Thursday, September 07, 2006

Budget 2007 (II): Unity or Segregation?

As mentioned in the earlier post on an overview of the budget, I have stated that it is a decent budget, which actually exceeded my personal expectations. After all, my expectations would have been fairly moderate given the lack lusture and somewhat unexciting budgets of the preview few years under Pak Lah's administration.

However, there are always room for improvements . Specifically in the education and training segments - I'll like to offer my penny's worth on 4 key 'constructive criticisms', starting first on this post with regards to "National Unity or Segregation".

I have written recently in my Merdeka post "49: Older, Not Wiser?" on the emphasis given to national unity highlighted in the 9th Malaysian Plan (9MP).
In Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi's foreword, he stated that the "National Mission underscores the need to pursue programmes that enhance the nation’s capability to compete globally, to strengthen national unity and to bring about a better distribution of income and wealth and higher quality of life among the people."

And amongst the "first steps" in National Mission extensive effort will be made to achieve the "overriding objective of the nation, that is national unity and integration."
I'm disappointed to the extent that there was absolutely no specific mention of "national unity" at all in the Prime Minister's 30-page long budget speech in Parliament, despite a few mentions in relation to the "National Mission". Is it then still a priority to the current government, which seems to be embroiled in several racial issues at this point of time?

In addition to that, and as highlighted in the earlier post on the budget, both the speech and the Economic Report 2006/7 made mention of specific substantial allocations to Mara colleges, institutions and colleges.
To accommodate this increase, 22 new primary and secondary schools will be operational next year, while an additional 198 schools will be built, including fully residential secondary schools. For this, about RM1 billion is allocated. At the same time, RM90 million is allocated for the construction of two new Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (MRSM) and for the purchase of equipment for existing MRSM facilities.

...214 million for programmes under MARA including Mara Skills Training Institutes, Advnaced Skills Training Institutes, Giat MARA programme and Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
Budget Speech 2007

A higher increase of 38.5% was allocated for educational infrastructure including the construction of pre-schools and primary schools, 12 Mara Junior Science Colleges, University Kuala Lumpur and 22 industrial training institutes.
Economic Report 2006/7
While many would argue on the inherent discrimination and injustice in the substantial allocations to institutions and programmes which specifically benefits only the bumiputeras - akin to first class travel for bumiputeras and budget seats for non-bumiputeras, I'd like to focus on its impact on national unity.

As reported in Malaysiakini yesterday - "House erupts over Chinese schools", there was a heated debate on the role in which the existence Chinese primary schools hinder the promotion of national unity in Malaysia. While "officially" denying that it was the government's stand, it is clear from the governments policies in non-allocation for additional Chinese primary schools that they are not in favour of vernacular education, despite the overwhelming demand, particularly from the Chinese community.

The questions I have for the Prime Minister, and accordingly the Ministry of Education are simple:

What is the point of attempting to foster national integration and unity at the primary schools by attempting to encourage more non-bumiputeras to enrol into national schools, when it comes to secondary schools, the Government then decides to ship off the bumiputeras to their own dedicated schools and communities?

What is the point of taking positive actions such as the teaching of mother tongues in the national primary schools commencing next year, in the hope of bring the various races and communities together under one roof, and then breaking them up again 6 years later?

While obviously not all bumiputeras get to attend the Mara Junior Science Colleges, the rate at which the government are building them, you'd soon find that all academically superior bumiputeras are segregated from the rest of the communities, leaving the less academically inclined bumiputeras in the company of Chinese and Indians in national secondary schools. The problem gets worse in Form 6, where bumiputeras attend matriculation colleges for separate entrance into the local universities.

Some might argue that a few years back, a 10% quota allocation has been provided to non-bumiputeras to attend MJSCs and matriculation colleges. Despite the fact that the quota is derisory, I have heard from unconfirmed sources in the MJSCs that the non-bumiputera community in MJSCs is no where near the 10% mark. In certain MJSCs, there are practically no non-bumiputeras allowed, including some of the best performing MJSCs.

Clearly, the Government has not been consistent in its policy for national unity and the current budget continues to demonstrate that inconsistency. Are we looking forward to the day whereby the so-called "national schools" are for non-bumiputeras while special Mara colleges are built for bumiputeras? What then is the difference from the current vernacular school system?

I'd like to repeat the quote I took from Tunku Abdul Aziz's Merdeka day article in the New Straits Times:
I place great store by equal opportunity in education, especially because it is immoral and ethically unacceptable to discriminate against innocent and vulnerable youngsters... How, in heaven’s name, can we expect them not to feel that they are from another planet? You cannot expect loyalty from impressionable young people when they feel marginalised. Equality of opportunity must be the cornerstone of national unity.
With continued segragation in educational opportunities between different races in Malaysia, true national unity will just be a mere pipe dream, no more than the self-congratulatory and staged open houses during the festive seasons.

Read also an earlier blog post on comments by Emeritus Professor Khoo Kay Kim of Universiti Malaya on the same issue here.


Anonymous said...

In the interest of fair play to all races and for uniformity and standards, why not just scrap all the STPM classes, and convert existing all STPM schools into MATRICULATION CENTRES?

As it is having these two parallel systems are creating more confusions regarding standards and CGPA, since the two systems are different

Everybody will be happy..If we have to sink to mediocrity let us sink together

Dont botther making more matriculation centres under MP9

Anonymous said...

The conclusion is...Malaysian education and politics are now in a quagmyre.
The more you move or try to change, the deeper you sink..
All no thanks to the politicians!
Everything is wat the penangites used to say...pi mai, pi mai...tang tu!

Anonymous said...

Mr Tony P,

Quote "I'm disappointed to the extent that there was absolutely no specific mention of "national unity" at all in the Prime Minister's 30-page long budget speech in Parliament, despite a few mentions in relation to the "National Mission". Is it then still a priority to the current government, which seems to be embroiled in several racial issues at this point of time?''


Thank you

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

You mentioned about certain MJSCs, there are practically no non-bumiputeras allowed. May I asked u one question sir?

Are they willing to go to MRSM Kuala Berang or MRSM Jeli or MRSM Kuala Krai, Sir? Would their parent let them go?

Anonymous said...

Whenever I hear the word "MARA", I have the impression that it was only for the bumiputera. Was it not? Only recent years, I came to know non-bumiputera can actually apply. How many of us know about this? how many non-bumiputera applied to the MARA group of institutes? Howe many was rejected? Do we have the statistics? Transparency?

Did any non-bumiputera applied to the MARA group of institutes in the first place?

Golf Afflicted said...

Referring to Kudai's comment:

I wouldn't count cursory reference in concluding paragraphs of the speech to be making particular policies in the budget for "national unity".

From Para 126 & 127:

"We must remain united at all times, and continue to build a resilient nation of Malaysians... Let us together move forward with unity of purpose to build a peaceful nation."

The above statements have almost become modified regurgitations in all speeches like "Come one now, lets all do this together!" or "Together we can do it!" - do they count as making reference to "national unity"?

You decide :)

Anonymous said...

To kikilala,
Way back in 1977, my cousin ( non-bumi ) was selected ( he did not apply ) to continue his secondary education in MARA Junior college after primary school.
Apparently,recently about 10% is allocated to non-bumi.
Perhaps, Tony, you can help us to verify on this .

Anonymous said...

..I have been informed that MARA from early days many many years ago had already granted overseas studies scholarship to non-bumis..

inspired :P

Anonymous said...

Tony P and KM,
I salute you both! You got all the time to write all these blogs! Fantastic!

Judging by the amount of words and thinkings that go into your writings, Wow! Its indeed a miracle if your wives and family are not complaining the amount of time you both invested in your blogs

And Wow! Look at the amount of HBPs and Heart attacks your blogs generate.

And best of all you seem to give a lot of opportunities for people to let out their vehemence and anger at each other. Both of you are natural politicians! Even geriatrics and pensioners are finding your blogs the reason to live

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

dear kikilala,

There has always been a small quota alloted to non-bumis. But it was only in recent years that it was more publicized, largely due to the election. There isnt much transparency, but the application process involves a common test. Hence, as long as you do well enough you will enter.

Did any non-bumiputera applied to the MARA group of institutes in the first place?

I applied in 2003. Went to MJSC Jasin (now Tun Ghaffar Baba MJSC) at 04-05. And we pwned the nation for SPM 05. So there. Anyone can apply. As long as you do well enough in the test, you dont have to worry.

I for one am very grateful for what MJSC Jasin had done for me. :)

Casper said...

The well learned gentleman Tunku Abdul Aziz's was so right in saying "Equality of opportunity must be the cornerstone of national unity.".
To achieve true unity, there should be only one type of people in Malaysia, called Malaysian. Introduction of the concept of bumi, non
bumi,chinese only itself is in fact already anti-unity. In Switzerland its residence speaks French and German, in Belgium French and Dutch,
so why can't we just have one type of school that teaches Bahasa, English, Chinese and Indian as compulsory language subjects so we can all communicate better and prevent gossiping in Chinese/Indian. Core science subject should be in English simply because of practicality.

Anonymous said...

I can remember the announcement made by the minister concern regarding non bumi admission to MRSM. Its on the daily newspaper. Well ignorance is not an excuse and not a defence as well.

Anonymous said...

There is this Law in Physics. Its Gravity law but can be applied here.

The greater mass will exert the greater gravitational pull compared to the smaller masses.

So in our educational politics, you all know what makes up the BIGGER MASS. Like it or not, their action will influnce or exert upon the SMALLER MASS

So Matriculation centres are increasing in numbers or masses
hehe...Physics is fun!

Anonymous said...

What else is new....sigh?

Anonymous said...

if you want to see some heated and emotional debates go to the blog:
University Teknolgy Mara- World Class?

It will guarantee to boil your blood!!

Anonymous said...

Well, as far as I know, non-Bumis are allotted spaces at MARA junior colleges. Unfortunately, they're not given MARA scholarships for tertiary study after secondary school. I know of someone who attended a MARA college. Everytime university scholarships were discussed, the non-bumis were asked to leave or told that they were not eligible.

Again the question of vernacular schools and MRSMs. I agree with you Tony. Everytime there is a problem, just blame it on the Chinese/Indian. Reminds me of the Blame the Jews mentality during Second World War in Europe.

Anonymous said...

So there again the racial issues...

You know what? I think our nation is really breaking up if we continue like this, despite some clever 'cover-up' by our so called leaders.

I had heard of some rumours that said that it was once proposed in the Constitution before our big day of 31 August 1957, that after 15 years of Independance, the Malay special rights would be demolished and every race would be treated the same.

Can anyone clarify this?

Everything seems to be all about the Malays now. So, I wonder, with more and more Indonesians (both illegal and legal) coming in, more and more crime rates committed mostly by Indonesians, and the government isn't really doing anything bout it until somebody got killed and became a hot issue, I wonder, where are we as a nation heading to?

I always dream for a racial bias free society in Malaysia. And I mean "Malaysia". So why there are so many Indonesians in this country? At this rate, sooner rather than later, this country will become like apart of Indonesia!

To me, if we want the so called national unity, we must have a fair system for everything, without any racial bias, right down to the education system. And throw away those extremist. Whoever who is good shall be offered a place in local university, and offered scholarship WITHOUT that quota thing. Whether ppl like it or not, I would say tat alot of Malays don't really deserved a place at all due to their poor performance. That's why Singapore always steal our talents! Because those are talents that don't even get a place in our U nor scholarship as "they were not good enough". But to those deserving Malays, I really had alot of respect for them you know...

Our beloved country Malaysia is blessed with lots of talents. And I don't think we shall throw away talents for racial bias issues. Wake up, Malaysia! Malaysia without those Indonesians, Bangladeshis, etc and without racial bias would be a much better country and would be a role model even to America.

Ps: I have a teacher who called the ones who came out with the statistics that most Universiti Teknologi MARA is unemployed as rubbish and she is well known to be racialist in the premier school of mine. And I wonder if most Mat Rempits are not Malays, would that somebody call them as the nation's assets? Interesting, huh? :)

Anonymous said...

to spm physicist

Mass means nothing without the mention of volume. There are materials with large mass and large volume and there are others with large mass but small volume. Mass and volume are not properties, but density is. Both have their uses, but using mass as the sole design criterion in any case is flawed. In Malaysia, this also results in the bleeding of the 'high density' people overseas. Why are there so many non-bumi academics/scientists in top institutions overseas?

Anonymous said...

First, sorry about 'off-topic'ing.
Calling Mat Rempit as Mat Cemerlang is kinda ridiculous but possible, only if they can show the stunts in the motor racing in international stage and win the titles to be called a world champion like Rossi. Mat Rempit with substance with above criteria is deservedly a Mat Cemerlang. Agreed?

Anonymous said...

Well, what can we say? After 49 years, the situation has gone from bad to worse. Obviously, the Malays are getting weaker day after day and afraid of competition, even from fellow Malaysians. In that case, how are they going to face the global competition?

There has been enough spoon feeding to the Malays that makes them who they are today, but yet the politicians seem to ignore the fact. Is it for propaganda motives, ie to make sure UMNO continues to be in power? Or those highly educated Malays intended to keep their fellow Malays "di bawah tempurung", so that they can forever be remembered as the supremes? So that they can stay rich and have a lot of servants, just like a monarch?

It is obvious that they themselves are looking down at their own skin colour, not others. Only competition can bring out the best in people. There are more than enough to learn from history.

What are they afraid of actually? Extinction? Power conflict among themselves?

Anonymous said...





Bigjoe99 said...

I am not sure people including you and Tony understand how the administration really feel about the issue of education. Frankly, after talking to some people in education, I have the conclusion that national unity is still NOT a high priority much like the whole KJ 'Chinese will make more demand..' speech or Hissamuddin keris incident.

The top priority of the Badawi administration is still improving the quality of graduates and post-graduate students coming out of the universities. This is because they have enough industry feedback to realize that growth in this country will come to screeching halt possibly very soon if the situation is not improved and significantly soon.

So the idea is to invest a lot in the universities but also start upgrading the quality of the primary and secondary schools so that the task at the universities would not be Herculean.

These two investments far exceed any other plans. In fact, national unity issue like many in Badawi admin early promise has been sidelined by traditional race-base and religious politics. So I think those who hope for improvement is naive. In the face of the looming crises in unemployable graduates and industry flight from this country as well as political challenge to its administration, the PM choices is quite clear..