Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Origins of Malaysian Education System

I must thank a reader rakyat for pointing out the following article written by Mr Yang Pei Keng (whom I have the privilege meeting a few years back while my office consisted of less than 10 persons - though I'm not sure if he still remembers me and my wife).

It's a very well written and researched article reviewing and retracing the developments of our National Education system since independence, published on the Johor chapter of the Malaysian Bar. In the word of the author:
The purpose of this article is to help understand the national education of Malaysia by way of tracing the brief history of the national education policy and the national education system through a series of education reports introduced and legislation passed during the period prior to Independence and after Independence until the present day.

The article also touches on the implementation of quota system in the educational field, the difference between quota system and affirmative action, the legality of the manner of its implementation, the failure of the quota system and the anomaly created by the implementation of such system.

Finally, it also briefly touches on the challenges faced by our national education and the expectations in respect of the national education in the future.
This novice blogger on Education in Malaysia is humbled by the article and will be doing some "homework" on it later tonight.

If you are interested in the origins and developments of the Malaysian education system from a slightly more legal framework - read the article here.


Anonymous said...

Since the implementation of the meritocracy system, the percentage of malays accepted into local universities has increased every year. Do you believe that based on merit, the number of Chinese who qualify for university is lower than the number of malays?

If that is true, then the malays have improved by leaps and bounds, exceeding all the objectives of NEP.

But we only need to look at the PMR and SPM results to know that malay students lag far behind their Chinese counterparts. It is only when Chinese students take the STPM and the malay students take their matriculation examinations that suddenly, malay students become superior.

We live in a wonderful fairyland where ministers can say that the colour of milk is black and nobody dares to question it. Let's have the courage to face the truth, don't call an arbitrary system 'meritocracy'.

Stick to the previous quota system - at least the pitiful Chinese and Indian students will have a secure share of university places.

Just go to any faculty in any university and compare statistics of first year results between matriculation students and STPM students. If matriculation is on par with STPM, why are the matriculation students found wanting?

Is a common university entrance examination too much to ask? At least under the quota system, it was discrimination pure and simple. Now, we have the same, if not more severe, discrimination and we have people shoving it down our throats claiming it is a fair-for-all system.

Many young non-bumi post-SPM school leavers have asked my advice as to whether they should continue their studies in STPM in order to secure a place at local universities for studies of their choice such as medicine and pharmacy.

My answer is really simple: go somewhere else unless you really cannot afford any other pre-university course other than the STPM. STPM is a dungeon for the non-bumi students who have to spend two years for it while their bumi counterparts only have to spend one year in the matriculation which almost secures them some places in the universities.

The racial divisions of the bumi matriculation and the non-bumi STPM programme is actually de facto apartheid that has severely divided our young people of various races.

Protesting towards such a racial policy itself is not being racist. But advocating such clearly racial policies in promoting immorality itself is, and therefore it is a bigger evil than the policies themselves.

Golf Afflicted said...

Hey Rakyat,

Yes, I have hired NUS/NTU grads before but only a couple for my Singapore office (very few staff there).

No specific comments about standards, but very pricey lah. :)


Anonymous said...

Read it all. In Mahathir's Malaysia, over 40% of the population lives under Constitutionally mandated and perpetual state sanctioned racism. It is verging on illegality to even bring up the subject - even in parliament.

Non-bumis live under widespread and considerable electoral, educational, economic and even religious restrictions and also have to live with the risk of racially motivated stirring from malay politicians who could put one nation to shame. And don't ask about illegal aliens, they're safely locked up in detention centres.

Unsurprisingly, some malay policies have played upon resultant fears of racial tensions and the difficulties non-bumis face in creating their own political voice to shore up a captive vote in the ethnic electorate.

Starting up a company or even purchasing land and property is harder and more expensive for non-bumis. The only way to alleviate their permanent designation as a second-class citizen is to convert to Islam and thus enjoy partial legal acceptance as a bumis.

This Malaysia, a land where racism is used to justify racism, is Mahathir's creation and if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black, then I need a new palette.

Perhaps you may have heard of the axiom making its rounds among the Malaysian bloggers:

"If it is a malay issue, it is a national issue. If it is an Indian issue, it is not an issue. If it is a Chinese issue, it is a racial issue."

That is the problem with Malaysia. The Chinese and Indians are made to feel as if Malaysia is for the malays, and not for the citizens of Malaysia. Even the textbooks are often written as if addressing the malays instead of Malaysians, with references to Islam and other malay cultural aspects.

Just look at Singapore. In spite of their being a multiracial society completely lacking in national resources, they are now a developed country. Why?

Because the people there are united. There is no presumption that the average citizen is a Chinese or any serious programme giving a particular race special rights.

The presumption that greed, dishonesty, and betrayal are innate qualities of a Chinese is simply as abhorrent as the presumption by some Chinese that malays smell bad, are lazy, and are extremely religious to the point of martyrdom. Such stereotyping accomplishes nothing.

If Chinese kids won't die for Malaysia, we should not jump to the conclusion that Chinese cannot be trusted. Instead, we should consider it equally among other possibilities, such as the government's policies creating a feeling of unfair treatment despite the premise that we are all equal as citizens of Malaysia.

We know what the original intentions of the malay special privileges provision in the Merdeka Constitution were, but to maintain that it is a carte blanche for all manner of discrimination based on the bumi/non-bumi divide is certainly straining credibility.

Now that the commanding heights of the Malaysian economy have fallen into the hands of malay capitalists 48 years after independence, is it wrong to appeal for a new consensus based on social sector and need instead of race?

From the above, it is clear that the question of the constitutionality of the quota system as it has been practised since 1971 especially in totally bumi institutions has never been tested.

Because the government imposes racial quota in education and government departments, therefore Singapore and other countries take fortune at the tide. For years, there has been brain drain to our neighbour.

I called my newfound friend earlier who works in Singapore. Somehow, the conversation ended up on Malaysians holding top positions in Singapore.

Well, I have a good friend who is currently working with a top-notch investment company in Singapore. When my new friend found out, immediately said, "No wonder that Pak Lah person was mentioning about the brain drain in Malaysia!"

Well, I know a lot of doctors and scientists are working overseas. A number of my school alumni are actually working overseas and not in Malaysia. Some are doing well in Boston, London, to name a few. It's even funnier to hear stories of some of my school alumni to accidentally meet each other when they are overseas. Yes, my school is guilty for contributing to the brain drain……….

Closer to home, I wonder if Pak Lah knows about our own Malaysian companies that are also contributing to the brain drain. No name mentioned, but I know of one company, due to the change in business process has forced a number of the disgruntled staff to leave the company.

The worse thing, these staff left and joined the competitors that are not Malaysian owned. And even worse, some staff actually decided to leave Malaysia and work at greener pastures.

They could have stayed in Malaysia, but no company in Malaysia could afford to pay the expected salary due to the staff being former scholars and studied overseas during the economic crisis.

Sad really. Now wonder why Pak Lah has an uphill task.

Clearly, there has always been movement of highly skilled people in and out of a country. If there is brain drain from a particular country, it can scarcely develop. On the other hand, if it can keep its talents and successfully attract its skilled citizens to return as well as foreign talents to come, it will prosper.

Anonymous said...

Forty-eight years after independence, the people of Malaysia are still searching for an identity. Are they malays or muslims first; are they Chinese, Indians or Malaysians first?

This identity crisis is a result of the failure of the BN government, which has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957, later as the expanded Barisan Nasional.

Democracy has suffered but a greater victim has been nationhood. Of course, the early leaders claimed they needed time to mould the country into a nation, but time appears to have overtaken them.

Umno had used every opportunity to mobilise the malays to assert themselves as a race, profiled as such by their religion, Islam. Umno's call for the malay to be the dominant race, paid off handsomely. The malay vote became Umno's forte. It made Umno the premier party within the BN, its leaders becoming the wielders of all power in government.

The component parties have been slowly relegated to parties of minions. The racial groupings were substantial but concentrated in areas in the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia.

Their leaders were given liberties and were also nurtured by Umno. Although this led to the creation with their excesses and tantrums and arrogance, it served Umno well.

Having lost its hold on the malay vote, Umno is buying time to reinvent itself. There is no doubt Umno and the BN will form the next government.

The election call against corruption and for a committed civil service are enticements for the non-malay vote.

Tomorrow's vote will be a vote of whether the non-malays believe in Badawi's promises, and whether the Chinese will rally to the new MCA leadership and the unity call between MCA and Gerakan.

The Indian vote is fragmented with MIC's leadership crippled, and a baggage of community woes. The malay vote is yet to be convinced the BN government is post-Mahathir. It has also been too long immersed in the religious cocoon to expect dramatic changes in directions.

Whatever the swings, the future of the country will lay with the creation of a national identity.

Prime Minister aspires to establish a clean, honest and transparent government. This government must be founded on the notion of truth - whether on the truth that hurts or on the truth that delights. Hence, he has encouraged his civil servants, colleagues, politicians and subordinates to relate to him evidences, facts and truths.

Judging from his sincere intent, this new behaviour should be cultivated and encouraged so that it can blossom into a permanent governance and political culture.

Issues which are classified as sensitive or taboo - concerning culture, race and religion - have long been embedded into our national politics and essentially the revelation of truth may impinge into these forbidden territories.

Lifting the barrier to free, open and civil discussion on this issue could help to ease the situation and may even lead to better inter-ethnic understanding of each other's fear and needs. The success of the civic public sphere, which hinges on the maturity of the society, can be proven when we can discuss sensitive issues without needing to resort to violence or threats to burn down temples, mosques or the churches.

Speaking the truth does not seem all that easy after all, but I remain optimistic and hopeful that this new administration will walk its talk.

Anonymous said...

The younger generations, even though they seem to know the theoretical rationale of the social contract and try hard to live by it, do not have the same understanding of it as the older generations do.

Poor people are poor people, rich people are rich people - no matter which race they come from. Justice and compassion prevails when rich people recognise their responsibility to the poor and the poor use the benefits given to them to better their lives.

Fair and equitable distribution of the prosperity that we enjoy in this country will ensure that our peace and harmony survives. That would probably require a mindset shift within our society.

However, many have experienced frustration under the Malaysian politico-social system, which has failed to recognise their contributions and skills, or ignored utilising them appropriately for the national benefit, or stymied their business ventures.

Many of these people have migrated to another country where they hope to be more appreciated and where their children may enjoy a better chance of succeeding in life.

We should resolve why the Chinese-Malaysian population is reducing. Official figures have more than one million Chinese Malaysians emigrating over the past 25 years. Why did they emigrate? I am sure the government knows.

While we push young talented people away, other countries notably Singapore, the US and Australia welcome them with open arms.

About 30 percent of top management in both Singapore's government and corporate sector are ex-Malaysians. We export them so that Singapore can compete with, and then whack us.

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