Archive for February, 2020

Top 3 challenges for students

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Stress is reportedly a contributing factor to the rise of mental health issues among students.

NAVIGATING life in secondary school today can be overwhelming for students as they commonly experience several hurdles that can impact their studies.

A school counsellor for over 17 years, Nor Hasnah Mohd Yusof from SMK TTDI Jaya, Selangor identified three major challenges: mental health issues, academic pressure and unfavourable school experience.

“The education system focuses on cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence and spiritual intelligence. Unfortunately, academic achievement is still a top priority for many which leads to these challenges to survive their schooling years.”

Stress, she said, was a contributing factor to the rise of mental health issues among students.

“Good mental well-being is important for a student’s personal development and academic performance.

“Students may find it difficult to understand the lessons. Disruptions such as misbehaving classmates can cause more stress and make them lose interest in learning.

“There are also instances of teachers being overly strict and rushing to complete the syllabus before the exams.”

While parents might have well intentions in wanting their children to perform well, she said too much pressure could have a negative effect.

“Some parents want their children to follow in their footsteps but do not take into account their children’s abilities and interests.

“Underperforming students may become depressed for not meeting their parents’ expectations.”

Nor Hasnah added that the challenges were influenced by the students’ life at school and at home.

Student Sarmila Mani Maran, 17, from Methodist Girls’ School Ipoh, Perak, agrees that mental health is a critical issue among students.

“It has become normal for students to be stressed or even depressed.”

SMK TTDI Jaya student Anton Yeoh Zhen Feng, 15 said: “Mental health is an important factor. If students feel pressured, stressed or anxious, their focus on their studies would be much affected.”

Maryam Adifazli, 15 from Sekolah Islam Adni said: “Once I was not very fond of a teacher’s teaching methods. It stressed me out because I could not fully comprehend the lessons.

“I began to worry and it took me some time to adjust,” she said.

Relationships with friends and teachers can also be tricky and troubling.

SMK TTDI Jaya student Owen Yu, 15 said: “We need to know whether our friends are helpful or toxic to our well-being.

“There are also teachers who may be biased towards factors such as race and gender. This can foster negative vibes among the students.”

“There can be back-stabbing among students just to attain high positions in school and win over the teachers,” Sarmila added.

The academic environment at school is another challenge, one that can come both from the education system and also from parents’ expectations.

Yeoh said the “constantly-changing exam format” and unusual teaching methods could also be challenging.

“Some teachers are unsure of the latest exam format or have trouble teaching a chapter.

“For example, a teacher once provided us with a different set of model exam question papers and answers. It was stressful for us as I had to learn on my own,” said Yeoh.

Maryam said: “The thought of scoring As has become an obsession for students, teachers and parents.”

As a competitive person, she constantly experiences this pressure.

“While my parents and teachers are very encouraging, my desire to compete and do better than my classmates results in me feeling extreme pressure.

When the going gets tough, Yeoh tries to stay motivated.

“I always tell myself that by scoring good marks in exams, I will have a good career in the future. It’s a form of positive thinking.”

Meanwhile, Owen tries his best to meet his parents’ expectations.

“I try to identify my strengths and weaknesses. I know that my parents just want me to do my best. But from other students’ experiences, the pressure to do well in exams can lead them to perform much worse in classes and exams,” he said.

For Sarmila, she is used to her parents’ high expectations but does not view it as a burden.

“It is not wrong for parents to expect success from their children. I take it as a challenge.”

But, she added that skills were equally important as test scores.

“Parents need to know that even if you score straight As, it does not mean you can handle what life throws at you. Having a good attitude and courage are important.”

Owen said talking about the problems helps students see their situation more clearly.

“If I can’t reach a set academic target, I will tell my parents and we will decide together on what needs to be done. I will also consult my friends and the counsellor at school.

“It’s better for parents to talk to their children about their expectations and for both sides to listen to each other’s opinions.”

Maryam also said that she would turn to her parents when she felt the pressure was getting too much.

Sarmila concurred: “I share everything with my mother. She always gives me solutions.”

Nor Hasnah said school counsellors could also help students through difficult situations.

“The school’s Guidance and Counselling Unit acts as a medium for consultation and understanding of issues.

“However, not many students come forward. Some are reluctant to ask for help out of fear of being bullied further. They would rather turn to social media.

“Therefore, all parties need to cooperate and take steps to address the mental health problems among students. This includes prevention and recovery so that these issues won’t persist.”

By Rayyan Rafidi

Careers you shine in not defined by your degree

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020
Nestle management trainee Mohamad Hafiz Abd Latif (left) sharing his trainee experience with Sam Shu Jing (right).- NSTP/Eizairi Shamsudin

Graduates from various academic disciplines are welcome in most management trainee programmes.

Nestle group human resources talent acquisition manager Shariza Mohd Razi said: “Programme applicants can select the functions that they would like to join. Some functions, like marketing, welcome students from different backgrounds. The rotations give trainees a helicopter view of how the functions work end to end.”

For Sam Shu Jing, 26, getting into Nestle Management Trainee Programme was an alternative pathway to explore beyond what she studied in university.

Currently an assistant brand manager with Nestle, she became a marketeer despite holding a degree in accounting and finance from Sunway University.

“At Nestle, depending on business needs, trainees are matched with functions that suit our interest, growth and development. I made it clear that my passion was in marketing.

Getting into the marketing role was a smooth transition for Sam.

Nestle group human resources talent acquisition manager Shariza Mohd Razi.

“It was not difficult as I received strong support from my coach and line managers. As a fresh graduate entering a huge corporate company, there were a lot of marketing-related topics that I had to refer to my coach for advice.

“Having passion is also very important in your career. If you’re passionate about your work, you won’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Darren Seng Fook Loong, 25, pursued an international business degree at INTI International University, Nilai, but he has always been intrigued with information technology.

Three months before his graduation, Seng followed his passion and landed an opportunity to work with Oracle Malaysia.

The international computer technology corporation runs a training programme for business development consultants (BDC).

“Although I came from a business background, Oracle provided me with an opportunity to kick off my career.”

Starting as a BDC with the sales department, Seng was involved in lead generation by profiling potential customers interested in digital transformation.

“As a business graduate, selling IT products was not easy at first. The company provided me with immense training to develop my soft and technical skills.

“I also had access to the Oracle E-Learning Portal to independently learn about the products.”

While his degree may not correspond with his work, Seng added that the communication skills he learnt in university also played a role in his career progression.

“I had the opportunity to enhance my presentation skills which boosted my confidence on how I present my ideas to my stakeholders.”

By Rayyan Rafidi

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STPM 2019: Pencapaian SMK Muhibbah meningkat

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

SANDAKAN: Pencapaian SMK Muhibbah dalam peperiksaan Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) bagi tahun 2019 meningkat berbanding dengan tahun 2018.

Ia berikutan keputusan STPM tahun lepas menyaksikan 100 peratus kelulusan dan seorang pelajarnya telah mendapat Purata Nilai Gred Kumulatif (PNGK) 4.00 manakala tiga lagi pelajar mendapat PNGK 3.92.

Sementara 23 pelajar juga turut mendapat PNGK 3.00 dan ke atas.

Dalam pada itu, Gred Purata Sekolah (GPS) STPM 2019 meningkat 0.02 berbanding GPS STPM 2018. SMK Muhibbah tersenarai dalam kategori ke – 3 bagi bilangan calon 100 dan ke atas dalam senarai 10 sekolah terbaik di Sabah.

Pencapaian SMK Muhibbah ini diumumkan pada satu Majlis Penyampaian Keputusan STPM 2019 yang telah diadakan di Dewan Terbuka sekolah itu, kelmarin.

Sementara itu, Kolej Tingkatan 6 Datuk Pengiran Galpam Sandakan sekali lagi mencatat sejarah kecemerlangan dalam keputusan STPM 2019 yang diumumkan kelmarin.

GPS menunjukkan sedikit kenaikan sebanyak 0.08 iaitu 2.73 pada tahun 2019 berbanding dengan 2.65 pada tahun 2018.

Peratus lulus keseluruhan pada tahun 2019 adalah sebanyak 98.8 peratus berbanding dengan 99.2 peratus tahun 2018.

Seramai 93 calon daripada 257 calon telah mendapat PNGK sekurang-kurangnya 3.00.

Bilangan tersebut menunjukkan peningkatan seramai 7 orang berbanding dengan tahun 2018 (85 orang). Tiga pelajar aliran Kemanusiaan mencapai keputusan cemerlang dengan pencapaian PNGK 4.00.

Mereka ialah Mohd Alfian Alam, Muhammad Kurniawan Abdul Hamid dan Meharaj Jagubar. Mata pelajaran yang diambil termasuklah Pengajian Am, Sejarah, Geografi dan Ekonomi.

Selain itu, tiga pelajar terbaik Aliran Sains ialah Ko Yu Yun dengan PNGK 3.75 (2A, 1A-, 1B+) dan Alexander Yapp Cheng Hao serta Siew Sui Siong dengan masing-masing memperoleh pencapaian PNGK 3.67 (1A, 2A-, 1B+) dan 3.67 (2A, 2B+).

Pengetua Kolej berkenaan, Haji Hussein Abdul Manaf merakamkan setinggi-tinggi tahniah dan syabas kepada semua calon STPM 2019 kerana telah berjaya memperoleh keputusan yang cemerlang dan tidak dilupa kepada semua pensyarah yang telah bertungkus-lumus dalam membantu pelajar membuat persediaan bagi menghadapi peperiksaan.

“Selaku Kolej Tingkatan 6, pihak kolej telah merangka dan menjalankan pelbagai program bagi memperkasa dan mengukuhkan pemahaman pelajar terhadap silibus yang diajar.

“Antaranya, program Mentor-mentee, Modul Mata Pelajarandan Kolokium Mata Pelajaran. Tanpa komitmen semua pihak termasuk ibu bapa, sudah pasti kecemerlangan pada hari ini tidak dapat dikecapi.

“Oleh itu, pihak kolej mengharapkan agar keputusan pada tahun 2019 menjadi pemangkin untuk kecemerlangan pada masa hadapan,” kata Hussein.


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Shortage of teachers in Sabah to be resolved March: Director

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

TAMBUNAN: The shortage of teachers in Sabah is expected to be resolved in March this year with the supply of trained teachers from the Education Services Commission of Malaysia, said State Education Department Director Dr Mistirine Radin,

She said the department would pay attention to the shortage of teachers as well as poor schools and hostels in Tambunan and Keningau.

“These were among issues discussed with principals, headmasters, PTAs (Parents-Teachers Associations) of secondary and primary schools in the two districts during a recent dialogue,” she told reporters after the dialogue held at SK Tiong Widu, here.

She said the programme aimed to ensure rural students received quality education through understanding their problems and taking the necessary actions.

“Through this programme, we find the main problems raised related to the shortage of teachers as well as poor schools and village hostels.

“In Tambunan and Keningau, the principals and headmasters are concerned about the shortage of teachers,” she said, adding the parents of students were concerned about poor schools and village hostels.

On the needs of village hostels, she said her department hoped to get assistance from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Regarding poor schools, Mistirine said the Ministry of Education Malaysia would continue to strive to improve the quality of school infrastructure in the State.

Earlier, she attended a similar programme at SK Karamatoi in the Sook area, Keningau.

By: Johan Aziz.

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STPM: 67 Sabah schools score 100pc passing rate

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

TUARAN:  SMK Kota Klias, Beaufort achieved the highest School Average (GPS) in Sabah, with its students scoring a 100 per cent passing rate in the 2019 STPM examinations.

It is among 67 schools in the State that achieved a 100 per cent passing rate.

The rating is divided into three categories based on the number of registered candidates in each school – (1) one to 49 candidates, (2) 50 to 99 candidates and (3) 100 candidates and above.

State Education Director Mistirine Radin said a total of 7,036 candidates sat for the 2019 STPM examinations compared to 6,782 in 2018.

“Of these, 6,956 candidates or 98.86 per cent achieved full passing rate in 2019 compared to 6,705 candidates or 98.78 per cent in 2018.

“This means that the passing rate of schools in Sabah shows a 0.07 per cent increase,” she said when met by reporters at SMK Tamparuli Hall, here, Tuesday, where the STPM results for the State were announced.

She also said the Cumulative Average Grade (GNI) in Sabah showed a decrease of 0.02 of 2.67 in 2019 compared to 2.69 in 2018.

“For the District Education Office (PPD)’s cumulative grade point average (CGPA), 12 PPDs surpassed the State CGPA (2.67) out of 24 PPDs in Sabah.

“The PPDs showing the highest GNI were from Kunak (2.67), Semporna (2.82), Tuaran (2.82), Tawau (2.81), Penampang (2.80), Sandakan (2.77), Beluran (2.76), Beaufort (2.73), Lahad Datu (2.73), Sipitang (2.69), Kudat (2.68) and Papar (2.68),” she said.

At the event, a total of 51 candidates who took the STPM examination in 2019 achieved a CGPA of 4.0. Also present was Education and Innovation Assistant Minister Jennifer Lasimbang

Meanwhile, one of the CGPA 4.0 achievers, Nurhardia Adlina Raymie, 20, from SMK Putatan Penampang, was thrilled to receive the excellent results and shared her learning methods.

“At home, I just focus on revising and while at school, I study in groups. My friends and I are not shy to ask each other questions and we are also always asking our teachers questions,” she said.

She added that the school holds night classes and as well as extra classes on Saturdays.

By: R Gonzales.

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Govt to distribute millions of face masks soon

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Several millions face masks are scheduled to be purchased and distributed by the government to strategic locations nationwide soon.

“Our ministry has had discussions with factories one or two weeks ago and there will be several millions face masks coming in by this week or next week,” said Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) Sabah Director, Georgie Abas.

He noted that there is still a shortage of face masks not only in Malaysia but all over the world because one of the major importers are from China.

“Of course, China …they have to take care of their own people’s wellbeing first, but my minister has had discussions with the factories one or two weeks ago, and we are hoping to see additional face masks soon,” he told a media conference during a disposal of exhibits exercise at its enforcement store in Kolombong, here, Tuesday.

He said currently in Sabah, they conduct daily monitoring, paying visits to at least 40 premises throughout the State in a single day.

“From the figure, there are maybe four or five premises which have face masks, while the rest will say that they have placed their orders but hasn’t arrived yet.

“At the same time, we also encourage pharmacists and retailers to limit the number of face masks sold per customer because we want to get as many people the opportunity to buy them.

“Some customers might buy boxes and boxes of face masks, leaving none for others to buy,” he said.

As for those caught profiteering from the global Covid-19 outbreak by hiking the price of face masks, he said, they have recorded at least six cases to date with seizure amounting to RM3,247.20 and compounds of RM80,500.

“You can be compounded between RM10,000 and RM20,000 for hiking prices of goods which have ceiling price, so please don’t take this matter lightly,” he said.

He said business proprietors shouldn’t take advantage of public health and safety.

“This concerns our fellow human beings, why should you take advantage of that. We will not compromise, thus the reason why the compound is very high,” he said.

Meanwhile, this was the first time KPDNHEP Sabah carried out its disposal of case exhibit exercise with the media.

The case exhibits involved six cases under the Trade Descriptions Act 2011, the Price Control and Anti-Smuggling Act 2011 and the Supply Control Act 1961. The cases have been settled and ordered for disposal. The seizure value of the cases amounted to RM44,303 and was offered compound of RM20,000.

It is also noted that throughout last year, KPDNHEP Sabah achieved a milestone in achieving its 2019 Annual Work Target, namely they managed to inspect a total of 83,840 premises out of the 72,180 target, they recorded a total of 1,429 cases (targeted 1,142), their seizure amounted to RM4,706,876.94 and compounds were RM469,700.

So far this year, they have inspected 9,507 premises, recorded 319 cases, made seizures amounting to RM214,314.33 and issued compounds amounting to RM35,150.

“We will continue to monitor and protect the rights of consumers. Stern action will be taken against traders who fail to comply with laws and regulations enforced under the Ministry,” he said.

He said in an effort to protect consumers, the Ministry has also increased the presence of enforcement officers in selected places that are the focus of the public.

“This is aimed at creating a safe and ethical business environment through our omnipresence,” he said.

In addition, the Ministry also strengthened its price support by collaboration with various parties, among them is the Price Monitoring Officers who carry out price monitoring of essentials nationwide under the Ministry.

They also work with consumers by encouraging them to be the eyes and ears of the Ministry, while also engaging the help of other government agencies.

By: Sherell Jeffrey.

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Time for teachers and parents to step up

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Students will do better if they have qualified, professional teachers and supportive parents. — File photo

Tuition classes are the norm but not a necessity. It’s down to the parents and teachers to help students excel in international assessments.

BETTER teachers and involved parents are the key to students doing well in international assessments.

The Education Ministry must ensure that only those who are qualified, committed and interested in teaching, are selected to join the profession, Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Education senior lecturer and teacher-trainer Dr Zuwati Hasim said.

Calling on the ministry to raise the selection criteria for teacher training and education, she said this was crucial in maintaining the standards and quality of the country’s education system.

And, teachers, she said, must be allowed to focus on teaching.

Dr Zuwati HasimDr Zuwati Hasim

“Empower teachers with continuous professional development (CPD). Ensure that they are teaching subjects that they are trained for, ” she said, adding that in developed countries, there is strong parental involvement in schools.

She said schools that are properly managed by experienced administrators usually excel. And, committed and supportive principals create a positive environment for teachers and students to learn, develop and perform.

But parents, she said, play the biggest role when it comes to education. They shouldn’t let teachers take over their parental responsibility.

“In school, teachers deliver knowledge. Outside of school, it’s up to the parents to monitor their child’s progress.”

These days, with both parents having to work – at times late into the night – they miss out on talking and motivating their children. Yet, these parents demand excellent exam results.

“The easiest way out is extra classes. It’s scary how some kids as young as six are sent for tuition, ” she said, cautioning that a conflict of interest could arise if school teachers offered tuition.

There have been cases, she shared, of teachers who did not give their best in class because they want their students to enrol for tuition. These teachers “reserve” important knowledge and skills for these after school sessions.

“Those who can’t afford tuition will be at a disadvantage.

“Effective teaching should take place in classrooms. Teachers must ensure that students understand the content that’s delivered.”

High expectations and peer pressure, particularly among competitive parents who are determined to see their children out-perform others, result in them sending their kids for tuition even when it isn’t necessary.

With barely enough time to rest and play, children struggle to cope with the mounting pressure, she said.

“This could be one of the reasons behind the rising depression and bullying cases among students – they either take out their frustrations on others or worse, take their own life.”

Parents, she said, must understand their children’s interests and different abilities as there are many learning pathways available.

Over the years, however, there has been sharp decline in content delivery and pedagogy in both urban and rural schools because the majority of teachers don’t have in-depth knowledge of the subjects they teach, said Gerald Kochappan.The retired English teacher was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Global Education Forum for Education Learning in Dubai last year. He recently received the International Academic Association of Researchers in Humanities, IT, Engineering & Science Life-time Achievement Award in Mumbai.

Gerald KochappanGerald Kochappan

A former Malaysian Smart Schools consultant, he was appointed Inspector of Schools and later a senior lecturer at the ministry’s National Institute for Educational Leadership and Management. Now an education consultant, he trains leaders from developing Asean countries.

“Teachers don’t read enough so they don’t really understand the content that needs to be imparted on students.

“Some, because of their lack of English proficiency, are unable to access reference books which would have greatly helped – especially in the teaching of science and maths.”

But merely knowing content well, isn’t enough.

Teachers must inject creativity and innovation into pedagogical knowledge to make lessons meaningful.

The sad reality is that many parents have accepted tutoring as a necessity, he said.

“Parental involvement requires great deal of sacrifice. Not many have the content and pedagogical knowledge to help their children academically so the tutoring uptrend will continue unless teachers are motivated to strive for quality education.”

The Education Ministry, he said, must recognise and reward teachers better to reduce the dependence on tuition.

Tutoring is not a necessity. If students are guided on the proper use of technology and other innovative resources, they can have unlimited access knowledge and skills, he said.

According to the Khazanah Reasearch Institute, the country’s improving performance in basic education indicators, have failed to translate into good performance outcomes in the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study).

Despite an abundant supply of teachers, the effectiveness of content delivery and pedagogy is lacking, its “Behind the Blackboard: How basic indicators mask gaps in quality of education” paper read.

Limited direct parental involvement may have prevented children from being motivated to study and perform well while widespread tutoring creates a disincentive for teachers to teach effectively. These issues need to be addressed if Malaysia is to catch up to the top performers, the authors wrote.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said school teachers are allowed to give tuition but only up to four hours a week and it has to be declared.

Unfortunately, the lack of enforcement means that tuition is the main source of income for some.

Teachers who are not sincere and dedicated may end up neglecting their students, urging these children to go for private classes – which offer personal attention in a more conducive environment – instead.

There are parents who send their children to school for social purposes, she said, leaving the serious learning to tuition centres.

 Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim

Busy with putting food on the table, more and more parents are shirking their responsibility. They want outstanding academic results and they expect the teacher to deliver.

Parents think it’s their role to educate but legacy issues such as teachers not teaching their options, a shortage of teachers in schools, the slow replacing of teachers who are on maternity leave, and teachers having to accompany students for competitions while classes are left unattended, can’t be ignored.

We need smaller classes and double-session schools have to go, she said.

Having teaching assistants who can double up to conduct co-curriculum activities, level the playing field and make education more inclusive.

Malaysia, she added, could improve its performance by reviewing the quality of teacher education in Institutes of Teacher Education (IPG) and universities to benchmark against education degrees from top performing countries.

“Conduct relevant CPD. Encourage bilingual proficiency among teachers. Offer comprehensive Mandarin classes, promote diversity and inculcate reading in schools.”

To improve maths and science, more time must be set aside. Science labs must be in good working order so that experiments can be conducted instead of just making students memorise them, she said.

Harry TanHarry Tan

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan said bureaucracy and irrelevant work have clipped teachers’ desire for creativity in their quest to give their best, he said.

“It’s unfortunate. Look around – teachers are doing all sorts of work from gardening, maintenance work, managing recycling activities, conducting motivation camps, organising fund raising activities and the list goes on. Extra classes are the norm in any school.”

But our teachers must be doing something right if students grow to be employable adults, he added.


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STPM results on Tuesday

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

THE 2019 Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) examination results will be announced on Tuesday.

The Malaysian Examinations Council, in a statement, said candidates would be able to get their results at their respective schools starting from noon, while private candidates will receive theirs through the post.

“Candidates can also check the results via the short messaging system (SMS) by typing STPM RESULT space identity card number and sending to 15888.

“They can also check online by surfing the council’s portal at from noon on the day,” the statement said.

Last year, 44,823 candidates sat for the exam at 652 examination centres nationwide.

They comprised 44,501 or 99.28 percent government school candidates, 167 (0.37 percent) from private schools, 128 (0.29 percent) private candidates and 27 (0.06 percent) state government candidates.

by Bernama.

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Welcome to Malaysia, where political dishonesty is fine

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

IS HONESTY still the best policy? Is it also vital to keep your promises? At least that’s what I was taught by my parents to do while growing up.

And the teachers kept drumming it into our heads in school. Well, I am not sure if this is true anymore after seeing the political and sports shenanigans that’s happening around us.

The massive attempts by football players in international leagues to completely put on an act for the referees when making dubious claims is disgusting.

Oh, how they contort their faces and claim innocence despite knowing they were the causes of the fouls committed.

And you have the hand- and face-gesturing claims that they make for a mere throw-in or a corner kick when they obviously know that it was not theirs.

To the millions who are their fans, they are sending a message that it is okay to be dishonest if you can steal a goal to win.

I am not sure if the younger generation knows how the former football great from Argentina – Diego Maradona – blatantly used his hand to score a goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final.

He went on to cheekily to say the goal was scored by the “Hand of God.” There was no Video Assisted Referee or VAR at that time.

His display of utter dishonesty was made worse by how the team was celebrating the goal that was blatantly stolen off England. To make matters worse, Argentina went on to win the World Cup, and the world forgot Maradona’s greatest act of dishonesty.

I hope he would admit he used his hands at least on his deathbed.

So there are political lies and also sports lie, which in most cases are simply told blatantly as long as they win in an election and a game.

At least in the sports arena, the introduction of VAR has exposed some of the dishonesty that happens.

Guess what, Malaysians?

The ones lying to you are the very people who actually pass the laws that require you to be honest, pay your taxes, tell the truth in court and pay penalties for violating these laws.

Unfortunately, there is no VAR in politics. However, there is something much bigger than that in a democracy – people power.

With social media, politicians better remember that the red card is in the people’s hands ready to show politicians the door in every election.

There were times in our lives that we may not have been extremely honest with ourselves, for one reason or the other. But that is between us, our conscience and the Almighty for those who believe that we have someone up there watching over us.

You deal with your own lies and dishonesty within yourself and the people around you. But if you lie and are dishonest for political reasons, beware the wrath of all.

What’s happening now is what I term as a moral breakdown among our leaders who appear to be telling us that you don’t have to keep promises, or keep to your words.

And that it is alright to cohort with those who had contributed to the destruction of our beloved nation.

Last week, we saw the best (or is it the worst?) actions of all the political parties in Malaysia. It was a political drama at its worst for Malaysians, a plot that seems to say it is okay to lie and dishonest in politics and stay in power.

It is still running, with new episodes mixed with unbelievable twists and plots.

There were massive attempts to make Dr Mahathir keep his promise of handing over power to Anwar on one side and on the other, the losing parties manoeuvring using race and religion in trying to make him go back on his promise.

To the many Malaysians who believed him and gave the full support, it was utterly disgusting. Dishonesty to the core, they say.

Another shocker was when Dr Mahahtir told a youth forum last week on the two men in history he admired most.

The first was Prophet Mohamad for some very good reasons that we all know. But the second man and the reasons he cited threw me off guard a little.

It was the 18th century Russian Czar Peter the Great. Dr Mahathir said even though he did not agree with the way Peter the Great killed and murdered the people, he had managed to change Russia through his leadership skills.

He added that when Peter the Great took over, Russia was poor and the living conditions were bad.

I beg your pardon? I am not sure if he is even aware that he is telling the youths that it’s okay to be cruel and kill innocent people if it means you do it for the betterment of the nation.

This was definitely not what my parents, school and my religion taught me.

If you are leading the nation and were voted into power with promises and pronouncements that you’d keep your pledges and clean up the nation of past dishonest practices, then you have to answer all the questions being raised now.

So all the four component parties in Pakatan Harapan agreed and, in fact, promised each other that Dr Mahathir would hand over the post to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at an appropriate time.

An “appropriate time” was said to be two years after the last election, which is three months away.

But we are now suddenly told that it is okay not to keep your word on this.

The MPs in Parliament decide on whether Anwar has majority support.

There is a technicality here: “Yes, I will hand over but…”.

Here, promises and honesty appear to take a back seat but the proponents justify this in the interest of the majority.

Whose majority?

The people’s majority or the majority of those wanting to be in power?

There is a strange set of values among some Malaysians these days that seems to say they it is really okay to be cruel and dishonest as long as there is something in there for them. Honesty makes people feel good about themselves, but it is difficult to be living honestly all the time in life.

Political honesty is not any different from real honesty. Honesty is when you speak the truth and also act truthfully.

Many of us think honesty means not telling a lie but it means more than not lying. Let’s be clear here that an honest person does not do things that are morally wrong.

What we are witnessing today is the culmination of absolute dishonesty that has unfortunately some commentators arguing that you do not need absolute honesty in politics. The truth is, everyone should question what they are saying.

Sure, lies by politicians are not criminal acts but there are many good reasons why we should penalise political lies severely.

The voters must act as VAR or we have to face this filth every few years.

In the meantime, brace yourselves for more political and sports lies because our system of winner takes all is too entrenched. Pessimistic? Yes, unfortunately. After the fall of New Malaysia that was so promising, we have been set back by decades.

By K. Parkaran

K. Parkaran was a deputy editor at The Star and producer at Aljazeera TV. The views expressed here are solely his own.

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Malaysia’s biggest betrayal in history. What’s next?

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

DEMOCRACY has been betrayed.

Malaysia has been betrayed.

We – the rakyat – have all been betrayed.

I don’t think I have it in me to really articulate the pain, loss, and betrayal that so many of us are feeling about the possible new backdoor government. I’m sure others will do that better.

I do know however that the other emotions swirling in there is despair – alongside cynicism, defeatism, and anger.

These emotions are perfectly normal, and we need to give them the air and time they need.

Ultimately though, we may need to get to the point where we can say, as my sister often does: don’t get mad, get organised.

In order to face Malaysia’s biggest betrayal, we are going to need Malaysia’s best and brightest working together, not working against each other. And we’re going to need to really understand the new forces and strategies at play here.

The primary motivation of this betrayal is of course the greed and personal ambition of the individuals driving this move.

That said, this doesn’t mean that there is no political calculation and logic behind said move. If we are to face this, we need to understand that logic – especially in the light of possible snap polls.

So basically, the formula is Umno, PAS, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, East Malaysian parties, and other token representative parties versus mainly PKR, DAP, and Parti Amanah Negara.

To some observers, this may seem a little too monoethnic on one side. Is it?

I think this new coalition (let’s call it “Pakatan Nasional” or PN for now) has carefully thought through its electoral viability. So, what is their plan?

In recent decades, Barisan Nasional was extremely monoethnic. It remained strong in all the rural areas, while the Opposition reigned supreme in all the urban areas.

Due to gerrymandering, malapportionment, and delineation, this formula actually kept Barisan firmly in power. They had long ago lost their two-thirds majority, but still had a comfortable overall majority in Parliament – even with sacrificing almost every urban, non-Malay majority seat.

I think this is exactly the strategy that PN is looking to replicate.

This would make sense, because the only time Barisan failed to win using this formula was in the 14th General Election (GE14) in May, 2-18, when PAS split the Malay vote.

I’ve actually run the calculation before, and if you use the (admittedly overly) simplistic model of combining Barisan and PAS’ votes from GE14, that coalition would have easily beaten Pakatan Harapan, by winning 129 of the 222 seats in Parliament, and controlling eight states.

The PN campaign (in rural areas especially) will run on the very simple ideology of Malay unity. This will be especially effective after two years of what has been perceived as severe Malay disunity and the fragmentation of Malay political power.

Most importantly, this campaign will drive one of the biggest racial wedges we have ever seen in the fabric of Malaysian society. PN will make this almost entirely about a Malay versus non-Malay struggle, and tensions will be about as high as we have ever seen.

The main vulnerability of PN will be the balance of power between Umno, PAS, and Bersatu. Where once Umno decided everything, now we will see if this trio can survive beyond grabbing power.

The Opposition as is will have no trouble winning in most urban seats, if it is one-to-one fights. But the end result will likely be no better than the results in GE12 (2008) or GE13 (2013), and the old formulas will not do much to provide an alternative to the racial wedge.

The current PKR-led political coalition cannot replicate the results of GE14 quite simply because PAS is no longer there to split the rural vote, and there is no earthshattering new factor or issue that they can campaign on (in this atmosphere, many in those seats will not care about “backdoor government”). These factors are decisive.

If we want a different result from GE12 and GE13, there needs to be a huge change – something really different.

Politically, the answer is not likely to be an urban-based, English-speaking third force. Such a movement will have no influence or appeal in any seat that PKR/ DAP/ Amanah would already win on their own.

The new element required needs to have mass appeal. If it only appeals to certain segments, failure will be inevitable. This likely means that it needs a strong Malay, Muslim element.

While PN will likely campaign on an “us versus them” platform, the alternative needs to embrace an inclusive, unifying platform.

Where PN will campaign using toxic divisiveness and political mudslinging, the alternative needs to be a rejection of politicking, and a focus on a wholesome, solid vision for a healthier democracy.

Our only hope is to change the paradigm completely – to carry a message of hope, inclusivity, and genuine democratic empowerment.

Most importantly, there needs to be a strong and clear ideology, based on actual values of integrity, justice, transparency, and compassion.

There has to be a genuine commitment to a predetermined vision, not some fake manifesto that no one believed in; and there needs to be a complete rethink of what democracy really means, if we don’t want to continue being stuck in a vicious cycle of politicking.

Without these crucial elements, any coalition will be as paper thin and directionless as Pakatan Harapan has been these last two years.

The old ways simply don’t work, just as the old formulas simply don’t work.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a pretty decent man, but if he leads the same type of political coalition as he did in GE12 and GE13, the results will be the same. Indeed, with PAS now replaced with a “PAS Lite” that has no real grassroots support, the results will likely be even worse.

PKR, DAP, and Amanah will not stand any chance if they choose to believe that the old ways are good enough today, or that they already have everything they need to succeed.

It doesn’t make sense to arrogantly try to counsel against arrogance. No one person or group has all the answers, least of all me.

But I think it’s safe to say that what we need moving forward is a grand coalition – one that represents not only people we like or are comfortable with, but one that truly and proportionality reflects the full spectrum of Malaysian society.

That is the only way we can save Malaysia’s democracy from the jaws of certain death it now faces.

By Nathaniel Tan

NATHANIEL TAN is a strategic communications consultant, ready to serve Malaysia. He can be reached at The views here are the writer’s own.

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