Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chandra Muzzafar's silos

In a letter to Malaysia-Today titled by RPK as Electorial politics and education, Dr Chandra Muzzafar wrote about the centrifugal forces of vernacular schooling. He commented succinctly:

If a Chinese Malaysian can pursue his entire education in Chinese, from primary to university level, how much exposure would he have to Malaysian students and teachers from other communities? 
How would this affect his attitude towards, and outlook on, the other? What would be his notion of a Malaysian identity? 

Thus he believes that the role of Bahasa as the national language for all Malaysians must be reconsidered, reinstated and reinforced.

Many do not have issues with his views which are good, except that I believe he missed mentioning a few matters which are related to the drift of the Chinese away from National type schools. These would be:

(1) The politicizing of the national education system by successive UMNO-monopolized Education Ministers which severely enervated the standard of the National Education System to a state of moribundity, from primary schooling right up to, and especially in universities. Many horror stories on this lamentable state have already been written, and repetitively too.

I have also explained in many posts on why the majority of Chinese who used to send their children to English medium schools in the earlier days of Merdeka gave up, yes that's the word 'gave up', on national type schooling because of the mentioned politicizing by UMNO Ministers and the consequential dropping of standards.

(2) What had Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka done in the last half a century to ensure we have the proper books for our students, where we then needn't rely instead on what non-Malay parents viewed as printed bigotry like Interlok?

(3) Just recall those BTN-ized teachers and school principals. Would any non-Malay parents want to send their children to schools staffed with such bigots?

However, to be fair to Dr Muzzafar, he did propose brilliantly:

To become national, the Bahasa Malaysia based school has to emerge as the school of first choice for all Malaysians. Its quality has to improve significantly. Bahasa Malaysia, English and other languages should be taught well. This also applies to other core subjects such as Mathematics, Science and History. 
Parents will also be impressed by the school if student discipline is strictly enforced within a caring environment. Competent, dedicated teachers would be the essential pre-requisite for such a school system. They should not just impart knowledge and skills but also try to mould the young under their charge into honest and trustworthy human beings. Teachers should treat all students, regardless of their backgrounds, with fairness and a sense of justice.  
The national school teaching community should be much more multi-ethnic and multi- religious than what it is today. More non-Malays and non-Muslims should be appointed as School Heads and Senior Assistants. At district, state and national levels, the education office or department should reflect the multi-ethnic composition of the nation. 
Qualified Dayaks and Kadazans should be given administrative roles outside Sarawak and Sabah.  
What this means is that within the three component elements of the education system --- administrators, teachers and students --- ability should be recognised and rewarded. 
It is only when the education system is perceived to be promoting ability and excellence that parents will have the confidence to send their children to the national school. 
At the same time, the national school should extend a helping hand to the disadvantaged student, irrespective of cultural or religious affiliation.

I support him in all his above recommendations.

(3) But let us also review Dr Muzzafar’s succinct comment of How would this affect his [Chinese] attitude towards, and outlook on, the other? What would be his [Chinese] notion of a Malaysian identity?, where I wonder why Dr Muzzafar has made this educational observation, and a very relevant observation, in isolation?

What about commenting on society's larger aspects such as, for example, the downstream receptacle for the products (or graduates) of our educational system, like in the staffing in the Malaysian Civil Services, Armed Forces, Police Force, educational institutions including VC’s and senior deans of universities? Okay, for the moment let’s leave aside organizations such as Petronas which are totally unaccountable to all save the UMNO PM.

I won’t comment on the intake of affirmative institutions such as MARA, but then what about the intakes for universities (e.g. UiTM?), the hope of many Chinese and Indian families for their children, given their socio-cultural aspirations? This issue has been the source of annual disputes between the non-Malay communities and the government, and further bitter cause for the Chinese and Indian communities to seek out non-national educational resources?

Aren't these ‘unmentionable’ mentions already the silos in Malaysian society that Chandra Muzzafar worry about, and which he opined (correctly if I may point out) that Chinese education will create?

Malaysia's 'Panca' Silos 

Of course we must not dismiss Dr Muzzafar’s observation on the centrifugal potential of vernacular education just because most Pakatan supporters see him as an UMNO voice. He has raised a very relevant concern. But if he is concerned about society's silos, then let's go about smashing all of them up, and not just cherry pick one.

My point is that if the quest or objective is for national unity then we should not just assess the Chinese educational push in isolation. The Chinese wish for mother tongue education has been the consequence of a combination of inter-related factors, namely (just some examples):

(a) the Chinese socio-cultural reverence for education for more than 2000 years because it represents hope for their children’s future,

(b) UMNO bastardization of educational standards leading to Chinese abandonment of a pathetic system,

(c) Chinese perception of marginalization by the UMNO-led government in virtually all aspects of Malaysian life which has convinced the community to go it alone, etc.

We have to deal with all these and not just the Chinese vernacular educational wish alone, and unless we do so, no Chinese parent will ever see Dr Muzzafar’s point, nor will Dr Muzzafar’s wish for national unity be ever achieved with just a good national type education system when the so-called Malaysian society is not Malaysian at all but Muhyiddin’s ‘Malay UMNO First’.


  1. "It takes a whole village to educate a child".

    Totally agree with KT that we just can't cherry pick....the 'society's larger aspect' MUST be taken into consideration, in essence, the "whole village" must be involved for a wholesome outcome.

    How do you reconcile with the great recommendations by the good dr muzzafar and yet at the same time, UMNO will merrily continue plugging ahead, as it has done for decades, with its apartheid policy of divide and rule, its BTN courses keep on churning out Malay-First bigots, and the Malay adminstration continues to bar the non-Malay graduants from participating in its civil sectors ?

    No matter how 'brilliant' a suggestion, it would never work if the whole is not taken into consideration. Tackle the root causes of what ails this country and the rest will fall into place. What dr muzzafar is proposing is to put the cart before the horse.

  2. Someone should do a nation-wide survey of the number of Malay, Indians and other non-Chinese currently enrolled in Chineses schools.

  3. Ktemoc,
    Anwar Ibrahim left the Education Ministry 21 years ago.
    In likelihood, he was one of the culprits at the time, but your placing him at the centerpiece of the of list of villains is barking up the wrong tree.

    In truth, the system is rotten, which is why we need to change the system. It starts with a change of Federal government.

  4. My observations...

    My sibling went to a Vernacular Chinese Primary School..I went to a Sekolah Kebangsaan, a Convent primary school to be exact, so I can compare directly.

    First observation, family influence and attitudes (and family resources haha) trumps differences between the two systems. If your family cares deeply about education, the right things get done at home.

    Second observation, Yes, Vernacular Chinese Primary Schools place a lot more pressure on pupils...more homework, higher expectations from teachers, stricter discipline.

    Third observation, the Centrifugal tendencies of Vernacular schools towards national cohesion are real. Two decades later, as two working adults, both having studied in overseas universities, I can make this comparison between my brother and myself.
    He is a very "Chinese" person, immersed in Chinese popular culture, rarely mixes with anyone who is not an ethnic Chinese. Doesn't mean he is not a good person or a racist, but that's just his personality.

    Me, I'm much more a citizen of the world...fully immersed in Malaysia's cultural melange...until I get occasional rude reminders I'm a pendatang who needs to know their "proper" (subordinate) place.

  5. A well articulated piece KT.Real change can only begin when we eventually kick the butts of these shallow incompetents from UMNO out of office!The bastardization of not just the education system but all the institutions of the country has gone on for far too long under these nincompoops! And it will take some doing to recover from this huge mess!

  6. kt,u r one of shuzheng favorite, i dun know y tho. thus can u share with me ur view y pursue entire education in chinese would make us less malaysian? what if a iban, kadazan and semai did the same (in theory), would that make them less malaysian as well? or what about the aborigin in australia?

  7. monsterbaby, interesting observation. could it be due to languange or to be exact, english language? ur so call citizen of the world is because the common language is english, do u find u r equally inclusive when dealing with the non english speaking world? ur brother may feel more comfortable when socialise with most east asian, and the religious kelantanese as compare to the urban english speaking folk. just asking.

  8. It would be great if Dr Chandra can argue for breaking-up all the "silos" that keep us separated. Looking at the situation from the Malay perspective would lead to situations where only Malay sensitivities exist. You cannot serve non-halal stuff but you can ask the Hindus to ignore the beef on the table! You cannot eat when others are fasting. Its correct only when the Head prefect is a Malay, the Head of Department is a Malay, it is ok if ALL the officials who are slated for "cemerlang" awards are Malays. And then hop over to Australia and demand that only halal food is served in the school canteen out of respect to Muslims sensitivities. Or go to Narathiwat and accuse the government of forcing the Muslims to "worship" someone other than Allah.
    What is fair and what is logical is ignored. This should be done because we are the majority. This should not be done to us because as the minority we ought to be protected. We can go round threatening the nons but the moment when the shoe is on the other foot, we cry discrimination, racism.

  9. Exactly spot on Anon 2:16 PM !

    In the UK, the muslims now currently made up only 2% ( TWO percent ! ) of the population there but strident demands like insisting that there should be a mosque built within walking distance for each and every muslim, loudspeakers be allowed for all their mosques there, that shariah laws be implemented parallel to the english civil law, that halal food section be made available in all restaurents and shopping outlets, that the law should allow honour killings, that their women allowed to wear their 'shroud' uniforms in public....and so and so forth for all things muslim/islam.

    Imagine if their population were to rise to 50% !!

  10. "No matter what all of you are discussing, Malaysia belongs to the Malays and UMNO is the defender of their rights and will govern the country forever." ...said Buttercup

    I just love when the true colour of Buttercup is revealed. All the light-hearted bantering and jokes are just camouflouge for the real BTN-ised Buttercup to show his true face.

    See how he evades what's being discussed (.."No matter what all of you are discussing", hehe) and defensively plunged in that this country belongs ONLY to the malays...

    Buttercup would do well be reminded to read Selvarajahsomiah's Weblog which asserted that "So, that’s why the Federal Contitution does not state that the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia — they are actually Bugis, Javanese, Minang, Acehnese and the like — are Natives."

    Interesting article....

  11. HuaYong, you stated I'm one of shuzheng's faves? Wakakaka, you are so very wrong - bloke hates my guts wakakaka. He's also a Mandarin (language) Nazi, and I believe a MCA cybertrooper, deliberately demonstrating his Chinese chauvinism to attract Chinese to the MCA banner, so good luck to him wakakaka. And naturally he hates DAP for obvious political reasons.

    I believe all Malaysians's principal language should be Bahasa. They should study that, as well as English as a 2nd language. English is today virtually the international language and is very popular in the Far East (China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam).

    However, Chinese and Indian Malaysians may and should be encouraged to study their respective mother tongue as a third language. So I'm not suggesting Chinese don't study Chinese. But it's ludicrous that Malaysians cannot speak some decent Bahasa, which is more likely if one pursues one's entire education in Chinese. Wouldn't such an education make Chinese Malaysians less Malaysian? Virtually every (I dare not say all) aborigine in Australia speaks English.

  12. IMHO, national unity via language is just a term used by politicians to achieve their narrow purpose.

    The malays in town and kampungs speak their own dialets, not Bahasa Malaysia. In many countries where almost all the people are of ine race, even they are also divided due to many other reasons - religion, political beliefs, ethnic groups etc etc.

    Malaysia, truly Asia - A tagline we are all so proud of and we should rightly continue to celebrate the diverse culture, language etc etc that is uniquely Malaysia!

    We should continue to enhance our command of major world languages (English, Mandarin) besides able to communicate in basic BM among our people. Most of us do not need to master BM and we can still be united - just go to any pasar, kopitiam, town etc etc. We all live peacefully despite speaking "rojak" BM.

    It is the govt, the political leaders who made policies that divide the people!!!

    Someone mentioned Indonesia where all the people speak 1 language and are united. Really, is that really true? WHat happened during 97 economic crisis? Were the people of various races truly united? Were not the rich chinese attached? Wasn't there also killings due to religious differences and fighting among ethinic groups?

    For once, let's all be sincere, respect our differences, accept our diverse background and the country and its people will happy and harmonious.

  13. What about those residential colleges, science schools etc for one race only?

  14. What Buttercup said have some truth to it , in the context of his incalcated mindset - which is parochial ,at the very least.
    Alas, if only more malays are able to see the bigger picture that their welfare do not have to be tied to Umno - which in fact contributed to much of their insecurities , then the majority race would not have to rely on race , arrogance and rights to make their point long time ago.

  15. Anon 4.43pm is of course not me. I am now only reading KT's blog. I dont write 3 line nonsense like that.
    In the last posting I just checked the last 2 postings using my nick was not written by me.
    KT you have a sick person on your blog. Someone who posts on behalf of others.
    I think I will forgo this blog.

  16. Readers!
    Please ignore 9.26 PM.
    That is a sick person trying to confuse all.
    I posted to tell the truth.
    Appealing to KT on race issues and get my comments deleted?

  17. Maybe one more!!
    Malaysian Chinese do not care two hoots who is governing the country.
    They can survive under any conditions.
    However...after 12th GE...Malaysian Chinese are less selfish and more patriotic....thinking about the country and people...and decide to be Malaysian first ..race second.
    That makes Najib have sleepless nights.
    After 3 years...Malaysian Chinese are truly Malaysian first... race second.
    BERSIH 3 you can see Malaysian Chinese lock hands with other races like brothers and sisters...all hungry for a clean election...all want a change in Govt.....250,000 walking....biggest rally ever seen.
    MCA fighting for Chinese schools...MIC for Indian schools pleases ...most of all...Mahathir....who needed race and religion politics to succeed.
    PS:Buttercup hero worship Mahathir and Najib.
    For a Malaysian much needed to be corrected....including education system.
    First thing first...oil prices must be reduced for cheaper food...corrupt ones must be charged at bring to court.
    PR have to overhaul everything.
    Not an easy task.....but we must give the time and support.
    People Power will take over.
    Race issues are waste of time to talk.
    Freedom Fighters are ready to die and defend the country after 13th GE...if UMNO b wants o see blood sill in the streets......not now...not before 13th GE.
    Get the political senario clear in your heads.
    We are dealing with a desperate political party that cannot afford to lose an election..but losing they will.
    I hate to see people talk so much of their race cultures without the balls to lay down their lives for the far far away and talk cock and bull.
    Good-bye again.

  18. There's someone here out to sabotage poor Buttercup.....using his nick to make him out to be more racist than he really is. In effect, sabotaging this blog too as the real commentator will leave this blog in disgust. Bruno has already left the scene due to the very same tactic of using this copycat nick. Due time we catch this bugger and hang him ?

  19. just a childish pariah ler wakakaka

  20. Hi Kaytee

    Buttercup 9.37pm is not me. I am really sad that your blog is made to be an avenue of hatred.
    We could all have a healthy debate and discuss maturely and intelligently what you have written.
    But it's turned ugly with others using our nicks to pour hatred on others and causing bad blood.
    Actually i have some thought on this topic but am leaving this blog temporarily.
    Yes bruno is happily commenting in other blogs where there's no one condemning him like people here.
    We can take condemnation but using our nicks to post unsavory comments to side with you is unacceptable.
    In the first place do you see me brushing off other people's comments though I disagree with some of the views said?

  21. Sick of that childish pariah.

  22. I wouldn't worry too much about a frustrated quarrelsome old man who keeps getting kicked out of many blogs for racism, vandalism and childish senile vulgarism - he's just thick-skinned and shameless - a mere mosquito or slug, wakakaka

  23. I was an avid reader of Aliran long before I was old enough to vote. The monthly journal has been a major influence on how I view the issues facing Malaysia. It championed what was right, ripped into what was wrong, it was often political without descending into partisan politics.

    Chandra Muzaffar was at one time the respected leader of the organisation which he helped found.

    Sadly, these days he is little more than an UMNO/BN mouthpiece. How far has he fallen.....for what ?

  24. It may be just biased me wakakaka, but I heard Chandra Muzzafar who was once a VP in PKR left that party in disgust, like so many others.

    So perhaps he doesn't like Anwar Ibrahim and consequently, by association, Pakatan, and if we were to take it further, became pro UMNO (just to whack PKR wakakaka) – mind you, this was all hearsay only, not that I would blame him for disliking AI and his inner coterie, wakakaka.

  25. Don't forget that almost everyone has their price. For the right offer many people are quite ready to jettison their principles and prostitute themselves and their talents.

  26. A careful examination of those fake Buttercup posts suggests that it is very likely to be the handiwork of a disgruntled old monster.

    Buttercup's support of UMNO/BN and his disdain for Anoowah, who is somebody's great idol, have probably incurred the wrath of this person.

  27. Aiya..KT, CM is an intellectual prostitute , so is it worthwhile that you devote so much time and effort to comment on his article ?

  28. KT,

    You assume those pursue entire education in Chinese cannot speak Bahasa, which I think is not factually proven, and there are many reasons why many Chinese speak poor Bahasa:

    1) unlike Australia and many countries that were occupied by the white, most in Malaysia speak mother tongue at home, only a small percentage speak English, and almost no non Malay speak Malay at home. I am not saying this is perfectly right, I am saying this is the reality.
    2) lack of motivation when many SMI and small business could survive without Bahasa and English, and most MNC require language skill other than Bahasa, while government sector and some local industry such as Proton hire very few non-Malay.

    The so called principal language and national language is just a label unless there is serious effort put in to lift up the Bahasa status, especially in commerce and job market

    I don’t deny that English is common, and sort of international language, however by using the metric of most spoken language of the world, there are some other language that are equally / close by in term of usage and significance, hence it is a matter of choice if one will to give up English and pick Chinese instead, in fact, many Chinese school leavers can speak better Malay and Chinese as compare to English, and I still don’t know how many percent of Chinese that come from an entire Chinese education. If I recall correctly, only 10% from SRJKC enroll to CIS, and I am still searching for one institution of higher education that medium is exclusively Chinese in Malaysia, do you know one? And BN is going to recognize more than 800 universities from China that medium is solely Chinese (Putonghua), is that the one this Chandra Muzzafar fella referring to?

    As for Shuzheng, I have great doubt if he is a Mandarin Nazi, he can’t even construct a proper Chinese sentence in correct grammar and structure, with appropriate choice of word and term, however, it is pretty interesting to read how one Anglo (ah, that Helen as well) for being critique to another Anglo like you :)

  29. huayong,

    interesting observation you have about shuzheng. reading some of his articel i get the impression he is trying to overcompensate his insecurity with his view of the prc as center of the universe, supremacy of the chinese race, n his hatred for non chinese educated chinese

    and since you mention his mandarin has many gramatical errors, likely he has national/english educated background considering his english is very good. which he is probably ashamed of

    very much like a mirror image of ridhuan tee; people with issues who try too hard to shed their past

  30. Shuzheng is like Chinese-Language Monsterball with a blog to play with...

  31. All this nationalist call make me sick.

    Nationalism m*f* keep mumbling the country is "unique", "goals of unity is more important the process". When confronted with disastrous WWI and WWII so called "unity" example, they went evasive.
    If anyone tell those "nationalist" Japanese education throw in more English class, getting involve in multi-lingual; "proud" French already start teaching multi-lingual, English and even German, hopeless nationalist will give you 1970 bullshit.

  32. "Shuzheng is like Chinese-Language Monsterball with a blog to play with..."

    Hahahaha...that's quite a good one there...lafing my ass off. Tx Anon 4:52 PM !

  33. We all know why CM left PKR....he just couldn't cope with with the 'evil duo' of A & AA, heheheh.

    And revenge is on his mind, even up to today. He's just one more of those who were discourteously discarded by the Great One and now is payback time.

    Granted that the only seeming option for such the likes of him ( sans money, power and proper family lineage ) to exact revenge on his nemesis is to join the very party (UMNO/BN) which he had castigated with such vigor before.

    But what a price to pay....willing to smear, nay, to immerse himself in the most stinking sh*t just to lop some of the sh*t onto his enemy's face.

    CM has become the very type whom he himself had critised and abhorred so severely before. Is it worth it ? Principles, dignity and integrity all flew out the window just to try to bring down his tormentor.