Move away from a culture of mediocrity! Who does Malaysia belong to?


Mediocre future? If selection at the matriculation level is not based on meritocracy, the quality of our
tertiary institutions will be diluted and they will produce only mediocre graduates eventually.
— Filepic

Affirmative action should be based entirely on need because a poor Malay student needs a scholarship just as badly as a poor Indian or Chinese student.

THE debate over the intake of students into matriculation colleges in the country is an annual one, just like the offer of government scholarships. I have been a keen follower of this subject for many years and there has never been a year without complaints being made about the selection process.

It is always about top scoring non-Malay students in the SPM examination not being offered places while others with lower grades walk into colleges. This is nothing new in Malaysia, actually.

So why the intense debate now, with leaders from both sides of the political divide openly defending or criticising the quota system applied to the selection?

For those who may not know, the 90:10 (bumiputra:non-bumiputra) quota has been in existence since 2005, according to records. There have been “political adjustments” in the past when more non-Malay students were offered seats, but these were one off actions presumably during election years to woo votes.

One of the reasons for the deluge of criticisms now – some from leaders in the Pakatan Harapan coalition itself – could be due to the new kind of democracy that we expect under the new government.

There have been unverified reports of heated arguments in the Cabinet among ministers, with some defending the policy and others against a quota system that appears to be extremely unfair to Malaysians as they are being deprived of one of their rights in their motherland. Yes, Malaysia is the motherland for most of us and not India or China or Indonesia.

Maybe our government leaders should see the extent of hatred in the social media clips and hate messages that have been circulating expressing the anger, fear and frustrations of non-Malays.

And, of course, some unfairly blame Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, seeing him as the man who started this quota system previously and who is now perpetuating it.

What I gather from media reports and social media is that people feel Pakatan has moved away from its election promise of building a more equitable society that will not deprive any community of fair and equal access to tertiary education.

Hearing this promise, among others, Malaysians placed much hope on Pakatan building a new society for all races. When they see it is not happening, or becoming worse in some instances, they react.

I don’t think it is wrong for every top performing student from the B40 (lower income) category to feel devastated if he or she is deprived of a seat while lower-performing schoolmates are offered places. It makes me wonder if the selection committee has some ulterior motive to create this situation to benefit the opposition.

The matriculation programme, an affirmative action policy, started as a system that was based on wonderful ideals, so most Malaysians did not question its implementation initially. But for some reason, it has come to be regarded as pernicious now, as it appears to benefit only one community.

I believe that this practice has led – whether consciously or not – to excellence being suppressed to the point of creating a culture of mediocrity in many aspects of life. This is not going to change even if another government comes into power as long as the policy is not tweaked to meet the changing world.

OK, the government decided to add another 15,000 seats to the 25,000 given out in an attempt to quell the current outcry. Based on the quota, an additional 1,500 non-bumiputra students will now be given college places. At the same time, there will be another 13,500 bumiputra students added, which means there is a high possibility of the need to take in weak students just to meet the quota.

If this practice goes on, it will continue to dilute the quality of our tertiary institutions, producing only mediocre graduates eventually.

As a result, striving for excellence has become secondary, with some Malaysians feeling it is their right to be given university or college seats, or positions and promotions later, because they belong to one race. This is widely in existence and is being perpetuated despite the new government’s promises.

Winning votes at any cost has become as addiction with our politicians, it seems. Are we going to let their thirst for power destroy our nation?

I do agree that most Malaysians are not ready for an absolute meritocratic society because, as some critics say, it will create reverse discrimination where the majority will lose out to a minority.

But I believe, slowly but surely, the balance has to change for non-bumiputra citizens. After all, we are not asking for what is not ours, only what we deserve.

There is no discrimination when we pay our taxes and our only home is Malaysia. And I am sure the first two lines of our national anthem run deep in our hearts: “Negaraku, tanah tumpanya darahku (My country, for whom I will shed my blood)” are words that most of us carry in our hearts, and we are indeed ready to take up arms to defend the nation from any threat, as shown in the past.

We are in the 21st century now when affirmative action should not be based on a citizen’s skin colour or creed. Affirmative action should be based on one’s need because a poor Malay student needs a scholarship just as badly as a poor Indian or Chinese student.

There are many Malaysians who think that we’ve arrived at a time when affirmative action needs to be dismantled slowly, with a specified time frame given.

But this is a highly contentious issue and the government must tread carefully, as any sudden deprivation will have a strong social reaction.

We should create a belief that a love of learning will gain Malay-sians far more than any affirmative action laws we might pass.

But this change should come from within, as no quota or law can make us realise this. If Malaysians are not willing to work hard and earn their places or positions and instead wait for hand-outs all their lives, we will fail as a nation eventually.

kparkaranLet’s stop breaking the hearts of Malaysians when it comes to education. All students need a helping hand, irrespective of who they are, as we march onwards towards becoming a respected First World nation.

Read more  

 

 

We can soar with a meritocratic system – Letters

 

Who does Malaysia belong to?

 

Great responsibility: To move forward, we Malaysians have to take responsibility for the destiny of the nation on our own shoulders.

The Federal Constitution does not confer any rights to ‘ownership of the nation based on ethnicity or religion.

TO whom does Malaysia belong to may sound like a hilarious question, but do not overestimate the capacity to which the human mind is used.

Experience and observation will tell you that many of us (sometimes me included), often make a choice of not thinking about things based on facts. Instead, we form conclusions based on conjectures and other people’s uninformed opinions.

So who does Malaysia belong to?

There are many ways of approaching this question. As I often tell the audience in my talks about “thinking”, we have to understand the question first before we can even attempt to seek an answer.

For example, if we think of Malaysia as a politico-legal entity – a “nation” – then it becomes obvious that the question relates to an examination of the legal structure of the nation.

Seeking the answer may lead to further questions. It is no longer a “kedai kopi” kind of discussion where everyone wants to have a say simply because they can make sounds with their mouths. That can be a tiring experience, at least for me.

So when then did the politico-legal entity called “Malaysia” come into being’?

Malaysia was legally born on Sept 16, 1963, when the Federation of Malaya (West Malaysia), Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak formed the larger Federation of Malaysia. About two years later, the Malaysian Parliament passed a Bill to separate Singapore from the Federation. Hence, from 1965, Malaysia is legally made up of what is know today as West and East Malaysia.

Obviously, we do not think that the Federation of Malaysia had come about as a result of some casual social chat between the leaders of the respective states over teh tarik.

There were meetings and discussions back and forth between the parties and they came up with an agreement to join together as the Federation of Malaysia vide the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Whenever there is an agreement, there are terms and conditions for the parties to abide by. The agreement, however, is not the subject of this article.

When you see Malaysia as a legal entity, you will immediately ask a few other questions: How is Malaysia managed as a nation and who manages it? What are the rights, duties, obligations, and privileges of the “members” of this Federation of Malaysia? What about “non-members” who are present in the Federation?

These kind of questions have to be asked and thought about. We can understand that the “members” refer to the states that make up Malaysia and most of the human beings who live here.

The human beings make up the citizens and the non-citizens and well, some illegal immigrants. Each of these human beings have different legal status in our country.

When we speak of “belong”, we think in terms of ownership, management, rights and privileges. How is it possible to say something belongs to you if you do not own it, or do not have the right to manage it?

Legally, the nation is “owned” by the citizens of the country because they are authorised to “manage” the country and to determine its destiny. The citizens can either bring the nation to a high level of civilisation or bring it down to a failed state.

The basic framework of the rights of the citizens and how the nation is to be managed is provided for in the Federal Constitution, correctly termed by the constitutional law expert Professor Emeritus Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi as the “document of destiny”.

How we interpret the Constitution and if at all we give “life” to the provisions in the Constitution will shape the destiny of the nation. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and it is an extremely important document that every citizen should know.

It is important to note that the Constitution does not confer any rights to “ownership” of the nation based on ethnicity or religion.

Every citizen is equal before the law save for particular laws relevant to particular groups of citizens due to the diverse nature of our citizenry. The Constitution clearly spells out the fundamental liberties that all citizens have a right to enjoy in Part II, and the manner in which the Federation of Malaysia is to be managed in Part IV and VI.

There are also provisions regarding the civil service (Part X), the judiciary (Part IX) and elections (Part VIII), to name a few.

In this regard, therefore, any claims to ownership of the country in terms of religion or ethnicity is therefore not supported by the reality of the law.

It is also a divisive and bigoted perspective which will harm the nation in the long run. In layperson terms, Malaysia legally belongs to all Malaysians and they have equal rights and duties to develop Malaysia and to live in it peacefully.

Do not behave as if the country belongs only to the politicians in power. We should have learnt this lesson by now. Ownership does not come without an effort. You have to protect the nation as how you protect your home or property in accordance with the laws.

If you really think this country belongs to you, then you should not simply be subservient to unjust laws, if any.

You have to challenge it and ensure that it is consistent with the provisions in the Constitution and move your parliamentary representatives to pass just laws that will protect you and develop the nation wholesomely. Ownership comes with real responsibility and not with mere slogans, rhetoric or political speeches.

It is most unfortunate that despite having achieved independence for more than 60 years, there are still many citizens who are ignorant of the Constitution.

This I believe, is largely due to their own apathy and also due to the unfortunate Malaysian culture of taking the politicians to be their teachers.

Hence, political narratives that affront common intelligence are mistaken to be the law by the feeble minded amongst us. We have to move forward and take responsibility for the destiny of the nation on our own shoulders.

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White supremacy – Terrorists attack mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand


https://youtu.be/lUrXuS0sPOo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Gunman livestreamed shooting at mosques

 CHRISTCHURCH: An Australian gunman (pic) involved in attacks on New Zealand mosques that left at least 49 people dead published a racist manifesto on Twitter beforehand then livestreamed his rampage, according to an online analysis. 

Police called for people not to share the video, which showed the gunman shooting repeatedly at worshippers from close range.
“Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online,” New Zealand police said in a Twitter post.

“We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.”

The media analysed a copy of the Facebook Live video, which shows a clean-shaven, Caucasian man with short hair driving to the Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch, then shooting as he enters the building.

It was determined the video was genuine through a digital investigation that included matching screenshots of the mosque taken from the gunman’s footage with multiple images available online showing the same areas.

The manifesto detailing motivations for the attack was posted yesterday morning onto a Twitter account with the same name and profile image as the Facebook page that streamed the attack.

Entitled The Great Replacement, the 73-page document said the gunman had wanted to attack Muslims.

The title of the document has the same name as a conspiracy theory originating in France that believes European populations are being displaced in their homelands by immigrant groups with higher birth
rates.The manifesto said the gunman identified himself an Australia-born, 28-year-old white male from a low-income, working-class family.

He said that key points in his radicalisation were the defeat of the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen in 2017 elections, and the death of 11-year-old Ebba Åkerlund in the 2017 Stockholm truck attack.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the attacker at the Masjid al Noor mosque was an Australian.

“We stand here and condemn, absolutely the attack that occurred  today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist,” said Morrison.

New Zealand authorities said that three people had been arrested, but their identities were not made public.

The media confirmed the authenticity of the livestreamed video partly by matching the distinctive features at the mosque seen in the footage with images available online.

These included a fence, postbox and doorway at the entrance to the mosque. — AFP

Christchurch appears to be the latest in a global series of rightwing terror

People arrive for Sunday services at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina after a shooting.
People arrive for Sunday services at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina after a shooting. Photograph: John Taggart/EPA

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/16/a-history-of-recent-attacks-linked-to-white-supremacism

In the past eight years, across continents, white supremacists have repeatedly chosen the same targets for shootings, stabbings, bombings
and car attacks.

The mass shootings on Friday  targeting two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 49 people, appear to be the latest in a drumbeat of attacks motivated by the belief that the white race is endangered. The perceived threats include Jews,
Muslims, immigrants, refugees, feminists and leftist politicians.

The attackers have not been part of a single white supremacist group. But they are steeped in the same global racist propaganda, fluent in the same memes and conspiracies, and the perpetrator of one attack often references the names of the killers who came before.

In less than a decade, these attacks have included: Read more:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/16/a-history-of-recent-attacks-linked-to-white-supremacism

Massacre livestream tests internet governance

The internet has promoted economic and social development. Such a function must be ensured, its openness maintained. Meanwhile, chances should be reduced for the internet to stir up troubles for society or severely mislead social ideologies. Which country does a better job will be tested by its internet economy’s achievements and comprehensive fulfillment of the nation’s economic and social development.

Source: Global Times | 2019/3/18 21:38:42

Mass shooting exposes Western flaws

The Western established advantages are indeed tremendous, but its self-adjustment ability is weakening, and some so-called adjustments often surrender to populism. The West is entering a problematic period that strikes at its very foundation.

Source: Global Times | 2019/3/17 20:43:40

Than Hsiang – Engineering change for greater good


Guan Yin – Goddess of Mercy”
http://thanhsiang.org/en/

Than Hsiang Foundation was established in January 1990 to promote Buddhist education, welfare and cultivation based on the Conviction of: “The Young to Learn, The Strong and Healthy to Serve, The Aged and Sick to be Cared For, The Departed to Find Spiritual Destination.”
Ven Wei Wu (right) speaking at a dialogue commemorating the 25th anniversary of his renunciation on April 29, 2017.

Retiring engineer-turned-abbot has made big contributions to education, culture and welfare

BEFORE answering his calling to serve as a Buddhist monk, Neoh Kah Thong was a successful engineer, having done very well in Penang’s pioneer high-tech sector.

He learned Total Quality Management (TQM) from his Japanese teacher and friend, Prof Noriaki Kano, and implemented it successfully at his workplace in Penang, a sales office in Kuala Lumpur, and many government and private organisations.

For 19 years after graduating from a New Zealand university, Neoh worked tirelessly as an engineer, manager and consultant in New Zealand, Malaysia, Asia, the United States and Europe.

He also travelled extensively during this period and learned about the various cultures and acquiring knowledge while building up a wide network.

When he became a monk at 43, Neoh took up the name Venerable Wei Wu and continued to implement the TQM system at Bayan Baru’s Than Hsiang Temple which he founded with a group of friends working in Penang’s multi-national companies, mostly from Hewlett Packard.

“There was no looking back. With the help of my colleagues, friends, benefactors and supporters, we embarked on the mammoth task to build up the Buddhist organisation till today,” he said.

For many years, the Buddhist fraternity, especially those staying in Penang and the northern states, have regarded Ven Wei Wu as synonymous with Than Hsiang and vice versa. He is highly revered as a fatherly religious figure.

However, come March 16 this Saturday, Ven Wei Wu will retire as the Than Hsiang abbot at a ceremony where Ven Zhen Dian will be installed as the new abbot.

Born into a wealthy family, Ven Wei Wu, now 70, said his parents passed away before he was ordained.

“My eldest sister and foster mother were initially concerned about me abandoning my successful career. But they soon came to accept my decision and happily witnessed my ordination by Senior Ven Xiu Jing.”

Than Hsiang now has extensive ‘cradle to grave’ services and facilities including 10 kindergartens, Dharma classes for children and adults, Taiji classes, pre-marital courses, free clinics, vegetarian canteen, counselling centres, homes for senior citizens at several branches in the country as well as the International Buddhist College in Thailand.

He recalled that Than Hsiang was mooted at the Hewlett Packard canteen when his colleagues questioned him about his vegetarian diet.

“They also questioned me about Buddhism and its practices. We then started meditating and doing puja together in a colleague’s house before setting up a centre in Bayan Baru, which later became Than Hsiang.

“I received my higher ordination at the Hsi Lye Temple in the United States. I later received my Chan (Zen) Dharma transmission from Senior Venerable Bo Yuan in the Zhaodong Chan Dharma lineage,” he added.

Than Hsiang Temple was initially a place mainly for spiritual practice.

Later, it extended to play a social role in promoting education, welfare and cultural activities.

According to Ven Wei Wu, although Than Hsiang is a spiritual organisation, it is also active in education, social and cultural work.

“I believe that Than Hsiang will become better when I retire as abbot but I will still play a different (advisory) role.

Than Hsiang now has extensive ‘cradle to grave’ services and facilities including 10 kindergartens, Dharma classes for children and adults, Taiji classes, pre-marital courses, free clinics, vegetarian canteen, counselling centres, homes for senior citizens at several branches in the country as well as the International Buddhist College in Thailand.

Than Hsiang now has extensive ‘cradle to grave’ services and facilities including 10 kindergartens, Dharma classes for children and adults, Taiji classes, pre-marital courses, free clinics, vegetarian canteen, counselling centres, homes for senior citizens at several branches in the country as well as the International Buddhist College in Thailand.

“My successor Ven Zhen Dian was among the first batch of monks and nuns to be ordained at Than Hsiang Temple after me, so he is no stranger to the older devotees,” he said.

On his future plans, Ven Wei Wu said he would want to attain spiritual liberation, ultimately Buddhahood. He would also like to share the Dharma with friends in China and Western countries, if necessary to continue in future lives.

Than Hsiang started with about 20 members in the 80s, today it has 20,000 members and some 200,000 who support the organisation directly or indirectly in and outside Malaysia.

They have set up facilities such as a Metta Free Clinic, 10 kindergartens, two Mitra counselling centres and four senior citizens’ homes.

In Malaysia, there have branches in Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Wilayah, Negri Sembilan and Perak.

In Thailand, they have a Foundation and the International Buddhist College (IBC) which will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

International Buddhist College IBC
 
https://youtu.be/4ONLBYIa0VA

IBC is an accredited institution offering BA, MA and PHD degree in English and Chinese mediums.

They have produced graduates from more than 30 countries. The students were recruited from top schools and universities such as Yale, Columbia, HKU, MU and NUS.

IBC graduates have been accepted into top universities of the world.

Currently, Than Hsiang is supporting the four Phor Tay schools financially as well as providing teachers with Buddhist classes.

The good work of Ven Wei Wu is the visible outcome of Than Hsiang’s noble mission: “For the young to learn, the strong and healthy to serve, the aged and sick to be cared for, and the departed to find spiritual destination.”

Source: Metro News

Related:

Let’s go back to basics


The right fundamentals: By cutting out the ‘fanciful non-productive’ elements, we can beef up our core curriculum that would increase the standards of our education at no additional cost overall.

 

Reforming Malaysian education can be affordable and simple – if we put our minds to it.

THIS piece was prompted by a very interesting exchange during a “townhall” dialogue session with the Education Minister at the Malaysian High Commission in London last month. In the said townhall, the Minister had reportedly alluded that “70% of education budget is spent on salaries, hence the remaining 30% is not sufficient to radically revolutionise and reform our education agenda”.

This reminded me of an open letter by the Perlis Mufti, Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, to the Prime Minister and Education Minister on Dec 22 last year.

Now I am not prone to quoting muftis and ulamaks, but when one makes sense, I will acknowledge it. This letter makes so much rational and economic sense that it is amazing that it has been basically ignored by the government and the mainstream media.

The Mufti lamented the breakdown of social harmony between the various races, attributing it towards an education system that is – from Year One – “by habit” (“secara tabiat”) exclusive in character to a specific race or religion, be it Malay-Islam, Chinese or Indian.

He even conceded that we could not deny that our national school (Sekolah Kebangsaan) environment has become Malay-Islam dominant.

In a nutshell, here are the Mufti’s proposals:

1. One school system for all, being the national schools, must be truly Malaysian in character, which would allow all race and religions to learn in comfort.

2. Eliminate all religious elements that tend to produce unconducive learning environment for all races in the schools.

3. Carry out Islamic education outside of the normal school session, not during the hours where children of all races and religions are learning.

4. Revamp the Islamic education content such that it is enhanced and improved, and it does not disturb the character of the national schools, which is the domain of all races and religions.

5. All costs for Islamic education should be borne only by Muslims from zakat and/or the respective Islamic state departments. The same should be for other religions, borne by their respective communities.

6. All Islamic schools, Chinese and Tamil primary schools can carry on as supplement to the national schools as an evening session after the main school sessions are over.

Tell me now, is that not one of the most progressive and impactful ideas forwarded by anyone in a long, long time with respect to Islamic education and its possible impact on our school system, children and society?

We need our Government to take these ideas seriously. It is consistent with our Constitution’s requirements that funding for religious activities should only in principle be from that community itself.

There is, however, one issue that needs to be thought about when implementing these suggestions. The Chinese national-type schools have today became a refuge for students from all races wanting to have a more secular and challenging learning environment compared to our national schools. In fact, even the Tamil schools are becoming more credible primary learning institutions compared to before. They are no longer a place where parents seek ethnic identity but more a place where the parents feel more assured of its standard of education than the national schools.

In fact, the educational standards at the national schools has eroded so much that Chinese national-type schools are the school of choice for demanding parents who cannot afford international private education. Therefore, while the aspirations for a single-school system devoid of religious classes and environment are laudable, we need to also address:

1. A transitional strategy to convert Chinese national-type schools into a single-school system without losing their high standards.

2. Strategies and plans on how to raise the standards at national schools.

We cannot do one without the other. In fact, the second need is more important and critical and must be achieved first, i.e. that the standards at national schools be raised first such that a single-school system would be of high standards overall.

To do that, we need a revamp of the school curriculum. A secular and scientific school curriculum and learning content will achieve such objectives. Recall that prior to the 80s, that was the emphasis of our primary and secondary schooling.

We need to remember that primary and secondary educations are basic education. A time to learn the fundamentals of thinking and basic methodology and principles of the different disciplines – through subjects like mathematics, science, biology, physics, chemistry, history, geography, art and language (or literature). Our students completed their O-Levels or SPM in those days and had no trouble being accepted in tertiary institutions all over the world. It is not that hard. We just need to return to the old fundamentals of education, the way we did it in the 70s. Specialised knowledge and skills are for tertiary education – vocational, colleges and universities.

This then takes us back to the Education Minister’s claim that since 70% of his budget is for salaries, therefore the remaining 30% is insufficient to revamp and revolutionise our education system. This cannot be further from the truth.

If we were to implement the proposal put forward by the Perlis Mufti – to remove Islamic classes and any other religious influence activities from national schools – no additional cost would be incurred; in fact the budget would be reduced. This would allow us to allocate the freed cost to increase other classes that would raise the standard of national schools – mathematics and science related ones, especially.

We would be able to enhance our curriculum for even primary students to encompass a more in-depth learning in the sciences such as in history of science, evolutionary biology and genetics, astronomy and cosmology, and modern technology that would perk their interests going into their secondary schooling.

And as suggested by the mufti, the religious classes provided as an option in the evening or outside the formal educational curriculum or session for the national schools will be financed by the religious bodies, including funds from zakat.


Everybody wins.

I would like to point out another aspect to our primary and secondary national education, which in my opinion is excessively unnecessary. We put our children through too many hours of Bahasa Melayu and English. There is no necessity for that. Language is learned primarily by practice, not by attending classes. Reading is the biggest contributor to learning a language. The next one, will be listening and practising. That should be the emphasis in the learning of Bahasa Melayu and English.

We can again halve the hours spent in language classes and beef up our other core curriculum that would increase the standard of our education at no additional cost overall.

My 70s and 80s Malaysian education served me well then and so did it for my friends, who took up very difficult disciplines in science, medicine, engineering, business and many other challenging vocations.

Malaysian primary and secondary education needs to return to its fundamental roots, curriculum and teaching. It needs to rid itself of all the fanciful non-productive elements of religion and those associated with it. It needs to focus on what is real knowledge and preparing our children with the thinking methodology and skills needed for them to survive and progress and be competitive as world citizens in the 21st century.

siti kassimGo back to basics.

by Siti Thots

Siti Kasim

Related news:

Powerful signals expected from tommorow, Dec 8 ’18 rallies: advocating human rights, Malay rights, Islam to divide the nation


NGOs criticise govt on ICERD flip flop
At Malay Rights Rally, Lokman Calls D https://youtu.be/XJf8SfrO87s

THE line in the sand will be more clearly drawn than ever after tomorrow, with the predominantly Malay political opposition on one side and a more mixed ruling coalition on the other.

The anti-Icerd rally engineered by PAS and Umno has all the signs of being the biggest Malay-Muslim street protest the country has ever seen in recent times.

Parallels are being drawn to the mammoth Islamist rally in Jakarta last weekend that turned the biggest intersection in the Indonesian capital into a sea of people, all wearing white.

At the same time, an alternative rally organised by Suhakam to mark human rights day, aims to send out the message that Icerd or the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also has support among fair-minded Malaysians.

Clarity is good in politics but not in this case because the line in the sand indicates the deepening cleavage in Malaysian politics.

The spark for the anti-Icerd rally was lit by opposition to the government’s move to ratify the United Nations’ human rights charter.

But it has since evolved into what looks to be a show of force by Malay-Muslim political parties and NGOs.

They want to tell the powers-that-be to be more sensitive and respectful when it comes to issues of race and religion.

“Let the Icerd issue be a lesson, so that there won’t be anything like that again in the future, said PAS deputy information chief Roslan Shahir.

There is also the deniable element of opportunistic politics, given that the main drivers of the rally are PAS and Umno.

It is no secret that both parties are keen to measure their support in New Malaysia.

“We are not going to pretend that it is not about politics.

“We want to show that two-thirds of Malays are not with Pakatan Harapan,” said Roslan.

And, as he pointed out, Bersih began as a movement for free and fair elections and grew into a movement to topple the Barisan Nasional government.

Size matters in politics, and everyone is anxious to see the turnout at the two rallies.

“I don’t think the wider Malay public is taking the (anti-Icerd) rally seriously now that the government has decided not to ratify Icerd.

“But it gives Umno and PAS supporters an outlet to vent their emotions against the government,” said Merdeka Centre director Ibrahim Suffian.

Given that, Ibrahim said ordinary Malays may not come out in large numbers, and the anti-Icerd rally is more likely to attract hardcore supporters of both parties.

However, if the level of organising behind the anti-Icerd rally is anything to go by, it will not be a small or quiet affair.

No less than former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan and retired Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad have expressed support.

Abdul Hamid, who is not in good health, had dramatised his support by arriving for an anti-Icerd forum in an ambulance and speaking on stage in a wheelchair.

The optics this Saturday will be quite powerful, and it will be exhilarating for some and worrying for others.

Just as the Bersih protests became a manifestation of the dislike for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s government, the anti-Icerd rally will be a gauge of Malay sentiments towards Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government.

According to a senior Malay journalist, the furor over Icerd also has to do with the build-up of Malay undercurrents over other issues such as the appointments of the Attorney General and Finance Minister.

“Then Icerd came along and it became too much for them to swallow.

“Dr Mahathir realised that if he pushed ahead with Icerd, his government will fall in the next general election,” said the journalist.

The Suhakam rally, to be held in Petaling Jaya, is likely to draw a moderate crowd but will reportedly feature Dr Mahathir and his Cabinet ministers.

“The Prime Minister has to show that no single side has monopoly over the Malay ground.

“He has to be seen out there because keeping quiet would suggest that you have surrendered or lost,” said political commentator Khaw Veon Szu.

Pakatan’s image has also been dented by its inability to defend Icerd.

Many equated New Malaysia with a future where there is greater equality and where policies are not based on race or religion.

They are disappointed that Dr Mahathir who took on the Malay Rulers and survived religiously-tinged issues like Memali, has been unable to push ahead with Icerd.

Likewise, DAP’s silence on Icerd has surprised its supporters given the party’s famous rallying cry of “Malaysian Malaysia”.

Critics out there complain that it took MCA 60 years to become cowed by Umno but it took DAP only six months to become like MCA.

Given the mix of emotions over Icerd, some are wondering whether it is a good idea for Dr Mahathir to launch the Suhakam gathering.

His coalition is struggling with Malay support and what he says at the rally will be misinterpreted and twisted in the less-than-wonderful world of social media.

For instance, Dr Mahathir’s latest blog posting, where he used a broad brush to paint Malay culture as corrupt drew caustic reactions from netizens asking him to justify the immense wealth of his children.

Dr Mahathir has been an experienced and reliable pair of hands in a Cabinet dominated by greenhorns and less than competent people but his second coming has not been as smooth as expected.

He is struggling to deliver.

In a sense, the anti-Icerd rally is a personal challenge to his leadership as the top Malay and Muslim leader.

The two biggest Malay political parties in the country are flexing their muscles and Dr M will have a chance to assess the extent of their support tomorrow.The Star by Joceline Tan

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Chinese bishops to join Vatican synod for first time


https://youtu.be/THnnleNxE24

Latest updates: Baldisseri (centre) speaking at a press conference on the synod of bishops at the Vatican.

Move comes after earlier deal where Pope recognized seven clergy ordained by Beijing

VATICAN CITY: Two Chinese Catholic bishops are to take part for the first time from today in a synod, or advisory body meeting, with peers at the Vatican, the Holy See said.

“The Holy Father had invited Chinese bishops in the past but they were never able to come,” said Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, who is to preside the synod of bishops on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment” from Oct 3-28.

The meeting of more than 300 church officials, outside experts and youth delegates will take place in the shadow of an existential crisis faced by the church owing to cases of widespread sexual abuse of minors by clergy and lay officials in several countries.

On Sept 22, the Vatican and China reached a provisional agreement under which Pope Francis recognised seven clergy initially ordained by Beijing without the Vatican’s approval.

The accord could pave the way for the normalisation of ties between the Catholic Church and the world’s most populous country.

One of those recognised, Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai, is to attend the synod along with Bishop John Baptist Yang Xiaotin, another member of the Patriotic Catholic Association (PCA), a body created by the Chinese government to administer the church.

They will join discussions on how to encourage young people to make the church their vocation, an official theme that could take a back seat to issues raised last March during a pre-synodal meeting of more than 300 youths in Rome along with 15,000 others online that were presented to church leaders.

“We want to say, especially to the hierarchy of the Church, that they should be a transparent, welcoming, honest, inviting, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community,” a statement issued at the end of their meeting said.

“The Church should be sincere in admitting its past and present wrongs,” they added.

Pope Francis acknowledged those concerns last week when he told young Christians in Estonia that many “are outraged by sexual and economic scandals that are not met with clear condemnation”.

The pontiff conceded that many also find the Church’s presence “bothersome or even irritating”.

He has called a meeting next February of senior Church leaders from around the world to take up the question of child protection.

Scandals in Australia, Europe, and North and South America have involved widespread claims of abuse – and cover-ups – by clergymen and lay members with one Vatican archbishop describing it as the church’s “own 9/11”.

Germany’s Catholic Church released last month a damning report showing that in Germany alone, almost 3,700 minors were assaulted between 1946 and 2014.

During their pre-synodal meeting, the Catholic youths also urged Church leaders to “speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues”, which they were “already freely discussing without taboo”.

They noted in addition that young women regretted “a lack of leading female role models within the Church”.

A handful of women were to take part in the synod of bishops as official observers. – AFP

Related:

China top paper warns officials against ‘spiritual anaesthesia’, the root of corruptions

 

We are Malaysians first, not Malay first!


 

 

We are Malaysians first – own it!

We can do it: When faced with the challenges of being truly Malaysian, we should not be as timid as Game of Thrones
Theon Greyjoy (left) waiting for sausages to be served.

I SPEAK my mind. I don’t care what you think of me or what I say. I care that I move people, and hopefully for the best. You cannot sugar-coat truth, truth must be spoken loud and clear if we want to make a difference. Speak Out.

A great nation is one where the majority looks at its marginalised minorities with compassion and empathy, and ensures their wellbeing is taken care of, and the weak among us are always protected. A great society ensures that the disadvantaged are helped in the best way such that opportunities do not pass them by.

Malaysia in this sense is a real paradox.

It has a majority that is politically powerful and yet economically weak and uncompetitive. The Malays (and to some extent our bumiputras overall) by and large have been told over decades that they are superior but are unable to compete and therefore needed every advantage and protection by their political leaders, their clerics, the state, the monarchs and every other self-proclaimed champion under the sun.

Hence, we create a supremacist complex, subconscious in most and overt in some, but one with a dependency syndrome.

The minority Chinese and Indians are economically strong, competitive and over the years, in the absence of a reliance on government assistance, has also become urbane and progressive in outlook.

Hey! Do you know the other minority that to a certain extent fit this category? The progressive Malay liberals.

That despised minority among the majority. What do all these people have in common? When faced with the challenges of being truly Malaysian, they are as timid as a gang of Theon Greyjoys waiting for sausages to be served. The majority of them are so scared to speak out or come out. Witness the Bersih rallies, the numbers are way below the actual support.

I have news for all you Theons, we can do it. You’ve proven it on May 9. You all came out. Don’t stop there. It’s time all of us come together to change our nation to be truly progressive, modern and, sooner rather than later, join the ranks of developed nations.

To do that we must be Malaysian first – without fear or favour. Never again allow an injustice perpetrated upon your fellow Malaysians be left unquestioned and unanswered.

Never again allow that little voice that says “let’s not court trouble”, or those that shout at you “you are not of the religion, do not interfere” stop you.

Humanity knows no race, no religion nor does it care what your supposed station in life is. We are all Malaysians. If we want to be equal we have to behave as equals, until the powers that be capitulate.

If we see our race denigrating or abusing the other, speak up and condemn it. If we see another race doing it to their own, speak up as well.

If we see another people of a different religion abusing and persecuting their own kind, speak up. They are your fellow Malaysians. There is no justification in persecuting our fellow Malaysians.

Let me give you an example.

If someone proposes to impose penalties upon Malaysian Muslims that only the Muslims in our nation will be subjected to for the same crime, we must all speak up and oppose it. This is not about religion. It is about fairness to our fellow citizens.

Being a Malaysian means speaking up on behalf of every one of our countrymen. Standing up to oppression and for justice for all. None of us can or should be shut up for one reason or another when it comes to what happens in Malaysia and to Malaysians. We are all equal. We need to walk this talk until we change the environment by which discourse takes place in this country.

There will be many detractors and there will be many people who will mine the well of extremism to stop us. We should not be cowed by them because that is what they want of us. They have been scaring us all to compliance all these years.

Right-thinking Malaysians must demand that our elected leaders step up and lead, and not follow the herd. The herd follow the shepherd, not the other way around. When I hear characters say “we must be sensitive to the feelings of the majority”, I know these are no leaders.

These are mere political hacks, characters who are interested in the jockeying of position and personal victory, rather than one willing to risk his or her popularity to stand by the courage of their convictions and chart the destiny of the nation and its people. More than likely such people do not even have any convictions.

This nation needs leaders. We are at crossroads in our history. I believe the next three years will determine whether we will sink back into the old politics of protecting and championing race and religion, or we will emerge as a confident nation of equals ready to bring our collective strength to take on the world on our own terms. The result will be determined by us Malaysians speaking out and standing up to and with our fellow countrymen, and insisting that our “leaders” lead.

This is what I intend to continue to do.

The fundamental need in Malaysian education reform

THE Science and Technology Human Capital Report and Science Outlook 2015 by Akademi Science Malaysia show that we may soon have a serious shortage in science-related fields.

It seems more students are opting out of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields at secondary and tertiary levels.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Hannah Yeoh – quoting the National Council of Science, Research and Development which stated that the country needed about 500,000 scientists and engineers by 2030 – pointed out that we have only 70,000 registered engineers, seven times lower than the number required.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry proposed black shoes, special number plates and a manual for noble and religious values to be read out at assemblies.

What is going on here? Why is there this serious disconnect between what the nation needs and what the so-called custodian and driver of the nation’s education machinery?

I think it’s time to talk about the fundamental elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about when it comes to education reform in Malaysia – the number of hours dedicated to religion (including its related subjects) and the influence of religion in Malaysian schools.

With 60% of our population being Malay-Muslims, what and how their children are educated from young is a concern to all Malaysians.

They are the backbone of the nation’s future. Even a cursory look at the hours spent by these children in religious classes should alarm everyone, what more in the government’s Sekolah Agama (religious schools).

Equally of concern, in Sekolah Kebangsaan (national schools), non-Muslim children would be attending alternative subjects that may not enhance their educational value, especially in Science, at the times Malay children attend their religious classes.

Educating children is a zero-sum game. There are only so many hours in a day. Children cannot be going to classes all day long.

They also need time for games and sports and other extracurricular activities that have nothing to do with classroom learning but more to do with expanding their experience of life, physical exertion and just relaxing.

Therefore, their “classroom time” is finite and each subject accommodated means another will have less of it.

A typical Malay-Muslim child in Year One at national school undergoes approximately four hours per week of religious studies (including related subjects such as Tasmik or Quran reading).

Another hour and a half per week go to Bahasa Arab.

Science, on the other hand, is only accorded an hour and a half per week. A Year Six pupil gets about four hours of religion and related subjects, with one hour of Arabic per week. Science gets two hours per week.

Let’s be honest.

The only reason for Arabic being taught is due to its affiliation to the religion, otherwise the next language a Malay child should be learning is either Chinese, Tamil or even Spanish, the next most spoken language after English.

So basically from Year 1 to Year 6, the ratio is approximately on average two hours of Science versus five hours of religion per week.

That is the formative years of our children. What are we doing to our children? This is appalling.

We are basically indoctrinating our children in religion and neglecting basic sciences that will make them critical thinkers and progressive individual with real foundation.

In the same instance, our non-Malay children also are disadvantaged because they are not taught those sciences at the time Malay children are in their religious classes.

Let’s get it clear.

The function of education is learning to think critically.

The function of religious studies is indoctrination to be obedient followers. We are regressing our Malay children and failing our Malaysian children overall.

Again, let us be honest. Our national education system today, save the vernacular schools, both from an administrative and teaching standpoints are overwhelmingly Malay.

And the Malay-centric system is overwhelmingly religious.

Our children are taught overtly and subliminally that being the “correct” Muslims is the only option.

The authoritative teacher and peer pressure brought upon the Muslim child today is overwhelming at school.

It is a norm to find daughters coming home in tears being bullied as a result of their or their parents’ outward appearance, especially mothers, that do not conform to religious dogma.

The bullies in most circumstances are the Malay teachers themselves. As such, both parents and children conform to avoid the oppressive peer and teaching pressure.

In such an environment, the dichotomy between Muslim and non-Muslim children becomes pronounced.

Is it any wonder that our society right from school to their adulthood has become divided and suspicious, and in a significant portion, easily inflamed with hatred?

Today, race is not the main driver of such divisiveness, it is the religious influence over society starting from the schools.

We need to confront this issue head-on and not be cowed by the label of “sensitivity”.

It is the sensitivity of not talking and confronting these issues that has made the bad become even worse. One cannot solve a problem if one cannot acknowledge and confront their existence in an honest manner.

We need honest conversations and political will from the Education Ministry to overcome this seemingly intractable virus that has infected our whole education system and administrative body.

In this aspect, I have not even touched about the watered-down content or substance of the school subjects, especially Science and History, as a result of the religious influence within our education system.

That will be for another day.

What we have is an almost unique Malaysian national education problem found nowhere else in a functioning democracy.

The result of at least 30 years of Barisan Nasional and PAS politics of using religion to buy the votes of the Malay electorate.

We require a head-on examination of the philosophy of Malaysian education which is today religious-centric instead of education-centric and STEM-centric as would be required by a 21st century modern nation that wants to be developed.

It also requires a total re-education of our teaching human resources – from one that has been religiously indoctrinated to one that will be accepting of all religious and non-religious peoples and societies as being equally good.

One where the teachers are focused on STEM education and ensuring critical thinking rather than being obsessed with religious pre-occupation of any sorts when they are in the national schools educating our children.

One where rational critical thought is the inspiration for good values rather than one that derives on religious books and doctrines as the minister has instead suggested.

We need to demand this of our Government, from our educators and our education system.

If these two fundamental aspects of our basic primary education cannot be rectified – a major increase in teaching/learning time for the sciences and a significant reduction in religious indoctrination and influence in national education – no amount of other esoteric and sophisticated policies and plans would be of any worth.

By Siti Kasim

We are Malaysians first – own it!

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Malaysia’s Vision 2020: Falling apart with alarming speed; Dr M is creator and destroyer, said Musa

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam said Malaysia’s Vision 2020 objective was “falling apart” with “alarming speed”, and he blames Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for it.

In his keynote speech at an event to mark the sixth anniversary of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), Musa said this was because the former premier did not train leaders but instead chose to retain and train followers instead.

“It is ironic that Dr Mahathir’s vision is now certain to fail because of Dr Mahathir himself.

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