Gerakan Education bureau statements on Teaching of Science and Maths

December 18, 2008

Update: This is the statement I issued today on our party Stand on the teaching of Maths and Science in English at the primary school level.

Malaysiakini(Chinese) has carried the statement in this link.

Merdekareview carried the statement in this link.

The statements are self explanatory:

1.     I refer to the media reports on the 5th round table meeting to  discuss the teaching of Science and  mathematics in English which was organized by the Ministry of Education.

 

2.     Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia Central Education and Knowledge Society Bureau would like to reiterate the stand of Parti Gerakan on this issue; We believe strongly that the teaching of Science and Mathematics at primary level should be conducted in mother tongue.  At the same time, the teaching of English as a subject at primary level should be improved.

 

3.     English, however, can be used in the teaching of Science and Mathematics at the secondary school and tertiary levels, provided there are sufficient qualified teaching staff to do so.

 

4.     Our position has been consistent since 2002. We have submitted a memorandum on our position in 2002, and again in 2005 to the present Education Minister. Since this issue is of utmost importance, we  shall submit once again another memorandum on this position of  ours.

 

5.     Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, as a people orientated party, has always viewed education as one of the most important elements in nation building, and would be happy to take part in any discussion on educational issues as well as any issue affecting the interest of Malaysian people.

 

 

6.     We therefore wish to express our regret that Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia did not receive any invitation to this 5th  round table meeting, although according to media reports, about 200 representatives from various political parties and NGOs were invited.

 

7.     While there was no official invitation extended to Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, we find it strange that according to feedback from other participants, there were seats reserved  for our party.

 

8.     We discovered that some BN component parties such as SUPP were also not invited despite having designated seats for the parties.

 

9.     We feel that this will create a negative perception for the parties affected. We would like to  strongly urge the Minister of Education  to carry out a thorough investigation and give us an answer on this matter, and we hope that the same thing would not happen again in future.

 

10. Notwithstanding this, we shall continue to voice our position directly to the Minister of Education as well as to the public.

 

 

文告

 

1.    有關媒體報道, 由教育部所組辦的第5次英文教數理科政策圓桌會議,已于昨日舉行.  民政黨中央教育及知識社會局, 要在此重申民政黨對這項課題的立場.

 

2.    民政黨向來主張, 在小學階段, 應以母語教導數理科. 在此同時, 英語的教導和水平, 也需加強和提升.

 

 

3.    民政黨也認為, 在中學和大學階段, 如有足夠師資, 則可應用英語教導數理.

 

4.    民政黨立場, 一貫如此. 我黨曾在2002, 呈上一份備忘錄, 表明我黨的這一項立場. 也在2005, 再次的提呈同一備忘錄,給于現任教育部長. 基于這課題的重要性, 我黨將會再一次 , 提呈這備忘錄給有關當局.

 

 

5.    作為一個以民為本的政黨, 民政黨非常關注教育問題, 也非常樂意出席討論有關教育方面的會議.

 

6.    故此, 民政黨感到非常遺憾, 5次英文教數理科政策圓桌會議, 我黨并沒有接到邀請.

 

 

7.    更奇怪的是, 雖然民政黨并沒有被邀請, 在圓桌會議上, 卻有準備給民政黨代表的席位.

8.    一些國陣成員黨, SUPP, 也面對同樣的情形.

 

 

9.    我黨認為, 這種情形, 會給人民一種錯覺. 有基于此, 我黨希望我們尊敬的教育部長, 能徹底調查這宗事件, 給我們一項合理的交代. 我們也希望, 同樣事件, 不會再發生.

 

10.雖然如此, 我黨將繼續直接向我國教育部長和全國人民, 表明我黨對這課題的立場.


Press statements by Education Bureau, PGRM

December 2, 2008

The following is the statement of Gerakan’s education Bureau in response to datuk Mukriz’s suggetion to convert vernacular schools into national schools.

English

Press Statement by Dr Hsu Dar Ren,

Chairman ,Education and Knowledge Society Bureau

Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia

 

 

 

1. Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia’s National Education Bureau strongly objects to  the proposal by Datuk Mukriz Mahathir to abolish all  Chinese and Tamil schools, for all to be converted into national schools.

 

2. We would like to remind Datuk Mukriz that mother tongue education is the right of all Malaysians under Federal Constitution Article 152 (1) (a)and (b). Hence the existence of vernacular schools  is guaranteed under the Constitution. 

 

3. Racial polarization has more to do with politicians using race to fan feelings of deprivation and discrimination . The purpose is to gain popularity and attention, especially during internal party elections. than to put the blame on the existence of such schools.

 

4. Putting the blame on the existence of vernacular schools as the cause of polarization is totally uncalled for and would  only cause further  polarization .

 

5. Datuk Mukriz’s statement also runs counter to the Education Act 1996, which recognizes the fundamental principle of a Malaysian parent’s right to choose vernacular education for his or her children.

 

6. He has also gone against all manifestos of BArisan Nasional in past elections guaranteeing the continued existence and development of Chinese and Tamil schools.

 

 

7. We want to put on record that vernacular schools have contributed much in the process of nation building. To question and negate the existence of such schools is damaging to the concept of unity in diversity, as the very strength and foundation of our nation.

 

8. We urge Datuk Mukriz to retract this statement in the interest of the unity of the people, as well as unity of BN.

 

 Chinese version:

民政黨教育及知識社會局主任

徐達人醫生

 

 

 

文告

 

民政黨中央教育及知識社會局, 強烈反對Datuk Mukriz 的建議 , 要政府采用單一教育制度, 并接管華小及所有類型小學, 改為國小.

 

我們要提醒 Datuk Mukriz, 華小及所有類型小學的存在, 是憲法下所保障的, 不應一而再的, 受到任何人的質疑.

 

種族兩極化的原因, 應歸罪于一些喜愛利用種族課題作為政治資本的政客, 尤其在所隸屬政黨黨選期間, 挑起種族課題, 以達到個人目的.

 

我們要再次的提醒 Datuk Mukriz, 聯邦憲法下 152 (1) (a) (b), 學習母語教育, 是每個馬來西亞公民的基本權力. Datuk Mukriz 的言論, 會使種族兩極化的問題, 加劇惡化.

 

我們感到遺憾,  Datuk Mukriz 的言論, 違反了1996 教育法令, 國陣歷屆大選宣言對人民所作出的承諾, 保障華小及所有類型小學的操作和存在.

 

華小及所有類型小學的存在,  對于國家和社會, 有極大的貢獻. 我們認為 Datuk Mukriz 的言論, 對于一個多元種族社會, 是具于極大的破壞性.

 

我們希望Datuk Mukriz, 基于國家團結利益上, 把這建議撤回.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The passing of a great leader and friend

November 5, 2008

Latest: There will be a memorial service at the late Dr S Vijayaratnam’s house tonight at 9pm.  Funeral will be tomorrow(6-11-2008) at 3pm.

 

I was shocked to learn of the accidental death of my good friend and Gerakan leader, Dr S. Vijayaratnam, around noon today. I could not believe my ears when a mutual friend called and informed me .

It was just yesterday I met him and spoke to him. Everything was so normal.

The late Dr VJ, as he was fondly by his friends and comrades, was a very  approachable leader, and had been Gerakan National vice president for many years.  . His uncle was none other the late Rajaratnam , Singapore Foreign Minister and one of its founding fathers. His father, the   late Dr S. Seevaratnam, was the DAP MP for Seremban Barat in 1969.

Despite coming from such an illustrous family, Dr VJ was a very humble person. He had never failed to help anyone seeking his advice. He was also a staunch believer of Gerakan’s ideology and  was a prolific writer and frequently contributed to the letters column of the various National english papers commenting on current issues and policies.

I am sad that such a nice person has so suddely left us , and would like to offer my heart-felt condolences to his all family members.


Food for thought

September 10, 2008

This is taken from my column in Malaysian Insider..

Time for Gerakan to regain  credibility

SEPT 9 — Immediately after the March 8 general election, I wrote in my blog that three options are available for Parti Gerakan which suffered a near total defeat, losing 10 of its 12 parliamentary seats and 27 of its 31 State seats, including all its seats in Penang which had been its traditional stronghold and base.

Out of the two parliamentary seats won, one is in Gerik, which is a seat “borrowed” from Umno when the PPP refused to return the Taiping seat to Gerakan.  In hindsight, it was a minor blessing because if Taiping been returned to Gerakan then, it would have lost that seat too and become a one-MP party.

The three options which I proposed then were:

1. Remain in the Barisan Nasional, where its fate will be decided by whether Umno reforms or not. Gerakan’s fate will be in the hands of Umno. If Umno does not reform radically, and Gerakan is seen to be not able to push for any changes within the BN, Gerakan will probably be wiped out the next round.

2. Opt out of the BN and join Pakatan Rakyat. The caveat here is that Gerakan is too weak now and it will be in no position to bargain for better terms to join Pakatan Rakyat. In the reality of politics, do not expect PKR or DAP to give up seats for Gerakan to contest the next round.

3. It can opt out of the BN and remain independent and be a vigilant watchdog over both the BN and Pakatan Rakyat. It can act as a conscience for the people and give constructive criticism to both sides. It could play the role of the Liberals in the UK, which has thrived between two giants, the Conservatives and Labour. Come the next election, it could probably opt to join forces with either the BN or Pakatan, depending on which is defending the rights of the people. It could then bargain from a position of strength, and not from a position of weakness, during any seat negotiation.

There is, of course, a fourth option for Gerakan: which is to disband.

At that time, out of the three options that I mentioned, the third option was more acceptable since Gerakan then, despite its near complete annihilation, still had a good brand name and the goodwill of the people, especially in their base — Penang.

Subsequently, many members have raised the same points to the leadership.

In reply, the leadership argued that being out of the BN, Gerakan would never gain back its past strength and the best option was to remain in the BN and push for Umno to change.

Now, six months have passed. Let us re-examine the options.

The Permatang Pauh by-election was an eye opener. In spite of the big loss in the last general election and the acceptance of multiracial politics across ethnic lines by the people of Peninsular Malaysia, Umno politicians still used the race card in the campaign.

This has, of course, put Gerakan in a most uncomfortable position. On the one hand, it wants to go back to its non-racial ideology but on the other it has to campaign side by side with Umno and its racial rhetorics, against a party that is campaigning on non-racialism, good governance and people-orientated policies — issues which Gerakan has hoped to bring about since its inception 40 years ago in 1968.

By actively campaigning together with Umno in the by-election, it has shot itself in its foot and further alienated its traditional support base, the older generation of Penangites who had in the past voted for Gerakan. The by-election with its racial rhetorics probably did more harm to Gerakan’s credibility as a non-racial party than anything else since the present leadership took over.

The subsequent drama that has unfolded put the party in an even worse position. The hard stand taken by an Umno division leader over his speech during the by-election campaign, and the subsequent support of all other Umno state leaders for this particular division chief, has once again showed the impotence of the party in trying to influence Umno.

It has once again showed up the arrogance of members of this BN senior partner, which many commentators believe is one of the reasons for the BN losing big in the last general election.

The perception now is that even a third-tier leader of Umno carries more weight and more importance than a component party chief. If Gerakan cannot even push Umno to ask this member to apologise, how is it going to influence Umno’s policies and direction?

Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, the acting president of Gerakan, mentioned that Gerakan should not quit just because of the antics of an Umno division chairman. However, in my view, this is no longer about this man and what he said. The implication has gone beyond this person.

What is blatantly exposed by this episode is the powerlessness and helplessness of Parti Gerakan to influence the leadership of Umno. With this helplessness and powerlessness, can the party seriously think it can push for reform within the BN and play a significant role? Yes, the deputy PM has apologised on behalf of Umno. But would he have apologised if not for the fear that any loss of a component party would result in a stampede out of the BN and realise the Sept 16 crossover of MPs?

The leadership of Gerakan may want to wait and see if any change within Umno will come about. But looking at this episode and the subsequent softening stand of Umno’s top leadership towards this combative division chairman, any change in Umno would at best be cosmetic, as the perception is that the present leadership is neither strong enough nor possesses the necessary willpower to change an entrenched culture of politics of patronage and arrogance.

If Umno does not reform and Gerakan is seen as an accomplice in Umno’s brand of race politics, and with corruption and abuse of power getting from bad to worse, it would lose whatever little goodwill is remaining of its traditional support base as time goes on. By then, even if Gerakan opts out, it would be too late as it would have lost all its support base and its credibility as a non-racial party fighting for a fair and equal society.

So, the question is can the first option still be the best now? Personally, and many Gerakan members agree with me, the time has run out for the first option. If Gerakan has not been able to reform the BN with its 34 years of membership inside the BN, can it hope to achieve it within these few months or even in the next year or so?

Gerakan’s hope is to go back to its ideology and its roots. That can only mean one thing. It has to come out of this race-based coalition. The third option is the most attractive.

Looking back at its history, Gerakan was formed as a people’s movement to do away with raced-based politics and to bring about a democratic socialist way of lifting the economic standard of the people irrespective of race and religion. Most of its members joined because of this idealism. If this idealism can be achieved by another party championing the same cause, would it really matter that Gerakan would not win any more seats the next round? Should it, instead of helping to achieve this idealism, become a hindrance to other parties fighting for the same ideals?

Furthermore, on the issues of seats — even though it really does not matter whether Gerakan can get any more seats the next round, as long as it achieved its aims — if Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu could win Penang with just 300 hardcore party members and minimal resources at his disposal in 1969, then Gerakan should be able to survive at least as a party outside both coalitions, now that the party has thousands of loyal members and with much more resources at its disposal.

The question, therefore, is no longer about whether Gerakan should come out or not. Rather, it is about whether the leadership has the political will or guts to make such a move.


Dark Knight to the rescue?

July 29, 2008

In the show Dark Knight, somenone said ” the night is at its darkest before dawn”.

Malaysia is now at its darkest moment. People has no more trust for the government and government institution. Corruption is so rampant that it is almost the norm rather than exception. Economy is stagnant, despite the rosy figures. Inflation is so high that even our roads are no more as congested as before, bearing in mind that Malaysians like to drive.. Foreign investments are not coming in. Stock market is down. Leaders of both ruling and opposition parties are at each others’ throats. Charges and counter charges of sodomy, murder, corruption, abuse of power are daily affairs.  People has nothing to really look forward too, except to live day by day…And the list can go on and on…………

If the country can be likened to  a plane flying in the sky, it is now on a flight course directly going towards the side of a  high mountain at full speed, and ON AUTO PILOT. The pilot is sleeping and the copilot and flight engineer are at each other’s throat. The passengers are screaming but the screams are falling on deaf ears….

Just that we thought we have seen a glimmer of light, with a 2 party system slowly taking shape and providing a better check and balance, this is now being threatened by the talks between UMNO and PAS. If PAS joins BN, then there will be no hope that UMNO will change. We can expect the night to get darker and longer, with no hope of dawn arriving….Racism , corruption, abuses of power, compromised institution … all these will be back to normal….not for the betterment of the people, but rather, for the self interest of the ruling elites…

Dawn may never come…

Will there be a Dark Knight to our rescue? …..I have no answer !


the winner is ….. the people of Malaysia

July 16, 2008

I am no judge, so I won’t say who is the winner in last night’s debate between Anwar and Shabery.

But one thing I am sure. Whoever won and lost, the ultimate winner is the Malaysians.

This is the right way forward for the nation. Government leaders must be ready to face anyone willing to come forward to query and debate government policies. By having this sort of debate, the people of Malaysia get to listen to the other side of the story too… which is great for stimualting the minds. By listening to different views, the minds of leaders on both side of the divide can actually be stimulated and new ideas may come out. The Prime Minister must be commended for letting this sort of debate take place… the country will be more open with this.

The West is what it is today because of the divergence of ideas, and the freedom to express such ideas are guaranteed in most western countries. With divergence of ideas comes coalescence of such ideas into new thinking which has propelled the nations of the west forward, ever since the The Renaissance. 

Our country , if it really aspires to be a first world nation by 2020, must be prepared to be more open and let dissenting views be not only heard, and be heard over the so-called official channels, in the government controlled press as well as radio and TV stations.

I hope this debate will open up a trend for future debates to be held, in normal times as well as during General Elections.


A square peg in a round hole

July 11, 2008

A commentator from Penang who has voted for Gerakan for the past few elections, romerz, emailed me about an article on Gerakan in Gerakan Youth leader  Lim SI Pin’s blog. I thought it would be good if I  comment in this forum about my views of Gerakan , given that  I have written a few articles on these.

A party’s roots is in its ideology. Gerakan’s ideology is to fight for a fair and equal society where not only every race but every individual regardless of race, sex or creed will have an equal opportunity in  education, employment, socio-economic fields, etc.

It aims to promote an egalitarian society and it is basically a social democratic party.

Under these ideals, the party advocates helping the unfortunate and the poor , not along any racial or religious lines, but rather on social strata and on a ‘needs’ basis.

As correctly pointed in Lim’s blog, Gerakan joined BN mainly to bring Development to the Penang people. In the aftermath of May 13, it also wanted to reduce political friction and promote conciliation among the races. It was in fact one of the founders of BN. It has to be noted that UMNO at that time was a much better respected party than now and money politics, as is  practiced in UMNO nowadays, had not reared itsugly  head yet.

Even then, ideology of Gerakan and most of the BN component parties were very different. Gerakan is a socialist party, whereas the big brothers of BN, namely UMNO,MCA and MIC, are all race based parties; and none are social democrats.

 But it was possible then, in the early seventies and in the aftermath of May 13,  for the people to buy  the reasons that Gerakan could shelf its ideals of a fair and equitable society for a short term, joined BN and  be supportive of the affirmative action based on race, to enable the Malays to catch up in almost all sectors. But this support was not intended to be more than a short term. Tun DR Lim CHong Eu was said not to favour any extension of the NEP beyond its original designated term. (Unfortunately, Tun Lim lost in 1990 election and retired from politics just before the NEP was supposed to come to an end).  In exchange for that shelving of Gerakan’s ideals, Gerakan managed to bring development to Penang and improved the living standard as well as the economy of Penang people.

The leaders then also hoped that by being part of the ruling BN, Gerakan could exert its influence and corrected whatever anomalies from inside.

If Gerakan has a strong voice and is in a position to dictate terms within BN, it could try and change the direction of the whole coalition. Unfortunately, Gerakan is only a small party with not enough clout to really change the direction of this coalition, and in the process, instead of trying to change the other component parties, Gerakan’s ideology was hijacked and the perception was that it has become just another Chinese based party , maybe one with a better conscience than the rest, but nevertheless, one that is impotent to bring about  any significant policy change .

So in reality, Gerakan has become a square peg in a round hole.  How could a square peg function in a  round hole? or put it another way, how can Gerakan exert its ideology within such environment? To continue to hope so, after more than 3 decades inside BN without any success to change BN, is really to lie to one’s own self and conscience. Only when the leaders can break out of this self denial cocoon, can there be objective re-evaluation of the future direction of the party.

Gerakan was truly multiracial in its early days. Alas, it is no longer so. The whole mutliracial and nonracial approach has to be sacrificed under BN’s emphasis of race and the skewed NEP. How to recruit Malay members when the big brother is a Malay based party which views such an act as stepping over its boundary?

As I told one top leader of the party, no matter how good is the reform undertaken by Gerakan, if it still sticks to UMNO, it is signing its own death sentence,  given that UMNO’s present culture will only lead it slowly into  a self destructive mode. In a way, just one racist remark from UMNO will negate all the good works done by Gerakan, no  matter how hard Gerakan tries to reform and change.

By its association with UMNO, Gerakan will go the way UMNO is heading. And To expect UMNo to change when a culture of rot has set in is akin to hope for a habitual gambler to quit gambling.

Pakatan is not so rosy, too. I thought Anwar was an Old wine in a new bottle. But I have to give credit to him for realising many people’s dream of a two-party system, albeit an imperfect one at the moment. But with  many of PAS ’s members still harbouring hopes of an Islamic State, Pakatan can exist only  because of the existence of a common enemy, UMNO. If that common enemy is no more a force to be reckoned with, Pakatan will start to have cracks and fissures sooner or later.

So the best option is still a third force, where it can be free to advance  its ideology. It needs, of course,  to attract people of caliber from all races. It needs to practise what it preaches. A small party in the middle of 2 more or less equally matched coalition fronts, contrary to what many people think, will not split the 2 party system and will be able to exert its influence far greater than its size. By adroitly using its leverage of support, it will actually be able to exert much more influence than if it remains inside either front. And if the party can be managed well as an independent force, it should not be worried about 3 cornered fights come the next round.

(There are many examples of a small third force with great influence… in the West, In UK and Germany).