Archive for October, 2014

DPM: One or two high performance schools struggling to maintain the grade

Friday, October 31st, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: Evaluation shows one or two high performance schools are struggling to keep their standards high, says Deputy Prime Minis­ter Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“But they will remain as high performance schools for now,” he said. “If their standards continue to fall for two or three years in a row, then we will have to remove them from the ‘high performance’ category,” he added.

Muhyiddin said such schools were constantly monitored to ensure they maintained the global standard of quality education.

The Education Minister said among the methods used to monitor high performance schools were students’ examination scores and reports by the School Inspectorate.

“These schools show that we already have institutions within our education system that are of a global standard,” he told reporters here yesterday. “They also act as benchmarks for other schools.”

Introduced as part of the Government Transformation Programme, the first batch of high performance schools were announced in 2010.

Schools are selected based on their overall academic and co-curricular achievements.

Aside from receiving greater autonomy in currricular, financial and staffing matters, high performance schools also receive extra financial support from the ministry.

In their first year, schools receive RM700,000, followed by RM500,000 in the second year and RM300,000 in subsequent years.

There are currently 128 such schools nationwide, including the 13 new high performance schools announced by Muhyiddin yesterday.


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Provide Appropriate Atmosphere In School To Mould Students, Dr Mahathir Tells Govt

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 (Bernama) — As most families do not spend sufficient quality time with their children, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad suggests the Government provide school and classroom atmosphere to mould students with a high sense of morality.

The former prime minister said parents, especially mothers, who were in high profile careers seemed unable to bring up their children with the right values, inadvertently causing the children to be trapped in various social problems such as the ‘mat rempit’ menace.

“The Government needs to tackle this issue seriously so that the children can be brought up in the right manner, (with) right values, moralities and rejecting bad values.

“If this is corrected, the impact of women will play a bigger role (in the country’s economy),” he said in a keynote address entitled, ‘Women Leading the Future’, in conjunction with the Women Extraordinaire Forum (WEF) 2014 here today.

WEF 2014, a two-day forum which kicked off yesterday saw the participation of many prominent female leaders in Asia, both from the private and public sectors.

Later, during the question-and-answer session, Dr Mahathir was asked whether women in the country could be elected prime minister.

“Nothing in the constitution can stop a woman from becoming a prime minister because in a democratic country (Malaysia), it is majority support from the people and party that counts.

“There is no obstruction, all depends on the majority support. If you (women) win majority support and your party elected you as president, then you can become prime minister,” he said.

Dr Mahathir noted that a Malaysian woman’s integrity was high, as compared to the man, and “I personally believe that the work of enforcement should be given to the ladies.”

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Revisiting ministerial responsibility

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Parliament must recapture its role as the grand inquest of the nation.

NANCY Shukri, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, is being pilloried in the alternative media for her parliamentary reply to a query about why there was no prosecution for the infamous diatribe about burning Bahasa Malaysia Bibles.

Her tribulations draw our attention to the doctrine of ministerial responsibility, which is a pillar of parliamentary democracies. The doctrine has twin pillars: individual responsibility and collective responsibility. Only the first will be discussed here.

This doctrine holds that during parliamentary deliberations, debates on motions and question time, a minister must answer questions, supply information and justify her department’s policies. She must accept vicarious responsibility for all policy and administrative errors in her department even if she herself was not involved in the administrative bungling or impropriety that is the subject of the parliamentary scrutiny.

A minister must resign if a vote of censure is passed against her. In many parliamentary democracies, a minister who is seriously criticised in Parliament vacates her post.

The convention of individual responsibility has many beneficial effects. It motivates ministers to monitor the activities within their ministries. It preserves the professionalism and anonymity of civil servants and shields them from partisan, political attack on the floor of the houses. Regrettably, it also has some undesirable effects.

Public servants shielded: The minister’s vicarious liability shields public servants from parliamentary exposure when departmental wrongdoing comes to light as in the Auditor-General’s Annual Reports of financial improprieties.

The recent controversy surrounding the non-prosecution in the “burn Bahasa Bibles” case indicates that a minister may have to take the rap for a public official who is not under her Ministry.

Under the federal and state constitutions, the office of the Attorney-General is the repository of vast powers and functions. By no stretch of imagination is the AG answerable to any Minister for his constitutional role. Under Article 145(3) and a long line of judicial precedents, he has the sole, independent discretion over prosecutorial decisions.

Collective responsibility: More often than not, collective responsibility hinders individual responsibility. Unless the Minister’s conduct is so reprehensible that it will dent severely the Government’s standing with the electorate, the government tends to stand behind a beleaguered colleague.

In 2004, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu faced criticism about shoddy construction projects. He refused to resign and the cabinet protected him because the cabinet felt that the real guilty parties were contractors, engineers, architects, etc.

Recently, UPSR examination leaks, the tragic loss of two MAS passenger jets within a few months, the military incursions by foreigners into Sabah, periodic custodial deaths, and collapse of bridges did not result in any resignation.

There are rare exceptions, however. Dr Chua Soi Lek stepped down few years ago due to a personal scandal. Datuk Abdul Rahman Talib lost a defamation suit in 1966 and withdrew from the Cabinet.

In contrast, in Britain, there were 125 resignations in the 20th century, about 14 due to private scandal or private financial affairs, the most famous being the John Profumo call-girl case of 1963.

On Oct 4, 2014, Taiwan’s health minister Chiu Wen-ta resigned because of a food safety scare over use of “gutter oil”. Earlier, the economic affairs minister had resigned over fatal gas blasts. The education minister stepped down after he was implicated in an academic scandal.

In Britain in 1982, Richard Luce resigned to accept responsibility for the Argentine invasion of Falkland Islands. In 2002, South Korea’s Justice Minister resigned to accept responsibility over a custodial death and Britain’s Education Secretary resigned because of the Ministry’s failure to reach child literacy targets.


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Think of the community when developing Tanjung Aru, says LEAP

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: Any redevelopment project at Sabah’s iconic Tanjung Aru beach must be carried out in a sensitive and thoughtful manner, says Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

The NGO’s executive director Cynthia Ong said that what was important when conducting the beach’s revitalisation programme was to take into account the people’s involvement.

“The development of this public space affects the entire community, and decisions about its future should be made with the community for the community,” Ong said yesterday.

“This is to ensure the preservation of the essence behind the beach and common public places for the sake of future generations.

“There is a need to strike a balance between public interest and privatisation.”

Ong was pointing these out in response to an ongoing debate over the state government’s plans to implement the Tanjung Aru Eco Development project.

She said there was “a genuine fear” that economic interest might override public interest in the long term.

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PAC calls for action against KK Airport contractors

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

THE Public Accounts Committee wants action to be taken against the original contractors hired for the upgrading of the Kota Kinabalu Airport.

PAC said the contractors, who were hired through direct negotiations, did not adhere to the terms and conditions stipulated in the contract.

“The upgrading project was not well planned in terms of design, which did not take into account passenger traffic and did not comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment.”

Its president, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, said due to the problems caused by the original contractors, the Transport Ministry had to appoint another contractor to complete the project at an additional cost of RM194 million.

The report said the installation of the instrument-landing system, which was scheduled to be completed by August 2012, was not completed in time.

“In June, the progress was only at 0.08 per cent. Most of the equipment had not been installed even when the ministry had bought and paid for them,” Jazlan said after chairing a meeting at Parliament yesterday.

The airport, which houses two terminals, is the second busiest in the country with more than 120 international and 400 domestic flights weekly.

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KL pledges push for peace, moderation in UN role

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is committed to working with United Nations (UN) member countries in fighting for marginalised and vulnerable groups.

Foreign Ministry deputy secretary-general for multilateral affairs Datuk Ho May Yong said as a newly elected member of the UN Security Council (UNSC), Malaysia aimed to continue advocating for peace and moderation. She said Malaysia would push for mediation as an approach to peaceful conflict resolution and promote the boosting of peacekeeping operations.

“There will also be continued discussion on UNSC reform,” she said here yesterday.

Ho said Malaysia looked forward to working with other UN members to fulfil its obligations in the UNSC.

UN Resident Coordinator for Malaysia Michelle Gyles-McDonnough said winning a non-permanent seat in the UNSC paved the way for the Malaysian government and people to maintain the principles of the charter through the country’s contributions in the UNSC.

“It is an important responsibility that the Malaysian government has taken on and… Malaysia will continue to have the support of other countries as it conducts its work in the UNSC.”

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Irrational way to inform public on subsidy cuts

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

NOBODY should be surprised that the disclosure on Monday of some details of the new fuel subsidy scheme was greeted with a barrage of questions driven mostly by concern and scepticism.

Movements in the prices of petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas affect everybody, from the poorest among the men in the street to the largest of the multinational corporations. The same goes with the regulation of the purchase and consumption of these fuels; unwieldy and complicated rules can disrupt our lives.

Clearly, the programme to restructure Malaysia’s subsidies is a delicate yet pressing matter.

Most of us are familiar with the arguments for urgent action. For example, in 1994, the Government allocated RM588mil for subsidies. This year, the corresponding figure is RM40.5bil, which stretches the country’s fiscal position to an uncomfortable extent.

The subsidy rationalisation programme has already kicked off, with a focus on those truly in need, and on addressing leakages and smuggling.

The main challenge though is to develop a better mechanism for delivering the petroleum subsidy, which covers RON95 petrol, diesel and cooking gas.

As Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak pointed out in his Budget 2015 speech on Oct 10, the rakyat is more aware of the subsidy rationalisation efforts and is therefore more prepared for the impact.

Still, the inevitable fuel price hikes will not be painless for many of us. This is why it is important to manage the subsidy revamp with care and transparency.

On Monday, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah told reporters that the Government was studying a fuel subsidy mechanism that would be based on the income of vehicle owners.

The Star Says.

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Migrate to much bigger goals

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

During the Perak-level Maal Hijrah celebration held at the Amanjaya Convention Centre at Casuarina@Meru, Ipoh on Sunday, Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah urged Muslims to embrace moderation and be open-minded in order to forge ahead as a progressive and modern society.

THE Hijrah (Migration) episode contains many implicit philosophies beyond the explicit. The episode is a clear and living example on the obedience and willingness of a Prophet to uphold a heavy responsibility to strive and think of the most effective methods and strategies to carry out the commands of the Almighty to spread the teachings of Islam and to manage the lives of man and all creations based on His revelations.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The Hijrah was the first step in forging the success of the Muslim ummah under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad towards creating a new civilisation and translating the divine revelations into reality with the setting up of the City State of Madinah.

Four core aspects are highlighted in the Islamic Government of Madinah. First, organisation and management; second, education and research, third, consolidation of land and its uses and fourth, cooperation and self-reliance.

A climber who reaches the peak of a high mountain is one who accurately reads every topographical line charted on a map and understands every bend, every challenge, covering aspects of height and gradient, wind speed, climate and the surrounding life.

A leader successful in handling challenges is one who is capable of interpreting current scenarios accurately and introducing relevant prescriptions. During the Hijrah, Prophet Muhammad faced a new environment, a new culture, new populace.

Among his early actions when the Prophet arrived in Madinah was to carry out a population census that was not limited to the number of residents in terms of gender, race and age but also covering manpower, education strength, literacy rate and religious beliefs. The data was used as the basis to plan and develop a system and pattern of state administration.

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PAC: Probe ship that cannot sail

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recommended that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigate the procurement of a multi-million-ringgit research vessel by Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) which cannot set sail.

PAC, in its report tabled in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, also recommended for action to be taken against several high ranking officials from UMT over the cost overrun of RM2.4mil.

The university’s former vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Abd Aziz Deraman and its development director Prof Datuk Dr Sulaiman Md were among the officials identified by PAC over the alleged mismanagement.

“PAC is unhappy with the procurement management which failed to meet the targeted objective.

“PAC found that officials involved were careless and inefficient in discharging their duties.

“Every decision and action is seen to be siding the contractor (Kaymarine Sdn Bhd) and has aroused doubts as well as gives an impression that there has been a suspicious breach of conduct.”

In its report, PAC termed the procurement of RV Discovery as “projek sakit” or a problematic project.

“Although the ship was completed, it is a research ship as per the contract’s original objective and it is a waste,” read the report.

The university commissioned the construction of the research vessel in 2004 for RRM11.99mil for the purpose of teaching, learning and research.

The Economic Planning Unit approved the scope of the procurement via the Ninth Malaysia Plan with a ceiling price of RM12.5mil.

However, the project went through two rectifications that led to the costs ballooning to RM14.39mil.

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Home Ministry gives green light to arm SPAD officers

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal

Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal

PETALING JAYA: The Home Ministry has granted permission for Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) enforcement officers to carry firearms while on enforcement duty.

SPAD chief executive officer Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal said the commission had requested for approval last year and received the green light in July.

However, he stressed that arming his men was considered a last resort, and that the commission believed that a change of attitude among the people was still a better way to go.

“It (firearms) is not the best solution for our problems, and we still rely on strong cooperation with other enforcement agencies such as the police force,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Mohd Nur also expressed regret over the attack on SPAD enforcement officers during a roadblock in Langkawi last Friday.

“The problem is that some people are not used to having the law being enforced, but the culture must change.

“We are doing our operations based on the law, and they must respect that,” he added.

In last Friday morning’s roadblock at Jalan Lapangan Terbang Padang Mat Sirat, Langkawi, a mob turned violent and attacked Kedah SPAD enforcement officers, including overturning their vehicles.

SPAD enforcement division head Datuk Che Hasni Che Ahmad said the operation was conducted to put a stop to unlicensed taxi and rental cars operating in Langkawi.

“We received numerous complaints from taxi associations that some operators are operating without proper licences and insurance. We just want to protect the public from using cars that are not subjected to safety inspections by Puspakom,” he said.


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