachers who work for our government that should adjust to the system for the benefit of the students.

And don't tell me rubbish like its the students that can't cope. They have young minds. And young minds can be shaped. So what if you're from the kampung? Doesn't make you any different. Its not like you're born with a smaller brain or anything like that. They can do it. And oh yes, the government would be spoiling them too, if they change the subjects back to BM. If they don't learn English and English in Science and Math, when are they going to learn? Competitions in the job markets are very high now. No doubt it would be higher for the generations to come. Do we want to see children grow up and not able to move forward into the tertiary sector but stay planting paddy fields in the kampung? Changing the language back to BM would just be a detrimental to them, in the long run.

Not only Math and Science but also other subjects like Accounting, Economics, History, Geography, etc is to be switched to English language. English is an international language. They will thank the government for the implementing of English in their subjects when they adapt well studying abroad, or even courses studied in local colleges, that are in English; work in a well renowned international company or engage in trade and business with other countries, in the future.

No doubt, BM is important. Those who study in government schools study Bahasa for 11 years. Sometimes up to 3 to 4 periods a day. But there's a line between putting our national language first and allowing the country to progress. This line has been blurred long enough.

There is even concrete evidence stating that students prefer English in Science and Math. The SPM and STPM papers were prepared in both languages, BM and English. A whooping majority of students answered the papers in the latter, clearly stating which they preferred. So what is still there to be discussed about?

They always say that our children would shape our future. Well, in this case, the government's decision would shape our children's future, and that would shape our future.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Parliament: 100 000 jobless by end of year.

Above: Picture taken last year on a trip to the Parliament with the Taylor's Model United Nations.

Couple of days back, flashing below the screen of the local news was the exact words (in small prints) 'Parliament: 100 000 jobless by end of year'.

But I recalled our Finance Minister announcing that Malaysia would not be affected by the global recession, months back. Either there was an honest miscalculation or he did not take into account the concept of being prudent. Hello, this is not the time to be optimistic and making use of the people's imperfect knowledge.

People who believed in that statement and thus did not prepare for this recession had to face the aftermath.
So sad.

When your neighbour looses his job, it is called recession. When you loose your job, it is called depression. - 33rd President of the US.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Do not fret Eli. The people have your back.

Recently, the Sultan of Selangor expressed that he was upset with the way some of us are handling Elizabeth Wong's case. He said it was not to be of his personal interest and will leave it to the authorities to decide on her case.

Indeed, it is an issue of her personal affair. Who are you to judge her? According to the law, unless prohibited by a statute and otherwise immoral, any consensual sexual relations between adults would not constitute to an offense. Such conduct in personal life have absolutely no relevance to the ability of a person to perform her public duties, and perform it well.

People of her constitution have appealed and hoped that her letter of resignation would not be accepted as they still want her as their assemblywoman. They said she has an excellent track record and has carried out her duties well. This incident should not be a setback and should be overlooked. Her people are merely shouting out to her "no one can replace you, Eli".

I hope no one does.

(Source: Articles of Law, The Star)

Why Malaysia can never catch up with the economic efficiency of Singapore, etc.

Unlike the Singapore government and many other economically developed countries, Malaysia lacks a policy that should have been implemented by the government a long long time ago - whether its is to cure inflation or recession or unemployment, to stimulate growth in the economy, improve the Balance of Payment's deficit and stabilizing the currency.

Many would agree with me that inflation could never be cured without the side effects of rising unemployment. Theoratically speaking, when there is inflation, the government would adopt the Contractionary Fiscal Policy, deliberately reducing government spending (like subsidies) and increasing tax rates so aggregate demand and spending would reduce, together with the Contractionary Monetary Policy by increasing interest rates. Thus eliminating the seriousness of inflation in our country by the lowering of aggregate demand. However, when spending is reduced, businesses would in turn cut down their production and output thus leading to unemployment.

Inversely, when unemployment is to be cured the government would adopt the Expansionary Fiscal Policy by increasing government expenditure and reducing tax together with the Expansionary Monetary Policy by reducing interest rates to encourage spending in the economy. Yes, recession and unemployment will be curbed. But the problem of inflation now surfaces as demand exceeds supply.

What the government should be implementing is the Supply Side Policy, having the ratio of Supply Side Policy exceeding the Fiscal and Monetary Policy. The aim of the Supply Side Policy is to increase aggregate supply by increasing productivity in the economy, long term. That would simply mean, in layman's terms, a call to WORK HARDER. (Which Malaysia might have failed, not all, but in certain areas.)

Fortunately, in the labour market, this policy has been implemented via not allowing for unemployment benefits (like in the UK, where citizens choose to stay at home and feed on the unemployment benefits, thus reducing productivity in the economy).
Tun Dr Mahathir has also banned strikes to be carried out by trade unions. Yes, he was quite a dictator in allowing little or no freedom of speech. But I would have to admit this banning of strike is beneficial to our economy because strikes deter productivity, which is linked to the degree and quantity of investments in Malaysia.
Minimum wage is also not allowed as it would create unemployment and thus leading to the reduction in investments.

However, it is not likewise for the capital market. The government has failed in applying this Supply Side Policy here.
In the capital market, government red tape should be reduced. Did u know it takes approximately 3 months for an investor from abroad to get permission from the government department, just to invest? Whereas in Singapore, it only takes 3 hours.
The government should also encourage big firms to provide loans for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which would allow for their growth and coherently contributing to our economy. (This is because banks would not be likely to provide loans for fresh and new businesses as they are aware it is a huge risk to take. Banks, being prudent, would rather borrow to households who buy assets. eg: cars, houses, shop lots. Whether it is for speculation or other personal interests, the banks would gladly lend their money because if the respective parties are not unable to pay interests or down payments, the banks can seize the property, sell it off and obtain their money back.)

In the goods market, the government should also encourage privatization. This would increase competitiveness and thus improving the quality of their services. Yes, companies like TMnet are privatized already. Sadly, I can't brag about their efficiency here.
The government should also remove artificial legal barriers to entry, for investors to come in and plant their businesses. This is called deregulation. Lets take an example of Citibank and Maybank Berhad. Did you know, up till 2007, there were only 3 Citibanks allowed in Malaysia? Its just recently the government has allowed for another 3 branches to be opened. Well, simply because the turnover for 30 Maybanks is no match for the turnover of 3 Citibanks. Talk about being kiasu by eliminating the degree of competitiveness here. (Ps: Many Maybanks are owned by politicians in Malaysia.) Overseas branches of law firms are also not allowed to have their franchises here. The result, documents for sales and purchases of houses are inefficiently produced, as there is lack of competition. Fortunately, low cost airlines like the Air Asia are increasing competitions, forcing our local airline, MAS to reduce airfare tickets too. So now everyone can fly.

Lets all hope the government would stop their squabble over parliamentary seats, racial issues and look into matters like improving the growth of our economy. Things that actually matter.

(Source: Words of wisdom by an Economics lecturer)