Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
UCAPAN TAHNIAH DAN SURAT TERBUKA BUAT KPN YANG BARU
Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin
Tahniah saya buat Tan Sri Ismail Omar.
Saya mengambil kesempatan ini untuk mengucapkan tahniah kepada Tan Sri Ismail Omar atas perlantikan beliau selaku Ketua Polis Negara yang baru. Saya sebagai rakyat bawahan yang lemah meletakkan harapan yang tinggi terhadap kewibawaan Tan Sri. Pemilihan Tan Sri sebagai satu kejayaan dalam kerjaya Tan Sri, di samping satu ujian besar daripada Allah yang akan menghitungkannya pada hari kiamat kelak.
Ya! Harapan rakyat amat besar terhadap Tan Sri KPN. Pada hari ini, lebaran Tan Sri selaku KPN masih lagi putih. Tindakan dan keputusan yang bakal diambil Tan Sri KPN selepas inilah yang akan mencorakkan warna kain tersebut. Rakyat akan berbicara mengenai baik atau buruk pada penilaian mereka. Namun apa yang lebih penting segalanya akan tercatat di sisi Allah; adil atau zalim, amanah atau khianat, berjasa atau menganiaya.
Tan Sri, keadilan itu tetap tercatat dengan mulia di sisi Allah, walaupun ada yang menentangnya. Saya percaya Tan Sri akan berusaha sedayanya melaksanakan prinsip-prinsip keadilan itu. Rakyat marhaen seperti saya tentu sahaja akan selalu berdoa agar Tan Sri adil dan berjaya melaksanakan keadilan. Adil dan amanah itu perintah Allah dan RasulNya. Insan yang betul fitrahnya sayangkan keadilan dan amanah, cintakan pula kepada pengamal dan pejuangnya. Rakyat akan mencintai Tan Sri, insyaAllah. Adapun kezaliman dan khianat, ianya dikutuk di langit dan bumi. Allah dan Rasul memurkainya. Insan yang mukmin dan waras melaknatnya. Walaupun ianya dilupai di dunia atas kelicikan manusia, namun Allah menyebut: (maksudnya)
Dan janganlah kamu menyangka bahawa Allah lalai akan apa yang dilakukan oleh orang-orang yang zalim; Sesungguhnya Dia hanya melambatkan balasan mereka hingga ke suatu hari yang padanya terbeliak kaku pemandangan mereka, (kerana gerun gementar melihat keadaan Yang berlaku). (dalam pada itu) mereka terburu-buru (menyahut panggilan ke padang Mahsyar) sambil mendongakkan kepala mereka dengan mata tidak berkelip, dan hati mereka yang kosong (kerana bingung dan cemas) (Surah Ibrahim 42-43).
Kami berharap Tan Sri berusaha menghindari noda-noda kezaliman.
Saya percaya Tan Sri seorang yang berwibawa dan professional, apatahlagi Tan Sri seorang muslim yang beriman tentang hari akhirat. Tan Sri, dosa manusia ada yang bersifat peribadi antara dia dengan Allah, dan ada pula yang membabitkan hak-hak makhluk Allah yang lain. Dosa peribadi mudah untuk dilangsaikan; taubat dan istighfar antara dia dengan Allah sahaja. Adapun kezaliman terhadap orang lain; ia membabitkan hak hamba-hamba Allah yang tidak mudah untuk diselesaikan. Ada tuntutan yang lain yang mesti bayar, dan Allah juga ada hukumanNya yang setimpal.
Tan Sri, hak dan keadilan itu buta warna perbezaan. Adil itu prinsip yang merentasi batasan perasaan dan kepentingan. Merentasi batasan bangsa dan agama sekalipun. Firman Allah: (maksudnya)
“Wahai orang-orang yang beriman, hendaklah kamu semua sentiasa menjadi orang-orang yang menegakkan keadilan kerana Allah, lagi menerangkan kebenaran; dan jangan sekali-kali kebencian kamu terhadap sesuatu kaum itu mendorong kamu kepada tidak melakukan keadilan. Hendaklah kamu berlaku adil (kepada sesiapa jua) kerana sikap adil itu lebih hampir kepada taqwa. Dan bertaqwalah kepada Allah, sesungguhnya Allah Maha Mengetahui dengan mendalam akan apa yang kamu lakukan.” (Surah al-Maidah, ayat 8).
Saya pasti Tan Sri lebih faham dan lebih berkesedaran dalam hal ini.
Tan Sri, seperti yang kita bersama tahu bahawa asas sosial (basic social values) yang rakyat perlukan adalah security (keselamatan), freedom (kebebasan), order (peraturan), justice (keadilan) dan welfare (kebajikan). Polis berperanan besar dalam hal ini. Tan Sri adalah insan harapan!
Tan Sri, seperti yang Tan Sri maklum kadar dan jenis jenayah dalam negara kita hari ini amat membimbangkan. Perasaan aman yang merupakan asas kehidupan kemanusiaan mula terhakis hari demi hari. Tugas Tan Sri tentulah besar. Ia adalah jihad yang agung pahalanya jika Tan Sri dapat mengembalikan keamanan dan memberikan keharmonian kepada rakyat. Salah satu sebab negara tidak aman, hilangnya keberkatan pemerintahan dan rakyat. Adil membuahkan rahmat Allah sekalipun jika pemerintah itu bukan muslim. Zalim melahirkan kemurkaan Allah, sekalipun pemerintah itu muslim. Inilah yang sedang kita lihat dalam dunia hari ini. Kami mendoakan agar Tan Sri berjaya meneruskan jihad menegakkan keamanan dan keharmonian dalam kalangan rakyat.
Harapan kami agar Tan Sri dapat melaksanakan prinsip-prinsip yang dititahkan Allah dan RasulNya. Semoga Allah memberkati negara ini kerana keadilan insan-insan yang diberikan amanah. Rakyat mengadu kepada penguasa tentang kezaliman orang lain terhadap mereka. Namun, jika penguasa itu yang zalim, rakyat mengadu kepada Allah tentang kezaliman penguasa mereka. Nabi bersabda:
“Takutlah kamu doa orang yang dizalimi kerana ianya dibawa atas lindungan awan dan Allah Yang Maha Tinggi berfirman: “Demi kemuliaan dan keagunganKu, akan Aku menangkan engkau sekalipun selepas beberapa lama” (Riwayat al-Bukhari dalam al-Tarikh al-Kabir, dinilai hasan/ al-Sahihah:870).
Tan Sri, selamat bertugas sebagai KPN yang baru. Bersama Tan Sri jutaan harapan rakyat. Jika saya boleh meminjam wasiat bertulis Abu Bakr al-Siddiq ketika amat uzur dan mencadangkan Umar al-Khattab sebagai penggantinya, antaranya beliau menyebut:
“Sekiranya ‘Umar berlaku ‘adil, maka itu sangkaan dan pengetahuanku mengenainya. Jika dia sebaliknya, maka setiap individu berdasarkan apa yang dikerjakan. Sedangkan aku inginkan kebaikan dan tidak pula aku tahu perkara yang ghaib. “Nanti orang-orang zalim akan mengetahui di mana kesudahan mereka” Wa al-Salam ‘alaikum wa rahmatulLah”. (al-Sayuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa, 32, Beirut: Dar al-Fikr).
Semoga Allah merahmati tugasan Tan Sri, amin.
Rakyat Bawahan Yang Dhaif,
Mohd Asri bin Zainul Abidin
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17: There seems to be no end to politicising any issue in Malaysia. In the case of the savage murder of businesswoman Sosilawati Lawiya and three others, Malay daily Utusan Malaysia continues this trend by linking politics to the case which shocked the nation.
The Perkasa and UMNO mouthpiece is said to have carried a statement by a defecting Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy youth chief Mohd Zahid Md Arip who questioned what he termed as DAP’s "silence and hypocrisy" over Sosilawati’s murder, a now-familiar charge among pro-UMNO bloggers.
“Is the silence related to claim that the main suspect (in the murder case) is a lifelong member of the party?
"If the claim is true, it clearly shows that DAP is a hypocrite party that only fights for certain race,” he was quoted as questioning.
His suggestion was however in stark contrast to what deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department T. Murugiah’s had claimed earlier, that the main murder suspect had expressed his intention to join MIC.
Murugiah had also claimed that he met the suspect during a Hari Raya community programme in Bukit Cheeding, three days before he was arrested.
DAP to sue
DAP secretary-general is clearly not amused by Utusan's latest attack on it.
“Murugiah said he wanted to join MIC, yet Utusan spins to say he is a DAP life member. Utusan has politicised the issue," twitted Lim Guan Eng, adding that the party would be taking the paper to court for libel.
Describing the paper's reporting as evil and malicious, Lim said it should just be renamed to Utusan Shin Bet and Mossad, referring to the notorious Israeli secret service agencies.
In another posting, Lim said the DAP did not attempt to exploit Murugiah's revelation that the suspect had wanted to join MIC.
Coupled with allegations on the internet mostly by pro-UMNO bloggers, Utusan's reporting on the murder case has thrived on sensationalism, and recently bordered on racism due to the different races involved in the high-profile case.
Following this, the police chief has been forced to issue a statement, telling the public that the case had nothing to do race.
The racial polemics surrounding the case also prompted Selangor's Seri Setia assemblyman to condemn "irresponsible journalism" by the media involved, especially those known as 'mainstream'.
“What kind of humans are us?” twitted Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad. “The scary thing is this was not spun by unknown blogs and stupid tabloids, but the mainstream media."
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
KOTA BHARU, Sept 14: Congratulating newly appointed Inspector General of Police Ismail Omar, PAS Murshidul Am Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat reminded him that the police force was supposed to be free and independent but had deviated under the leadership of his predecessors.
L-R: Ismail Omar and Nik Aziz
“I hope the new IGP will always give his attention on this matter to improve the integrity of the police force in the country,” said the Kelantan Menteri Besar.
Nik Aziz said a religious life was a recipe to achieve justice in the country.
“The meaning of religious life is officially to live our life by always abiding to the religious teachings and guidance, to save our life in this world and the hereafter.”
He stressed that Islamic teachings were above any man-made laws, and religious piety also covered aspects of governance such as the judiciary, to ensure justice was always upheld.
Nik Aziz said the current power abuse by the police stem from the absence of religious teachings in the lives of those involved.
“They are obsessed with themselves to the extent of forgetting the rights of Allah to punish those human who do not obey His teachings,” he remarked.
Nik Aziz said the police should take examples from the life of Prophet Muhammad on the approach to crime prevention based on the Qur'an.
Ismail succeeds Musa Hassan whose contract as the IGP ended yesterday. Musa had been in the force for 41 years.
Monday, September 13, 2010
M. Bakri Musa
Hardly a day goes by without Malay leaders of all persuasions lamenting our lack of unity. If only we are united, they earnestly assure us, we could take on the world!
I respectfully disagree; their conviction is misplaced. The force that would make Malays strong is not unity rather competitiveness. If we are competitive, then our place in Tanah Melayu (Malay Land) or even Dunia Allah (God’s World) would be assured. If we are not, then we would forever have to be indulged with such silly fantasies as Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Hegemony). We would perpetually have to pin our hopes on such political amulets as Article 153 of our constitution (guaranteeing our special status).
Our leaders’ quixotic quest for “unity” is not only misplaced but also distracting. It distracts from the pressing challenge of making us competitive.
These leaders’ obsession with unity is misguided for another reason. They take unity to mean unanimity. To them we are not united unless we parrot their views. Any disagreement is an expression of “disunity.” They prefer us to be like a flock of sheep.
They would like us to believe that their leadership is of the shepherd leading the flock from one lush meadow to the next, ensuring that no one is left behind or be preyed upon. J.S. Bach’s cantata Sheep May Safely Graze (BWV 208) is a beautiful rendition of this benign biblical imagery of the pastoral ideal.
Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that far too many of our leaders today are sly foxes cloaked in shepherd’s clothing. Instead of tending to us, they would be the first to prey upon us. Instead of protecting us from the elements, these “shepherds” would ensure that they have their istana kayangan (fantasy palaces) first, and if there were the odd lumber pieces left over, only then could the flock hope to have a wall to their shed.
We have nine sultans, all fabulously wealthy luxuriating in their Shangri la palaces at taxpayers’ expense; likewise our political leaders, as obscenely exemplified by former Selangor Chief Minister Khir Toyo and Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi. I challenge anyone to name a charitable foundation funded by any of them.
These are the leaders who are forever exhorting us towards “unity.” It is a unity to serve their purpose, not ours.
Strong Pillars of Society
This quest for unity is foolish for yet a third reason. A collection of weak twigs no matter how tightly bound (“united”) will never make a strong pillar. Likewise, a community will never be strong no matter how united its members are if individually they are weak.
A strong pillar requires top quality cement and steel re-bars. If the cement is corrupted with too much dirt, the pillar will not be strong or enduring; likewise if the re-bars have been weakened by corrosion.
The sturdy pillars of a community require citizens (cement) of high quality (productive) and leaders (re-bars) of uncompromising integrity (uncorrupted). Endlessly exhorting for “unity” would be a poor substitute for either.
History is replete with examples of societies once destined to perpetual servitude today commanding great respect. We can learn from them; there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
The Koreans, long colonized and brutalized by the Japanese, are today besting their former masters. Yes, the Koreans do occasionally pay homage to their patriotic passion for unity with their brethren to the north. Likewise the Irish; occasionally they too would stir up their republican nationalism with calls for unity with their compatriots in Northern Ireland. However, after the rousing speeches, patriotic singing, and exuberant flag waving they would be back hard at work on matters that really count – being economically productive.
The elements contributing to the strength of a society are its social, human, and financial capitals, in that order. Focus on these three and forego the illusory quest for unity. Besides, unity is more likely to be achieved once we are prosperous; then we would more likely be generous not only materially but also in our views and attitudes.
We can borrow financial capital, and to some extent human capital, through liberal immigration policies a la America, but not social capital; hence the order of importance.
Developing financial capital means we must save more and forego current consumption. Additionally, we must have efficient intermediaries to connect owners of capital (savers) to its potential users (entrepreneurs and businesses). Even in a well regulated economy, these intermediaries can sometimes stray and be negligent in their fiduciary obligations. The consequent wreck they impose on the economy and on our lives can be considerable, as Americans are currently experiencing, and as we did in 1997.
As a community, Malays mistrust banks and other interest-charging institutions. The successes of Islamic banks and mutual fund-like entities as Tabung Haji indicate that this can be surmounted and that we are aware of the merits of savings.
Our cultural tendency for conspicuous consumption abetted by the gaudy examples set by our leaders (huge weddings stretching for days) results in us having the lowest savings rates, and thus a thin financial capital base. Not a strong springboard to catapult our development. Yes, we can borrow but if we are not productive then we would not be able to service the loan.
Human capital refers to the skills, knowledge and other attributes of the citizens that would enable them to produce something or a service that is of value to society. We enhance human capital through health and education.
Improving health begins with such basic essentials as providing potable water, reliable electricity, garbage pick-up, and unclogged drains as well as elementary and inexpensive public health measures like vaccinations. Then consider the vast number of Malay kampongs that lack these basic amenities.
We improve the skills of our people through quality education. Quality is measured not by years of formal schooling or resources allocated rather by how effective our schools and teachers are. The OECD’s Program for International Students Assessments has shown that economic productivity is causally linked to quality education.
Put differently, Malaysia’s aspiration of quadrupling the per capita income within a decade would forever remain a dream unless we improve our schools and universities. Poland has demonstrated that a commitment to reforming education could produce results as early as a few years, and with that, commensurate improvement in economic performance.
Malay educational achievement lags behind the other communities. Closing this should be our top priority, not meaningless pursuit of empty unity. Subsidize education and healthcare if need be. In truth they are not subsidies but prudent and profitable investments in human capital. It is also the right thing to do.
Social capital refers to the relationships we have with each other; the shared norms, values and understanding which facilitate us working together. Any relationship, economic or otherwise, must begin with trust, a crucial component of social capital. Banks would be chronically crippled by “bank runs” if depositors lacked trust in them. The current crisis in the West is in part a manifestation of “bank runs” on “shadow banking” institutions by major (corporate) depositors. Likewise, even the most meticulous contract crafted by finicky lawyers cannot substitute for trust. Only peace treaties imposed by the victor upon the vanquished do not involve element of trust.
Perversely our preoccupation with unity with its attendant intolerance of divergent views erodes our social capital and poisons our relationships, in economics and other areas. It makes an UMNO government deny contracts to competent Malays simply because they sympathize with the opposition. We already see this poison spread to other spheres, as with some mosques reserved only for UMNO Malays.
By focusing less on our misguided quest for “unity” and more on learning to tolerate the differences amongst us, we enhance our social capital. I would go beyond simply tolerating to embracing and welcoming these differences. Only through robust debates and subjecting our views to the rigorous scrutiny of the marketplace of ideas could we ensure that we would not be pursuing a false path.
So if unity is equated with unanimity, then the less “united” Malays are the better. What we desperately need is a diversity of fresh views and perspectives to replace our current fossilized mindsets. Interestingly, once Malays can tolerate if not embrace the differences amongst us, then we are more likely to tolerate and embrace differences with our fellow Malaysians. That can only be good for plural Malaysia.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Improve Our Schools, Not Tinker With Examinations
M. Bakri Musa
In about two weeks nearly half a million Malaysian school children will be sitting for their UPSR, the national examination taken at the end of Year Six. Today there is raging debate on abolishing this as well as the PMR (taken at Year Nine) examination. A decision is expected within weeks. There is however, minimal discussion on the timing of these examinations, administered as they are so early in the school year.
This year UPSR will be on September 20th, with PMR two weeks later. From then till the year-end holidays in late November, there will be no effective teaching or learning at these schools. With the examinations out of the way, the entire school – students and staff – will already be in holiday mode. The staff will effectively be makan gaji buta (paid but not working).
Come January when these students begin their classes, they would have already suffered through considerable attrition in their learning skills as a result of the three-month hiatus. The first few weeks if not months would be diverted to re-learning lessons of the preceding grade.
The problem only gets worse when they sit for their SPM examination (at Year 11). Although that is held in mid November, the results would not be out till late March. Visit Malaysia at the end and at the first half of the year and you will see thousands of these young boys and girls loitering. Query them and the typical answer would be, “Waiting for exam results!”
The next public option for those wishing to continue their formal schooling would be either matrikulasi or Sixth Form. Both however would not start till June.
When they were sitting for their UPSR and PMR, these students wasted away only three months; with SPM they would be fritting away over half a year, a substantial period in a young student’s life.
This terrible wastage of time escapes the attention of policymakers. They should be addressing this more pertinent and pressing issue instead of the non-productive controversy over abolishing UPSR and PMR.
Better Timing of Examinations
I fail to see why UPSR and PMR have to be set so early in the third term. Delaying it to mid or even late November would greatly extend the students’ instructional time by at least a couple of months.
Similarly I cannot comprehend why the Examination Syndicate takes such an inordinately long time to process the SPM examination. The Syndicate should ban its staff from taking holidays from October till the results are out so it could devote fully to processing the examination. Additionally we could reduce the number of subjects tested to a few core ones like language, science and mathematics. As for the rest, rely on the teachers’ assessments.
Even with the core subjects, have the final examination contribute only about 60-70 percent to the total score, with the rest made up of the student’s year-round work. With modern statistical techniques we should be able to reduce inter-school variations in teachers’ assessments.
After Form Five I see no reason why students could not proceed directly to matrikulasi or Sixth Form come the following January. In the 1960s there was a special entrance examination whose only function was to select students into Sixth Form. Alternatively, use the SPM trial examination as the basis for selection. That would certainly give the examination some clout! An even better proposal would be to make Form Six an integral part of secondary schooling, with everyone expected to continue on.
Keeping these young folks with raging hormones (as those Fifth Formers are) not occupied for over six months only invites trouble. Idleness is the root of mischief; we ignore that at our peril. That is quite apart from the learning attrition that inevitably occurs during the long hiatus.
Rich parents of course have wider options for their children, like enrolling them in the many excellent private pre-university programs. Those are expensive, beyond the reach of the poor. In the context of race-conscious Malaysia, this means Malay and Indian children.
By June when Sixth Form and the other public pre-university programs begin, those children of the rich who are accepted there would have a head start since they had spent the past six months in private pre-university programs. That gives them a substantial advantage in what typically is a one-to-two-year program.
I recently met a group of students enrolled in such a program, this one meant to prepare them for American universities. There was an incentive put into it whereby if the students were to perform well in the first six months, they would be sent abroad earlier.
Guess what? Of the students who excelled and thus sent abroad earlier, the vast majority were non-Malays. Those poor Malay students left behind were confounded. In the poisonous sociopolitical landscape where race considerations are never far from the surface, those poor Malay students not unnaturally felt their acute sense of deficiency, feeding the already ugly stereotype they have of themselves.
However, when I asked them what they were doing in the interim between sitting for their SPM and enrolling in the program, to a person they all replied that they did nothing! They idled the time away while waiting for their results. In contrast, those non-Malay students who did well were already ahead of them at the time of enrolment as they had been in private pre-university classes while waiting for their SPM results.
Interestingly, of the Malaysians who are privileged to attend elite American universities, few are from matrikulasi or Sixth Form. Instead they come from the many private pre-university programs in Malaysia. That is an indictment of our national education system, specifically post-Form Five.
Malay College IB Program
Malay College (MC) is embarking on its IB program next June, after about ten years in the planning. This is certainly long awaited and much needed. Up till now MC is nothing but a glorified middle school; its students have to go elsewhere to prepare for university.
The program will take in only MC students; presumably there will be enough to fill the class. Back in the 1950s and 60s MC had difficulty filling its Sixth Form, and the program was frequently threatened with closure if not for the many Malay students from other schools to fill the vacancies.
Those potential IB students will sit for their SPM this November and then return home to wait for the results. Come June next year, based on their SPM results, they will return to begin their IB class.
IB is radically different to what these students are used to. For one, it is English-medium while MC, like all national schools, is Malay-medium. Those students will thus encounter significant language and other adjustments.
As such I would have expected the policymakers to have planned a suitable “Pre-IB” program to prepare those students. What better time to do that than in the six-month hiatus while waiting for the SPM results! At the very least these students should have intensive English immersion classes.
Without such careful preparation, those first batch of IB students risk not being successful. Were that to happen, then those otherwise bright and promising students would forever suffer the blight of being tagged a failure, and perpetually carry the stigma of the presumed inadequacies of their race.
Public pressure would then arise and the authorities would be tempted to terminate the program. That would be a monumental tragedy not only for those students but also for MC and Malays. Thus far there is little concern among college and ministry officials in avoiding this possible disaster. Based on past experience, this lack of concern is unjustified.
Our education minister and policymakers should not distract themselves with such non-productive issues as scrapping the UPSR and PMR. They should instead focus on making 13 years of schooling as the new norm for our children, as they do in Germany. We should make Form Six an integral part of secondary education, available to everyone. Unlike the Germans however, we should stream our students into the academic, general and vocational streams (comparable to their Gymnasium, Realschule and Hauptschule) not at Year 5 but at the upper secondary (Year 10).
Such a move would better prepare our students for the increasingly competitive world and help advance our economy up the value scale. Tinkering with examinations does nothing; it is a “make busy” project for policymakers.