Thursday, January 12, 2006

Education for Yang Berhormats

[Updated 12 Jan 06]

There was a letter published in the Star last Friday entitled "The Value of Education". It was written by Datin T. D. Ampikaipakan, where she lamented on the state of education in Malaysia today which apparently fails to focus on "values".
When I was in school, I had no clue that I was an Indian and my dearest friends were Chinese and Malays. Our teachers never made any reference to our race. It was always what we could do. When we held concerts in school, I was often a participant in the Malay dances and the others practised Indian and Chinese dances. There was never a time when we segregated ourselves and that has been the practice in my home.

What is the story now? Are we now becoming a nation that is bankrupt of values?
Although I was never appointed to leadership positions by teachers (I think I had a problem with teachers) in primary and secondary schools as Datin Ampikaipakan has pointed out in her letter as the means to be "taught leadership skills from an early age", I was personally (hyper) active in school activities from sports to non-sports activities.

I took part in Malay quiz competitions, Malay language debates in primary and secondary schools (even won best speaker once!) and participated in dikir barat performances during my 'A' Levels (I was the only Chinese in the contingent). The experience has definitely shaped my perspectives on education today and its reflected in my writings, for example, my posts here and here.

However, back to Datin Ampikaipakan's letter. I was rather tickled by one of her examples of "bankrupt values" in Malaysia:
...the Yang Berhormats have a lot of salvaging to do with regard to their dignity in and out of Parliament. We need to take strong measures to send the message home. If we punish schoolchildren for bad behaviour, our YBs need some censure to shape them up. It should be possible to insist that only people who learn and practise good manners are allowed to stand for public office. Some feel that if you want to make a point you must be rude, arrogant and obnoxious.

[Update] Even Marina Mahathir appears to have the same thoughts as she wrote in her "Musings" column in the Star on Wednesday. She wrote about ten things which peeves her the most particularly in the past year, of which at no. 8, we have her asking:

Can't we have basic IQ tests for MPs? How about one standard test for when they become MPs, and then an even higher one if they get made Ministers? I shudder at the thought of any of them meeeting any foreigners! I'd just like to go through a year without having to feel embarrassed.

Well, it appears that the Malaysian education system not only needs to take care of school-going children, but also the YBs too. Maybe, it's time for the YBs to take the "Whip" more seriously. :-)


Anonymous said...

It always surprise me that such people are surprised by the behavior of politicians. It irks even more that people think that the link is between the behaviour of our politicians and our children.

The problem begins first and foremost with policy. At the gist of it is the unmeritocratic and politicisation of the educational system. The effect of politicisation is unchecked because we do not have no free speech in this country. At the core of both issue is the hegemonistic policies of UMNO.

Political leaders are keep falling into vain traps to believe that they can will change of students and young minds with their policies and power. The truth is that history has suggest that its a vain attempt that only bring adverse result - in the long run the best way to educate and ensure good values in our children is to expose them to issues and debate them openly when it comes up. The problem is that its very hard to do and takes a lot of effort which our small-minded leaders are not up to the challenge.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps MCA politicians should start walking the talk by joining their Lifelong Learning Plans.

YT Kuah said...

Not the Whip, but the Vote ;)

First post had it correct. In addition, we need to educate our children and the general public on the detriments of racial politics.

But how? That is a big problem. Raise awareness of the dire need to stop this for one. For seconds, tell all who cares to listen, that they need to stop, stop using Chinese, Malay, Indian, Kadazan, etc....Datin Ampikaipakan does give a good example.

Tell your children, yourself, your friends, that the "other" side is also human, an individual. Race, mostly is an artificial concept. People are mostly more similar across races than they are with each other. We are the people, and we should start with ourselves.

clk said...

Politician is probably the only profession (except maybe our good old garbage collector; no offence intended as I do appreciate their hardwork) that do not require any qualification except a citizenship.....

Anonymous said...

haha. being a politician is the malaysian dream