Friday, December 06, 2019

Mazslee Malik should leave cabinet


Post-Piai, time to face public displeasure

You wouldn’t have needed a bomoh wielding coconuts and bamboo binoculars to predict the outcome of the Tanjung Piai by-election.

As Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders expressed surprise at Barisan Nasional’s (BN) landslide victory, many writers rained scathing remarks on the ruling coalition’s performance, attempting to explain why it continues to lose in every by-election.

The blame game has started, and Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the scapegoat.

To be fair, he broke BN’s stranglehold in last year’s polls. Without his leadership, BN would still be in power, and Anwar Ibrahim still in jail.

Running a country needs the collective effort of everyone, including a strong and decisive Cabinet.

If you want to apportion blame, I would say Education Minister Maszlee Malik should take most of it. His ministry has been the number one source of public displeasure since the PH government came to power.

In gatherings to discuss the Malay Dignity Congress, audiences were concerned about matters related to education.

During these forums, in fact, I estimate that at least 70% of questions from the floor had to do with concerns over the direction of the Malaysian education system.

The Malay Dignity Congress exposed the state of our education system and alarmed many who are involved, most of all the parents of school-going children.

The congress showed how the highest echelons in the academic world have succumbed to the politics of race, religion and Malay rights, used to control the majority race.

The lack of clear direction in education policies may have hurt the government in the Tanjung Piai by-election. Mahathir himself acknowledged the importance of education by wanting to take on the education portfolio himself in the early days of the new government. He had to drop the idea as members of the public pointed out that his coalition’s manifesto had pledged that there would be no double portfolios for the prime minister.

Maszlee is a lightning rod for controversy. Many hoped that he would be dropped or his portfolio changed in the event of a Cabinet reshuffle. The reshuffle did not happen, and we are still stuck with this minister.

People were disappointed when the education ministry failed to reprimand Malay academics for their display of bigotry at the congress.

According to a debate in Pearson College London, the purpose of a university is to be the guardian of reason, inquiry and philosophical openness, preserving pure inquiry from dominant public opinions. This is a difficult stretch for our public universities, going by the display at the Malay Dignity Congress.

The language used at the congress defiled what a university is supposed to be. The government has forgotten that people are taxpayers and they have the right to protest when their contributions are used for an education system plagued by academic misfits who do not uphold the ideals of an excellent education institution.

Maszlee started his work as the education minister with questions about his religious leanings. Muslim activist Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa said one of the main concerns about Maszlee was his purported Salafist leanings and his support for Dr Zakir Naik.

In another incident, Maszlee said his remarks in Parliament that religious teachers should use Sabah and Sarawak for “dakwah” (propagation) were misconstrued to mean promoting Islam to non-Muslims.

This call for proselytisation received a lot of flak from East Malaysian leaders who feared that the preoccupations of race and religious of Muslims in West Malaysia would come to the Borneo states.

In May, a petition calling for Maszlee to be replaced garnered more than 110,000 signatures as he continued to face pressure over controversial remarks linking pre-university entry to job discrimination against Bumiputeras.

Mahathir defended Maszlee for linking the matriculation quota intake issue with that of language requirements for jobs.

The khat issue, which was not well thought out, created a raging debate and heightened racial emotions. It was a waste of time and energy which could have been used for nation-building.

The proposed scrapping of vernacular schools and non-recognition of the UEC despite PH’s promises have created more disenchantment within the Chinese community.

All these issues could have added to the resounding rejection of the PH government by Chinese voters in Tanjung Piai.

We have to remember, sometimes change must be transactional and not transformational as we would like.

PH inherited the ills and failures of BN to build a fair society. But patience is a virtue, and we have another three years before we can see the fruits of our labour.

In the meantime, we hope people like Maszlee will make amends and not make the same mistakes that will push people further away from the PH government.


  1. Maszlee Malik was in Paris recently, attending the UNESCO conference on Education, Science and Culture. He made this statement:

    We need to future-proof graduates with humanistic values, says Maszlee

    Sunday, 17 Nov 2019

    PARIS — The Ministry of Education is aiming to develop future-proof graduates that carry with them the right skills, abilities and humanistic values in order to adapt to rapidly changing technology.

    Its minister, Dr Maszlee Malik said this is because globalisation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) will change the future of employment scene as many existing jobs could be non-existence.

    Hence, higher education institutions must know what employers are looking for, and groom students in order to build the competencies that will help them to stand out or stand on par with their competitors,” he said

    Very laudable.

    Now let's see where we are compared to just one country - China

    The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted by the OECD countries is used to measure scholastic ability of 15-year olds. They measure Reading, Science and Mathematics.

    Note that PISA does not measure the criteria Maszlee considers as important: like clean shoes, martial arts skills and religious knowledge.

    The 2018 PISA scores (example):

    Reading = 415
    Mathematics = 440
    Science = 438

    Reading = 555
    Mathematics = 591
    Science = 590

    If our Chinese school UEC is based on Chinese-style curriculum then this score is clear proof that our National Curriculum if far far inferior to what China has.

    Never mind, as long as we have Dignity.

    1. I have never been a fan of UEC.
      Their syllabus and teaching methods I regard as ossified, stuck in the 1970s. China's education system, by comparison, has moved way beyond that.

      In Penang, Chinese-medium UEC faces declining enrolment, as parents realise UEC itself does not meet the needs of preparing students for a globalised world.
      Han Chiang successfully reinvented itself as a centre for IGCSE (Cambridge) exams and English-medium UEC.
      They still study Chinese as a subject and the school is still administered as a Chinese school, but ironically, it has found success as an "Ang Mo Kao Sai" educational centre, with Chinese characteristics...

      If they had stuck to being a Chinese UEC-only school, as the traditionalists wanted, it would be facing a steady decline today. Today, it has growing enrolment, every year there are more candidates than available places.

    2. uec just a std exam, most countries hv it, i think thats fine.

      cis is small in number compare to national or even other private n international school, however the best part is they hv the freedom to manage the school n syllabus, in a way, they hv to cater for what the market want (chinese characteristic wakaka), n work on it. those that left behind will hv lower enrollment, especially east msia, that said, many creative cis graduate that make it in taiwan r east msian.

      tbh, uec recognition is to me not a priority, not bind by the rigid n primitive govt ruling is imperative for cis to achieve better result in term of academic n worldview.

      i am also fine if some stick/insist to solely chinese, i see it as diversity n let a hundred flowers bloom (mao characteristic wakaka).

  2. Let's cut through the BS. Just ask one question : who is the Boss of Maszlee ?