Responding to an anonymous commentator

I found it necessary to reply to this anonymous commentator to this post

Anonymous said...
Mr Lee, the fact that you study in a vernacular school explains a lot. First and foremost your loyalty and whatever fond memories you have for the school long time ago, has lock your minda . You therefore bear some "favoritism and conservativeness" in your outlook.
Social inept is one thing, real disdain for the other race is a very different matter altogether. I don't even want to repeat some of the comments I have heard from this group of people (same race) but vernacular school background.

Thanks Anom, for the pre-fix "Mr".

I can see that you are running a diagnosis on me and speaking from a position that I am a man with close mind. Loyalty and fond memories itself is not a bad thing. Being passionate and willing to preserve institution which has been good to you is fine too. What is life without passion and a sense of devotion?

When you wrote “has lock your minda” (the correct word you are seeking is probably “mindset”), I can guess your background. All I have to say is that I respect the proverb “biar putih anak, jangan putih adab”.

Living in a democratic country means the citizens can choose the way of life they wish to live the extend that they do not harm others.

“I don't even want to repeat some of the comments I have heard from this group of people (same race) but vernacular school background” – sorry I do not wish to dwell on some invisible bogeymen created just to cause anxiety or blind fear, like PAS alone can create an Islamic nation or all Chinese are here to take wealth away from Malays. Such sweeping and without-substance-scare statements hold no currency.

A language to me is a means of communication, not a means to "show off" or to make the other person feel uncomfortable. I switch with ease when speaking to different language groups of people, when I sense they are uncomfortable although I am "NO Expert" in their language. This I believe is very important. Most cases, people in the position to do so, do not do so but insist that we speak their language, although they can actually speak more than one language. Not pointing any fingers at any particular group but all groups of people. It takes two hands to clap.

When we learn new languages, the simple notion of “practice makes perfect” applies. Learning from errors is a good way to get things right. So if you can speak different language, good for you. We can’t be an expert in many languages, as long as we can be understood; I do not see that as a problem so why would someone be uncomfortable?

For example, if I am trying to speak Somali to my new neighbour and struggling, I am sure Abdou would just chuckle and correct me and we can laugh it off, I do not see any problem at all. If we are deterred by mere mild discomfort in the course of learning, we won’t progress hence I really admire the pioneers in surgery.

Social ineptness is very common in vernacular schools, I noted. Don’t you agree? Perhaps, they should teach this social ques in vernacular schools.They don't teach that in my school but I sensed it, because people often do that to me to ( they don't know I understand what they're talking and I took pains to learn the language) Silly people who assume that just because not of same race, so don't understand ?) Wake up.
You also accused MCA, MIC and UMNO of race based politics and these are the very parties that are encouraging vernacular schools remain intact.That says a lot about you. You are blinded by your good old days vernacular school bygone days. Those day we are more trusting of our fellow Malaysians of all races. Now, when someone starts speaking in a language we don't understand in our presence, we DO GET SUSPICIOUS. Won't you ? The FACT remains, vernacular schools do not " CREATE More Understanding and Awareness among all race"

“Social ineptness is very common in vernacular schools, I noted.” – now, how do you conclude this I have absolutely no idea whatsoever. It’s another sweeping statement, another baseless accusation. Do you have statistic to support this? Many Malaysians from vernacular schools have become graduates, businessmen, professionals, entertainers etc in Malaysia as well as outside Malaysia so calling them socially inept is an indefensible argument. I am sorry, but if you can come up which such a conclusion from your own “locked minda” then perhaps you should evaluation your own social ineptness or otherwise.

I do not accuse, but attribute race-base politics to UMNO, MCA and MIC: look at their membership criteria for confirmation. If these political parties do find tactically useful to manoeuvre in education field, it is only normal. So what's your point here?

Also on 1 hand you wrote that Malaysians trust each other more now and in the next sweeping statement, you wrote that the moment someone speaks language which you do not understand then immediately you get suspicious. So what's your point here too?

If the conversation is not about you, why bother? If there are a few rude people, walk off or tell them off? Why tear down a school, and a school system for that?

Yes, vernacular schools are more "academically inclined" but it doesn't mean national schools cannot be more academically inclined when all our children study under the same school system.
Sharing resources is the way to go.Vernacular schools can learn a lot from national schools too. Gangsters are very rampant in vernacular schools too.What do you think ?

Do you have statistic to back up your claim that gangsterism is rampant in vernacular schools only? As far as I can recall, my school and the other vernacular schools in my home town did not have such issue. If there is gangsterism around, it affects all schools and should be dealt with as a disciplinary matter together with police support. That is why tax payers fund the police force, the parents have to chip in and provide good upbringing to their children.

Closing down schools does not address gangsterism issue. A high percentage of SRP, SPM and STPM top scorers are from vernacular schools so what do you have to say about that?

So what “same school system” are you speaking about? What is your formula that can preserve Malaysia’s international competitiveness of multi-lingual capacity?

I can see that you hold the notion that once vernacular school system is eliminated, then the holy grail to national unity is achieved. Ok, so what about the Matrikulasi and STPM divide? And when it was suggested that Mara University to raise the 10% non-bumi quota, there was organized and protected demonstration?

Anonymous said...
Mr Lee, a language is a language. It can be taught in any types of school( including a national school) , not necessary to set up a school specifically for that language only.The one school system is meant to create more understanding amongst all races. What better way to do it, when the eat, play and study together ? It's objective is not meant to abolish other languages. BM is already the national language (spoken in all government departments) and it's a compulsory pass subject in all school system presently.
So why be afraid that BM will take over other languages ? This is what happens when the OBJECTIVE for the one school system is "hijacked" and turned into a political or a race issue. Can we put language aside and put UNDERSTANDING and AWARENESS amongst all race as the MAIN OBJECTIVE here ?

Vernacular schools are not set up to teach language only. It teaches about philosophy, way of life in addition to designated curriculum. I have already stated my stand that in a democracy, people should have freedom of choice.

"So why be afraid that BM will take over other languages ?"Most Malaysians now are comfortable in the national language so there is no fear about vernacular schools would undermine Bahasa Malaysia. The real threat to Bahasa Malaysia are those fellows who use “infomasi instead of maklumat”,operasi instead of gerakan”, “komunikasi instead of “perhubungan”, “aspirasi” instead of “cita-cita” or "tekad" etc.

If you stress, correctly, on understanding and awareness, then you should look at the cause of

1) Intelok
2) The decription of St Valentine’s Day as a Christian thingy
3) Name calling like “si sepet” and “si botol
4) The messages sent out by Utusan Malaysia nurturing the siege mentality
5) The contents of BTN indoctrination programmes

Enough said.

If our tourism flyer sells the country as multi-cultural, colourful and tolerant, our way of life and thinking should reflect that. We are living in a democratic country while freedom of choice is the greatest thing we should uphold. Our country will be a lot poorer without such diversity and togetherness.

I do not wish to convince the above commentator to change his/her mind too, for I agree to disagree.

Is it too little and too many tar roads in Sarawak?

My car's road tax is expiring soon and so is the coming of Sarawak GE.

The other day, I picked up the following information from YB Teo Nie Ching's blog:

Sabah & Sarawak possess 60% of land mass of the country but length of tar road is only 6,390km while West M'sia has 21,589km length of tar road

I also chanced upon the audited accounts of UBG Berhad coincidentally.

UGB Berhad has a 15 years road maintenance concession granted by the Sarawak State Government with effect from 1 January 2003 to maintain 4,600km of roads in the state. Given YB Teo's disclosure that there is only 6,390km of tar roads in Sarawak and Sabah, this Road Maintenance Agreement probably granted this happy listed company a monopoly of road maintenance for the entire state.

Source: Annual report and accounts of UGB Berhad for 2009

Source : Annual Report and Accounts of Putrajaya Perdana Berhad, 2009

Revenue recognition policy for this business segment as disclosed in UGB's accounts is"fixed rates subject to revision in accordance with the agreement".

When it is fixed, it is suppose to be fixed. If it is subject to revision then is there an incentive for the concessionaire to keep tight cost control and prevent cost overrun? How hard or how easy is it for the concessionaire to get the rates revised? If abused, this is as good as a profit guarantee or blank cheque. Who approved this Road Maintenance Agreement to be signed with UGB Berhad? Was this tabled and deliberated in the state assembly then?

Does this look like the equivalent of Semenanjung's ever controversial, very politicalized, profit guaranteeing, inflation-inducing toll highways? Before we even contemplate how much money UGB is making out of this deal, I remember in my form 6 economics class, my dear teacher Puan C. (I still remember your full name, cikgu) taught us that theoretically government collect taxes, taxes are used for providing public goods and it is of the interest of the people that such services are provided without profit-motive.

Let's have a look at the numbers in 2009 and 2008. For these 2 years alone, RM76million gross profit was earned from maintaining the roads. These "profits" I suppose were paid from taxes and instead of being channelled back to building new roads, further repairs and improvement of roads, have been channelled into hands of a plc, which may have become dividends, directors' remuneration (including retirement benefits) etc.

That RM242,593,000 worked out to be RM26,369 per year per km. Sounds like Sarawakians have the best tar roads and pavement in the world. Being a Semenanjungite, I really do not know for very sure.

On 12 May 2009, UGB sold the 2 subsidiary companies for road maintenance and pavement for a combined amount of RM75 million, instant cash generation to the holding company, to its other subsidiary Putrajaya Perdana Berhad. A simple case of left pocket to right pocket.

As Putrajaya Perdana Berhad is aggressively creating prominent landmarks in Semenanjung, I do wonder if the collection of road maintenance revenue in Sarawak can be re-invested back into Sarawak.

It is also interesting to note Mr Low Taek Jho joined Putrajaya Perdana Berhad as an advisor (and I have a hard time understanding what "Non-Independent Non-Executive" means).

All said and done, I notice among the domineering shareholder of Putrajaya Perdana Berhad includes Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad, a company linked to the current chief minister which makes me wonder if Sarawak is not big enough for him. A partnership of Mr Low and Chief Minister Taib could prove to be redoubtable political-economic tie up.

So if UMNO did not cross over to Sarawak as they did to Sabah, Sarawak's finest export to Semenanjung seems to include Tan Sri Ting Pek Khing and Cahya Sarawak via Putrajaya Perdana Berhad then.

Making a case for vernacular education in Malaysia

I am writing about a matter that is close to my heart and been unspoken for a long time, despite reading countless baseless allegations towards vernacular education system in Malaysia.

I studied for 6 years in SRJK(C ) and then a year in remove class before moving onto 5 years of SRP and SPM Syllabus, then another 2 years in STPM; finally 3 years in a United Kingdom base accountancy studies. I have had 6, 8 and 3 years in Chinese, Bahasa Malaysia and English medium of instruction environment respectively.

Over the years SRJK (C ) and SRJK (T) are accused by opportunists and stir agents as the reason for racial disharmony in Malaysia. These loudspeakers probably never studied in vernacular schools and never lived a day of their lives as a student in a vernacular schools, yet strangely see themselves qualified to slander and libel something that they are ill equipped to judge.

As far as I know, BTN’s racist slurs initiators, cow head protesters in Shah Alam, those 2 reporters who sneaked into churches and violated a prayer session probably did not hail from SRJK (C) or SRKJ (T). The current epicenter of communal rallying cry, Ibrahim Ali, surely did not emerge from any vernacular education system, albeit once feeding himself off Vincent Tan of Berjaya gaming fame.

I am proud of my SRJK(C) roots. I remember being taught to respect the environment, respect our elders and teachers, love our country and befriend with Ali, Fatimah, Muthu and Letchumy. I also remember singing the national anthem and state anthem plus the “Setia” song with gusto, believing there is no mother land except the one I was standing on, then and now.

There are many people who have emerged from vernacular school systems and have done the nation proud. Malaysian artists like Eric Moon, Angelica Lee (voted Asia’s best actress), Ah Niu (talented singer, composer and movie producer which "Kacang Merah Love Story" that received raved review in China), Michael Wong (great song writer, singer producer who have fans in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and mentored other Malaysian talents like Fish Leong), Victor Wong, Mohan (an Indian chap who sang in Hokkien and Mandarin so well that I heard he is making a living in China) and Tan Bee Keow (an Indian lass from Telok Intan who won a talent search contest in Singapore) and lately Jess Lee who overcame a host of international competitors to emerge as champion in a tough singing competition in Taiwan.

These people are creators of beautiful produce, not the ugly destroyers like their slanderous detractors, have made their names in Asia Pacific and proclaim themselves as Malaysians. They certainly present a better image of Malaysia then the likes of Ibrahim Ali, surely.

I do find myself sufficiently motivated to reply certain points written by this individual featured in Malaysia Today:


John Mallot's WSJ Article: A Response

By Umar Mukhtar

…the national-vernacular dichotomy in the school system has resulted in precisely the kind of early-age racial segregation that the busing laws, upheld by the U.S. supreme court justices, sought to eradicate in America.

• as mentioned above, I testify that I was taught to love my country and my fellow countrymen regardless of race and creed; not to distance myself from them. I do not think Umar can produce even half a slice of proof that vernacular school teachers actively telling non-Malay students to be antagonistic to others.

if there is any divisive element, look no further that those race-base political parties that run controlled media like their political parties’ mouth piece and profiting from dealing in racial politics over 5 decades.

• the celebrity casts of Ibrahim Ali, BTN indoctrinators, Awang Selamat and the likes probably never studied in a vernacular school before

The racial polarisation that we see so shamelessly capitalised on by politicians in Malaysia today is partly, if not wholly, attributable to that segregation in the school system. When you see not a few non-Malays unashamedly, even proudly, declaring that they cannot properly speak Malay, the national language, you can bet your life that these are the ones who graduated from the vernacular schools.
• I would like to know where in his hallucinations did Umar Mukhtar meet non-Malays who are proud of their language deficiency. Look, Chinese have strong survival instinct. If learning Bahasa Malaysia is necessary to cari makan in Malaysia, we will do whatever it takes to secure our rice bowl. My parents were civil servants schooled during the colonial times and both re-tooled themselves by studying Bahasa Malaysia to keep their jobs.

• If he failed to produce a proper identity of a culprit, he is guilty of libel and the credibility of his long article will crumble like a deck of cards

• When I got into secondary school, we fear getting a P7 in Bahasa Malaysia in SPM exam more than death itself. I had a friend who memorized kamus dewan, all of us took BM tuition classes and I read countless magazines (Dewan Masyarakat) and newspapers (after 3 days of puking over Utusan Malaysia, I took up Bacaria and loved the juicy writings- in case Umar asks, I scored an A1 in my SPM BM and included a pantun in my syarahan)

The Chinese community jealously guard the existence of the vernacular schools,
• Chinese basing time and true colour emerging? In Chinese, we have a saying, “no matter how deprived we are, we shall never deprived our children of education”. That is why early immigrants escaping war, persecution, starvation and famine, despite having very little, proceeded to built schools and provide education for their off spring.

To guard these existence, is to value, salute, improve upon the sweat, sacrifice and contribution of our forefathers. Asia Values require us to respect and honour our elders, now what is wrong about preserving and improving upon their sacrifices?

• China’s 5,000 years of history and culture presents many valuable lessons. The Prophet Mohammed (Peace by upon him) mentioned that if seeking knowledge requires traveling even to China, so be it.

1Malaysia Prime Minister also taken up a famous Chinese proverb which came from a famous administrator of yore:

"There is a Chinese saying, 'Xian tian xia zhi you er you, hou tian xia zhi le er le', (resolve the people's problems before they suffer difficulties). Bring joy to the people before everyone is able to live happily."

So is Najib dividing the nation by quoting lessons from Chinese education?

That proverb only inspire me; not make me feel like distancing myself from Ali, Muthu, Xavier or Gurmit. If the slandering non-thinkers think otherwise, it is no point beri bunga kepada kera.

Often the excuse given by the Chinese for insisting that their children go to vernacular schools and for more such schools to be built is the poor quality of national schools. Surely the solution is not to build more racially-segregated schools but to join hands with Malays and Indians in insisting and ensuring that the quality of national schools be improved for the benefit of children of all ethnicities.
• Nowadays there are Malays sending their children to SRJK(C) because of the quality of the education there and the ability to speak and write Mandarin is an important skill in 21st century due to emergence of PRC. Even the Caucasians are at it.

• As for national schools, before we even talk about all races joining hands to improve their quality, issues involving Siti Inshah, Iskandar bin Fadeli , and the other guy in Kedah remained unresolved satisfactorily.

If the Deputy Prime Minister cum Education Minister dare not act against such agents of disharmony, how can we instill confidence in parents and students?

"Education minister has no power to act against officers, says Muhyiddin"

When a “Mandarin speakers only” requirement is stated in job advertisements, even for jobs which do not conceivably require much language skills, that surely is equivalent to saying “Chinese only”.
• Nonsense, Mandarin Speaking is a skill set. “Bumiputra is encouraged to apply” statement definitely specify the correct race is a prerequisite but Mandarin Speakers only means people who can speak Mandarin.

If Mandarin speaking is required for operational reasons, for instance, liasing with investors, customers, suppliers and staff from China and Taiwan, it is reasonable for employers to hire communication skills. Again, Umar probably do not know the operational requirement of the position advertised and yet form such a general and slanderous comment.

It is really Katak Bawah Tempurung to disregard the importance of learning Chinese language and culture as the PRC, like it or not, is the key economic player in decades to come.

I have yet to hear of any Chinese leader asking that the Chinese to join in and contribute towards the betterment of national schools.
• We are already paying taxes that goes to national schools without problem

Vernacular schools do not have secured and stable source of funding hence required countless annual fund raising activities. This is the result of Malaysia’s political landscape; it is necessary for the Chinese community to spend more resource on preserving the vernacular schools as they are left to their own devices. Surely one cannot be denied the chance of self preservation?

• If anything, in DAP’s Economic Bureau’s alternative budget for 2010, DAP (happily slandered as “Chinese Party” by certain people) proposed RM250 million to secure public amenities for neglected primary and secondary schools, book vouchers amounting to RM160 million for household with income below RM1,000 among other initiatives to strengthen education sector of Malaysia.