Archive for the ‘Transformation National 2050.’ Category

Unity Schools, Work-home Balance, Enhanced Public Transport System Among Civil Servants’ Aspirations For TN50

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

PUTRAJAYA, May 31 (Bernama) — Single-stream schools to forge unity, work-family life balance and improved public transportation system were among the aspirations and suggestions voiced by civil servants at a National Transformation 2050 (TN50) dialogue session with the prime minister, here, today.

When summarising these aspirations and suggestions which were described as stimulating by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the prime minister said he envisaged the formation of national schools that could build unity at an early stage.

He said that among the characteristics of such schools were making Bahasa Melayu as the medium of instruction, boosting English language proficiency, making Tamil, Mandarin and Arabic as strong electives, providing quality education and the composition of teachers and students from various races.

Najib said he did not make those suggestions but envisaged the characteristics of schools from which multiracial unity could begin.

However, he added, this was a very sensitive matter, a political landmine, as Malaysia had different school streams.

“Can we accept this (unity) school model? We all need to think about it. I am not suggesting it, just envisaging, as a lot of people say they want unity and that it should start from school. We want solutions. This, we need to think about as everything starts from school.

“It’s not that we want to decide now, but I am just visualising. What’s the solution? It’s not that we want to close down Chinese and Tamil schools but to choose the (appropriate) kind of national schools,” he said.

At the dialogue session involving about 1,300 young civil servants, among the aspirations expressed was the emphasis on unity through education by building single-stream schools with Bahasa Melayu as the lingua franca and empowering the English Language subject without sidelining Tamil and Mandarin.

Also raised was the matter of work-home life balance by setting the maximum hours that would not tie down civil servants to long working hours to the point of them sacrificing their time for their families.

On healthcare affordability raised at the dialogue, Najib said the fee of RM1 for treatment at a government health facility was not sustainable as the government spent RM21 billion to RM22 billion per year on the health industry but only collected RM400 million to RM500 million although Malaysia’s healthcare service was the best in the world.

He cited the case of patient Razali Tompang who had to pay only RM31.80 for his father’s cancer treatment at Kuala Lumpur Hospital when the actual amount was RM11,000. “Where in the world can one be charged so low (for cancer treatment)?” Najib said.

On the issue of public transportation, one of the civil servants said he wanted to see Malaysia not bogged down anymore by the problem of traffic congestion by 2050.


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Science, sealed and delivered in TN50

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
MALAYSIA is a country blessed with beautiful nature. Situated in global terrestrial and marine biodiversity “hotspots”, it hosts the world’s oldest rainforests that teemwith unique flora and fauna, and seas rich in marine species large and small.

MALAYSIA is a country blessed with beautiful nature. Situated in global terrestrial and marine biodiversity “hotspots”, it hosts the world’s oldest rainforests that teemwith unique flora and fauna, and seas rich in marine species large and small.

That said, Malaysia is also a rapidly developing country bent on reaching developed country status within the next few years. That ambition has, to a large extent, come at the cost of her natural environment, at the ecosystem and biodiversity levels.

A progressive and developed nation is one that understands and appreciates the value of nature and the services it provides to support our living, thus, invests in safeguarding it for generations to come. Why should we care, when usually topics such as economics, infrastructure, healthcare and education are the ones closest to our hearts?

Well, our seafood stocks are depleting, water catchment areas losing out to logging, we have already lost wildlife species and are on the brink of losing more — strange weather anomalies are becoming the norm, natural water sources are drying up resulting in massive shortages, and the impacts of pollution are becoming more prominent. This certainly does not sound convincing for a developed nation.

This is not a matter of tree hugging, and this is where I am glad that the environment is one of the topics being given “air time” in the Transformasi Nasional 2050 (TN50) initiative. To that end, I am honoured by the opportunity to lend my voice to chart our course for safeguarding Malaysia’s environment — for food, for ecosystem services, for recreation, for climate regulation, and, ultimately, our survival.

As someone living a childhood dream and one who has carved a successful national and international career in marine science and conservation (a rather atypical career in Malaysia), I hope that my story empowers many passionate young girls and women out there to believe that this “rugged” career isn’t just for the boys.

They, too, could be out there in the field, spending hours exposed to the elements while collecting important data on the environment or reaching out to communities, and then be a voice for the cause they are championing, and that their voice shall be heard.

This is my aspiration for young female Malaysians — in the coming 30 years, you have a rightful place in science, in policy advocacy, in being the crafts(wo)men of your future and that of your country.

I come from a lineage of strong and resilient women, and I believe many Malaysians of my generation do, too. Perhaps, most of our mothers and grandmothers while strong in essence, having emerged from many hardships, did not have the opportunity to be the shapers of our country’s trajectory. It was just not the fashion of their day.


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A more inclusive system by 2050

Saturday, May 13th, 2017
(File pix) A father and son who had just completed the Walk of Hope in Taman Tasik Titiwangsa organised by the Down Syndrome Association of Malaysia. Every child should be viewed as someone who is brimming with talent and unique skills that are waiting to be tapped into.

IN light of the discussions on the 2050 National Transformation (TN50), I was caught off guard when a friend asked me what I had envisioned for Malaysia by 2050. What a loaded question, I thought.

In case you don’t already know, TN50 is a new “vision” for Malaysia which seeks to transform the country’s economy, citizen wellbeing, environment, technology, social interaction, governance and public administration

I vetted through every platform on the Internet to see what other people’s visions for Malaysia by 2050 were.

One lady was keen on seeing Malaysia establish a strong reading culture, while one gentleman said he wanted Malaysians to sustain, if not further strengthen, the bonds we have with each other despite our differences.

My voice certainly isn’t representative of the entire Malaysian youth, this I know, but one thing remains undisputable: every young Malaysian wants a bright future for themselves and their country.

So, what do I want for Malaysia by 2050? I want a Malaysia where students with learning disabilities or mental illness can receive the support they need from their schools so that their academic progress is not hindered.

Although I acknowledge that students with physical disabilities face their fair share of challenges, too, physical impairments often require far less explanations to comprehend, whereas a condition that is not visible to the eye makes it more difficult to understand and empathise with.

Furthermore, a disorder that affects a student’s cognitive abilities is going to make it more challenging for the individual to learn and retain information.

The reason I feel so strongly about this is because I know far too many young people who are struggling to reach their full potential because they are treated as “second-class” students in school. It is not their fault that they have a condition that makes it tough for them to make progress.

One of my Instagram followers told me that her younger sister, who suffers from an anxiety disorder, had to change schools thrice during the span of her secondary education. In the end, she ended up being homeschooled after all her teachers from the schools she attended failed to give her the help and empathy she needed despite being personally informed by her psychiatrist, the kind of attention she required.

Students with any disability should not be regarded as a burden to teachers. On the contrary, they should be viewed like any other student who is brimming with talent and unique skills that are waiting to be tapped into.

Students are not factory-made; they are individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. Just because a student doesn’t fit the mould for academic excellence, it does not mean they cannot excel like their peers. If it takes them a longer time, then so be it. Let’s not undercut their potential just because they do not work within a typical timeframe.

I truly hope that by 2050, it will be made mandatory for teachers to be well-equipped with the knowledge and facilities to teach students with disabilities so that their parents won’t have to scour the earth to find a private learning institution for their child, which is often expensive and inaccessible.

Students with any kind of condition that prevents them from learning at a regular pace, not only need different learning approaches, they also need the positive reinforcement other students receive.

Far too often, teachers either lack empathy and it is this negative attitude that makes a student believe they are of no value and causes them to perform badly. Psychologists call this “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

Every student is an asset to society, even if they do require extra assistance to get through school. If we were to utilise all our resources to strengthen and empower them, not only are we securing their futures, we are also including them in the race to bring our country forward.

Ignoring or undermining students with physical or mental disabilities only serves to create more complications in the future and exclude a group of people with so much potential and talent. Their unique experience could even serve as a shining example to people with the same conditions, that they, too, can achieve anything.


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Envisioning the future

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017
Children celebrating National Day in Tangkak, Johor, last year. Vision with action can change the nation for the better.

“WHERE there is no vision, there is no hope,” so said George Washington Carver, an American botanist and inventor.

What has given us hope as a nation is Vision 2020. That vision, promulgated in 1991, envisages Malaysia to be a developed nation; not just economically, but also politically, socially, spiritually, psychologically and culturally by 2020. We should also become fully united and socially cohesive. We should be anchored in social justice, social and spiritual values, and we should enjoy a quality of life that augurs well for national pride and confidence.

While the Vision has remained intact over the past 27 years, it has gone through some quantification. For example, today our yardstick to measure our developed status is a per capita income of US$12,475 (RM54,153). We have roughly three more years to go and have some catching up to do on the other dimensions as well.

But, is it really important to achieve all that we aspire for by 2020? A vision definitely should have a finish line. Our vision scores full marks for that. Our achievement deficit should not be for want of trying. And, we must believe that we can achieve our aspirations. As Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak inspired us in a speech recently: “Believe that the country is on the right track and actively pursuing our aspirations; we can achieve what we hope for.”

In a company context, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras argue in their 1996 book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, that any true vision probably has only a 60-70 per cent chance of success. This is because, apart from challenging a company to move where it has set out to go, the vision serves other purposes as well. It gives meaning to employees’ toil and galvanises them into achieving the dream.

Extending Collins and Porras’s analysis to the national context, a vision offers citizens a point of rally, hope of a better future and an exhortation to take charge of their destiny. Following this logic, visions should necessarily be larger than life.

Therefore, we should not be unduly perturbed should we fall short of our vision come 2020. This is because by any standard, Vision 2020 is ambitious and bold. It is even audacious, as any vision should rightly be. As Clement Stone, an American self-help author’s much-popularised saying goes: “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star!”

There is a school in front of my house. On its front wall, students had wisely scrawled the following line: “Aim high, that way you will not fall far.” Indeed, Michelangelo once remarked: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

What do we do when we achieve or do not achieve our vision? We go and set another. It is in this spirit that the government has kick-started discussions across society on the content of a new vision — the National Transformation 2050 or TN50. That announcement has generated much expectation. The preparatory efforts are well-trailed. Najib, too, has offered his view as to what TN50 should contain. He wants Malaysia to be among the top 20 countries globally by 2050.

In formulating TN50, we should not be too fixated on our strengths and challenges as a nation. Fixing a vision far into the future is an exercise that goes beyond consideration of our current capabilities and environment. However, that does not mean that TN50 should be a fantasy.

Take then former United States president John F. Kennedy’s decision in May 1961 to send an American to the moon by the end of the decade. He was challenged to set this goal after Yuri Gagarin’s successful orbit of the Earth a month before. Then, the US was embarrassingly far behind the Russians in space technology. Kennedy knew that to put a man on the moon would be “a very challenging technological feat”. Yet, he had the audacity to envision so despite the current capabilities of the US space technology. The rest is history.

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Its commander, Neil Armstrong, stepped off the Lunar Module’s ladder and onto the moon’s surface and uttered these ever-memorable words: “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

TN50 should incorporate the noble aspirations of Vision 2020, making adjustments, of course, to suit the envisaged future. This is because those worthy goals have resonated so well among all segments of society.

The transformation envisaged should not just be of the economy. It should also be of the mind and spirit of every Malaysian. The values encapsulated in our Rukun Negara should form the foundation of TN50. TN50 should fortify our belief that whatever the colour of our skin and faith, we share a common destiny. We are all in this together — building a beautiful nation for posterity; a society that is tolerant and respectful of one another.

by Datuk Dr. John Antony Xavier.

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