Sunday, July 10, 2005

Johor Menteri Besar Gone Bonkers!

In an article headlined "Johor Umno Says Meritocracy A Form Of Discrimination" reported at Bernama:

The Johor Umno Liaison Committee Saturday criticised the meritocracy system introduced by the government, saying that it resulted in a fall in the achievement of Malay students and is a form of discrimination and oppression.

Its chairman, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, who is also the Johor Menteri Besar, said it had adversely affected tens of thousands of Bumiputera students in the rural areas who had been denied quality education in view of the "uneven competitive field".
What? Hello? Does this statement even merit a response? Can the argument be any more oxymoronic?? Gosh... and that's all my respect for the Johor menteri besar (MB) down the drain (not much of it left anyway, since his recent comments on UMNO money politics).

Datuk Abdul Ghani's contention was that "the system had resulted in a fall in the number of Malay students inmedicine, engineering, pharmacy, dentistry and other competitive fields... citing the situation at the University of Malaya where the number of Bumiputera students who studied medicine, pharmacy, law and buisness had declined." He added that:
"Although there was an increase in the number of Malays in accountancy, architecture, law and other fields from 1970 to 2002, the Bumiputeras account for only 20 percent in accountancy compared to the non-Bumiputeras, medicine and dentistry (36 percent), engineering (26.5 percent) and registered lawyers (35 percent). Hence, Malay graduates who were jobless or working below their capacity had increased in 2003."

Let's get a few facts straight:
  1. If a student, irrespective of race, is unable to obtain the necessary grades to qualify for a "complex" faculty, for e.g., medicine, even if granted special exemptions, will likely perform poorly and become a lousy, say, doctor.

  2. Similarly, if these poor "jobless" graduates (who are likely to have obtained a degree from the Business, Social Science and Computer Science faculties) can't get a job in a fairly decent job market, putting them through to medicine and dentistry will just likey make them drop outs - or worse, incompetent dangerous "doctors".

  3. Meritocracy in itself, does not and cannot cause "a fall in the achievement" of anybody, whether a Malay or an Indian or a Chinese! Meritocracy is defined as "a system in which advancement is based on individual ability or achievement." Instead, the fact that Datuk Abdul Ghani recognises the concept of "achievement", is acceptance of the definition of Meritocracy.

  4. How in the world does Meritocracy cause "discrimination and oppression"? If Datuk Ali Baba is a good businessman, he makes more money than a less astute businessman, Mr Harry Lee, is that "discrimination and oppression" against Harry? Datuk Abdul Ghani is obviously an achiever, and hence he is the MB of Johor, but does that mean that its discrimination and oppression against Datuk Shahrir Samad who remains just an MP of Johor Bahru? Is Datuk Abdul Ghani now promoting the socialist-communist concept where "all animals are equal" irrespective of talents, achievement and intelligence?

  5. Even the Johor MB's use of statistics is selective. Read my blog post "Some Interesting University Entrance Statistics" to see that Bumiputeras easily outnumber non-bumiputeras in courses such as medicine. In addition, the rate of increase in Bumiputera intake is much higher than that of non-bumiputeras.

  6. What's this "uneven competitive field" that Datuk Abdul Ghani is talking about? The fact that the Bumiputeras enjoy special privileges which makes access to the public universities easier, such as through the matriculation colleges, does indeed make our education system an "uneven competitive field". But it's definitely not in the favour of the non-bumiputeras. Does Datuk Abdul Ghani want to make "even" the competitive field by lowering marks for bumiputeras to obtain "A" grades, and making it more difficult for non-bumiputeras to obtain a even a "C"?
I have many progressive Bumiputera friends who have received education from world class universities through their own merit and achievements. They would not want to demean themselves by hiding under the government's protective skirt. Many of them are in fact ashamed that they are often perceived to be tainted by the brush that their achievements were not "real" because of the Bumiputera special privileges.

Make no mistake - I do recognise that there are limitations to a 100% meritocratic system - for e.g., I believe that students from low income backgrounds should be given certain privileges. If these "tens of thousands of Bumiputera students from rural areas" are from the low income backgrounds, they should be provided with special assistance for their primary and secondary school education to enable them to compete for university placements. I would even go so far as to endorse a minimal affimative action based on race to ensure that all races will be significantly represented in our public university system.

But what Datuk Abdul Ghani is whining about just flies in the face of what both our Prime and Deputy Prime Minister have been preaching in recent months - "Don't blame fate for failures" and "Don't be mere brokers".

We can only hope that the Prime Minister who is expected to close the two-day Johor Umno Convention attended by 579 delegates from 26 divisions in the state, will knock some sense into the Johor MB.

10 comments:

clk said...

Its chairman, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, who is also the Johor Menteri Besar, said it had adversely affected tens of thousands of Bumiputera students in the rural areas who had been denied quality education in view of the "uneven competitive field."

If this is so "even the field". Help them from school, NOT give them another entry route or a larger goal post!

Mack said...

"I have many progressive Bumiputera friends who have received education from world class universities through their own merit and achievements. They would not want to demean themselves by hiding under the government's protective skirt. Many of them are in fact ashamed that they are often perceived to be tainted by the brush that their achievements were not "real" because of the Bumiputera special privileges."

Bless you Tony.

azmeen said...

This is a very insightful entry. As a Johorean, I've always felt that my MB is a thorn by our side. It is almost confirmed that everytime he opens his mouth, he will say something that is severely lacking intellectual essence.

I will visit your blog more often.

Tiara said...

I was going to point out the disparity between learning opportunities for rural and urban students as a kind of "devils advocate", but I see you've done that already. XD

And yeah...in a state where you can "qualify" for certain special classes if you are of a certain race...yeah.

Anonymous said...

Is Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman Ghani type of comment reserve only to him? Why does he say what he say, is this what he honestly believe, or is this purely politics? I have live long enough in this country to have observed similar type of pronouncement year by year, which I don't care to remember, but I can still feel it, the residual imprinted have left an indelible mark in my unconscious.

One can be ashamed of the privileges, but one can still enjoy it (immensely) as a given.

I would like to hear from everybody, (bumiputera especially, who are in a position of unfair advantage over other's--both bumiputera and non-bumiputera) your thoughts on the future of our society?


-- Old Man

Pak Kadok said...

One should not dignify such crappy statements by responding to them....

nina najwan said...

I don't see any point for Johor MB to high light this issue. I was from MRSM, than move to IPM than get my advance Diploma from ITM. Eventhough all this institution was designed specially for Malays, I don't see any problem to get my paper. I work hard and I got what I deserved. Many of my friends, didn't work hard and now they are nowhere. They got what they are looking for.
If we want to move up, we need to fight and face all challanges, not by using any special privilages.
From beginning I always belief we need to work hard, do what it takes and claims what ever due to us, with pride and dignity.
I always belief we must win with our strength and not because of some other people's weaknesses.
The problem with some politician, they only interested to get vote, not to get people move to higher level of quality. I belief, if we serious about vision 2020 (is there?), we want quality, not quantity. We have more than enough graduates who can't even talk and communicate, let alone have self confidence. Now, what else we want?

Anonymous said...

He is a politician. His words have to appeal to "those" who would provide him with the political power/base. Appealing words do not need to be logical or rational. Take it easy, man.

Anyway, it's interesting reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

Ghani did not do his homework abt the subject. Everytime he opens up his mouth ... destruction!

Being Johorean, I am very dissapointed with him. He has a very sound acedemic backgorund (UM Dean of economics) but act like economic student year 1. I dont see any development in Johor (Well except the controversial one like Danga Bay, Tebrau Bay, etc)

The truth is he wanted the whole world to know that he is the Malay hero. Excuse me Ghani. Stop talking about Malay Agenda when you dont know what it means!!!!

What you know is only the stupid ZAPIN!!!!!

Denver Javens said...

I do not think so.