Archive for May, 2019

What is A Levels

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

A-LEVEL is a pre-university programme offered in Malaysia that’s based on the UK education system. Otherwise known as GCE Advanced Level, you can take this course after completing your SPM and before pursuing a degree at university.

How long does it take?

The programme is 15 to 24 months long, depending on when you start your studies. It is 100pc exam-based. Unlike  SPM where students usually take 9 subjects, you only need to take a minimum of 3 subjects.

Students whose English is average or below average will find the A levels tough. It requires you to analyse and apply logical thinking when answering exam questions.

You will also find that the learning material is more in-depth compared to other courses, such as Australian Matriculation (SAM/AUSMAT). In fact, many A-Level graduates say they have an easier time completing their first year in university compared to their peers!

A-Level consists of two parts:

(i) Advanced Subsidiary (or better known as AS Level), and

(ii) A2 Level

AS Level is the first half of the programme and forms the foundation of A-Level. A2 Level is the second part of the syllabus, covering more complex topics in the subjects that you have chosen.

You will typically take exams at the end of each level, with each level contributing 50pc towards your final grade. That is to say, 50pc from AS exams and 50% from A2 exams.

Your final results will be a grade of A* to E for each subject taken. The maximum score is A*A*A* for 3 subjects, and A*A*A*A* for 4 subjects.

Why take the A Levels?

(a) A-Level is recognised by many universities worldwide

A-Level is a widely accepted entry qualification into universities in UK, Australia , New Zealand, Singapore, etc

(b) It keeps your options open

While Foundation programmes may limit you to certain degrees at certain universities, A-Level allows you to pursue a wide range of degrees upon successful completion.

(c) It gives you deep knowledge in your chosen subjects

(d) Instead of having to juggle with five or six subjects, A-Level allows you to focus on only a few subjects and gain in-depth knowledge in your chosen subjects.

(e)  There is a wide range of A-Level resources available

Materials such as past year papers, marking schemes and revision questions are readily available everywhere for A-Level. Your college will supplement you with sufficient resources for your exam, but if you don’t think it’s enough, the internet is filled with resources for you to go through!

Who should take the A Levels.

  • If you are academically-inclined with an analytical and inquisitive mind
  • If you prefer 100pc exam-based assessment
  • If you are looking to gain in-depth knowledge in a few subjects, as opposed to studying a wide variety of subjects
  • If you are looking to pursue competitive degrees (e.g. Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry) or aiming to gain entry into top tier universities, especially in the UK

Who should NOT take A-Level.

  • If you dislike being assessed based only on exams
  • If you prefer classroom interaction, coursework and assignments

If you plan to pursue degrees such as Hospitality & Tourism, Architecture and Design that are more practical-oriented

Remember that A-Level is considered one of the more academically challenging courses, due to its focus on analysis and application of knowledge.

As such, although most colleges require you to have at least 5 credits (1 credit is a C or above) at SPM or equivalent However, it recommended that you have at least 5Bs, with good grades in Math and English.

What Subjects Should You Choose For A-Level?

Practical Tips to Choosing Your A-Level Subjects

Choosing your subjects can be difficult, as many colleges in Malaysia offer a variety of subjects and combinations. Some subjects open doors to more degrees and professions than others, so it is important that you choose the right ones.

As a guide, here are some tips on how to choose your A-Level subjects:

(i) Choose subjects that you will likely enjoy – When a particular topic interests you, it becomes less of a chore to study. Also, it is always easier to excel at something when you enjoy doing it.

(ii) Choose subjects that suit your strength – Every subject is unique and involves a different skill set. Some subjects require creativity or essay writing, while others may challenge your analytical and critical thinking skills. To do well in this programme, play to your strengths!

(iii) Choose subjects that you need to enter a particular degree / career path.

If you already have an idea of the university degree you would like to pursue after A-Level, here is a list of degrees with the recommended subjects.

Choice of subjects

Degree Recommended subject
Accounting, Business,Economics, Finance Accounting, Law, Business, Mathematics,Economics
Actuarial Science Mathematics,Economics,Physics, Law
Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Nutrition Chemistry, Biology,Mathematics,  Physics
Computer Science Physics, Mathematics
Engineering Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics
Law Mathematics, Economics, Law,

English Literature, Accounting


Dentistry & Pharmacy

Physics, Chemistry,Biology

What If You Have Completely No Idea What You Want to Study?

If you studied Science subjects in SPM and scored good grades, choose Mathematics and Chemistry, and either Biology or Physics. This will keep your options open and allow you to pursue a wide range of degrees upon successful completion of your A-Level.

Should You Take 3 Subjects or 4 Subjects?

It is usually recommended you take 3 subjects instead of 4 subjects, since it is always better to focus and concentrate on fewer subjects. In fact, most universities only require you to take 3 subjects.

However, if you are planning to study abroad and aiming to get into top tier universities (especially in the UK), there are times where it may be advantageous to take 4 subjects.

Where Can You Study A-Levels in Malaysia?

A-Level is generally offered at private colleges and selected MARA colleges in Malaysia. There are many colleges offering A levels in West Malaysia. However, if you intend to study in Sabah, check-out the colleges that offer A Levels

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Burden of proof means few paedophiles are convicted.

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: It is an uphill task for underage victims of sexual abuse to seek justice despite the enactment of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 due to the demanding nature of the legal process, say children’s rights advocates.

PS The Children executive director Mariza Abdulkadir said the challenge in obtaining tangible evidence was one reason behind the low conviction rate of paedophiles.

“That’s because in most cases, a police report is not made immediately when abuse happens,” she said.

She added that due to the sensitive nature of the particular crime, it is procedurally difficult to even charge a perpetrator.

“The conviction rate is dismally low even in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States, the reason being the nature of these cases.

“Many times, the victims are re-traumatised in the process as well,” she said.

Independent child advocate Madeleine Yong said the current law simply requires “too much evidence to be in place” before a suspect can be charged.

“Children need medical proof to prove they have been raped, such as a physical tear. They also need corroborative evidence,” she said.

It is even more challenging for victims of sexual molestation to seek justice due to the lack of physical evidence, Yong added.

“For molestation, the child has to testify and to testify as a child witness, the system at present needs to be sped up and simplified.

“Molestation is really difficult. The younger the victim is, the worse it is,” she said.

Yong noted that underage molestation cases, particularly those involving preschool children and children with special needs, are much more challenging due to the need for them to be questioned by the authorities.

“The procedure to deal with sexual assault cases needs to be sped up and based on the best interest of the child,” she said.

Over the years, child advocates have been vocal against the previous government’s decision to place national sex abuse statistics under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Last year, Suriana Welfare Society executive director Scott Wong highlighted the fact that many Malaysians were ignorant of the sexual exploitation of children, while pointing out that the OSA placed on the official statistics hampered efforts to address the issue.In an interview with The Star last Sep­tember, Deputy Women, Family and Com­munity Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said removing the sex abuse statistics from the OSA would be her priority.

Meanwhile, Mariza said while such statistics should be made available to the public, it was also imperative to create public awareness on the topic so that such cases could be prevented in future.

“The release of statistics won’t lead to any substantial changes. Education and awareness will. I believe in educating the public and I believe the media can help do that,” she said

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VIPs cook ‘royal’ bubur lambuk

Saturday, May 25th, 2019
All together now: Dr Wan Azizah (third from right) with (second from left) Yeoh and the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr Rose Lena Lazemi (second from right) stirring the bubur lambuk with the centre’s residents during the visit to Darul Hanan care centre in Pongsu Seribu. — Bernama

All together now: Dr Wan Azizah (third from right) with (second from left) Yeoh and the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr Rose Lena Lazemi (second from right) stirring the bubur lambuk with the centre’s residents during the visit to Darul Hanan care centre in Pongsu Seribu. — Bernama

KEPALA BATAS: Folk at the Darul Hanan care centre were treated to an authentic royal recipe of bubur lambuk that few have tasted.

The recipe, which comes from the Pahang palace, was used to whip up the savoury porridge for the home’s 70 residents.

It took two large pots, each containing 10kg of rice mixed with a smorgasbord of herbs and ingredients.

“There are Spanish mackerel (tenggiri), prawns, chicken and beef in it.

Jahara said Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar was scheduled to join in but could not make it following the passing of former Sultan of Pahang, Paduka Ayahanda Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mu’adzam Shah.

“We decided to go ahead and not disappoint the folk here,” Jahara said, adding that the Pahang palace supplied the recipe.

Among those who helped keep the delicious preparation stirring for over an hour yesterday was Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

She was helped by her deputy in the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, Hannah Yeoh, Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman and Penang Women, Family Development and Gender Inclusiveness Committee chairman Chong Eng.

Jahara hopes more visitors will drop by the centre to spend time with its 22 male and 48 female residents.

“We have physiotherapy, spa, gym, farms and gardens here, with 28 staff members. But all the resort-like facility in this quiet place is no match for human cheers and laughter, and the old folk need more company to share stories with,” she said, adding that the RM1.1mil annual expenses of the home are supported by Penang Zakat Management Centre.

After a tour of the centre, Dr Wan Azizah said the government would look into upgrading the massage chairs and help it get lawn-mowing equipment to save the cost of hiring outsiders to do the job.

By Lo Tern Chern

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Building digital presence to stand out and reach potential employers

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019
File pix) Hiring is becoming smarter, making recruitment easier and more effective via online selection. Archive image for illustration purposes only.

TRYING to make yourself stand out in a sea of graduates looking for jobs is tricky. Over the past years, a candidate’s view on recruitment has changed rapidly, from passively looking for a position in newspapers to actively looking for jobs via the Internet.

Hiring is becoming smarter, making recruitment easier and more effective via online selection.

In the digital age, a LinkedIn profile can be a good way to find work experience and other opportunities alongside your studies.

It is a platform to build a positive online presence for yourself by establishing a digital presence, demonstrating what makes you standout and reaching out to potential employers.

It can be a key way to build up contacts while still at university.


Featured as the Youngest Most Inspirational LinkedIn Icon in Malaysia in 2018 and this year, Gholamali Shamskhoozani Alish is the man behind LinkedIn Local Kuala Lumpur (LLKL), a series of professional networking events held in Kuala Lumpur since 2017 alongside more than 1,000 cities in the world.

Better known as Alish, he said the aim of this movement is to connect in an ad-free genuine platform where hard selling, promotional talks, multi-level marketing, ads spamming and such are prohibited at #linkedInLocalKL events.

“Among social platforms, LinkedIn is the only platform that’s professional and employers do check it out for hiring purposes, making it the highest rated platform that is worth spending time on to build online presence.

“This is true even for students so they can connect with future employers or meet experts who can mentor them and guide them in various matters such as internship and referral letters.

“As LinkedIn is becoming more popular and used worldwide, it’s important for everyone including youths to utilise its power.

“Many employers do not ask for curriculum vitae anymore, they just require your LinkedIn URL.

That’s because there’s a lot more information in our LinkedIn account that cannot fit in to a two-page CV.

“The information includes insights that you share publicly, endorsements of your skills, recommendations and more. As such, without a LinkedIn profile, you cannot articulate as well as you can with it.

“In other words, don’t get left behind; use LinkedIn to build online presence and impress your future employer,” added Alish,head organiser and host of LLKL events.

In addition to options for employers to post jobs, many recruiters advertise vacancies on LinkedIn.

For example, the informal job advertisement could be something like “Guys, we’re recruiting for position X. If you’re interested or know anyone who is, comment below or message us”.

“This is even more effective than an online job portal because you deal with humans here, which means you can follow up with them or ask questions if any.

“The filtering process at some online job portals may not be accurate since candidates are judged based on basic info, without even a simple background on them.”

Having partnered with reputable brands such as IBM and Fave, LLKL has become one of the main platforms to “meet the people behind the profiles”, and get to know each other effectively for business collaborations, sharing sessions and discussions.

“Each event includes a panel discussion on different topics and panellists who can help you grow your business.”

Alish has been invited to universities in the country such as Heriot-Watt University, Taylor’s University, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology to conduct youth-related workshops and talks for students.

The Syrian Community-UTM held the most recent workshop at the university last month. Titled Getting Spotted and Hired Through LinkedIn, the workshopcovered a basic introduction to LinkedIn as well as tips on establishing personal branding, creating professional content, building influence online and connecting with the right network on the platform.

Conducted by Alish, the first session of the work shop dealt with incorrect perceptions of LinkedIn and creating a strong profile from scratch.

“Some think it’s a job platform or they only need to create a profile when they graduate.

“The truth is, especially for students, it’s a need so when they graduate, they can reach out to a wide professional network with an excellent online presence that can help their profiles to stand out with a good ranking in Search Engine Optimisation, a website’s position in the search engine results page.”

The second session elaborated on topics such as personal branding, building a wide yet relevant network and the art of creating content.

Finally, Alish assigned a task to all attendees to check if everyone was on the same page.

“The task seemed to be simple — post about the workshop on their profile within five minutes. It could be something they learnt, a summary of the workshop or someone they met for the first time there.

“Some struggled with writing their postings but they finally did it. Taking the first step is usually the hardest part but it must be taken. Otherwise, we can’t reach our goal,” he added.


A LinkedIn member for many years, Radhika Gautam Gunaji, 28, who is pursuing doctoral studies in petroleum engineering at UTM in Johor Baru, said she is well-acquainted with the professional networking platform and is intrigued by new things she can learn from it.

“I wanted to know how to reach out to more professionals and recruiters via LinkedIn. This will help me in my job hunt after I graduate and build a stronger network with the industry,” she said.

Radhika said major recruiters around the globe use online screening to hire the right candidate for their firms or clients.

“LinkedIn allows me to highlight my achievements and skills at a platform that has gained credibility through years of service to professionals.

“I learn from different people by tracking their activities and who they follow that will help me promote my profile across a wide range of professionals as I have diverse experience.

“I hope to improve my profile with more certifications and recommendations,” she added.

In September 2018, International Student Society-Syria Chapter president Magd Al Sayed Wahbe and his fellow countrymen from Syria formed the Syrian community at UTM in Johor Baru as they felt the need to gather the students under a society where they can meet, learn and share their experiences, and raise awareness of knowledge and soft skills essential to the future.

“We organised the LinkedIn workshop in partnership with LinkedIn Local Society to introduce LinkedIn as a global network for professional people to students and make them aware of its importance.

“We want to make sure each student has a professional profile ready when looking for job and encourage students to use LinkedIn as a daily networking platform.

“During the workshop, students learnt the difference between LinkedIn and other networking platforms, and how to set each section in the LinkedIn profile in professional way, post and discover elite people profiles.

“By the end of the day, students knew how to represent themselves better in LinkedIn and they began to rethink their future among professional people.

“We advised them that this is the perfect time to invest in themselves via participation in clubs and societies to enrich their knowledge.

“This is the time to think about how to build their career path such as finding an internship,” added Magd.

Chemical engineering student Monabbir Hasan Arnab, 20, said: “We can get the right connection with people in the same field. Now I know how to navigate LinkedIn.

“My two posts have reached out to so many people and my connection has increased to more than 80 people within a few days,” he added.

Shakir Mahmud, 20, attended the workshop as a guide to apply for jobs and internships. He learnt to create a unique look or personal branding.

“I learnt that by focusing on one particular field of work and mentioning it in any of your posts onLinkedIn help to market your brand,” said the Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Aeronautics) student.

As for Estiaq Ahmed, 20, he is confident that his profile will attract more connections.

“I am now up-to-date on organisations, which are hiring and looking for interns, as well as job placements which are suitable for my qualification,” said Estiaq, who is studying electrical electronics.

Aamer Al Khateeb, 24, said he knew that LinkedIn is a platform to help professionals to preview their experiences and allow others, either companies or individuals, to know about them in-depth, but he never gave it a try.

“But with the help of a facilitator who gave me the tools and steps to be a successful LinkedIn user, I am on my way to setting my career pathway,” said the Master’s in Mechatronics and Automatic Control student.


LinkedIn Southeast Asia and North Asia head of communications Linda Lee said the social media platform is a fresh graduate’s guide to job search.

For Malaysian graduates entering the workforce for the first time on the lookout for job openings, LinkedIn has the community to help them find the right one depending on their skills and interests.

“Whether you’re just starting your career or on a journey to pursue fulfillment and meaning at work, now is a great time to find the right job for you.

“We have 20 millions jobs including entry-level roles,” she added.

Lee offered advice to help prepare for each step of the job search.

Firstly, establish a “Digital Presence That Reflects Who You Are” by asking yourself what drove you to pursue your degree? What are you “in it” for?

“Knowing these answers is crucial to finding the right job for you. Then create your LinkedIn profile and use the summary section to share a little bit more about yourself and skills, learning and experiences that make you unique.

“More than just a resume, your LinkedIn profile creates a great opportunity to make you standout.

It’s one of the top things recruiters using LinkedIn every day look at when viewing your profile.”

Secondly, “Look Beyond Your Degree or Qualification”.

“A degree can take you places, but it doesn’t dictate your career path. Keep in mind what is most important to you, and find it. Your degree or qualification can open up opportunities to land a variety of types of jobs beyond your major.

“If there are new skills you want to learn or improve on, online platforms such as LinkedIn Learning can help you get started. Learning doesn’t stop at graduation.

“Thirdly, ‘Explore Jobs on LinkedIn’. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s job search filters to narrow your search by industry, function and experience, and then use the open search box to add key phrases to find the right job for you.

“Discovering new jobs on LinkedIn has never been easier with ‘Instant Job Notifications’ and ‘Job Title Highlights’.”

Fourthly, “Connect with People in Your Network Who Can Help” by taking a good look at their LinkedIn community to see if they have any connections who work at companies that interest you.

“These professionals can be key to helping you find and land the job you want. Professionals on LinkedIn are four times more likely to get a call from a recruiter and nine times more likely to get hired when they’ve been referred by a connection than if they apply without a referral.

“And, fifthly, ‘Make a Good Impression’ by getting to know more about the company you wish to be part of. It can guide you on what it takes to get hired and succeed there. The website and company page on LinkedIn and other online resources can provide rich information and background.

“What’s important is that you know the steps to take on your journey to a successful and rewarding career. Be authentic, stay true to your values, call out what makes you different from the crowd and lean on your community for support.”

LinkedIn Asia Pacific managing director Olivier Legrand said the company aims to strengthen its offerings for small and medium business customers in Malaysia.

“It is not just a platform for individuals, it also offers a range of services for businesses to hire better and faster, insights that can help them make smarter decisions about things that are happening around them in real time and smarter, making recruitment easier and more effective via online selection. Archive image for illustration purposes only.

Moral studies a dynamic subject

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019
The desire to abolish moral education compels me to clarify the dynamism of this subject and illustrate the actual issues in this subject. – FILE PIC

THE past two months have been a reflective phase for many parents and people to voice their desire to replace the
Moral Education with philosophy.

The desire to abolish moral education compels me to clarify the dynamism of this subject and illustrate the actual issues in this subject.

Firstly, when moral education was introduced in 1983, there were very few experts and the subject was taught by Islamic studies teachers.

Here is where we made a big mistake.

Moral education is not Islamic studies or religious education.

Moral education, in a multicultural context, takes into consideration all religions and belief systems.

Moral education builds cognitive, emotive and spiritual quotient in people to face moral dilemmas.

One does not need to be religious to have good morals but religion becomes a source or inspiration to be moral.

But because we have belief in God as one of our Rukun Negara pillars and moral education pioneers were all mostly religious educators, our moral education is unique.

Since the first stage of implementing in the 1980s, the subject itself has undergone changes from the content, approach, pedagogy and assessment perspectives.

I am proud that moral education was one of the pioneer subjects in our education system.

We have moral projects under the 2017 moral education syllabus.

Activities would include awareness projects on environment and sustainability, multicultural awareness, which includes human rights, rights and responsibilities in the cyberworld, and mutual respect in a diversified society.

Hence, I wonder if parents and those concerned with moral education understand the dynamism of the subject.

It would be ideal to understand the transformation that the subject had undergone and will undergo before even coming up with ideas of abolishing it.

Look into the issues in the subject, collect evidence, and don’t just form opinions and judgments based on hearsay.

By Dr Vishalache Balakrishnan.

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May 13 and societal insecurity

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019
A dated picture of a deserted Kuala Lumpur during the May 13, 1969 incident with security forces on patrol. FILE PIC

THE incident of May 13, 1969 had been regarded by most historians, political scientists and sociologists as an event symbolising “the worst racial riot” in the history of Malaysia’s post-independence period.

Analysed from the perspective of security studies, however, the incident was a testimony to Malaysia’s political and societal insecurities experienced by our people in the aftermath of the 3rd General Election.

In his book, People, State and Fear (1991), Barry Buzan explained that “political security concerns the organisational stability of states, systems of government and the ideologies that give them legitimacy”. He also stated that “societal security concerns the sustainability, within acceptable conditions for evolution, of traditional patterns of language, culture and religious and national identity and customs”

The May 13 incident threatened Malaysia’s political security because it had disrupted our system of parliamentary democracy; and had affected the day-to-day management of our country through the cabinet system. Its threat to democracy was reflected by the suspension of the Malaysian Parliament. Its impact on the country’s management system was evidenced by the setting up of the National Operations Council (NOC) as an emergency government.

The above were enforced from May 1969 until the restoration of democratic rule in 1971. Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, the then home affairs minister, said that within the above period, “democracy is dead in this country. It died at the hands of the opposition parties who triggered off the events leading to this violence” (The Straits Times, May 19, 1969).

Whether this statement was correct or otherwise, the fact remains that the May 13 incident had truly damaged Malaysia’s national unity, religious harmony, public order and national security.

Arjunan Narayanan and Kamarulnizam Abdullah, on the other hand, wrote in Keselamatan Nasional Malaysia (2013), “the incident of May 13, 1969 communal crisis was the turning point in Malaysia’s political system”. It had changed “the structure of Malaysia’s race relations”. More importantly, “it had brought about a new transformation to Malaysia’s nation-building process”.

The incident also had jeopardised Malaysia’s societal security. In his book, May 13, 1969: A Historical Survey of Sino-Malay Relations (1983), Leon Comber said that “the government acknowledged that the riots were caused by “ethnic polarisation and animosity”. This was because the incident was believed to have resulted from intense politicking in GE3, particularly on Article 3 about Islam as the religion of the Federation, Article 152 on Bahasa Melayu as our national language, and Article 153 on the special position of the Malays and Bumiputeras.

As such, it was appropriate to consider that the incident of May 13, 1969, had severely affected the government’s efforts in managing race relations and nation-building. This was why it needed a special security management tool — the NOC system — as well as several new policies and short- term programmes to resolve it effectively.

Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, for example, had dedicated his premiership (1971-1976) to resolve the problems of national unity, socioeconomic imbalance and disparity, as well as political instability.

On Aug 31, 1970, he announced the Rukun Negara or the National Doctrine to restore Malaysia’s fragile democracy, national unity and political stability. In 1971, he introduced the New Economic Policy as an instrument of “social re-engineering” through an affirmative action programme formulated by NOC.

Therefore, what else do we expect from the May 13 incident? Is it necessary for us to totally discard existing narratives about it as contained in various domestic literature; just because we
suspect a different version of it, especially because of its alleged prejudice against the non-Malays and the leadership of Tun Razak?

Is it necessary for us to pressure our government to declassify documents and data related to it? Can this move enhance our understanding of Malaysia’s political and societal security? What if the classified documents are politicised to further threaten national unity and national identity?

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as Malaysia’s chief executive of security management, had said that the government “will study” any request to declassify the documents. This is politically correct because the government had emphasised transparency, accountability and the rule of law.

But would it be politically inappropriate if the majority of us believed that the PH government should continue declassifying the information? Would it be pertinent if we suggest that the incident be studied from the perspective of security management structure and strategy?

The status of Malaysia as a multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious state should have motivated the government to encourage the people to conduct studies on the security management strategy of the NOC. As suggested by some analysts, the findings of this research should be incorporated into existing SOP on crisis management concerning Malaysia’s political security and societal security.

By Datuk Dr Ruhanie Ahmad.

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Seek holistic solution to higher education financing

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019
The analysis from PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan and his team is first class; they should be given credit for seeking public views on these proposals. FILE PIC

WAN Saiful Wan Jan, chairman of National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN), is fast becoming Malaysia’s very own Theresa May — a very good person with a seemingly impossible job!

Rightly admired for his honesty and insightful thought-leadership, Wan Saiful and his team at PTPTN have done an excellent job in laying out the current PTPTN loan crisis — which is bigger than 1Malaysia Development Bhd — and the suggestions so far from stakeholders on how to solve it.

The main problem is that the task given to Wan Saiful and his team forces them to focus on only one option — to make students repay the debt. This aim is bound to fail and the honest and forensic analysis by Wan Saiful’s team makes this crystal clear.

We must be fair and acknowledge that the proposals presented in the PTPTN website come from stakeholders and not from PTPTN or Wan Saiful himself.

They lay out clearly what stakeholders have suggested along with PTPTN’s assessment of the implications for everyone concerned. They are truly terrifying and make Barisan Nasional (BN) look like the defaulters’ friendly grandmother — a terrifying prospect for Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians and supporters alike.

For those who have not seen what some stakeholders suggest a brief summary may be informative.

The first proposal is to defer payment for defaulters earning RM2,000 per month or less. This would help 26 per cent of defaulters but would not by itself solve the non-payment problems for those earning more than RM2,000 per month without additional enforcement measures.

The second proposal is to defer payments for defaulters earning less than RM4,000 per month, which fulfils PH’s election pledge. This would leave PTPTN waiting between six to 15 years for repayments and cause its debts to rise to an eye-watering RM100 billion by 2040.

The third idea stakeholders have proposed has already been rejected. This is to link repayments to salary, which last time suggested that those earning RM8,000 per month or more should pay 15 per cent of their monthly income by repaying their loans. This idea is so bad for Pakatan that we can only guess that it was suggested by those dreaming of a BN victory in the 15th General Election!

Stakeholders’ suggestions then move on to more punitive ideas which punish not just defaulters but also their parents, siblings and the universities where they studied.

The fourth idea is to raid defaulters’ salaries, a proposal which some have already rejected, arguing that it is not only immoral but also potentially illegal.

Next comes idea number five which is to bankrupt defaulters if they fall behind on repayments. This idea was possibly suggested by lawyers who see piles of income in litigation fees.

Idea number six denies the lawyers their cash-cow but reintroduces the much-hated travel bans albeit in a different form.

Restrictions on the renewal of passports, driving licences, business licences and even road tax were proposed. This will put an end to graduate entrepreneurs and a massive increase in illegal road-users. It doesn’t end there, however.

Within the same proposal were calls for public shaming of students and visiting the sins of defaulters on their siblings by denying family members PTPTN loans in default.

The seventh idea continues this theme by forcing debt repayments on unsuspecting “guarantors — read “parents”. So much for family harmony.

Idea number eight punishes success by denying first-class graduates their loan waiver and the next idea punishes universities by denying them PTPTN loans if they underperform on the national ratings system and neither really addresses the problem on non-payment.

Finally, idea number 10 comes as a form of light relief following the other suggestions by increasing the interest rate paid by students from the one per cent they currently pay to perhaps the five per cent that PTPTN borrows the money at in the first place.

This would save the government around RM1.7 billion per year but raises the question — why would defaulters be more likely to repay loans at five per cent when they are currently not repaying them at one per cent?

We must not misunderstand this process. The analysis from Wan Saiful and his team is first-class and although they may not get a loan exemption, they should be given credit for telling the truth. They should also be given credit for seeking public views on these proposals — an exercise in active democracy that should be emulated in other policy debates.

The real problem is that as long as the debate on PTPTN reform focuses on the single aim of making defaulters pay, this problem will rumble on. PTPTN will become more unstable, students and parents will be more and more worried and universities will continue to struggle with uncertainty about future finances.

We must set aside the “make students pay” mantra and open up the debate to look for a sustainable and holistic solution to higher education financing.

This solution must examine diversifying finance for higher education within a portfolio of alternative income sources which balance government support and loans with income from research, development and commercialisation, endowments and system reform.

By Geoffrey Williams.

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What is a Foundation programme?

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Students who were not offered a Government Matriculation Program want to obtain a Pre-U qualification so that they can enter a Private university.

Usually students don’t want to take the STPM because they were told that it is a very tough examination to pass. Even if you re-sit, you cannot pass the STPM.

At least that is what students  hear from their friends.

They don’t want to take the A levels because for the past 11 years they were learning all the subjects in Bahasa Malaysia.

They know that A Levels is in English. They will have a tough time passing A Levels – according to their peers.

So, what options do you have? Well, just take the Foundation Program and join the degree program the following year.

That is the current trend among students.

You have all kinds of Foundation Programs available, such as:-

Foundation in Business

Foundation in Arts

Foundation in Law

Foundation in Engineering

Foundation in Natural and Built Environments (FNBE)

Foundation in Science (for entry into Bioscience/Culinary Science/Medicine/Pharmacy/etc.)

Foundation in Computing

Foundation in Information Technology

Foundation in Communication

Foundation in Design

You name it and there will be a Foundation Program tailor-made for you. Even if you completed your SPM in the Arts stream, you can still switch to do a Foundation in Science.

Once you complete it, you can do Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Computer Science, etc.

What are the Advantages of pursuing a foundation programme ?

1.    You will study the subjects that are specific to the course you plan to take at degree level. If you are going to study Medicine, your Foundation Programme will be in Science.

If you intend to do a Degree in Information Technology, your Foundation Programme will be in Computer Science.

2.    A Foundation Programme is an instant Pre-U. You don’t have to study for 2 years like STPM and A Levels. It is quicker than other pre-university programmes.

3.    A Foundation programme will cost you approximately RM 10,000 to complete. It is the cheapest route to a degree. Some Colleges and Universities even offer FREE Foundation Programs provided you do a degree with them.

4.    The Foundation Programme is not an external examination.

The assessment style is usually a combination of coursework, continual assessment and a final exam, but the weighting of each assessment depends on the college

What are the disadvantages ?

1.    Once you have started on a Foundation Programme you cannot switch programmes. If you are taking courses such as  Foundation in IT, Music, Business, Architecture, etc. you will not find it easy to switch majors.

2.    The Government Universities do not recognize the Foundation Programme offered by Private Colleges and Universities. So the chances of you going back to Government Universities is practically NIL.

3.    Other colleges and universities,  both locally and abroad, may  not automatically recognise the foundation programme you have completed.

Career Tips

It looks like the more Pre-U choices you have, the more confusing it would be – both for students and parents.

The best advice would be to know all about the Pre-U program before you enroll.

Once you have enrolled there is no turning back and your money will be burnt. Remember, it is also very difficult to get any loan for Foundation Programmes. You need to find your owns funds.

by K. Krishnan.

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Centre makes teaching stateless kids its mission

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Rainbow of Hope, one of the privately-run centres that provide basic literacy programmes to children without documents, wants to continue giving its service as long as the stateless problem in Sabah persists.

The centre advocates that every child, regardless their background, has the right to basic education and having seen its power to transform lives in the past 15 years, it stays motivated to help those who do not have access to it.

Its founder Sylvia Jeanes, a 78-year-old Australian, said she has seen many undocumented children who had come out of the centre develop a positive attitude toward themselves and life in general, despite facing a lot of uncertainties due to their status.

She is convinced that such attitude is the result of some basic education they have received at the centre which has helped them gain a certain level of self-confidence.

“Most of them that I know tend to work in the building sector. Many came back to meet me and I could see they were cheerful. They didn’t complain about their work, about their life. They were very positive,” she said.

Founded in 2003, Rainbow of Hope provides basic literacy to children aged six to 16 years who otherwise do not have access to formal education. It currently serves 180 children.

“I remember even when we first set up the centre, we heard so many complaints around our neighbourhood about people’s belongings like shoes going missing. But for a long time now we don’t hear such complaints anymore.

“I strongly believe that any child, no matter what situation they are in, will become a better person from having education.

It just gives them a sense of purpose in life,” she said.

Jeanes, who came to Sabah decades ago and had taught in some of the remotest schools in the state, is aware about the strong sentiments people have on the issue of statelessness but insists that a child’s right to education transcends it.

For some time already now, the issue of stateless individuals have been hotly debated by various parties after the State Government announced its intention to assist Sabah-born children who are categorised as foreigners.

But this only applies to children whose either parent is Malaysian.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal had said the state-initiated programme aimed at assisting these children to be legalised with proper documents so that they can have a better start for a brighter future.

He had also explained that the State Government was doing it on humanitarian grounds as the children, like every other child, had the right to a bright future.

As for children whose both parents are foreigners, the law has it that they should be deported. But the situation remains that many of them are still roaming the streets in the state.

By: Leonard Alaza.

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Popular KDM Song: Composer wins big

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Local composer Benn Simon Bukag was all smiles as he walked away with three prizes at the inaugural Popular KDM Song Competition (JLPKDM).

Benn’s compositions “Aaratan” and “Siou Koupusaanku” grabbed the first and second spots, respectively.

For “Aaratan”, which was sang by Elica Paujin, Benn received RM7,000 and a trophy while receiving another RM5,000 for the self-performed “Siou Koupusaanku”.

Benn added another RM1,500 into his winning purse by grabbing the Best Performance prize.

“Aaratan” and “Siou Koupusanku” were among 10 Kadazandusun Murut songs contested at the Hongkod Koisaan Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA), near here, Sunday.

Elated with the big victory, Benn said he did not expect to win.

“I would like to thank the JLPKDM organisers for selecting three of my songs to compete in the competition,” he said when met after the prize-giving ceremony.

“I am grateful that two of them won tonight (Sunday).”

He disclosed “Aaratan” was completed in March and had only been released in April.

“The hardest part was the lyrics as I came up with the melody spontaneously… I made it specifically to suit Elica’s vocal range and according to her request,” he said.

On JLPKDM, he said, the event should be held annually as it can generate a significant impact on the local music scene.

“The event can motivate local composers to produce more quality songs.”

In third place was “Tangi Nu Huang” composed by Sharin Amud Shapri and sang by Rosario Bianis. Sharin brought home RM3,000 and a trophy.

Rosario also won RM1,500 for the Best Vocal prize.

The other songs contested in the competition were “Goudut” composed by Douglas Henry and performed by Dyandra Justin, “Isai Oku” (Arie F Sius/Suili George), “Nasindualan” (Sharin Amud Shapri/Rushdy Raphael), “Nokuro Koh Koupusan” (Benn Simon Bukag/Eiffel Pailus), “Pokurozon Ku” (Anak), “Sopi Upus Sopirati” (Sekar Madusa/S Welly and Marlleynney), and “Poihoon Zou Daa Diau” (Becker Ray Benedict and Laura Bernard/Becker Ray Benedict).

In another category, the famous “Original Sabahan” by the duo Atmosfera won the Sabahan Popular Song to earn RM5,000 and a trophy.

Unlike the 10 songs in the Popular KDM Song Competition which were assessed by a panel of judges, the winner for the Sabahan Popular Song was determined through a Facebook poll.

Organising chairman Abu Bakar Ellah said the songs were selected based on their popularity on local radio stations’ airplay and charts as well as YouTube views.

JLPKDM was part of the run-up events leading to the climax of the State Kaamatan Festival celebration at the Hongkod Koisaan KDCA.

Meanwhile, Infrastructure Development Minister-cum-State Kaamatan Festival Organising Chairman Datuk Peter Anthony said the event aimed at giving recognition to local composers, lyricists and singers in upholding the usage of native languages in their works.

By: Ricardo Unto.

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