Friday, March 30, 2007

National schools must reflect the racial diversity

Racial integration and harmony is an asset

I refer to your front page report “Teen concern” (star March 29).

It is not surprising that the survey conducted by The Cognitive and PsychoSocial Profile of Malaysian Adolescents (CoPs) concluded that many youngsters aren't concerned about racial integration. However it is surprising that 10.7% never eat breakfast and 8% have never used a computer. These figures are something for our leaders to give some serious thought as we are just more than a decade away from achieving of vision of a developed nation.

There is no doubt that our education system as it is now is the main cause of racial segregation. Instead of dumping the children of the various races together from a very young age, we have actually separated them into separate classes to facilitate religious instruction.Susequently as though this was not enough; we further segregated them into vernacular schools. There is hardly any contact among the various races from a very early age. If this does not breed racial segregation then what does?

It is easy to blame the vernacular schools for the failure of national schools to integrate the various races. We must go a step further to find out why many parents opted for vernacular schools. The reason is obvious and does not a genius to detect - the unsatisfactory environment that is prevalent in national schools. Our national schools have in fact taken a more religious stance for the comfort of non-Malays. Having sent all my children to national schools, I can say for sure we are left with no option but vernacular schools.

I am sure if our national schools reflected the ethnic diversity of the nation among students and teachers, most parents would prefer to send their children to these schools as it was in the sixties and seventies.

The unhealthy environment in our national schools even prompted the Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah to call for a more balanced racial composition of school leaders, teachers and students that would reflect the multi-racial composition of the nation. I like to echo a recent statement by our Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein . “Schools should have a conducive and balanced environment and the ministry must have the political will to handle this well and not make it a racial issue”.

Our children in schools are segregated and they are happy to just interact among those from their own communities. As children and teenagers they do not see the need to interact with others until they come out to work in a very competitive world.

We all know the problem and the solutions but do we have the political will to implement them? Racial unity and harmony are assets that must be taught to be treasured and cherished from an early age.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Paying more for improving dedication

Creating a more cordial public-police relationship

It was indeed a proud day for our police force as it celebrated the 200th.Police Day with pomp and fanfare. As Malaysians we too would like to share in their pride and jubilation as we show our gratitude of our policemen and women for their dedication to ensure our well being and security at all times.

The Inspector-General Tan Sri Musa Hassan must be commended for initiating a series of actions towards the revamp of the police force. He has pledged to fight crime and to raise the standard of the police force with better-qualified people by investing in human capital. He has also initiated moves to ensure a force that has more integrity, competence and accountability in carrying out its responsibilities.

All Malaysians would agree that the increase in pay as proposed for the police would be justified if they strive to implement these changes as envisaged by the IGP.Definitely a higher salary would improve the morale among the members of the force and that could translate into a more effective, efficient and more people friendly police force.

An incorruptible police force dedicated to the welfare of the rakyat is what the nation needs especially at a time when public confidence in it is on the decline due to the irresponsible actions of a few black sheep. It must be stressed time and again that the safety of the people must be foremost in the hearts and minds of the members of the police and that must be the primary guiding force for all their activities.

As responsible members of the public we are duty bound give full cooperation to facilitate the work of the police in our own areas. In return the police authorities must make available the means for our feedback and communication with them. A cordial public-police relationship is of utmost importance for the well being of all.

Fighting crime is not the duty of the police alone. Every citizen, regardless of race, creed or sex, has a definite role in this national duty. Opportunities must be given for all dedicated young Malaysians to be recruited into the police force to join in this fight to free our nation from these criminals. No eligible youngsters should be denied this opportunity to display his patriotism in dedicating his life to serve the nation.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New strategies in global competition

Award on merit not quota

The call by Tun Musa Hitam, to abolish the quota system in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) speaks volumes for the wisdom of the veteran politician and a former deputy prime minister.

As someone who had been active in Umno for several decades, Musa’s call should be taken seriously if we really want the IDR to succeed. All Malaysians would agree with him that there was a need to have a change in mindset and deploy new strategies to draw investors to the country.

The younger generation of leaders in particular and Malaysians in general have much to learn and gain from the experiences of Musa and other past leaders and should heed their advice for the betterment of the nation as a whole.

As Musa says foreign investors who came to the country were not interested in the NEP, cronyism or nepotism as their primary focus was on making money and as such we have to create an environment of fair competition where they can compete with us in a system based on merit rather quotas. The best in the country should be allowed to participate in this mammoth development project. Any fear that a particular community would be left behind is unfounded as we have reached a stage where all have acquired adequate skills and knowledge in the fields of technology and commerce.

There is a need to change our business strategies if we want to stay competitive in the world market. If we want to stand a chance against these foreign heavy weights in commerce and technology we have to pull all the resources at our disposal to compete with them. The talents of all Malaysians must be tapped if we want to succeed.

This we can do my eliminating the favoritism in awarding contracts. Measures must be in place to select only the best for this global challenge. These must be made purely on merit based on economic logic not ethnic sentiments.

If we give ourselves the advantage with protective legislation, we will be the only losers in the long run as the foreign investors may opt for more lucrative and even playing grounds elsewhere.Many including our neighbors are ever willing to provide such an environment.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, March 19, 2007

Loan sharking,a national menace

Make financial aid available easily

It was encouraging to read that the Government is taking the problem of loan sharks rather seriously with its decision to start an aggressive year-long education and enforcement campaign to eradicate this growing menace,”Ah Long menace has reached a worrying stage, says Fu” (Star March 19).

The five-ministry committee formed to tackle this problem should seriously look the root causes of this menace and take steps to stop it at all costs. Loan sharking has wrecked many individuals and their families at the prime of life.It has to be stopped before more become victims of the menace which is a form of modern-day slavery.

Punitive action against a single party, I am afraid may not solve the problem altogether. It may deter some of the borrowers, especially the less desperate, from resorting to Ah Longs. It may not be stop those who are in dire need on monetary help.

It would also be unfair to ask those in need to go to licensed moneylenders when the latter themselves are contravening the law by resorting to unscrupulous tactics.

We must remember that it is not the rich and powerful who resort to Ah Longs but the poor and helpless in society. The unreasonable requirements imposed by big financial institutions and non-helpful counter officers often make their applications for even a meager loan almost an impossible feat.

Apart from punitive measures,education plays a vital role in the long term eradication of loan sharking. The government must educate the public on the evils of resorting to loan sharks. At the same time loans and other forms of financial grants must be made available easily to those who really deserve and are eligible, without favoritism and unreasonable collaterals.

Poverty, either absolute or relative undoubtedly, is a major cause of this evil of loan sharking that has become a national menace. There is no way we can succeed in fighting loan sharking without a concerted effort to overcome this ailment in our society.

Poverty is a social disease that transcends all ethnic boundaries.If we want to succeed in eradicating it our measures too should transcend racial and religious barriers. The government has drawn up many fine policies to eradicate poverty. What is needed are officers at all levels who are more committed to implement these policies fairly to all its citizens.

Dr.ChrisAnthony

Eradicate poverty to fight loan sharking

Eradicate poverty to fight loan sharking

Make financial aid available easily

Of late there has been a lot of discussion on the problem of loan sharks in the country. We understand that there are plans to enact laws to enable the police to prosecute the borrowers to stop this menace and its ills in our society.

Acting against the borrowers, I am afraid may not solve the problem altogether. It may deter some of the borrowers, especially the less desperate, from resorting to Ah Longs. It may not be stop those who are in dire need on monetary help. In fact punishing them with fine and imprisonment will only make things worse for them and their families.

It would unfair to say that borrowers are also culpable for the violence wreaked by loan sharks. It would also be unfair to ask those in need to go to licensed moneylenders when the latter themselves are contravening the law by resorting to unscrupulous tactics.

We must remember that it is not the rich and powerful who resort to Ah Longs but the poor and helpless in society. The former have the big financial institutions to depend on. These financial and banking institutions are in most cases non-friendly to the latter, many of whom are ignorant. The unreasonable requirements imposed and non-helpful counter officers often make their applications for the meager loans almost an impossible feat.

Yes, if there is no demand there will no supply. The financial demands on the poor borrower may be at times self-inflicted but very often he is the victim of an unfair social system, which is beyond his control as an ordinary citizen. This is not unique to Malaysia but a prevalent situation in many developing countries.

Like all problems, we should get to the root cause of them if we really want to overcome it. Poverty, undoubtedly, is the root cause of this evil of loan sharking that has become a national menace. It has wrecked many individuals and their families at the prime of life. It must be stopped at all costs.

The government must educate the public on the evils of resorting to loan sharks.Athe same timeLoans and other forms of financial grants must be made available easily to those who really deserve, without favoritism.

The government has drawn up many fine policies to eradicate povertyt.It must be more commited to doing this.More genuine efforts must be put into their implementation by those responsible at all levels, so that these will benefit all Malaysians irrespective of race or creed.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, March 16, 2007

Education not all about excelling in Exams only

Are we producing the students with the right attitude?

The release of the results of SPM and STPM recently produced the typical euphoria among the successors and a depressive and somber response among those who succumbed miserably to the flawed system. Despite numerous call from various parties and the even the education minister pledging revamp in the system, nothing seemed to have changed.

We witnessed the happiness of those students who scored maximum As. We should all congratulate them for the achievements which were the result of long hours of hard work and sacrifice. We should really appreciate the zeal and determination of these high achievers.

There were those who grieved just because they fell short of the maximum by just a single A. Then there were those who lamented they could not obtain their targeted 17 or 18 As.

There was the competition between parents who were all out to ensure their children out-do those of others. They did not hide the expressions of frustration and jealousy when their children lost out in this unhealthy competition by a single A. In some instances the difference was just between A1 and A2. We all are aware that some of the children were severely reprimanded even after obtaining 8 or 9 As.

Then came the sudden decision by the Director General of Education Datuk Dr Ahamad Sipon not to name the best student for the year. According to him this is because all the top scorers have their own strengths and weaknesses. Yes it is a right decision which should have been made before the results were announced and not after the winner is known. In the first place there should not be such an award as it would only further encourage the “A syndrome” which has become the hallmark of our Education system.

This is also the first time we have come across falsifying result slips. We saw reports of a father and son who claimed to have obtained 24 1As for their SPM examination. How and why did this occur? How many others are in possession of such false results slip?

In the midst of all the jubilation and glorifying the handful of elite students, we overlook the vast majority, many from the lower income families, who obtained just average results and a equally large number who just managed to scrape through with a pass. There are also many who miserably failed their examinations outright. We should not only sympathise with them but go all out to encourage them in whatever way we can.

Today school examinations have become like a race where we go all out to spend large amount of time, money and energy to ensure our children win with flying colours.It is a pity that this race is not a fair one as it is weighted against to those who are monetarily handicapped and cannot afford the exorbitant fees for tuition.

It has become a practice of our media to over glorify those who score maximum A’s in their examination but neglect those who despite their disadvantaged position manage to get above average results. They encourage the notion that collecting maximum A’s, is education and life are all about. This practice of the media aggravates the ill effects of the already examination orientated education system of ours.

We must realize that these top scorers are just a small percentage of the total student population. The majority are the average scorers with 4-6A’s.However much we encourage and coax our students, only a few will become maximum scorers and this is a fact of life we all have to accept. Our country is not going to be ruled by these few brilliant students but by the mediocre majority.

These high achievers must be rewarded accordingly, but it is equally important to ensure the others are also taken care. It is more important to encourage the majority to excel in things for which they have a liking and aptitude. Opportunities must be made available to these students as well.

By over glorifying these top scorers, tremendous psychological pressure is placed on the majority to ape them. This causes a great amount of stress on students in school these days. Those with average or even above average result are made to feel useless and a failure in school. From experience we know that success in examination does not necessarily guarantee success in life.

Every school should have qualified counselors to educate and help students overcome the trauma of examinations. Even those who fail miserably should not be discouraged. They should be shown other opportunities available to them, in which they can excel.

Are our students, including the top achievers, really prepared to face the challenges of the global world where competition is based purely on merit? Are they instilled with the values of moderation and tolerance of inter-ethnic relationship that are so vital for the peace, harmony and prosperity of the nation? Are they instilled with the right passion for whatever career they may take up? These are some pertinent questions for our policy makers, educationists and most important we,parents.

Dr.Chris Anthony



Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Education not all about excelling in Exams only

Glorify a few,encourage the majority

The results of SPM examination 2006 were just released. We witnessed the happiness of those students who scored maximum As. We should all congratulate them for the achievements which were the result of long hours of hard work and sacrifice. There were those who grieved just because they fell short of the maximum by just a single A. Then there were those who lamented they could not obtain their targeted 17 or 18 As. We should really appreciate the zeal and determination of these high achievers.

In the midst of all the joy and glory, we tend to forget the vast majority, many from the lower income families, who obtained just average results and a equally large number who just managed to scrape through with a pass. There are also many who miserably failed their examinations. We should not only sympathise with them but go all out to encourage them in whatever way we can. After all success is meaningless without failure.

Today school examinations have become like a race where we we go all out to spend large amount of time, money and energy to ensure our children win with flying colours.It is a pity that this race is not a fair one as it is weighted against to those who are monetarily handicapped and cannot afford the exorbitant fees for tuition.

It has become a practice of our media to over glorify those who score maximum A’s in their examination but neglect those who despite their disadvantaged position manage to get above average results. They encourage the notion that collecting maximum A’s, is education and life are all about. This practice of the media aggravates the ill effects of the already examination orientated education system of ours.

We must realize that these top scorers are just a small percentage of the total student population. The majority are the average scorers with 4-6A’s.However much we encourage and coax our students, only a few will become maximum scorers and this is a fact of life we all have to accept.

These high achievers must be rewarded accordingly, but it is equally important to ensure the others are also taken care. It is more important to encourage the majority to excel in things for which they have a liking and aptitude. Opportunities must be made available to these students as well.

By over glorifying these top scorers, tremendous psychological pressure is placed on the majority to ape them. This causes a great amount of stress on students in school these days. Those with average or even above average result are made to feel useless and a failure in school. From experience we know that success in examination does not necessarily guarantee success in life.

Every school should have qualified counselors to educate and help students overcome the trauma of examinations. Even those who fail miserably should not be discouraged. They should be shown other opportunities available to them, in which they can excel.

Let us, parents, teachers and all members of society, reinforce ourselves that schools are for educating the minds of our young men and women and not a place to collect As it appears to be at present.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Indians must work to discard self-pity and restore self-pride>>

There is more to suicide than movies

Suicide is highest among the Indians in Malaysia.Our top Indian politicians attribute it to the influence of Tamil movies and have called for the banning of these movies.It may have some truth but not the whole truth.

Believing that censoring these scenes alone will prevent suicide among the Indian community is being too naïve and simplistic. The Indians have been progressively marginalized from the national development. Their over dependence on government handouts and subsidies have left them lagging behind in all fields. They are left behind in education and vocational training.

As a result job opportunities are limited and unemployment is becominga serious problem. Poverty is an inevitable accompaniment of unemployment. Unemployment especially among the youth contributes to theincreasing crime rate among them.

Our wrong attitude to life is further reflected in the high incidence of diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart attacks which to me are mere signs of laziness and complacency. When we have become too lazy to even take care of our own health, how can we progress as a community in this fast moving materialistic global world?

Promoting our cultural and religious values are praiseworthy butover emphasis on these have resulted in the community losing out on mastering English and thereby the acquisition of valuableknowledge in science, technology, accounting and business management.

More time and energy should be put into the pursuit of knowledgein modern scientific, technological, accounting and management skillsas> only these will ultimately bring progress to uplift our socio- economic status.

The MIC has a lot of work to do to prevent more suicides in the Indian community. The socio-economic status must be improved. This can only be done by effecting a change the mindset, instilling discipline, encouraging hard work and self esteem among themembers of the community.

Only if we are willing to change our mindset, can we rise up to face the new realities and challenges in life, we are not going tosucceed.

Dr.Chris Anthony



Comments


Hello there,

A well written article and I should add in one point:We Indians need to start taking own initiatives in progressing inlife.Stop blaming on the media, politicians and etcetera. Use thetime and energy in helping ourselves instead of indulging in self-pity.Indians should get up and face the adventures of life and notresort to suicide.Remember: Life is too short to mourn over losses. N GOD will onlyhelp those who help themselves.

shabitra
latha_rmn@yahoo.com

Friday, March 09, 2007

NS taking a toll on our children

Time to suspend and review its implementation

The dust had hardly settled after the National Service (NS) transport fiasco in January and another tragedy had occurred, the tragic and sudden mysterious death of another trainee ,P.Prema. Hardly 3 years into the National Service programme and we have the death of 10 trainees in different training camps throughout the country.

The majority of parents have expressed not only their unhappiness, displeasure and anger at the way the NS is being run but also their fears of losing their children in the training process. From what we are witnessing we are more and more convinced their fears are not unfounded. The government and the National Service Department must listen and take seriously their views.

Sending our children for the NS training is a very serious and major decision for parents.For many of us it has many emotional repercussions as it is the first time they are being separated from the family. It would be a grievous fault on the part of the authorities to brush aside these tragedies as minor isolated mishaps. These deaths are tragic loss to the families as in some the deceased may be the only hope for their future well being. Imagine the hopes and aspirations the parents would have had after toiling 17-18 years to bring them up only to lose them is sudden tragic deaths. Imagine the anguish of the parents who sent their children alive and well only to return dead a few weeks later.

These deaths have obviously cast doubts on the quality of the training and the safety mechanisms that are in place in the NS. Is the system professional and capable enough to carry military type of training? Has it placed undue stress on the health of the trainees? How efficient and effective are the medical examination and resuscitation facilities? How well trained,equiped and motivated are the trainers in providing the training? Have we got to sacrifice a few of our children in each session of NS? Who are next in line?

No amount of reassurance will be satisfy the parents if it does not address these issues immediately.The NS Department has a lot of soul searching to do and it must do it without any further delay. It should consider the feedback from parents and public seriously. Docility on their part will only create suspicion and doubts in the minds of the people as to the real motives of the NS program

The NS as it is implemented now should be suspended immediately and a full-scale investigation conducted into the way the trainees are recruited, medically checked and subjected to the subsequent training. This is necessary to prevent the loss of more lives in NS and restore confidence in the parents and the general public at large.

Instead of heeding the call of the people to suspend and review the NS the authorities have suggested medical check-ups for trainees and improving the medical care at the training centres.Certainly these are commendable measures but will they stop the deaths at these training facilities?

Looking at the causes of the deaths among trainees so far, they fall into 3 categories:

1. Accident and trauma. This includes drowning and severe fatal injuries.

2. Infections due to exposure of the trainees to remote areas which harbour rare strains of pathogenic micro-organisms.

3. Unknown causes.They could have asymptomatic congenital cardiac or vascular lesions in the brain or elsewhere. Others include epilepsy and bronchial asthma. These individuals are apparently healthy and asymptomatic under normal circumstances, only to suddenly collapse and die on strenuous physical stress.

Normal medical check-ups will never detect these abnormalities. Even sophisticated examinations like CT scan and MRI may not detect them. To detect congenital heart and cerebral lesions we may even need echocardiogram and invasive procedures like angiography. Are these really necessary?

These measures would be mere waste of tax-payers money. Basic medical check-up for a domestic maid by Fomema costs RM 190.One can imagine the huge cost that will be incurred to do this basic medical check-up for the 40,000 trainees in each batch. To this are the other added costs for transport, food, uniform, accommodation, artillery and so on.

From the results of this programme we understand that it succeeds in fostering racial unity among our children of different ethnicity during the period of training and the months that follow. In the long term it fails in its noble aim as the children soon return to a real life environment of racial segregation and animosity in universities and places of work.

The pertinent question here is whether, apart from the risks to the participants, is it cost effective to carry on with this programme of National Service when it brings no long term benefits for racial integration for which it is primarily intended. We have a much cheaper, safer and more effective way to do that – bring such integrated training into our schools from the start.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Medical check-ups for NS trainees

Medical check-up costly and not fool-proof

It was interesting to read your report “Check-ups for NS trainees?” (Star March 6).

We welcome the setting up of a technical committee to look into health issues surrounding the National Service (NS) training programme and come up with a list of recommendations. We are also happy that Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has taken the health status of the trainees and the health care and nutrition at the training centres very seriously. He is even considering medical check-ups for potential trainees. This is definitely a commendable act on the part of the health minister which augurs well for the well being of our children during the three month stint.

Looking at the causes of the deaths among trainees so far, they fall into 3 categories:

1. Accident and trauma. This includes drowning and severe fatal injuries.
2. Infections due to exposure of the trainees to remote areas which harbour rare strains of pathogenic micro-organisms.
3. Unknown causes. These groups of trainees are healthy to start with and under stress they succumb to sudden mysterious deaths. They could have asymptomatic congenital cardiac or vascular lesions in the brain or elsewhere. Others include epilepsy and bronchial asthma.These individuals are apparently healthy and asymptomatic under normal circumstances, only to suddenly collapse and die on strenuous physical stress.

Normal medical check-ups will never detect these abnormalities. Even sophisticated examinations like CT scan and MRI may not detect them. To detect congenital heart and cerebral lesions we may even need echocardiogram and invasive procedures like angiography. Are these really necessary?

These measures would be mere waste of tax-payers money. Basic medical check-up for a domestic maid by Fomema costs RM 190.One can imagine the huge cost that will be incurred to do this basic medical check-up for the 40,000 trainees in each batch. To this are the other added costs for transport, food, uniform, accommodation, artillery and so on.

From the results of this programme we understand that it succeeds in fostering racial unity among our children of different ethnicity during the period of training and the months that follow. In the long term it fails in its noble aim as the children soon return to a real life environment of racial segregation and animosity in universities and places of work.

The pertinent question here is whether, apart from the risks to the participants, is it cost effective to carry on with this programme of National Service when it brings no long term benefits for racial integration for which it is primarily intended. We have a much cheaper, safer and more effective way to do that – bring such training into our schools from the start.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, March 02, 2007

National Service - 10th fatality


Suspend and review NS

The dust had hardly settled after the National Service (NS) transport fiasco in January and another tragedy had occurred, the tragic and sudden mysterious death of another trainee ,P.Prema. Hardly 3 years into the National Service programme and we have the death of 10 trainees in different training camps throughout the country.

All these deaths among the young are unfortunate and are unwarranted and it would be grievous fault on the part of the authorities to brush aside as isolated mishaps. It is a tragic loss to the families. Imagine the hopes and aspirations the parents would have had after toiling 17-18 years to bring them up only to result in their sudden tragic deaths in the form of national service that is not aimed to defend the nation.

Sending our young children for the NS training is very serious and major decision for parents.For many of us it has many emotional repercussions as is the first time they are separated from the family.Furthermore we are forced to submit them to a certain degree of risks while in training.

These deaths have obviously cast doubts on the quality of the training and the safety mechanisms that have been put in place. Is the system professional and capable enough to carry military type of training? Has it placed undue stress on the health of the trainees? How efficient and effective are the medical examination and resuscitative set up?

The government should seriously address these issues immediately. It should consider the feedback from parents and public seriously. The NS as it is implemented now should be suspended immediately and a full-scale investigation conducted into the way the trainees are recruited, medical checked and subjected to the subsequent training. This is necessary to prevent the loss of more lives in NS.

The NS Department has a lot of soul searching to do and it must do it immediately.Docility on their part will only create suspicion and doubts in the minds of the people as to the real motives of the NS program

In fact it would more effective to bring NS training to schools rather than sending the students to some remote areas which brings with it other unneccesary risks and added costs

Dr.Chris Anthony

Teacher's Day 2017

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