So you want to abolish vernacular schools because you want unity? (by Ooi Kok Hin)

Ooi Kok Hin is a research analyst in Penang Institute. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Political Science and Philosophy, and is also the author of the book, “Aku Kafir, Kau Siapa” , published by DuBook Press.

Published @ The Malaysian Insider @  26 September 2015


Recently, I read two very discomforting pieces of news. One was that the government should stop accommodating non-Malays since “they are not voting for us anyway”. A certain mufti suggested that vernacular schools be closed down and that we should all have just one common type of school. He even had the cheek to bring up Singapore as an example of having only one type of school in which everyone can mingle and have no differences.
The other news was a full-page report stating that Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships should be entirely, 100%, be given to Bumiputeras.
Regarding the first matter, we have heard it long enough. Debates have been going back and forth about the need for national unity versus the liberty to choose one’s school.
I try not to take sides in this article, but if I could, I would want to show what it really means when we advocate one common school and close down the other schools in the name of national unity.
If we are sincere about fostering a common type of school for all Malaysian kids, we are not only talking about closing down vernacular schools. We should also be closing down all the maktab rendah sains Mara (MRSMs), sekolah berasrama penuh (SBPs) and religious schools.
Vernacular schools and MRSMs/SBPs/religious schools are two sides of the same coin. They are overwhelmingly homogeneous, create ethnic isolation and severely restrict our kids’ chances of being exposed to and interacting with other races in their critical coming-of-age period.
Their limited exposure to friends of another race (if they have any) is a sad outcome considering that their experience in schools tends to shape their character and world views in the future. Plus, racial propaganda and racial stereotypes function best when they are preached in isolation and not challenged with another view.
Have the elites forgotten that most of them do not send their own kids to national schools? Many of the well-educated Malays come from elite schools such as top MRSMs, SBPs and religious schools. In fact, I was shocked when I learned that my friends from MRSMs received English-medium education.
At MRSMs, students are taught Mathematics and Sciences mostly in English. English is “looked up” to at MRSMs and is seen as an uplifting skill. Definitely not as something to be looked down upon or taught at the expense of Bahasa Melayu/Bahasa Malaysia.
My first reaction was utter disbelief. At the time, certain warriors are rebuking those who supported the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) as unpatriotic and devaluing the national language, but here we have the intentional creation of elite schools which conduct their classes mostly in English to mostly Malay students.
My question is: do we agree that English-medium education is good? If yes, then why is the rest of the population deprived of this education? Why do only a selected few get to enjoy this privilege?
If the answer is no, then those elite schools should revert to the Malay language like the rest of us. Perhaps this is best summarised by Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim who said, “They say the Malays can’t do it but MRSM is proving that the Malays can do it. What is the rationale then for abolishing PPSMI?”
Also, does the existence and popularity of elite Malay schools show that a significant segment of the Malay population has given up on national schools too? Shouldn’t we be concentrating all our resources and our brightest teachers on national schools instead of providing the best for elite schools?
Perhaps “closing down” is not a suitable choice of words. “Opening up” is better. We are not going to close down all the schools because it would be such a waste to do so.
Since we already have facilities and teaching staff, we should just open up these schools to all Malaysians. Convert them into national schools (in name) and open them up for everybody (in practice). For a first step, it’s as simple as that.
The suggestion of opening up the elite Malay schools can be easily misconstrued as challenging their special rights, but can’t we talk about the elephant in the room? If we want unity, everyone must give up the selfish exclusivity that we cling to. The non-Malays ought not to regard vernacular schools as belonging to the Chinese or Indian community. Rather, they belong to all Malaysians.
On that same vein, the Malays ought no longer to regard the elite Malay schools as exclusively theirs.
This includes the MRSMs, SBPs and perhaps even the religious schools. Why not? A non-Malay or non-Muslim can study Islam as well. An attempt to achieve understanding doesn’t necessarily entail that we have to agree or believe.
Many of the world’s scholars on Islam are non-Muslims who in turn introduced the religion to their non-Muslim crowd (Ira Lapidus, Karen Armstrong etc).
Why stop there if we truly desire national unity? Why don’t we open up the matriculation colleges and the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) campuses? UiTM is the largest public university in Malaysia. According to the university profile on its website, UiTM has “12 state campuses, 6 satellite campuses in Shah Alam, 11 state satellite campuses and 21 affiliated colleges.
“With this vast network and a workforce of 17,770, the university offers more than 500 academic programmes in a conducive and vibrant environment. It is also home to some 175,200 students”.
Of course, this will not be achieved anytime soon because we are all too attached to our narrow interests. We just don’t trust each other. We don’t trust that the other is willing to make the sacrifice. The Malays will keep the elite schools and UiTMs as “theirs”, and the non-Malays will keep the vernacular schools and, um, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) as “ours”.
So if you are unwilling to do what you yourself propose, let’s stop this hypocrisy. Speaking of which, Tai Zee Kin wrote an intriguing post on Facebook a few days ago. He quite rightly asked the following:
“When Republican candidate [Ben] Carson publicly said that Muslims should not be allowed to become the president of the United States of America, I took it as being absolutely distasteful and I disagree with that.
“Then, I saw many of my Muslim Malaysian friends quickly jumped into the ‘condemning’ bandwagon denouncing Carson’s stand.
“My question to these Muslim friends: are you then, prepared to allow non-Muslim Malaysians to become the prime minister of Malaysia?
“Some would say yes, but most would say no. So where comes the moral high ground for you to disagree with Carson’s stand? The feeling Carson’s speech gave you is exactly the feelings of non-Muslim Malaysians all this while, only that we have came to terms with it after 58 years.
“So are you willing to take the leap of faith and prepare yourself to be led by a non-Muslim PM in Malaysia?”
What is the implication of the MRSM/SBP/religious school examples and Tai’s quote? Both show that we are not practising what we preach. We demand that others do things which we are not willing to do ourselves.
Hypocrisy is an understatement because we lack this kind of discourse to the point that we are not even conscious of what we are saying and what it entails.
With regards to the media report that JPA scholarships should be 100% allocated to Bumiputeras – dude, we already have such scholarships. It’s called Mara scholarships.
If you take away JPA scholarships, which really are the only scholarships that most non-Bumiputeras can hope to receive (the other scholarships have very limited slots, numbering up to a dozen. JPA and Mara give thousands of scholarships every year) – if you want to take that hope away from us as well, you might as well migrate to somewhere that is not Malaysia.
Malaysia is a shared nation and belongs to all who call it home. I fear where we are going as a nation with the increasingly explicit racialisation of everything.
God knows if a day will arrive when someone justifies an act of killing under the name of Islam or Article 153. We must speak out and stop this madness before it’s too late. – September 26, 2015.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

On-Line Shopping (E Commerce)


I am a traditional shopper. I believe in looking, feeling, touching a product before I buy it. Sure I have heard of E-Commerce shopping on line for years now, but I never really delved into it. Was not motivated to do it, was not even interested to surf the sites.

Until 2 months ago, I saw these really cool Harman Kardon speakers with a very powerful base beat at a store in a mall. After “toying” with it for an hour and asking the sales attendant all sorts of questions, I decided to buy it. Alas, she told me that there was no stock !! Huh ???? What a total anti climax after all the sound of the bass pounding in my heart !
Damn …. I really wanted those speakers !
Went to neighboring stores, could not find it too. Went home feeling really disappointed.

In the period of 2 months, I looked for this speakers over the weekend ; whenever my family and I went to the malls. No luck.

In frustration, last Sunday 20 September, I decided to browse A quick search and in less than 15 seconds wallllaaaa, I found it, the exact same model and at a price approx 13 % cheaper. WOW and they had available stocks too!

The “old paradigm” came into my mind. Should I buy on line ?
– What if they do not deliver ?
– What if they took a long time to deliver ? Like a month or 2 ?
– What if the goods received are defective?
– Can I trust them?
– Risk, risk, risk risk?

In the end, what the hell, I decided to do it. Let’s buy on-line. It took me less than 5 minutes to do the buying process with my credit card and I confirmed my purchase. Immediately, I got an sms as well as an email confirmation on my purchase. Delivery time was advised to be approximately 10 days.

2 days later on Tuesday (22nd Sept) – I checked on-line on their tracking option on their web. I saw all the details and it was confirmed that my order was in process. Great.

23rd Sept Wednesday.
– 11 am. Got an sms that my package was being sent.
– 2 pm, got a call from home. My wife asked me ………….. “did you buy any audio equipment ? Well, there’s a delivery man at the door saying there’s an audio package for you.”

I was simply and totally overjoyed and impressed. My new TOY has arrived. Hooray. When I got home, I unpacked the package, checked the speakers, installed it and all was in great order.

Isn’t this just great? I get my speakers in 3 days at a cheaper price and all it took was a quick “not more than 8 minutes” of searching and buying process.

I guess my attitude towards buying online will now change. It is convenient, cheaper and so efficient. And to think that I dealt with “no humans” (directly) at all in this transaction.

Such “E-commerce” set up is really amazing. I can just imagine the culture of strict fulfillment promises, speed, availability of a wide range of product, logistics excellence, consistency and efficiency being a daily requirement; as they need to establish trust and credibility amongst shoppers. They get paid in full and they deliver on time !! I am sure they do work with great partners being specialist in their own respective field to make this overall E-Commerce buying experience an attractive one for more and more people to buy on line.

In reading this article, a younger man in his mid twenties would say “hey wake up pops, we have been doing this like since forever now, you are slow old man”.

True , agree, what can I say – my excuse would be –
“it’s never too late to learn and it’s never too late to change young man. You were just a little bit more adventurous than I am, that’s all”.

Another learning point, it is totally so inconvenient to not have a hi-speed wifi these days.
Otherwise, with a less than 1 mbps speed, one would give up on E-Commerce.

Just sharing ….
An above 40 year old pops.

Attitude funnies …


When you say these words …….

Peer to peer – anything can happen. FIST may fly,  vulgarities and 4 letters words  may be audible.

Boss to subordinate – possible resignation or an “apple polishing” environment created. The “Yes Boss” culture thrives.

Subordinate to boss – definitely a career limiting move. Termination likely to take place. Must work for himself (no boss)

Conclusion …. best not to say it.
Use this as a joke instead.
Hope you are smiling …..

Lovely writing …. Thanks Helen Tan ….

IMG_1086 - Copy

Are we earning to pay builders and interior designers, caterers and decorators?
Whom do we want to impress with our highly inflated house properties & fat weddings?
Do you remember for more than two days what you ate at someone’s marriage?
Why are we working like dogs in our prime years of life?
How many generations do we want to feed?
Most of us have two kids. Many have a single kid.
How much is the “need” and how much do we actually “want”??
Think about it.

Would our next generation be incapable to earn, that we save so much for them!?!
Can not we spare one and a half days a week for friends, family and self??

Do you spend even 5% of your monthly income for your self enjoyment?

Why can’t we enjoy simultaneously while we earn?

Spare time to enjoy before you have slipped discs and large prostates.

We don’t own properties, we just have temporary name on documents.

GOD laughs sarcastically, when someone says,
“I am the owner of this land”!!

Do not judge a person only by the length of his car.
Many of our science and maths teachers were great personalities riding on scooters!!

It is not bad to be rich, but it is very unfair, to be only rich.
Let’s get a LIFE, before life gets us, instead….

A lovely little girl was holding two apples with both hands.
Her mum came in and softly asked her little daughter with a smile; my sweetie, could you give your mum one of your two apples?
The girl looked up at her mum for some seconds, then she suddenly took a quick bite on one apple, and then quickly on the other.
The mum felt the smile on her face freeze. She tried hard not to reveal her disappointment.
Then the little girl handed one of her bitten apples to her mum,and said: mummy, here you are. This is the sweeter one.

No matter who you are, how experienced you are, and how knowledgeable you think you are, always delay judgement.

Give others the privilege to explain themselves.

What you see may not be the reality. Never conclude for others.
Which is why we should never only focus on the surface and judge others without understanding them first.

Those who like to pay the bill, do so not because they are loaded but because they value friendship above money.

Those who take the initiative at work, do so not because they are stupid but because they understand the concept of responsibility.

Those who apologizes first after a fight, do so not because they are wrong but because they value the people around them.

Those who are willing to help you, do so not because they owe you any thing but because they see you as a true friend.

Those who often text you, do so not because they have nothing better to do but because you are in their heart.

Those who take out time to chat with you, does not mean they are jobless or less busy, but they know the importance of keeping in touch.

One day, all of us will get separated from each other; we will miss our conversations of everything & nothing; the dreams that we had.

Days will pass by, months, years, until this contact becomes rare… One day our children will see our pictures and ask ‘Who are these people?’ And we will smile with invisible tears because a heart is touched with a strong word and you will say: ‘IT WAS THEM THAT I HAD THE BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE WITH’.

God bless.

Helen Tan @ 13 Sept 2015

Lessons … tuitions … extra classes for the young …


Lessons for the sake of lesson ?
Lessons to really teach and groom ?

Today, there are many tuition classes to teach and draw out the talent of children. It is infact a booming business ; as all parent naturally want to bring out the best in their child. Hence, there will be a constant and continuous demand.

There are music classes, math, English, ballet, martial arts, tennis and many more.

I myself send my daughter to some (not one) of these classes.

Glad to note that some of these classes are really good ; where they have good tutors teaching with their heart and soul in guiding my daughter. My wife and I could really see progress, improvement and the instilled passion in our chlid.

However, it is also SAD to note that some tutors are merely “going through motion” or just “going through the needed hours”…. to make money ….without much care nor concern of my daughter’s improvement. Test, quizes and external competition are inadequately prepared. To be “number one or champion” does not seem to be more important than “just the spirit of participation” !? There is very little drive and emphasis to excel. Encouragement to be the best seems to be missing.

Yes, it is a fact that we sometimes are unlucky to get “lower than expectation” tutors. But even sadder would be the fact that we have owners of “institutions dedicated to education and learning” focusing on making lots of money as their primary objective and putting education/learning a low second or third (as a priority). I am of course disappointed.

If for example, I had the music skill myself, I would gladly teach my daughter on my own.

Perhaps I am idealistic. However, I feel that “great education & learning” programs especially to the young should not be compromised by someone (or institution) who’s focus and priority would be to have a massive class to make lots of money ; and having the quality of teachings and tutoring being of secondary importance. What a shame !!

Whislt I rant and complained to my wife, she just told to “stop complaining, quit the class and get her out to a better class. Pay more … get her to a better class ” ! Good idea mommy !!!

A defensive reader to this writing would perhaps point out that hey its your daughter who is not focused or not having talent !!
Sure. Ok then …. we will just find someone else who can do a better job in getting her to focus and get better results. Mind you we do not expect her to turn out to be an Einstein, Nadal or Clayderman.

Lastly, nothing wrong for a daddy wanting only the best for his daughter right !!

Biased Dad

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