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Showing posts with label Malaysia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Malaysia. Show all posts

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik comes under more fire over intake quota and Mandarin requirement for jobs

Can you spare a minute to look at this?
http://chng.it/bbZwKBNg


1⃣网民重启老马当教长运动
2⃣支持者秒速联署反映惊人
3⃣这匹马不行就换另一匹马
4⃣你签署了吗?
https://www.facebook.com/1423136211324341/posts/2078388995799056/

 


Read  Source link:  Maszlee comes under more fire

Ramasamy rips into Maszlee for linking private employment to matriculation quota 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

How to make living more affordable?

IN my previous article I asked the question, Do you earn enough to sustain your lifestyle?

The feedback received was consistent. People told me that they worry about the situation, some even wrote in to share their concern.

A reader by the name of Yap wrote me an email about his observation after reading my article.

“I always doubt how a family with a median household income can survive in KL. Based on my calculation, there is no way a family with two children can survive in KL with RM6,275 without accumulating bad debt or spending 4.5 hours to travel on the road. Housing is one of the factors, but not the only one,” he wrote in his email.

Belanjawanku, an expenditure guide launched by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) in early March states that a married couple with two children spend about RM6,620 per month on food, transport, housing, childcare, utilities, healthcare, etc.

However, the median household income for Malaysians in 2016 was RM5,228. While the median income of M40 group (Middle 40%) was RM6,275, which means five out of 10 households in this category received RM6,275 per month or less. This is far below the RM6,620 required for a family with two children to stay in the Klang Valley.

Another alarming fact is... Belanjawanku compiles only core living expenses without including long-term financial planning tools such as education funds or investments. The actual budget constraint can be more severe if we take them into account.

The living cost in major cities is inevitably higher than in small towns or suburb areas.

As such, when we discuss housing affordability in the cities such as Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley, we shouldn’t impose the same benchmark of RM300,000 as everything else is more expensive in the city. Affordable housing should benchmark against the cost of living of the area.

Based on the research for Belanjawanku, even if housing was provided for free, a household of four would still need RM5,750 to sustain their lifestyle.

The transportation cost alone is RM1,040 for a family, higher than the RM870 allocated for housing.

Therefore, if a family is looking to lower their cost of living, moving to suburb areas would allow them to have a more affordable budget.

According to a news report which quoted information from brickz.my, the housing prices in KL are five times higher than in Seremban, with median housing price of RM1mil (RM940 psf) in the KL city centre, versus RM200,000 (RM210 psf) in Seremban.

Suburbs which are nearer to KL such as Klang and Shah Alam also offer attractive housing prices with a median price of RM340,000.

For families who stay in the city centre and plan to reduce their cost of living, they can consider moving to suburbs to enjoy a better quality of life, and leverage on the improved public transportation which offer hassle-free travelling from suburbs to city centre.

Although high living cost is a concern for many Malaysians, KL is ironically found to be the cheapest city to live out of the 11 major cities in Asia, according to the 2018 Wealth Report Asia.

We are “cheaper” or ranked lower than our neighbouring cities, including Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta. KL, Manila, and Jakarta are also the most price competitive cities when it comes to the residential properties segment.

Why are we still facing the challenge of high living costs despite being the “cheapest” city in the region? The underlying factor is because of the low household income earned by most Malaysians, as the previous government failed to transit us to a higher income nation.

In his email, Yap mentioned that “I always imagine what Malaysia can be if there were no leakages. Hundreds of billions could be spent to stimulate various industries. Our GDP per capita could be close to if not similar to Singapore’s”.

That is the vision and sentiment shared by a majority of Malaysians. With the new government that promises to be more transparent and efficient, we hope that one day, we can afford to live comfortably in any city we wish to, with a higher household income.

from Datuk Alan Tong, who has over 50 years of experience in property development. He was the World President of FIABCI International for 2005/2006 and awarded the Property Man of the Year 2010 at FIABCI Malaysia Property Award. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email bkp@bukitkiara.com

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Do you earn enough to sustain your lifestyle?

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Property crowdfunding kicks off - Business News



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https://youtu.be/CF8VnDwc1gk

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Cracked drain causes road cave-in, house nearby on brink of callapse

https://youtu.be/9yXuW1pdrt4

Danger zone: A JKR personel inspecting the cave-in in Jalan Lembah Permai. — ZAINUDIN AHAD/The Star
Dangert zone: A JKR personel inspecting the cave-in in Jalan Lembah Permai and (inset) the abandon squarter house. — ZAINUDIN AHAD/The Star
The abandon squatter house.

 GEORGE TOWN: A cracked underground drain caused rainwater to flood the earth beneath a road in Tanjung Bungah, causing a retaining wall to burst open and creating a 10m-wide “cavern” beneath the road.

Residents along Lembah Permai woke up last Friday and found part of their street had caved in.

An abandoned house on lower grounds next to the street is teetering on the brink of collapse after water washed away the earth beneath the house’s foundation.

Where the opening of the 40cm-in-diameter underground drain used to be is now a maw around 10m across, with chunks of the wall lying down the slope.

The minor landslide brought back fearful memories for residents because it is less than 1km from the Tanjung Bungah landslide that happened in October 2017, which killed 11 construction workers.

“It was raining so much last week. The water from this drain comes from most of the roadside drains in hillside and it was gushing almost all day and night.

“Luckily, no one lives in that house now. It was abandoned many years ago,” said neighbour Teh Choon Pin.

When the southwest monsoon began on May 6, it was raining almost continuously for five days in Penang and this retaining wall burst open on the fifth day.

Resident Zuhaimi Che Mat, who lives just about 30m from the wall, said it was the first time this has happened in the 50 years she lived there.

R“The water from the drain flows into the stream heading out to sea. When it rains heavily, water from the hills comes gushing down the stream and out of the drain,” she said.

State Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari, who is also Tanjung Bungah assemblyman, said the state approved an emergency fund of RM220,000 and a contractor has been appointed to start repair works.

“The underground drain had cracked and water was seeping into the soil and weakening the road foundation.

“We knew there were problems and the Public Works Department was in the process of calling for a tender before the wall burst open,” he said.

He said the hassle was that there were many utility cables and pipes running under the road that went down too.

“There is an 11kV electricity cable, water pipes, telephone cables and others. So many agencies will be involved in the repairs,” Zairil added.

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Related post;

Drainage and construction damaged nearby houses since 2014 must complete its mitigation quickly!

Underground Pipe Culverts from IJM Trehaus site on the left and nearby pond on the right

Monday, May 13, 2019

We are never too old to work, old is gold


NASIR Ahmad’s father, Ahmad Ismail or better known by his pseudonym Ahmady Asmara, was a legendary journalist and a sasterawan (man of letters). He used to work for publications like Saudara, Warta Ahad, Majlis and Utusan Zaman back in the 50s and 60s. Among his protege was the late Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin (Zam).

Like his father, Nasir joined the press. In 1973, he started as a repor­­ter with the Utusan Melayu group. Eighteen years later, he joined Berita Harian.

Upon reaching 55, Nasir worked on a contract basis from 2011 to 2017. He has no major financial commitments and all except one of his four children are married.

In December 2017, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was devastating news to him and his family. He survived but his life was never the same again.

His close shave with death taught him many valuable lessons. For one, he can’t remain idle. He gets restless not doing anything.

He joined Grab service last August. It was more like an experiment for him initially. He was hooked. He has been driving ever since. In fact, he is one of Grab’s prized drivers, attaining 5-star ratings many times over. He starts around 10 in the morning and finishes around 9 at night, stopping only for prayers and lunch or quick bites.

Nasir is not alone. On May 2, this newspaper highlighted a growing number of Malaysians working well after 60.

For those who have their pension, they can afford to sit back and enjoy what’s left of their life. But things are not easy for others. They have mouths to feed. In most cases, adult children have their own commitments and parents seldom want to bother them over financial matters.

However, it is not easy to join the job market at that age even with experience and the necessary expertise. Nasir was a journalist; driving for Grab was a totally new experience.

As highlighted by this newspaper, based on a report published by the Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis (Ilma), the supply of workers of Nasir’s age and above currently outstrips the demand for them.

According to the report, by 2030, the number of aged workers in Malaysia would be about 1.2 million but the demand for such workers would be just slightly a third of that.

If you are at Changi Airport, Singapore, most likely the first people you meet after the immigration officers are the ushers to guide you to the taxis. At most food courts, the elderly are employed to clear the trays or clean the floors.

There are certain jobs young people are not interested in. We see less of them here because the foreigners are doing the job for us.

Singapore, understandably, is giving a lot of attention to senior citizens. The republic is seriously looking into what it “needs to do differently in the coming years” as its population ages. In fact, it is considered one of the most urgent challenges for the government today.

The world population is ageing. According to the latest United Nations’ data, the number of those above 60 years globally is expected to more than double by 2050 and triple by 2100.

In 2017, there were 962 million of them, there will be 2.1 billion in 2050 and 3.1 billion in 2100. Shockingly too, according to the data, people aged 60 or above is growing faster than all younger age groups!

This is not just a problem in advanced countries. Most countries in the world have substantial numbers of ageing population. With better healthcare, humans are living longer.

There are loads of other issues pertaining to people of 60 and above. Moreover, living in the 21st century has its challenges.

There are issues about acceptability and competition with the younger generation, and certainly the need for respectability and dignity. But more importantly is coping with the demands at workplaces.

It is the question of how governments are coping with an ageing population.

One way is to make people work longer. We have done that, raising the retirement age to 60. Should we raise that to 65?

It is not a popular policy especially when younger people believe they will be deprived of the chance to climb up the ladder in public service or in the private sector.

The Global Age Watch Index Report shows high-income countries fare better in managing their ageing population. The enabling environment too for ageing people is much better in richer countries.

Like it or not, people of Nasir’s age are transforming society of today and the future. Just like the UN report on ageing says, ageing population is poised to become one of the most dramatic and significant transformations of the 21st century.

Never take Nasir and people his age for granted!

Johan Jaaffar was a journalist, editor and for some years, chairman of a media company, and is passionate about all things literature and the arts. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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Read more ..


Here's why you're never too old for a career change - TheJobNetwork



8 Reasons why you are never too old to learn

 

4 Important Career Lessons You're Never Too Old to Learn

 

3 Reasons Why It's Never Too Late to Start the Work You Love

Sunday, May 12, 2019

‘Money/cash is King’ comes back to bite Pakatan


Politicians using cash to buy power and votes has created a culture in Malaysia in which people have started valuing money more than truth, hard work and honesty. 

THE enduring potency of the ringgit caused by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “Cash is King” regime came in for much ridicule in the last election campaign, much to the chagrin of the perpetrator of this philosophy.

In all his speeches and media interviews in the last two years before 2018’s 14th General Election, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad never failed to hammer home the point that Najib told him this when he asked why he was giving out cash hand-outs in so many forms to the people, and very freely too.

His intended message to the voters was that Najib used this tactic to “buy” votes, as Malaysians will eventually be beholden and grateful to the man who dishes out cash. Whether those receiving it deserved it or not did not matter, everyone wanted the money and many did not care where it came from.

For a long time, money and power worked like a firewall around Najib and his Cabinet, which made him believe cash was indeed king as they blithely went about plundering the nation.

It has been established or is being established at Najib’s on-going corruption trial involving the alleged siphoning of funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd, that money was freely dished out for political support, popularity and reverence, among others.

Mahathir’s campaign was direct and simple, that it was borrowed money and stolen funds from the people that was being given out, and this campaign strategy worked. It thus showed that anti-corruption is an easy sell and proved that most Malaysian voters did care about abstract ethical issues like corruption.

Unbelievably, even many of the beneficiaries of Najib’s largesse had obviously voted against Barisan Nasional while some others became turncoats shamelessly, leaving the flagging party.

But one year after dismantling the Cash is King mantra, it somehow appears to be coming back to bite Dr Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan leadership. The new mantra among many Malaysians now is that they don’t seem to have enough money all the time.

True, the cost of living never came down substantially after the abolition of the GST (goods and services tax), but we cannot deny that it did lower shopping bills in places like hypermarkets as there was no SST (sales and services tax) levied at such outlets.

RON 95 petrol, which is currently used by most motorists, is capped at RM2.08 a litre which is about 40 sen lower than the actual price it would have been if the old managed float system based on global crude oil prices was in place

Not very tangible for the average Malaysian, right? Do they even care to understand the intangibles that they are benefiting from as a result of several new policies and taxes? No! Looks like Malaysians are not prepared to ask what they can do for the country, it is always what the country must do for them.

Nearly every person I meet seems to have just one thing to say: nothing has come down. All prices have remained the same while some have only gone up. And that Pakatan has not delivered or is slow in keeping its promises.

And strangely, I have been noticing a pattern where those providing certain home services like courier and telecommunication technicians actually volunteer to say that times were better under the Barisan government as they had more money to spend.

“It is very difficult now, we have less money to spend compared to last time when BN was in power. Pakatan Harapan is not keeping its promises,” a Pos Laju staff told a friend of mine without being asked.

I’m one who views surveys by certain groups and parties, especially the random ones, warily as the respondents do not necessarily reflect the actual feelings on the ground. So I make it a point to talk to strangers about this subject whether in public stations or while in a queue waiting to pay something.

What I notice is that while people may be a tad bit sympathetic when I tell them they have to give Pakatan more time because of certain extenuating circumstances, generally, they are unhappy.

The bottom line of their unhappiness now is all about cash. They are receiving less money from the government, never mind what they were enjoying in the past was stolen or borrowed money.

This group of people don’t seem to be outraged, which we all should naturally be, at past leaders who had virtually abused their power to rob the nation’s coffers, a fact which has emerged or is being exposed in many key institutions.

They claim that the BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia) payments are now lower and many recipients have also been removed from the list as they do not qualify under the minimum household income requirement. So what is wrong with that? Why do you want money that does not belong to you or you don’t deserve?

Yes, it’s true that the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH, as BR1M is now called) has been reduced by RM200 to RM1,000 but Pakatan has made sure that only really needy Malaysians get such welfare aid, as it had been greatly abused in the past.

And to make sure those really in need receive more help, the government is giving out an additional RM100 for each child below 18 years of age whose guardians are BSH recipients, for a maximum of four children. And if the child is disabled, it is for a lifetime, no age limit. So if a BSH recipient has four children below 18, he or she gets a total of RM1,420. This is higher than before.

Malaysia has thrived because of a culture of opportunity that encourages hard work in the private sector. Of course, the social restructuring policy, which was aimed at giving a hand to the have-nots to give them a lift, played a role.

But this should not go on forever, the number must reduce eventually as those benefiting should finally be able to help their families to grow away from this dependency.

The growth of this form of welfare state funded by projected or borrowed income -- or worse still, by funds siphoned from government coffers -- is turning Malaysia into a land where many expect, and see no stigma attached, to receive regular financial support.

I find this a growing and dangerous trend, when undeserving Malaysians sit back idly and wait for these cash hand-outs as an entitlement instead of a privilege. And what’s more distressing is to see politicians feeding this cancer as a way of continuing to stay in power.

The actual meaning of the phrase “Cash is King”, as most of us know, is a term reflecting the belief that cash money is more valuable than any other form of investment tool for businesses. For individuals, it is meant to be a fund which is easily accessible for urgent expenditures or purchases.

It is not a phrase that politicians or others use to indicate that they can buy power and votes so that they are able to be in absolute control of the nation for as long as they want. Unfortunately, though, many have done this and it has created a culture in Malaysia in which the people have started valuing money more than truth, hard work and honesty.

Cash is not king when it is stolen from others or, worse still, from public funds placed under your trust or control. That is called cashing in. It is surely not king if it is obtained by unfair trade practices or it is beyond a fair deal.

In this context, something that Dr Mahathir said about two years before the last election shortly after he decided to re-enter politics stands out in my mind. He had said: “You see the collapse of moral values in Malaysia is terrible. In the future we are going to be like those countries where bribery is a part of daily life -- you can’t do anything without bribery.”

This is what he is trying to dismantle after he came back into politics at the age of 93, so we should give our wholehearted support to him and Pakatan for a better and cleaner Malaysia for all.

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Expect the unexpected from Dr M - Analysis






Mediocre future? If selection at the matriculation level is not based on meritocracy, the quality of our tertiary institutions will be .

..
Meritocracy Vs. Mediocrity Education system must champion meritocracy THE country is facing yet another controversy of its own ...

  The Pakatan government has little choice nor time to check the slide on its popularity and goodwill from voters. WHAT a difference a y


 

Crime and cost of living are top concerns for Malaysians - Ipsos Global Research




Saturday, May 11, 2019

Dialogue of civilizations can iron out cultural creases

lustration: Liu Rui/GT
The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations will be held from May 15 to 22 in Beijing, and Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the event and deliver a keynote speech, officials said at a press conference on Thursday. #AsianCivilizations #XiJinping

https://youtu.be/DheuG_oEFaM

The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations will kick off in Beijing soon. It is China's attempt to promote understanding among different civilizations, inclusive development, and to respond to the theory of the Clash of Civilizations with the philosophy of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

During the just-concluded second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, China defined the future of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a route that brings together different civilizations. It reflects China's ample confidence in the initiative to enhance civilizational exchanges, mutual understanding and civilized coexistence. Through BRI, countries can understand, respect, and trust one another.

Differences do exist between China and the US - the two most influential powers in the world - in terms of civilizations. Some in the US are even prejudiced about China's culture and disagree with the country's development path and value system.

China has always advocated mutual learning between civilizations. The country needs to strengthen its power of discourse and show Chinese civilization's unique charm to the US, the West, and the entire international community. The dialogue between Chinese and American civilizations, an important part of the dialogue of global civilizations, is of great significance in building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Over the years, China and the US have already explored quite a lot in this regard. At the Mar-a-Lago summit between Chinese and US leaders in 2017, the two sides agreed to establish high-level dialogue mechanisms, including social and people-to-people contact. In addition, Chinese and US scholars organized the Sino-American Dialogue on Core Values as early as in 2011. The Foreign Affairs magazine published an article titled "China vs. America: Managing the Next Clash of Civilizations" in 2017.

Surprisingly, recent reports by the Washington Examiner and Voice of America indicate that the US State Department is developing strategies in response to the "clash" with Chinese civilization.

The Clash of Civilizations is a theory proposed in 1993 by Samuel Huntington, a well-known US political scholar who teaches at Harvard University. He argued that the clash of civilizations, instead of ideological and economic clashes, will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. He conjectured that the core of international politics will be the interaction between Western and non-Western civilizations.

Huntington predicted that the clash of civilizations would be especially manifested in Western-Islamic conflicts after the Cold War. It is puzzling that US officials are now turning to China.

The Clash of Civilizations theory targeting China seems to be gaining traction among anti-China forces in the US. The National Security Strategy issued by the White House in late 2017 labeled China as a strategic competitor. The US adverse policies toward China have created obstacles in the path of smooth China-US relations.

If the US Department of State continues to promote policy measures against China based on the Clash of Civilizations, ties will be further hurt, and more specific steps taken. Not only that, the US may also take advantage of this theory and force other countries to follow its lead in containing China.

However, such attempts by adversarial US forces will eventually fall flat.

Their argument of Clash of Civilizations, violating mainstream American values based on pluralism and inclusiveness, has already triggered heated debate inside the US. Some senior US experts studying China have criticized the view for lacking understanding of China.

It will be tough if the US attempts to lead the West to a civilizational battle with China. The damage caused by the "America First" theory has yet to heal. Describing US competition with China as the clash of civilization may once again create contradictions and panic. Dialogue of civilizations is needed rather than a cold war.

By Xi Laiwang Source:Global Times

The author is a senior reporter and an observer of international issues. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn


Related post:
 

Yes to Belt and Road - Everyone will benefit from BRI

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Malaysia's education policy must champion Meritocracy instead of Mediocrity system

Education system must champion meritocracy


THE country is facing yet another controversy of its own making – the matriculation programme for university entrance or matric, for short.

The matric programme was introduced 50 years ago to increase the enrolment of Malay students in the medical, dental, engineering and other science and technical studies at public universities. It was an interventionist policy to produce more Malay graduates for the professional occupations in government service as well as in the private sector, as part of the New Economic Policy to redress the racial educational and economic imbalances in the economy.

The programme was reserved exclusively for Malays but due to political pressure from other races , the government allowed a 5% quota and this was later increased to 10% for non-Malay students. Recently, with demands for more non-Malays to be given places in matric, the government increased the total number accepted into the programme from 25,000 to 40,000 while keeping the racial quota unchanged.

There are concerns that the large increase in the number of university intakes from the matric programme will reduce the places available for STPM students and affect the quality of education. There are already complaints from parents that even though their children who go through the two-year STPM are more educationally qualified than the one-year matric students, and have a stronger command of English, they cannot get a place in public universities because of the preference given to intakes from the shorter programme.

Fifty years on, this programme is still in place, despite the huge investments made by government through the Education Ministry to increase the access to STPM (Form VI) level education in both the arts and science streams in all parts of the country.

Malay students in rural areas today are no longer facing a disadvantage in educational opportunities as there are many secondary schools with Form VI classes.

However, their parents prefer that they apply for the matriculation course as it is a faster and easier route to university.

As they are specially selected for the matriculation course, the students have a greater certainty that they will be given places in the medical , dental and engineering faculties. Another attraction is that there is very little competition with other races in the matriculation course.

There are suggestions that our universities should raise their entrance requirements so that they can get better qualified student intakes to facilitate higher quality teaching and learning and produce graduates with the right skills for the job market . This can be achieved by a policy decision that university entrance must be through the STPM stream only and that the matric programme will be scaled down to be eventually terminated as it is not a good alternative in preparing students for university education.

Matric has also become a source of continuing friction among the races as they feel that education is a human right and should not be subject to racial politics.

It is inevitable that there will be complaints from certain quarters against closing down the matric programme but the government must stand firm not to perpetuate a system that encourages mediocrity. If the country is to succeed in the digital revolution, and make Malaysia a fully developed economy, the education system must shift direction towards competition and meritocracy. The abolition of the matriculation programme will show that Malaysia is serious in moving in that direction.

TAN SRI MOHD SHERIFF MOHD KASSIM


Another brick in the wall

https://youtu.be/YR5ApYxkU-U- a protest song against rigid schooling


Education is that realm where wrongs are set right and learning thrives, yet, right off the bat, the new matriculation intake has found itself in murky waters.

SOME leaders in our federal and state governments, now or then, seem to be guilty of this habit – announcing decisions before studying the implications of their policies.

So it was no surprise that after the Education Ministry announced the controversial changes to the matriculation programme, a row erupted, and soon, the Prime Minister had to weigh in on the debate.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would address the quota system issue of the pre-university matriculation programme intake.

When asked for his comments on whether the quota system would be abolished, he said: “We will study the problem.”

Once again, it looks like the 93-year-old leader must step in to clean up another mess before things start to stink.

The controversy exploded when the Cabinet decided to increase the number of students entering the matriculation programme from 25,000 to 40,000 while maintaining the 90% quota for bumiputra students.

The matriculation programme was originally aimed at encouraging bumiputra students to pursue studies in science.

The highly sought-after programme – due to its cost-effectiveness – is equivalent to a one- or two-year pre-university course, and enables students to pursue a degree upon successfuly completing the programme. Enrollees only need to pay a registration fee and the rest is borne by the government.

However, the concern now is that by doubling the matriculation intake, it will affect the seats available to those vying for places in public universities via the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) route.

During my time, in the 1980s, when I was sitting for the then Higher School Certificate (HSC), the matriculation programme had already been launched. At present, STPM and matriculation students number about 43,000 and 25,000 respectively.

No rational or fair person will begrudge aid provided to students who need a helping hand, let’s be clear.

But I am not sure if the ministry has given thought to the fact that we may have a surplus of matriculation students – about 60% – at the expense of their STPM counterparts.

Let’s give the ministry the benefit of doubt that they surely would have, given the many experienced experts there, but no narratives have been forthcoming to explain anything to parents and students, especially those preparing for their STPM exams this year.

If the government plans to double university intake, have backup plans been installed to accommodate the sudden surge in science students into our financially-strapped universities?

While non-scholarship students in public universities must pay their own fees, matriculation students not only get free education, but are given allowances, too.

Public universities are already cutting down on contract academic staff as fundraising programmes are being carried out.

Unemploy-ment is underscored by the huge number of jobless graduates, whose changing fortunes have found them unemployed in a soft market. In some cases, their weak language and social skills put them at a disadvantage.

As the intake increases, other relevant infrastructure, like hostels, laboratories and teaching staff, won’t multiply overnight, as MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong rightly pointed out.

“How will the ministry ensure quality in matriculation education? And the suggestion of getting teachers from teachers’ training colleges to teach in matriculation is illogical because their syllabus is totally different,” he said.

The new matriculation policy has also taken the race-based programme to another level and goes against the aspiration of being an inclusive New Malaysia.

DAP leader Dr P. Ramasamy has rightly said the increased quota for bumiputra by the government was spurred by fears of a backlash from sections of the Malay-Muslim community. This is what happens when political expediency and interest come into play.

The former Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia political science lecturer said with the revised quota, the bumiputra allocation will increase the number of students from 22,500 to 36,000.

He said, in comparison, the number of non-Malays will increase by only 1,500 students, beyond the current 2,500.

“I’m taken aback by the Cabinet’s decision. We have failed to move forward. It appears as though the Cabinet was not prepared to take a bold decision in increasing the intake of non-Malay students, particularly Indians.”

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, in defending the new policy, said all students deserve a “better opportunity” when they apply for matriculation placement, adding that “the bumiputras will still enjoy their 90% quota”.

Dr Maszlee reportedly said the increased intake for matriculation students was based on a Cabinet decision to get more students into tertiary education and to accord all races equal opportunity.

He also said the Cabinet had instructed his ministry to discuss with the Finance Ministry the government’s burden in bearing the cost of the increased number of matriculation places.

This looks like another case of putting the cart before the horse. Announce first and work out the maths later.

Instead of emphasising need-based programmes, the government has, instead, strengthened a race-based system.

As a student at university, I was often queried by my well-intentioned Malay varsity mates about which scholarship I had obtained. I jokingly told them it was FAMA – father and mother.

I’ve always been grateful for having secured a place in a local university, particularly since there were only five then – and certainly no private universities – and that gratitude has only grown since that degree helped change my life.

And that conveniently brings me to my point: Let’s not deny our children, regardless of their race, a place in our universities, which are funded by multi-ethnic tax payers.

If parents are financially sound, no prayers would be needed for students to earn slots in our public institutions of higher learning, it’s that simple.

Wong Chun WaiBy Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now editorial and corporate affairs adviser to the group, after having served as group managing director/chief executive officer.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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