Sunday, November 06, 2005

School Fees Discrimination: Not Malaysian Enough!

It appears that, according to the Federal Territory education director, Noor Rezan Bapoo Hashim and the Deputy Director-General (Schools) Datuk Khusaini Hasbullah, our Education Act (1996) is discriminatory against certain Malaysians. For some Malaysians, possessing the same citizenship still results in different treatment, such as having additional administrative and approval processes and even possibly paying different fees for schools.

On October 22nd, it was reported in Malaysiakini that several parents from Jinjiang, Kuala Lumpur, are faced with the possibility that their children have to pay more for school fees because one of the parents is a foreigner. Their place in the school may also be in doubt as it is subject to approval from the Federal Territory Education department’s communication unit. This is despite the fact that these children are already Malaysian citizens on their own.

Parents were unsurprisingly “dumbfounded”.
"I don't understand. I am Malaysian. My wife is from Taiwan, but my 12-year-old child is Malaysian, has a Malaysian identity card (IC) and was born here. Is she still to be treated as a foreigner just because my wife is Taiwanese?" asked Ong Seng Eng.
Another parent, Lock Heng Chong, whose wife is from Thailand, said the school authorities themselves had certified his daughter's citizenship but he still had to fill up copies of the 'JPWP/HDS001' application forms entitled 'foreign students' application to enrol in state/ state-subsidised school. The officers in the school informed him that it was “new regulations” issued.

What’s even worse, was a case reported through a letter in the Star on October 31st whereby “M. M.” was required to re-register her child with the State Education Department although her husband and I are Malaysian citizens by birth!

The only possible reason for the “discrimination” was because the child was born overseas, registered at the Malaysian High Commission and issued with a Borang W within a year of her birth. At the same time she has carried a Malaysian passport all her life and has been enrolled in the government school system for the past nine years.
“Yet we were issued with triplicate pink forms entitled Permohonan Penerimaan Masuk Murid bukan warganegara Ke Sekolah Kerajaan/Bantuan Kerajaan and asked to provide duplicate certified copies of supporting documents.”
There has since been several versions of replies provided by the Ministry of Education officials to date. One official argued that the regulations were not new, but were just being “enforced” today.
"It's just that there has never been a comprehensive exercise to record such particulars since the law was put into place. The ministry just wants to find out how many children of permanent residents and other foreigners are enrolled in our public schools. We don't know, for example, how many undocumented migrants have their children enrolled in public schools. That's all this is, for record-keeping purposes."
This was perhaps confirmed via a report in the Star on October 30th which stated that:
Every school-going child with one or both parents who are non-Malaysians must register themselves with their respective state Education Departments before they are allowed to start school next year.

The new directive from the Education Ministry requiring such students to fill up a special form titled “entry forms for foreign children” is to facilitate its efforts to collect data on students and their parents’ citizenship status. Parents who have received letters informing them of this new requirement should go to the relevant state education department to fill out a pink form.
I can completely understand the ruling if it refers to children whose citizenship is not Malaysian, even though I am certain there are more efficient methods of administrating the process above. What I cannot understand is why should a Malaysian child, who by default, has the right to enjoy the national education system be put through such silly hassles and humiliation just so that the Ministry can collect some “data”? As far as I’m concerned, there are far less discriminating and discreet methods of collating the required data.

Datuk Khusaini Hasbullah attempted to appease the infuriated parents by assuring them that “the school will accept the child as long as one of his parents is a Malaysian citizen”. He rationalised that the parents were angry because of the name of the form which implied that their child was a foreigner. He suggested that his Ministry will rename the form “Entry Form of Children with One Non-Malaysian Parent”.

Datuk Khusaini Hasbullah completely misses the point. Why should the child, if Malaysian and possess relevant documentation, be required to complete a form and obtain approval from the Ministry of Education when he or she has no problems obtaining the national registration identity card as well as the Malaysian passport? Why not just revise the enrolment form for all students to incorporate these data requirements for the Ministry to collate the information as per the cited Education Act.

To quote “M. M.”:
While we appreciate that the Education Ministry needs to reconcile its students register/ database, the authorities could have handled the exercise with a little bit more logic and sensitivity and not assume that one cannot be a citizen just because he or she is born overseas.
What really humiliates the child as well as the parents, and rubs salts onto the wounds, is when an official clarified that the charges, RM 240 for the secondary school level, RM 120 for primary school pupils, would be levied on parents upon approval of their application forms.
"The approving body is at the ministry level, not here at the department, and definitely not at the school. Furthermore, there's no question of payment at this moment. That only comes into the picture if the approval has already been made at the ministry.
Once again, this official completely misses the point. The contention is not so much “when” the parents have to pay the extra fees, but a “why” should their child, who is a Malaysian, have to pay more fees than other “normal” Malaysian children?

Noor Rezan Bapoo Hashim explained that one of the clauses under the Education Act states that as long as one of the child’s parents is a foreign national, the parents must fill the additional form. “Based on that, we can check whether these children have to pay more fees,” she said.

At the same time, the Education Ministry financial division secretary Mahanum Abdullah said that the move was to ensure that foreign students settled their fees promptly as many had failed to do so.

No, Pn Noor and En Mahanum, the way to check whether the child have to pay additional fees is not by checking for the nationality of the parents. It is by checking the nationality of the child!

Pn Noor had the cheek to advise parents to go ahead and register their children early “as sometimes these forms take time to process and I don’t want them to miss out on the first few weeks of term.” Pn Noor, if your department or ministry is unable to cope with the administrative and paper work involved in the policies to be implemented, then please don’t create these unnecessary rules and regulations in the first place!

I am certain that the above administrative debacle is not due to national laws and regulations such as the Education Act. The spirit of the law is clear, in the simple sense that foreign students need to be properly identified and registered. However, the civil service interpretation of such laws tend to be overwhelmingly to the letter and form, even if it is impractical, inefficient and worse, diametrically opposed to the spirit of the law.

We have obviously too many civil servants in the government, for the director-generals could no longer find productive functions for them to perform. Instead they have to be occupied with strategising on a "new entry registration for children with one non-Malaysian parent" and implementing new administrative red tape, paperwork and absolutely unnecessary hassles for the rakyat.

As expected, the Minister of Education Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, when queried by the MP for Kepong, Dr Tan Seng Giaw in Parliament more than a week ago, had no answers. I don't expect the minister to have answers probably because he is unaware that his ministry officials are so capable of ingenius ways of inconveniencing the public. Hopefully, he doesn't take too long to rectify the silliness of these new procedures and provide his response to Malaysians accordingly.


Anonymous said...

dont be surprised with all the unfair rules, u r not first-day born in msia, arent u? the so called prince of the earth(bumiputra) are always being given the priority and priviledge right from the education quota for university entry to the discount on the houses they buy in comparison to the other etnics who are receiving .... NOTHINg!!! so no more complaining , if u wanna live in msia , it is either u make some big evolution on the politics , or do nothing n wait to die , but never ever do a trivial and small changes like some other chinese leaders that makes us feel even more frustated

Anonymous said...

The Malaysian education system simply cries "DISCRIMINATION".

Anonymous said...

Looking into the deplorable state of our current education system, International Schools seem to be a better alternative for many parents to enrol their children in order to receive a more holistic education in terms of quality and integrity. After completing their O and A-Levels, oversea universities will always beckon on our children...

Anonymous said...

International schools are extremely expensive. Primary education tallies to about RM40-50k per annum and secondary to about RM60+k per annum. Do the math if parents have to support 3 kids. The amount of money paid per year will sum up to what 99% of Malaysian parents earn in 10 years.

John Lee said...

Thank God next year my sister will be the only one of my family in government school. My brother and other sister both have learning disabilities and are thus being homeschooled, while I have dropped out to do my A levels next year (I'm sitting for my O levels right now - I have a Maths paper tomorrow). This is absolutely ridiculous. We shouldn't have to pay for statistics we aren't going to be using. The burden should be on the government to collect the statistics without charging parents an exorbitant fee for having fallen in love with the wrong person and still deciding to give Malaysia the benefit of the doubt by dubbing their children "Malaysians".

Anonymous said...

International Schools are not that good an alternative for locals. There are horror stories about inexperienced teachers in terms of teaching and managing students. School finances are weak. The generation/culture/communication gap between parents and children can become destructive to the family, with siginificant disciplinary problems come adolescence.

John Lee said...

I agree. I find international schools to end up creating either rather smart and disciplined children (usually because of good parenting) or spoiled and average if not below average students (in academic terms). If you ask me, the upper class is already insulated enough from the poor people in the kampung. Don't exacerbate the problem. In primary school, I went to school with children who were glad to get free milk through a government-sponsored program, and kids from families that struggled to put the clothes on their backs. In secondary school, I studied in the same classroom as Chinese gangsters and saw how they lived. Meanwhile, my peers I met at the park in front of my house told me stories about CCTV cameras in their school, and blah blah about their spoiled lives. I have nothing against most of them, but this insulation really ticks me off.

Anonymous said...

Chinese getting straight As are not allowed into universities. Not allowed civil service jobs. That is blatant discrimination.

Why do you support such discrimination?

Chinese Malaysians have built very successful businesses, hence they have the wealth that they have. This is not greed. They worked for what they now own.

Why do you envy what does not belong to you? Is this not greed?

It is quite untrue that business offers are conducted on the basis of race. Starting any business is very very hard work, but the malays did not have a hard working tradition to persevere. This is a cultural change the malays need in order to conduct businesses successfully.

Armed with this knowledge, do you still insist that Chinese Malaysians are greedy, and therefore it is right for malays to take what does not belong to them?

Your perception of business in Malaysia has got to be wrong.

Most goods and services can be conducted in open markets, and there is no particular reason to single out malays so that Chinese businessmen should swindle them. There are lots of swindlers in business so it is not just malays who get swindled.

Successful businessmen depend on providing real benefits to customers and partners so that it is worthwhile for them to do business again and again to both parties benefit. It is only when customers also get rich that businesses can grow.

The discrimination against Chinese, Indians and other peoples cannot be tolerated in the modern world. Countries that do this will face long-term decline.

Hard working people are not greedy as you accuse them. They are hard working because they have a mission in life to prosper, to give offspring a good chance in life to live to the full, to contribute their talents to the betterment of society……….

This is not greed.

Whereas, envy of others wealth and taking what they have not worked for is greed.

I would put is stronger. It is robbery and corruption. You talk like a Mafia extortionist when you said that worse could happen to the Chinese, so be thankful because there are more malays than Chinese, and therefore they can take even more from the Chinese if they want to.

You have to be joking to believe that your greed and prejudices are the wonderful things about Malaysia. Well, may be you do.

Malaysia as describe it is a country based on racism, lack of a conscience, and greed (taking from hard working foreigners).

Meritocracy is denounced. Robbing the wealthy is promoted.

How can there be a good future for such a country?

Looking from outside of Malaysia, it is easy to see that the malay-controlled government is enforcing a wealth-robbing programme from the Chinese who earned their wealth through hard works.

By barring bright well-qualified Chinese Malaysians from entering Malaysian universities, Malaysia is pursuing a discriminatory policy based on race.

This is not tolerated in civilised countries. It is a policy that gives Malaysia a very bad reputation and deprives itself of its most talented.

It is a policy which tells the malays that robbing from the rich is not greed because being rich, being educated is the same as being greedy.

This is moral corruption and self-contradiction which Malaysia will pay a very heavy price.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The articles written here, is too focused on race.

Come on, all of us were born here, we know this race politics existed because of the divide and rule policies of the British.

Our political leadership was one of race based. Our forefathers only thought about their culture and language and finally agreed on power sharing based on quota's and retaining their culture and religion. We have TV channels focused for a particular race or religion. We have radio stations for only a certain language. So, why are we crying about unfairness, when it's us who also wanted this.

We allowed ourselves into this trap. Instead of focusing on living together, we kept harping race, religion as an issue.

Malaysia has evolved from a race tolerant to religious intolerance country. These are challenging times.

When Malaysia fails, we fail together. We have lost our economic advantage and our potential to be come a world leader by focusing and trying to protect our race and religion and many other trivial issues. The politicians are really blinding us, with their narrow race politics. Just look at a someone who is a leader of a state, preaching about how weak we will be if we don't revert teaching of Science and Maths from English. Let us not be fooled with this race trumpcard be it in Barisan or outside. We must all strive to rise above this level.

Let it be known, that Malaysia is still a better place to live as compared to Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore or Philipines. We are free to move anywhere within and outside Malaysia.

We can expand our business opportunity anywhere in the world. The opportunities given to the Bumiputras, is nothing as compared to the opportunities, we can create without any goverment aid. The question we need to ask is, do we have the willingness to move beyond ? Are we doing enough to make a significant change in our outlook and perception or are we too tainted with narrow political and religious views.

You should decide and not blame anyone else for your misfortune and please take all the credit, if you somehow make it big. The racists will be your friends, when they smell your money and will give you bumiputra privilleges if you could give them some opportunities.

Finally, wake up to the fact only you could decide what you and your children become. Not the so called racist, arrogant politicans or your jeaulous neighbours and friends.

A Contended Malaysian.

Anonymous said...

The non-malays have heard this one before - If you think that Malaysia not good, please go out this country.

Umno has been brought up to think they are the prince of the land.

Every time they get cornered, Umno will tell the other race to go out where they belong. I think Umno must change their thinking or they will pull down the country to the middle age.

So far there is no Umno leader that can lead them to be modern 21st century citizens.

Rather Umno is anti this or anti that. There is no forward looking and thinking to break free perspective.

Malaysia developed nation on year 2020?

The problem with Malaysia ministers is that they are mostly underachievers academically!

That is the reason why they simply speak without logic and reasons. This is also the very reason that I admire Lim Kit Siang, Karpal, etc, who can debate intelligently with those monkeys who never bother to understand what is uttered.

Just compare the resume of Malaysia ministers with that from our southern neighbour! Then you will understand.

I know their prime minister has a first class honors in science from Cambridge if I am not mistaken. The rest of his cabinets are very highly qualified. Hence you don't hear nonsense from them.

For your information, some Malaysia ministers would not be at all qualified for even an assistant post!

Our country leaders, not necessary meaning the prime minister, but overall people in power, people of authority etc, have no integrity, no moral, no self respect and most of no accountability and responsibility.

Let's not compare with other countries, as no countries have perfect leaders, but what they have is integrity.

When they do something wrong and they know it is wrong, nobody need to tell them to resign, they won't say our Malaysia usual line "Nobody can resign me except the prime minister" - we should call this the ball-less line.

If you have integrity and honest enough, you should just resign.

This is why Malaysia is moving backward. With this kind of ministers who are not willing to tackle the root of the issue, but instead blaming others for exposing bad news and sweeping things under the carpet - what hope can you foresee for Malaysia in the future.

Perhaps we should have "Look Africa" policy, rather than "Look East" policy - since a lot of things are similar between Malaysia and Africa countries except oil.

Anonymous said...

Malaysia is like a fine looking fruit from the outside but rotten on the inside.

However if you think Malaysia rolls out the red carpet for foreigners then go through KLIA with a foreign friend. You'll soon wake up and smell the coffee!

Be prepared to wait up to an hour after you've strolled through immigration for your friend to get through the (up to) 1 hour queue at the foreign passport desk, which is manned by 4 immigration officers. The Malaysian desks will have 8 officers and a quarter of the traffic. Last month I counted 387 people waiting in line (yes I was that bored)!

Compare that to traveling to London Gatwick with my Malaysian girlfriend when she got through immigration in the foreign queue about 2 minutes before me in the EU citizens queue.

I wouldn't be surprised if some foreign investors have made their decision in that first hour to not bother. The immigration at Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and dare I say it……….even bureaucracy India are faster than Malaysia. They are joint bottom with Thailand in the 25 countries I've visited for slow inefficient immigration.

Anonymous said...

Our government doesn't seem to understand the underlying problem why the non-malays are reluctant to send their children to the national schools. If they think that introducing formal language classes for Mandarin and Tamil will attract them back to the national schools, then they are in for a surprise.

But the fundamental question is whether our government is really serious about forging racial integration amongst its plural society. I don't think so. What about the bumi students that are creamed from national schools at standard six and sent to the fully residential Mara schools - an exclusive bumi institution catering exclusively for one community.

From the moment these students are taken from standard six, they have no contact whatsoever with non-bumi students. They students will not have any opportunity for interaction with other races.

And when these students continue their tertiary education, they again go through a phase in their adult lives when they virtually have no contact with the other races. From the cream of these students, one day will emerge a leader to lead this nation.

The frightening thought is that this leader will be someone who has no contact with, no knowledge of and no understanding of the other races in our country.

Anonymous said...

I applaud on what had said. They are presenting the real problems in Malaysia. I think any of you who say Malaysia could not be that bad is either in denial, you are in delusions or you are just got benefits from the government.

The malays who are spending on your tax money on scholarships are not as deserving as they think they are. Why should they be deserved to be given that much when they don't deserve it.

The percentage of malays getting the scholarships are very high. These are the so-called future generation of Malaysia who thrived in mediocrity and racism and being rewarded for it.

One mentioned that don't see malays staying oversea. You are right. So far I don't see any too. Most of them would want to go back. Because like they realised they cannot be useful enough to stay.

They know they have to be unfair to win. They know they need the government to be behind them all the time to ensure their survival. So that is why most of these incompetence choose to go back Malaysia.

But the situation is going to be even worse because in 10 years time down the road. The local universities churning out substandard people and the unemployment rate is going to go higher and higher.

Private sectors and investors from outside would not want people like them. They would just take in enough to fill the spot of their so-called quotas that the government put them in.

That is why you see the IT industry so popular but ironically employers prefer Indians from India or people from oversea. They would even go for expats because they know those are the competent people that can work.

So in years to come, the economy is going down because people in Umno and Umno Youth reward mediocrity and based on race. The scary thing is, they are proud of it too and think they are doing it right and can help Malaysia. Man - that is scary.

Also about the political sentiment they use, if you are patriotic give more to your country. My response is, the country hasn't given me anything why should I give to you o Malaysia.

My friends once told me, I would rather to be treated as second-class citizen in other country like the US or UK than to be treated as second-class citizen in Malaysia. At the very least, your voice is heard than in Malaysia where every good reason falls on death ear.

So if any of malay politician ask me to get out, provide me with the PR of USA and I am on my way.

So if the current PM want to make things right, he must not be afraid to put someone on the chopping block. He should think with integrity not rewarding people because they are cronies. By doing this, you are sending messages that you encourage things to be done this way.

So no wonder corruptions prevail and ton of incompetent people get to sit in the thrones of power. So there is literally no common sense involved except for the sake of covering their own ass. So it is really sickening to hear them praising about progressive society while the foundations of real civilization aren't there.

The malay scholarship holders are taking things for granted. They are paid insanely a lot all around the world as scholars. But look at it this way, that is the end of their career.

Well, not career, job, where you wake up day and night forcing yourself to the job you hate.

So don't get discouraged when you see them living the life. Envious are good, that makes you strive for excellence even more and more trying to beat them.

Since even the lowest pay in Australia, will overtake the pay in Malaysia, easily. If you don't believe me, ask a Australia grad student how much they are paid a month with their fees waived.

I am sure that is a new goal you should set yourself to work on. So carry on, don't despair, and don't give up.

It is not only shocking but also disgusting to see taxpayer's money being wasted on malay students who don't even deserve to go overseas.

The non-malay students with excellent marks cannot even enter local universities. The standard of English is on the decline, is what the newspaper says, but it only of those who study in the local universities and they are predominantly malays as well.

It is easy for one malay to say - I am not discriminating - but try living in the country as a non-malay.

Pork is banned everywhere but beef is served without any care whatsoever about others sensitivities.

You cannot start a program with a Hindu, Christian, Buddhist prayer but Muslim prayer is a must.

For all the stale bulls who believe Malaysia still has hope……….best of luck, as far as I am concerned I am going to be out of this country that practices apartheid.

I believe my children deserve to have equal opportunity in this world.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I just read through a comment written by 'contended malaysian'.

She said that "The opportunities given to the Bumiputras, is nothing as compared to the opportunities, we can create without any goverment aid."

Do you means that government project is nothing? Isn't it you are indirectly insulting the government since you say we should love malaysia? You told us not to be jealous of what the malay gets, isnt it you are getting what the have?

Just use your brain and do the calculation, without the goverment project given to the non-malay, the oppurtunity is lesser and the hard work is more since many field are related within.

We can work hard BUT do not tell me it's a fair game!