Archive for the ‘Ethics, Morality and Patriotism’ Category

Preparing for ageing population

Thursday, October 18th, 2018
(File pix) We can learn from other countries, like Japan, on how to handle an ageing population. Pix by Poliana Ronnie Sidom

AS Malaysia prepares itself to be an ageing nation when seven per cent of its population will be 65 years and older by 2030, it is obvious that much thought has to be given to grapple with the problems and challenges that would arise.

According to Universiti Malaya’s Social Wellbeing Research Centre, the number of Malaysians aged 60 and above is projected to reach 3.5 million in 2020 and 6.3 million in 2040 — about 20 per cent of the population.

The most common problems that senior citizens all over the world are facing include deteriorating health, malnutrition, lack of proper shelter, fear, depression, senility, isolation, boredom, non-productivity and financial incapacity.

These problems can be grouped into two categories: physical and mental health, and financial capacity.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on Saturday, urged the older generation to remain active and continue working, even after retirement.

Dr Mahathir, who is 93, said if they do not remain active, they will become weak.

He was speaking at the “Ageing, Learning and Technology: Enriching Lives, Connecting Communities Conference” in conjunction with the International Day of Older Persons.

It is timely for the government to review its policies and prepare for this transition, including providing a better social support system. The country must have a comprehensive social security programme since studies show that the retirement income for most older people is inadequate.

The average life expectancy of Malaysians is 75 years, therefore, a person needs savings to last between 15 and 20 years.

A study conducted by the Insured Retirement Institute early this year showed that less than 25 per cent of working people interviewed believe that they will have enough money to support them through their retirement years.

Since the cost of living is expected to increase in years to come, it is important to provide a social safety net, including allowing healthy and experienced senior citizens to work.

The government could emulate the approach taken by countries which had introduced financial incentives for employers to hire or retain older workers and subsidise job training for them.

Focus should be given to elderly women, as they are more likely to be widows who do not have adequate retirement incomes.

The government should develop an ageing-friendly healthcare system that focuses on prevention and less on costly hospital care. We must accept the fact that fast-growing elderly population will strain the healthcare system.

Apart from building and improving hospitals and clinics, more geriatricians should be trained as there is only one geriatrician for every 100,000 older persons.

We should learn from developed nations, especially Japan, on how to handle an ageing population.

Japan has reached a new world record with one in three people aged over 65. Although Japan has among the best healthcare and social safety net for its senior citizens, the ageing population has put a strain on its financial system and retail industry.


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Working together on rights

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

Shafie having a discussion with Abang Johari during a courtesy call at the latter’s office in Kuching on Thursday.

KUCHING: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie bin Haji Apdal said he and his Sarawak counterpart, Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg agree that whatever is due to both States as contained in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) must be complied with.

He said that while the interests of both Sabah and Sarawak must be protected it must be looked at with the nation as a whole, in mind and cordial discussions are the best way forward.

“We (Sabah and Sarawak) are on the same page in as far as the MA63 is concerned,” Shafie told reporters after paying Abang Johari a courtesy call at the Sarawak Chief Minister’s office at the Bangunan Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak in Kuching on Thursday afternoon.

“We realise that. We have to be together to ensure that the works are done accordingly. We are not going to sing different songs,” he said.

He noted that the amendments and return of Sarawak’s and Sabah’s rights under the MA63 were for the benefit of Sarawakians and Sabahans.

He believed it was high time that the federal government looked into the demands from Sabah and Sarawak seriously.

He said when the people of Sarawak and Sabah make the demand it doesn’t mean they don’t love Malaysia.

“We love Malaysia. But what is due, what has been there, put there by our forefathers, we got to realise that.

“To realise that, we have to fulfil what have been there,” he said.

Shafie believes that if there is adjustment to be made, they need to discuss it because when our forefathers formed Malaysia it was done in a peaceful manner, through negotiation and through discussion, not like other nations where all sorts of things happened.

However, both Shafie and Abang Jo said they did not have sufficient time to discuss the MA63 issue in detail during their one-hour meeting.

Shafie said more can be achieved if the discussions were conducted peacefully but stressed that Sabah remains firm that a higher royalty payment on oil and gas must be based on gross.

“There must be some adjustment to the royalty payout. It cannot remain the same (five percent) since 1974,” he said in response to a question by a reporter who had asked if the MA63 issue was discussed.

He also stressed that the demand for 20 per cent royalty was not only for Sarawak but also for Sabah, which is also an oil and gas producing state.

“I have raised the oil royalty issue; it’s not based on net but on gross.

“I realise in the beginning due to high cost of operation may not be enough to Petronas, but since 1974 there must be some adjustment.

“We are not asking for 100 per cent. We are asking for 20 per cent only,” he said.

Shafie believed Sarawak and Sabah did not mind to share the wealth from oil and gas with the country, saying they were asking for was what was due to them.

Shafie is on a two-day visit to Sarawak. Today he will call on Sarawak Head of State, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Accompanying Shafie are his wife, Datin Seri Panglima Hajah Shuryani binti Datuk Shuaib, Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob, Sabah Minister of Education and Innovation and Datuk Peter Anthony, Minister of Infrastructure Development.

Abang Johari said the amendments to the Federal Constitution and MA63 were some of the issues discussed during his meeting with Shafie.

“We talked about it, but we did not discuss it in detail,” he said at a press conference.

Shafie said he had also made enquiries about the possibility of buying surplus electricity from Sarawak, saying this would be discussed indepth not too long from now.

He said if the price offered by Sarawak is competitive enough, it would make better business sense to buy from a neighbour rather than set up costly power plants.

“If we can purchase power from Sarawak at a reasonable price, then why not,” he said while saying Sarawak’s production cost of power was far cheaper than that produced in Sabah.

Stressing the need for cooperation between the two states, he said Sabah was willing to encourage Sarawak to produce certain parts when the automotive sector in Sabah takes off.

(Tan Chong Motors has given indication that it intends to set up an assembly plant in Sabah for its 4×4 vehicles as well as trucks that are in demand in the Borneo States.)

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Senate mindset must change

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

By voting against the Bill to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act, some senators have ignored what the rakyat want.

THE government’s recent bid to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act has been frustrated by Dewan Negara, at least for the time being.

Under the Federal Constitution, the states are given the right to elect a certain number of senators.

This ensures that even states governed by opposition parties are given the opportunity to be represented in Dewan Negara (the Senate). And many of the current senators were appointed when Barisan Nasional was still in power.

But their act of blocking the repeal does cause the man in the street to wonder whether they did so merely to oppose a government move.

Are the honourable members of Dewan Negara appointed to the august House just to vote for the sake of supporting or opposing?

Or are they there to properly understand and examine the matters before them and, if appropriate, to express their views in the interest of the people they represent.

Many NGOs and civic groups have strongly spoken out against this conduct of the relevant senators.

I certainly share the sentiment of these groups with regard to the proposed scrapping of the Anti-Fake News Act.

In fact, in my June 28 article in The Star, I stated the reasons why I feel the Act is unnecessary and serves no good purpose.

By failing to pass the Bill to repeal the Act, the senators have shown that they still have their old mind- set.

Although it is clear what the people want, their wishes have fallen on deaf ears.

Earlier, the same senators approved the Bill that eventually became the Act. It is possible that some may have felt compelled to go along with these moves. This does not reflect well on the stature and quality of such representatives.

However, it may not be a bad thing after all for the Anti-Fake News Act to be retained for a while.

Fake news is still being circulated and, when necessary, action should be taken against the people involved.

But much of today’s fake news seems to target the present government, which suggests that the people behind these falsehoods do not support the government or oppose it on account of personal agenda or otherwise.

Therefore, I wonder whether those who opposed the Bill to repeal the Act have done a disfavour to themselves and their supporters.

That aside, the government now needs to consider whether to again move to abolish the Act or modify it in a suitable manner.

It will also be beneficial to Malaysians if, at the same time, the government looks into other laws, including the Printing Presses and Publications Act, with regard to provisions relating to false news and make the necessary changes.

By Bhag Singh

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Sultan Nazrin lists three transitions needed to propel country forward.

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Perak’s Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah says there is a need to develop a more open and resilient Malaysian society and economy to move the country forward to the next level and achieve high-income status in line with its potential.

He said two other key structural transitions needed to achieve these goals were establishing a truly just and equitable society, and taking full advantage of the current wave of technological transformation.

In making the economy and society resilient, competitive and performance-based, he noted that Malaysia was currently the world’s 22nd freest economy according to an international economic freedom index, reflecting its attractiveness as a destination for inward investment, as well as the central role of trade in its economy.

“But this position is by no means assured as many other countries are engaging in the rapid removal of domestic barriers to trade to attract investment,” he said.

At the same time, he said, there were growing restrictions on trade being implemented by some high-income countries to protect domestic industries and jobs.

“This adds to the urgency for smaller open economies such as our own to take active steps to secure wider market access,” Sultan Nazrin said.

On the need to establish a truly just and equitable society, Sultan Nazrin said based on income figures, it was perhaps not surprising that there were frequent complaints about the rising cost of living.

He noted that with low earning capacity, the average employee was unable to accumulate enough savings to fund their housing needs, children’s education or retirement.

“How this challenge will be met is something that calls for in-depth and objective study. Without adequate economic security, it is difficult to develop the social cohesion that is the foundation of a functioning economy,” he said.

On the necessity to leverage technological transformation, Sultan Nazrin said that being in a technology-centric region provided many opportunities for knowledge-sharing and for learning from regional best practices.

Malaysia, he said, could benefit greatly from the knowledge and insights of countries that were ahead of it.

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Are we complicit in the 1MDB scandal?

Monday, October 1st, 2018

WHY did most of us fail to voice our concerns when the 1MDB scandal was unfolding? Those who did say something did so cautiously.

On the media front, publications like The Edge and a few online news portals had sounded the alarm in response to facts and figures revealed by The Sarawak Report and foreign newspapers.

It took almost two years after the 2013 general election before the suspicions surrounding 1Malaysia Development Bhd exploded into a full-fledged scandal in Malaysia. With The Sarawak Report coming out with more exposes, the former prime minister was on the defensive.

Even the Attorney General’s Chambers had to initiate a probe. A task force was set up, bringing together Bank Negara, the Malay­sian Anti-Corruption Commis­sion and the police.

In a drama more intriguing than a John le Carre novel, the AG himself was sacked. The MACC was harassed.

Two of its senior officers, Datuk Bahri Mohamad Zin and Datuk Rohaizad Yaakob, were transferred out. Deputy Chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdul was allegedly threatened.

The MACC Advisory Panel that I led made a strong statement to reinstate the two officers and to allow MACC to investigate the case without fear and favour. The Consul­tation and Prevention Panel (better known as PPPR) was revamped; all the panel members, except one, were not reappointed.

Billion Dollar Whale by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope is one of the several books so far on the scandal. A lot have been said about Jho Low and other major players in the case but this book is astonishingly readable and insightful. It is a publishing event unlike any other.

Last Tuesday, the Kinokunia bookshop at Suria KLCC was swarmed with buyers and many were disappointed when they were unable to get a copy. The queue to get Wright’s signature was long and winding.

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, who was given the honour to speak during the session with Wright, was right when she opined that there are simply too many lessons to be learned from the debacle, one of which is not to allow greed to take over one’s live. The scandal according to her was “too atrocious to be true”.

Sadly, it is true. And many among us were just ignoring the facts at the time. We knew something was not right. Perhaps many of us were not privy to the details but as one expose over another unfolded and as opposition leaders harped on the issue relentlessly, many among us were still unconvinced, or worse, decided to close one eye.

Even when Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal raised the alarm from within, which led to their ouster, Umno leaders were still ignoring the compelling facts. As the country was going to its 14th general election, 1MDB was a thorny issue besides the hugely unpopular GST and the high cost of living.

I have to single out the press for being part of the problem. We have failed the people. We betrayed the trust of our readers, viewers and listeners. Many in the mainstream media chose to ignore the facts, which is against the very thing that we are supposed to do – to be the eyes and ears of the rakyat.

The media is meant to be free and fair, and the press corps should first and last behave like professionals. This is not an easy country to practise journalism. There are simply too many laws that stifle us and even under the current government, there is no sign that these laws will be abolised. However, within these imperfections, there is room to manoeuvre, I am sure.

During Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first tour of duty as prime minister, editors weren’t too happy either, but at least we were able to expose many wrongdoings and scandals of the day – involving institutions, the financial sphere or individuals.

The 1MDB scandal was too big to be contained. But editors were told to ignore the story, reporting only statements from the political masters and becoming apologists for their deeds.

At the Dewan Rakyat, 1MDB was not even worthy of discussion. The line taken by the mainstream media at the time was that the then PM was right, 1MDB was well, Jho Low was not guilty and the attack on 1MDB was a concerted effort by anti-government forces to discredit the PM, his wife and his party.

On the part of party members, despite the murmurings, the silence was palpable. That cost them the election.

1MDB was a slap on the face of the cowering media.

1MDB is also a wake-up call for the local media.

Docility sucks.

We have only ourselves to be blamed for allowing the shenanigan to explode into one of the worst financial scandals the world has ever known!

By Johan Jaafar
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Act against wrongdoings, says Ruler

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018
Royal tradition: Tuanku Muhriz inspecting the guard of honour during the opening of the state assembly meeting in Seremban. — Bernama

Royal tradition: Tuanku Muhriz inspecting the guard of honour during the opening of the state assembly meeting in Seremban. — Bernama

SEREMBAN: Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Muna­wir expressed disappointment that no action has been taken against the wrongdoings that had been happening in the country for a long time, but was also grateful that the rakyat voted to voice their displeasure.

The Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan also expressed hope that the people would never again have to witness reports of extreme abuse of power and misappropriation of funds exposed almost daily by the new federal government.

He said this was important as such wrongdoings could destroy the nation.

“What was most disappointing was that these wrongdoings had been happening for a long time and nobody was able to take any effective action.

He did not elaborate on the wrongdoings.

Also present at the event were his consort Tunku Ampuan Besar Negri Sembilan Tuanku Aishah Rohani and Mentri Besar Aminuddin Harun.

Tuanku Muhriz said he wanted his assemblymen to be “persons of honour” who executed their duties responsibly as they were constantly being watched by their voters.

The state administration, he added, should also hold more consultations with the people before finalising matters on development.

“Always remember that the people are the ones who elevated your status to Yang Berhormat.

“So you must always be a leader of high integrity and dignity, and be firm in your beliefs,” he said.

Tuanku Muhriz also said checks and balances were necessary in any administration to prevent power abuse.

“All assemblymen, enforcement agencies and civil servants must carry out their duties with integrity and accountability and without any personal agenda,” he added.

He called on the state administration to continue with programmes that benefited the people.

Tuanku Muhriz also commended the state government for having disbursed RM1.13bil through its Social Security Net Policy from 2008 to 2017 to help 1.27 million needy recipients.

He said a state’s prosperity should not only be measured by its economic growth and development in urban areas, but also include benefits received by folk living in rural and remote areas.

By Sarban Singh
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Ombudsmen needed in varsities

Friday, September 21st, 2018
(File pix) Graduands at the Al-Madinah International University convocation in Shah Alam. Every university administrator must be concerned about the reputational risk from complaints going public. Pix by Faiz Anuar
ACCORDING to the 2017 statistics from the Higher Education Ministry, there are 25,823 international students in public universities in Malaysia. This number does not include the number of enrolments in private colleges and diploma centres.

The complaint handling policy in the education sector for students is contained in the code of practice for programme accreditation, which, in paragraph 4.4.1, states: “There must be a mechanism for students to air grievances and make appeals relating to student support services.”

The complaint handling and dispute resolution policy in the education sector falls short of global best practices.

Academic staff are required to deliver quality teaching. When the service is perceived to be inadequate by a student, he should have the right to complain to the lecturer, head of department or the dean of faculty.

Similarly, academic and nonacademic staff may have reasons to complain about the terms of service. Grievances without appropriate channel to direct them can jeopardise the performance of academic staff, and affect productivity and research output.

The offices of legal advisers or student affairs are the easiest channels to lodge complaints in most universities, but the personnel are rarely seen to be independent and neutral.

Quality control and feedback me chanisms are not the same as having an ombudsman. Feedback mechanism serves the purpose of assessing quality services, while an ombudsman would provide a wider scope for grievance and complaint handling. An ombudsman is seen as independent, impartial and fair.

Confidentiality of information is key. Sexual harassment and misconduct cases involving academics are handled with extreme confidence under ombudsman procedures. Only in rare instances are cases taken to the court. Ombudsman policy can help fix this.

The lack of specific policy direction for university ombudsman implies that stakeholders have options either to do nothing or to do whatever pleases the university.

It is interesting to note that despite the absence of a policy on this issue, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Monash University deem it necessary to have ombudsman offices for grievance handling in line with international best practices.

In 2012, USM created the ombudsman office as a platform for the university’s staff and undergraduates to voice their dissatisfaction on issues. While this is encouraging, it seems that no other public university has seen the need to establish an ombudsman office to handle complaints effectively. The university also leverages this internal policy to protect whistle-blowers.

Realising the gap in grievance handling policy, Monash University in Malaysia made ombudsman procedures operational. The Education Ministry may want to explore this for introduction in other universities in the country.

In Malaysia, although the Public Complaint Bureau (PCB) performs a similar role to the ombudsman, it lacks speciality, independence and transparency, which are essential for the education sector. In addition, for a sector comprising both private and public entities, it is necessary to detach university complaints from PCB.

International best practices in the United States, Canada and New Zealand show that the notion of a public officer for all kinds of complaints is becoming a thing of the past. Ombudsman has become the new face of complaint handling in public, quasi-public and private sectors in many parts of the world, and Malaysia should not be an exception.

Young people find it very easy to complain over the social media on issues which may be capable of resolution by the ombudsman.

University ombudsman with online accessibility or mobile app could be an attractive and user-friendly option for young university students.

Every university administrator must be concerned about the reputational risk from complaints going public. The number of foreign students seeking admission may also be affected in the absence of a clear policy on complaint handling.

To avoid lengthy and cumbersome litigation process, a university ombudsman could be tailormade to suit the nature of complaints peculiar to the sector.

This underlines the need for a clear policy for uniform complaint handling among stakeholders in the education sector.

The policy document is only a framework for complaint handling in the university and could mandate every university in Malaysia to establish an office of ombudsman, which must be separate and independent of the legal adviser’s office.

The ombudsman’s office and its head must uphold independence, neutrality, confidentiality and fairness. The policy must not exclude the right of the complainant from proceeding to court as a last resort.

By Dr Sodiq Omoola.

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Understand, empathise with their woes

Friday, September 21st, 2018
(File pix) The recent Malaysia Day celebration at Padang Merdeka, Kota Kinabalu. Inclusiveness and respect for diversity have been an integral part of the people of Sabah and Sarawak for centuries. Pix by Malai Rosmah Tuah

IN reflecting upon the status of Sabah and Sarawak in the Malaysian Federation during a Malaysia Day celebration at Padang Merdeka Kota Kinabalu, on Sept 16, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made some significant observations which should shape our understanding of how the two states relate to Putrajaya.

It is true that Sabah and Sarawak together with Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia were deemed to be four equal partners in the formation of Malaysia in 1963. This was recognised not only in the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (MA63) but also under the original Schedule 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.

However, what the merger of four entities meant in the actual structure of governance and in the delineation of powers within the Federation was not really clear. It was further complicated by the tensions generated by the acrimonious exchange between the national elite under Tunku Abdul Rahman and the Singapore leadership under Lee Kuan Yew starting early 1964 which resulted eventually in the separation of Singapore from the rest of the Federation on Aug 9, 1965.

Partly because of the Singapore episode, the Federal Government became more concerned in the subsequent years with the consolidation of the state. This was more important to the national leaders than giving meaning to the notion of equal partnership in building the nation.

Economic and administrative realities in a sense—as in other similar situations — drove the national leadership in the direction of greater centralisation of power.

It was not surprising, therefore, that in July 1976 under prime minister Tun Hussein Onn, the Federal Constitution was amended to change the status of Sabah and Sarawak. They became states in the Federation like the other 11 states from Peninsular Malaysia.

Of course, they retained the special grants and some of the rights bestowed upon them in 1963 such as control over immigration.

Similarly, various constitutional provisions pertaining to the distribution of legislative powers and the structure of the judicial system remained. It is worth observing that almost all Members of Parliament from Sabah and Sarawak present in the Dewan Rakyat voted for the constitutional amendment. We can safely assume that it will not happen today.

A significant segment of the populace in Sabah and Sarawak appear to be unhappy with the dominance of the centre over the two states in matters such as control over their own oil resource; the administration and management of public education; and the appointment and promotion of state officials in certain spheres.

There is a general feeling that Sabahans and Sarawakians do not have as much say over those aspects of governance that impact upon their lives as they had hoped for at the time of the formation of Malaysia.

These are genuine grievances which have to be addressed. A sincere attempt on the part of Putrajaya to understand and empathise with the woes of Sabahans and Sarawakians would be the key in the quest for solutions.

At the same time, the people in the two states should realise that sometimes in asserting one’s rights one should also be conscious of the need to concede and compromise in the larger interest of the nation as a whole.

When the rights of Sabah and Sarawak are respected and this is translated into tangible policies and programmes that benefit the vast majority of the people, they would begin to feel that they are equal to their sisters and brothers on the peninsula. There would be no need to amend the Constitution to recognise Sabah and Sarawak as equal to Peninsular Malaysia.

It is through improvement in the socio-economic status of the masses, underscored by respect and empathy for the people and their cultures and their heritage that Sabahans and Sarawakians will be bonded to the folk on the peninsula.

In this bonding not only will respect for cultural and religious diversity play a major role; a firm commitment to inclusiveness would be fundamental. Inclusiveness and respect for diversity have been so integral to the value system of the people of Sabah and Sarawak for centuries. These are also values that the majority of Peninsular Malaysians cherish — although sometimes they are pushed to the margins by small groups of exclusivists in different communities. Nonetheless, inclusiveness and respect for diversity hold us together, in spite of the vast expanse of the South China Sea.


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We must stand united

Friday, September 21st, 2018
(File pix) First prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman said: “After our country’s independence, we are our own master, we control our own security, and our destruction is in our own hands.” Pix by Khairull Azry Bidin

MALAYSIA as a nationstate, was transformed into a statenation or a plural country, in the post-independence era, through the legal mechanism of the Federal Constitution.

A nation-state, has only one “national group.” Like in Hungary, Italy and Japan, “the nation precedes the state, and plays a major role in giving rise to it (Buzan 1991: 72-73).

But a state-nation, with citizens of diverse categories, “plays an instrumental role in creating the nation.”

The above encouraged studies on security to posit that a statenation “has extensive grounds for conflict.”

Malaysia as a plural state, is susceptible to communal-based vulnerabilities, especially racial polarisation, ethnic disunity, religious disharmony and economic discontent, which threaten its political and societal security.

This is because Malaysia has Bumiputeras and non-Bumiputeras as its subjects. Additionally, Bumiputeras, as the majority population, are also ascribed with the status of core nation.

Conceptually, core nation is defined as “a large number of people sharing the same cultural, and possibly the same ethnic or racial, heritage. Because nations are product of closely shared history, they normally constitute the majority population of some core territory” (Buzan 1991: 70).

Thus, Bumiputeras are ascribed with the status of core nation, because their ancestors lived in Malaysia, within the core territory of Nusantara, in Southeast Asia, since time immemorial.

Malaysian Chinese and Indians, both as Malaysian citizens, are not given the same status, because their ancestral roots are either in East Asia or South Asia. This reality was accepted by leaders of Malays (Bumiputeras), Chinese and Indians, through a social contract, formulated while they pursued their common struggle for our independence.

Therefore, it is grossly incorrect to categorise Bumiputeras as Malaysia’s chosen race, while the Chinese and Indians as second class citizens.

“In fact, the provisions relating to (their) citizenship are to a certain extent, ‘entrenched’ under the Constitution” (Sinnadurai 1979: 93).

“Furthermore, by virtue of the Sedition Act, it is an offence under the Act to question the provision of the Constitution relating to citizenship.”

The above is the testimony, why Malaysians lived in peace and harmony from 1957 to 1963, in the post-independence era.

It is also why, Brock et al. (2012: 17) said, communal-based vulnerabilities can only erupt into violence, “when political entrepreneurs employ cultural identities to sort out friend and foe, and mobilise groups into turning against one another in a process of escalating conflict.”

This is empirically proven. Early narratives on Malaysia were abound with tolerance, compromise and optimism, driven by the spirit of social contract.

Unfortunately, this societal bondage was subverted by communal polarisation, hatred and animosity. Why, who were the actors, what were the driving forces, how was it resolved?

Malaysia’s ethnic relations only turned into intolerance, disharmony and disunity, after a group of political parties launched the Malaysian Malaysia propaganda in 1964.

Although not undemocratic, the timing of its “debut” aggravated Malaysia’s security because of the Indonesian Confrontation since 1983.

This propaganda also pitted Bumiputeras against the others, on their constitutional rights and privileges, although non-Bumiputeras also have their constitutional legitimate rights.

This happened because the crux of Malaysian Malaysia was: “all Malaysians irrespective of race, culture and religion, should be entitled to equal rights and treatment, and be given similar privileges already enjoyed by the Malays” (Ghazali 1990:11).

The above made “Lee’s (Lee Kuan Yew) enemies within UMNO see this as a clever concealment of his plan to remove Malay special privileges” (Ooi 2006: 153).

It also urged Tan Siew Sin, MCA president, to respond: “Malaysian Malaysia is creating a national disorder, to ruin the country” (Utusan Melayu, July 6, 1965).

Tunku Abdul Rahman remarked Malaysian Malaysia “had caused racial feelings to rise almost to flashpoint” (Keith 2005: 188). He said this, after deciding “the situation with Singapore was hopeless. Singapore must go.”

The Malaysian Malaysia propaganda had resulted in two racial clashes with fatal casualties in Singapore in 1964. Hence, Singapore was separated from Malaysia on Aug 9, 1965.

Lee agreed to this “breakaway” because “the alternative offered was rioting, communal violence all over Malaysia, and eventual communist victory” (Lau 2001: 264).

The above points to the fact that politically-driven and constitutionally-motivated communal propaganda is a threat to Malaysia. Certain politicians, however, did not learn from the above. Hence, another communal clash, with fatal consequences, erupted in Kuala Lumpur in 1969.

Comber (1983: 65-68) said, it was because communist elements sabotaged Malaysia’s security through the 1969 General Election.

Additionally, DAP had used “Malaysian Malaysia” as its slogan, Gerakan used “Equality, Justice and Equal Opportunities for All: Our Aim,” and PPP used “Malaysia for Malaysians.”

Parti Perikatan (the Alliance Party) lost several state governments in this democratic tussle, a racial riot occurred, and Tunku Abdul Rahman suspended Parliament for over one year.

As such, communal-based vulnerabilities in Malaysia are not fiction. They threaten the country’s political and societal security.

Conceptually, “political security concerns the organisational stability of states, system of government and the ideologies that give them legitimacy ” (Buzan 1991: 19). But, “the organising concept in the societal sector is identity” (Buzan et al. 1998: 119).

By Ruhanie Ahmad.

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Self-taught students have the right attitude

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018
(File pix) Self-guided students need a definite idea of what they have to learn and where to find the learning material.

SELF-DIRECTED education is not a new concept. Historical figures — including Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Rene Descartes and Julius Caesar — owe much of their knowledge to self-study and being an autodidact.

Again, it’s educators in the higher education sector who play an important role in nurturing self-directed or independent learners.

For Malaysian educators, most will have to follow the instructions given by the Education Ministry and put up with monitoring by inspectorates and audi tors.

There is little that educators can do. Our education system uses the Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC, as a parcel to self-directed learning (SDL).

In primary and secondary schools, vLE Frog (Virtual Learning Environment) helps in SDL, while Moodle platform is used for tertiary learning.

Many people learn on their own since institutions offering formal education are rare or hardly affordable to all.

Gibbons (2002) defined SDL as the enhancement of knowledge, skill or accomplishment that learners opt for and bring about with their own efforts in any way, in any circumstance, at any time.

Self-directed learners take the initiative to know their learning needs and seek out the resources and methods that satisfy these needs.

The modern concept of self-directed learning involves strategies that aid the learning process and assess or evaluate the outcome.

But for those who still think that learning can happen only in classrooms, the world of self-learning can be of little use.

The trend for self and social learning has some scholars and analysts wondering if we are approaching the end of formal learning techniques and conventional teaching methods.

There will always be a need to train people to acquire first-time skills or to upgrade their skill set.

Learning and development professionals will increasingly consider the option of leaving some learning needs to other non-formal approaches.

But if people are to start learning by themselves, we first need to be sure that people are competent to learn by themselves.

Self-guided students have to have a definite idea of what they have to learn and where to find the learning material.

I had been trying out the PdPc approach (pengajaran dan pemudahcaraan , or teaching and facilitation).

It may be equivalent to the student-centred approach but my students prefer the teacher-centred approach.

Some students feel lost when looking for unrelated learning materials.

Even providing guidelines built into each step of learning, landmark checklists and tests don’t help.

This can be so demotivating that students may give up studying altogether.

Such students may need a teacher-centred approach.

Self-taught students who achieve the needed learning have to be skilled learners.

There are very few with such talent.

So who does self-directed online learning help?

It is participating students who reap the advantages and drawbacks.

But given the contributions of self-directed online learning to open education, it must be a “win” situation for learners.


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