Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012

Happy 2012 to everyone.

I know the Mayan calendar suggests that this may well be the last solar cycle for us.

That said, I suspect that in spite of such a profound prospect most of us will still soldier on to do the things that we need to do instead of just staring at the sky or watch endless repeats of the DVD of John Cusack racing toward an ark in the Himalayan range.

Happy 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

What is the Chinese language?

First of all, I wish everyone celebrating, a very Merry Christmas. And, to everyone else, Happy Holidays.

Being an illiterate, albeit an earnest inquirer, I found this piece in the Economist to be highly informative and interesting. In particular, the robust comments for the piece are very instructive.

I HAVE exercised Chinese commenters with a few posts that were seen as either simplistic or biased. So let me offer two competing visions of Chinese that help explain what the two sides disagree on. These are archetypes which few partisans may agree with every word of.  But they are the basic poles of thinking about Chinese, I think. I submit them for the good of commenters, who should debate them to shreds.

In brief, Chinese traditionalists believe-

1) Chinese is one language with dialects.

2) Chinese is best written in the character-based on the Hanzi system.

3) All Chinese read and share the same writing system, despite speaking in different ways.

Western linguists tend to respond-

1) Chinese is not a language but a family; the "dialects" are not dialects but languages.

2) Hanzi-based writing is unnecessarily difficult; the characters do not represent "ideas" but "morphemes" (small and combinable units of meaning, like the morphemes of any language). Pinyin(the standard Roman system) could just as easily be used for Chinese. Puns, wordplay and etymology might be sacrificed, but ease of use would be enhanced.

3) Modern Hanzi writing is basically Mandarin with the old characters in a form modified by the People's Republic. Everyone else (Cantonese speakers, say) must either write Mandarin or significantly alter the system to write their own "Chinese".

There are so many arguments packed into these two ideas that it's hard to start, much less finish, in a blog post.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The sensation of being naked in public

I am quite certain that every Malaysian who owns an email address and a mobile phone has been receiving politics-laced messages from both sides of the political divide. 

Some messages are well-articulated. Others are emotive. Some are sensible. Others, outrageous. Many are well-meaning. Equally many are downright abusive and libelous.

I'm not sure how other Malaysians react to these messages. I usually glance at them before deleting or, just delete them with nary a further thought.

The point of this post is directed at the remarks I receive from ex-Malaysians who have uprooted themselves to live elsewhere.

These ex-Malaysians invariably have a haughty tone that exhibit 2 characteristics. First, thank the stars I am no longer living in Malaysia. The situation is chaotic. Second, what's wrong with YOU people in Malaysia and all your politicking and race-laced views.

I find these types of remarks tiresome, boring and annoying.

We, who live in Malaysia, are enjoying greater democratic space. We are having some fun.

The best metaphors for what Malaysians are experiencing are-

  • Standing naked outside your house in broad daylight.

  • Bungee jumping for the first time.

It's the democratic equivalent of a dopamine rush.

Some of us hits a downer faster than others. We slow down. Others appear to be on permanent speed.

The point is that this is OUR game to play; for Malaysians who choose to live in Malaysia.

I love Malaysia. I love Malaysian democracy.

I am amused by Ibrahim Ali and Wee Ka Siong. They add colour and texture to the Malaysian political batik fabric. I may not believe what they say, and I really don't. But, I enjoy their utterances. Sometimes I mock exasperation and indignation. But, at heart, they provide a perverse form of enjoyment and distraction.

If people don't understand the cacophony of Malaysian politics (which is at freshman level), then how could they appreciate the higher level banality offered by Aussie politicians (for example) arguing emotionally about carbon tax and the finer points of the Kyoto Protocol?

I'd much rather that people who are residing permanently or, worse, who have become citizens, in another country engage the issues in that land and, if they so desire, quietly read about the colours of political Malaysia and, refrain from making haughty and condescending remarks to Malaysians who choose to live and contribute to Malaysia.

Lest I be misunderstood, none of the above applies to Malaysians studying or working abroad who will be returning in future. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

A smile from the Heavens

Someone emailed this among other photos to me. It's such a great shot that I simply had to post it. I'm not sure whose copyright it is. But, when I find out, I'll be sure to attribute it. It really is a great "one-in-a-million" shot that every photographer must dream of.

Update: Thanks to flyer168 for referencing the URL where the photo originated from here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

PPSMI and the Malaysian education malaise

One of the part that worries me about the PPSMI saga is the claim by the Minister of Education that the matter of reversing the PPSMI policy has been given deep thought by all and sundry in the Cabinet.

What worries me is that the Malaysian education system is too fragmented to the point that it now mirrors Astro programming.

And, what do I mean by that?

It is disturbing to see that Malaysian children are being shafted into different directions in the name of seeking quality education, culture and/or just plain, affordability.

Parents who perceive that the quality of education in national schools (sekolah kebangsaan) have deteriorated precipitously have been sending their children to national-type Chinese schools or international schools.

Other parents who doubt the quality of national schools have been sending their children to private schools using the national syllabus.

Parents who believe that their children need to maintain their perceived "cultural identity" have been sending their children to Mandarin-medium or Tamil-medium schools. Let's not forget that there was also a time when Malay parents would send their children to Malay-medium schools with the same intent.

Parents who believe that their children should be at the apex of society with a fighting chance of being entrenched as the elite of Malaysian society and/or be competitive at a global level, have been sending their children to international schools based in Malaysia!!!!

That's what I mean by the Astro-programming parallel.

And, I believe this to be the major issue.

This is the pink elephant in the room that the Minister of Education and the Cabinet has chosen to ignore.

Granted that this issue is a delicate and complex one, someone still has to address the issue.

Or, maybe this is the precise point.

It is NOT a political issue because no one, on either side of the Parliamentary divide, be they Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, have bothered to deal with the matter.

Yet, everyone who has school-going children and anyone who has undergone any of the education routes I have outlined above should know or recall, the educational anomaly that exists in Malaysia.

Who amongst the political leaders of contemporary Malaysia has the courage to raise this issue? Who dares to bell this cat?

No one.

All we have are parochial and chauvinistic gallery-pandering politicians and educationists who champion their own little causes.

Will no one stand for the Malaysian nation?

Yes. Lest we forget, we are a nation. We live under the same sky. We drink the same water. We eat almost similar food. And, our urinary and fecal matter have been flowing into the same streams and rivers for over a century. 

And, here we are.

Why do many of us argue in favour of preserving PPSMI?

Well, it isn't because we believe that our national school's quality has improved. It hasn't. And, yes, the quality of education needs serious improvement.

But, we don't believe that having Maths and Science being taught in Bahasa Malaysia will improve the quality of education.

We don't believe it simply because language is NOT the issue in the matter of quality of education.

We merely believe that having our children being taught the technical subjects of Maths and Science in the English language will make it easier for our children to tap into the great reservoir of knowledge that currently exists in the known Universe which is very, very substantially written in the English language.

Our children, who have been taught since 2003 under the PPSMI are articulate and conversant in BOTH Bahasa Malaysia and English. Their teachers can vouch for this.

And, no, Mr Education Minister, we parents are NOT satisfied that our current school-going children will remain with PPSMI until the end of their school life.

We want PPSMI to be maintained for the future cohorts of students.

And, we want you, your Cabinet colleagues and the entire Ministry of Education to focus on improving the quality of teachers. 

Stop tampering with language and syllabus.

Just focus on improving the quality of education.

Is this clear enough? (Sorry, just quoting Mr Essau, my Form One teacher who carried a big rotan in his day).

Friday, November 4, 2011

PAGE: Malays lose most from scrapping of PPSMI

Sourced from here-
PETALING JAYA: Rural students are the biggest losers from the government’s decision to stop the teaching of science and mathematics in English, according to the Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE).
PAGE chairperson Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said rural students, especially Malays, would end up speaking only Malay because they would have no context in which to apply English.
She questioned the wisdom of the decision, saying Malaysia was going against the tide when “countries all over the world are pushing for English”. She said she was now convinced that Barisan Nasional was not the right party to govern the nation.
She was commenting on Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s latest statement on the scrapping of PPSMI (the Malay abbreviation for the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English). Muhyiddin, who is the Education Education, said today that the decision was final.
“Through PPSMI, the kids would have had an opportunity to practice the language,” Noor Azimah said.
Muhyiddin said the government would go ahead next year with its MBMMBI (Upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening the English Language) policy, which would cover a “soft landing” programme for students currently studying science and mathematics in English.
He derided PAGE and other supporters of PPSMI for “being out of touch”, saying the decision to abolish the programme had been made in 2009.
Noor Azimah retorted that PAGE had been fighting to keep PPSMI in the system for “the last three years”.
I think he is out of touch,” she said.
She also said, without elaborating, that PAGE would “support” students hit by the policy change, especially those currently in Primary 3 and Secondary 3.
“They have the right to finish science and mathematics in English under the soft landing.”
Test scores

Noor Azimah claimed that next year’s MBMMBI syllabus was not new, but a direct translation of the current PPSMI texts.

In an earlier statement, PAGE said national test scores improved following the introduction of the PPSMI in 2003.
Citing the Millenium Development Goals 2010 report, it said both rural and urban students had benefited from PPSMI.
“They (rural students) all showed improvements in English, no reduction in Bahasa Malaysia, and improvements in Science and Mathematics in the last few years,” it said.
Through an online petition initiated by PAGE, more than 100,000 parents have protested against the scrapping of PPSMI.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero

Chris Matthews host of MSNBC's show has published a new book on John F. Kennedy. The video clip below is interesting not just for the little nuggets that Matthews throws in on JFK but, also the continuing relevance of JFK in the American political psyche about what it takes to be a political leader.

As always, Malaysians should take all this in in the context of Malaysian politics and leadership.


Here is a nugget about how JFK is likely to have got his impulse to use the now famous phrase, "Ask not, what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

JFK's 'ask not' line traced back to prep school

Nov 1 (Reuters) - John F. Kennedy's most famous turn of phrase was inspired by the headmaster of his New England prep school, according to a new book on America's only president to have won the Pulitzer Prize.
In his 14-minute 1961 inaugural speech, which addressed the United States' role in the Cold War, Kennedy told Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."
Kennedy, it turns out, had heard something like it before.
Two documents unearthed by MSNBC television host Chris Matthews in his book "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero," show that the future president's headmaster at the elite Choate boarding school in Connecticut in the early 1930s had used a similar exhortation.
"The youth who loves his alma matter will always ask not 'What can she do for me?' but 'What can I do for her?" the headmaster said, quoting a Harvard University dean.
The book says that Kennedy, who was nearly expelled from Choate for his rebellious hijinks, boosted his 1960 presidential bid with small but well-timed moves.

Monday, October 31, 2011

PAGE: Listen to parents' plea, Govt urged

Sourced from here-

The online plea from tens of thousands of people shows that the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy needs to be re-looked, said Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE).
Its chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said there was a huge support for the policy to continue on the Facebook group “1M Malaysians say YES to PPSMI as an OPTION”, as well as related blogs and websites.
The Facebook group has registered over 94,000 people as at 8.30pm yesterday.
Noor Azimah said she acknowledged the concern expressed by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin over the lack of proficient English teachers.
“However, teachers should be able to teach in both languages as they have been teaching the subjects in English since the introduction of PPSMI in 2003,” she said.
Noor Azimah said that if the number of schools that chose English was small, then it would be easier to provide the teachers.
She added that the reasons should be addressed head-on and not swept under the carpet.
PAGE has also started a “Yes to PPSMI option” on its website.
PAGE will be handing an appeal letter on the matter to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at his office in Putrajaya today, and the movement urged parents to turn up for support.
Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) president Azwanddin Hamzah said Muhyiddin should have called for a discussion with JMM and PAGE before making a final decision.
“We (JMM and PAGE) are not doing this for personal interest, but for all parents in Malaysia,” he said.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng said that while she did not deny the importance of English, there would be many constraints in having a dual system in schools.
“Implementing both the Uphol-ding Bahasa Melayu and Strengthening the English Language (MBM-MBI) policy; as well as PPSMI, in schools would involve massive cost and a lot of changes to the school structure.
“I support the fact that we have to enhance English proficiency among our students, but in this case, we have to look at the statistics and feedback from the ground which shows that not all children can cope with learning Science and Maths in English,” she said.

PAGE warns BN of polls backlash from PPSMI snub

Sourced from here-

Barisan Nasional (BN) risks losing votes in upcoming polls if it continues barring students from learning science and maths using English in schools, a parents lobby group said today.
The Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) wants the 10-year-old policy of teaching science and maths in English at national schools (PPSMI) to be made an option for students in primary and secondary schools.
“If it is political (decision on PPSMI) give us the PPSMI option in national primary and secondary schools, and we will give you the two-thirds majority, which you are making increasingly difficult for us to do.
“Do not make us give the opposition our vote,” said PAGE chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said in a statement to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today.
“We would not like the Najib administration to be remembered for abolishing PPSMI, for not regaining the two-thirds majority and for making our children yet another lost generation,” she said bluntly.
Noor Azimah stressed that the government’s past decision in introducing PPSMI in schools was not “flawed”, adding it would empower students with the skills and knowledge needed to compete with other countries should the policy be retained.
She criticised Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for saying yesterday that the education system will turn chaotic if parents were allowed to freely choose the medium of instruction for their children.
Calling it “unacceptable”, Noor Azimah charged that all science and mathematics teachers should be able to teach in either Bahasa Malaysia or English as the PPSMI policy had previously been in place for nine years.
“If the number of schools that choose English are small, then it would be even easier to provide the teachers. The reasons should be addressed head-on and not swept under the carpet after spending RM3 billion of the rakyat’s hard earned income. We want an explanation,” she said.
Noor Azimah said that the current education system only divided children according to race-based schools, a split that was slowly incorporating class differences as seen in the growing popularity of private and international schools.
She stressed that PPSMI was not about learning English through science and mathematics, but to provide the context to put the language into practise.
Opposition parties like the DAP have thrown their weight behind PAGE’s cause, demanding the Education Ministry be more flexible and give students the option which will enable the country to retain its best talents.
The growing row over the education policy has split the country along racial, political lines ahead of national polls likely to be called early next year.
Vocal fundamental groups are using the issue to champion their version of nationalism.
Several non-partisan civil societies have recently banded together to counter this tide but the powerful Malay-dominant political parties appear to be reluctant to commit to this hot potato issue ahead of the 13th general election.
Noor Azimah said that PAGE will be sending a letter of appeal to Najib on the matter tomorrow morning in Putrajaya.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

PAGE hits back: Don't twist the facts for "political expediency"

Sourced from here-

Written by  Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim , PAGE

GMP (Gabungan Mansuhkan PPSMI), led by PAS members is pushing the Government to stand firm on abolishing PPSMI (The teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English) yet again, and claiming that only 3% of pupils benefited from PPSMI.
Evidence to support the continuance or abolishment of PPSMI, should be based on the achievements in UPSR, PMR and SPM. That should be the benchmark. The test results of these three national examinations, proved to be very encouraging, clearly supporting the continuance of PPSMI while contradicting all statements that have been brought against PPSMI.
Results are telling
Bear in mind that PPSMI started in 2003. Let’s evaluate the results.
UPSR chart – Passes in BM, English, Science and Mathematics 2001 – 2009, SK & SJK (Source: The Millenium Development Goals 2010)
a)       Science and Mathematics passes were the highest in 2007, but took a dip in 2008 then picked up again in 2009, at the same level of 2007. The lowest result in Science and Mathematics was in the year 2001, when Science and Mathematics were still in Bahasa Malaysia.
b)       The best achievement in English was in the year 2008, and the trend is on the incline ever since the start of PPSMI.
c)       In SK Bahasa Malaysia result was constant, showing that PPSMI has no negative effect on Bahasa Malaysia. In fact, the highest achievement in Bahasa Malaysia was recorded after the implementation of PPSMI. On the other hand, achievements in Bahasa Malaysia in vernaculars schools (Chinese & Tamil) show a declining trend from year 2006/2007.

PMR chart – Passes in BM, English, Science and Mathematics 2001 – 2009, SK and SJK (Source: The Millenium Development Goals 2010)
a)       PMR results were the most affected by the PPSMI switch. It showed a dip in the early years of PPSMI in all main subjects except English; however the trend showed improvement from 2007 onwards for Science and Mathematics
b)       English improved, evident in year 2003 -2009 with PPSMI in operation. Bahasa Malaysia remained constant throughout.
SPM charts – Passes in BM, English, Science and Mathematics 2004 – 2010, Rural & Urban students (Source: MOE)

a)       In Science, the rural students constantly outperformed the urban students throughout the seven-year trend. Clearly the rural students were able to cope with PPSMI contrary to the perception that rural students do not fare well with PPSMI. The highest achievement in Science recorded in the year 2008 by the rural students.
b)       In Mathematics, the rural students were beginning to show improvements from the year 2008 onwards. The best percentage increment took place between the year 2009 and 2010, recorded by the rural students. The best performance by rural students was in 2010. The urban-rural gap showed narrowing trends with the 2010 performance.
c)       In English, both the urban and rural students showed improvement throughout the years, best performance in 2010.
d)       In Bahasa Malaysia, both urban and rural students were at par with each other. The results were constant throughout the seven year trend. It suffers no damage under PPSMI.
English works even for Rural students
PPSMI is working, even for the rural students. That is the conclusion that can be derived from the three examination results under the PPSMI policy. They all showed improvements in English, no reduction in Bahasa Malaysia, and improvements in Science and Mathematics in the last few years.
GMP has joined the bandwagon because they have nothing to lose to push for the abolishment of PPSMI. It is good for them since the parents who cannot get PPSMI could ironically vote for PAS at the coming election.
Parents with national school going children and concerned citizens must come together to ensure that their voices are heard. It is not about politics. It is about the children, and parents want what is best for their children. The Education Act 1996 stipulates that “pupils are to be educated according to the wishes of their parents”, not teachers, not principals, not PTAs and most definitely, not politicians or deluded national language linguists.
This may well be our last ditch attempt to urge the government to offer the PPSMI option to parents who want their children to continue with it indefinitely. Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) urges all parents who support PPSMI to speak up NOW. Parents should do the right thing in the name of their children and the future.
In large numbers, parents voice matter. To date we have 100,000 phone numbers of parents who support PPSMI. Make the voices heard for the sake of the children and for the future of this beloved nation. Yes to PPSMI option. Register at .
PAGE is an educational lobbyist that aims to serve as a channel between concerned parents, the Ministry of Education and other educational stakeholders

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Khan Academy

My sister and her American family visited Malaysia during the Summer. Her eldest son, having completed his freshman year, will be entering his sophomore year soon.

He is a top-notch student. In my proud avuncular eyes, he's likely to graduate with a magna cum laude or. at the very least, summa cum laude.

But, he was home-schooled. That intrigued me. So, I interviewed him intermittently.

My nephew said that in the first few months it was tough going because it felt strange to be sitting at home and listen to recorded teaching. Eventually he got used to it.

More importantly, I asked him how he got by without any tuition (a popular past time for young Malaysians with kiasu parents). He said he relied on the Khan Academy website.

"What?", I thought.

I furtively moved toward the iMac and googled "Khan Academy".

The website and its YouTube video tutorials blew me away. I, later, found out that it also blew Bill Gates away when he also found out that his daughter (I think it was) was also using the Khan Academy's tutorial resources.

Unlike impecunious me, Bill Gates got the Bill and Melinda Foundation to use its considerable resources to provide financial support for the Khan Academy. 

So, back to the story...

I excitedly whispered to my 16-year old son that he should check out the Khan Academy website for video tutorials on any subject that he needed more help on (in addition to the tuition he was getting .... yes, mea culpa my children attend tuition classes too!).

He looked at me impassively and replied that he WAS already using the Khan Academy resources.

Since my son turned 13, I have been having this discomfiting feeling that my stature has shrunk in his eyes from that of a god to a demi-god to a mere human and, now, close to a cretin (probably already one).

Mind you, I'm beginning to surreptitiously listen to specific tutorial topics in the Khan Academy, particularly on areas that I was such a dud on, like geometry, calculus, algebra and other branches of mathematics.

So, those of you who have school-going children may wish to get them to check out the Khan Academy website

And, no, there is no upper-age limit. So, you, too, can get on it and learn something!


Monday, October 17, 2011

What ails the GLCs?

I have been reading all the chatter about GLCs (both Malaysian and elsewhere) and their travails. Many who take a macro view are peeved that GLCs, being large corporations with the backing of sovereign governments, have an inside track to plum projects and deals. These inside tracks and opportunities have a perceived cost because they are done at the expense of depriving privately held corporations (as opposed to those that have government or statutory shareholding ownership) of the opportunity to bid for the plum projects and deals.

Another peeve is that GLCs are often in serious and earnest asset-shuffling mode. Often, these asset-shuffles aka "mergers and acquisitions", result in 1+1=1 instead of 1+1=3 or more in value creation. In other words, there are seldom any true synergistic benefits arising post-merger or acquisition.

Truth be told, this applies not just to GLCs, but also to many large corporations.

There are many examples of these disastrous corporate exercises. The Time Warner and AOL deal is probably the all-time classic example. Closer to home, the example would be the great Sime Darby merger.

So, here we have 2 basic issues-

First, the allegation that GLCs "crowd out" the private sector.

Second, GLCs are merely shuffling assets and playing a game of stacking numbers i.e. shuffling assets and cashflows between and amongst different corporate entities to produce a financial result that shows higher profits and greater valuations.

The first issue is obvious. So, I'll just leave it there.

The second issue is more interesting to me. Let's try to taxonomise them.

I see 2 types of large publicly-listed corporations, GLC or privately-held.

Type A is a corporation that thrives on asset-shuffling and, mergers and acquisitions.

There are 2 kinds of Type A corporations.

Type A-1, are corporations that conduct asset-shuffling, mergers and acquisitions within a clearly defined core business. These corporations try not to stray outside their field of expertise. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is a good example of this. That said, News Corp screwed up big time with Myspace, acquiring Myspace's parent company, Intermix Media for USD500 million in 2005 and recently selling it for a paltry USD35 million. Nevertheless, the constant asset-shuffling, mergers and acquisitions give market investors paroxysms of orgasmic highs and cold turkey lows. It's a combination of thrills and fear. Like riding on a roller-coaster.

Type A-2, are corporations that conduct asset-shuffling, mergers and acquisitions with an assortment of businesses. There are many Malaysian privately-held corporate groups that do this. I shall not name them. And, then, there are the institutions that own the GLCs such as Khazanah Nasional and PNB.

Type B corporations are more honest-to-goodness, stick-to-what-you-know-and-grow types. Apple is, of course, the sexy example.  Another is IBM. 

Most of the criticism is levelled at Type A-2. 

The key issue is how well the drivers of corporate deals understand the core business of these corporations.

Throughout the world, not just in Malaysia - many, many large corporations, not just GLCs - are now led by finance men. These are numbers-crunchers. These are people who only look at numbers and how they stack together. These people do not see businesses, business history or people. They only see numbers. They are like the evil twin of Neo in the Matrix Trilogy.

Why is this a concern?

Well, the concern is that these finance men do not know how to manage core operations. Many of them don't believe that it is necessary for them to learn business operations. Many of them believe that the numbers are all that matter.

What is the market share today? How does it compare with the last quarter? What is the projected market share in the next quarter?

What is the pre-tax profit today? How does it compare with the last quarter? What is the projected pre-tax earnings in the next quarter?

What are the trade receivables today? How does it compare with the last quarter? What is the projected collections in the next quarter?

What is the inventory today? How does it compare with the last quarter? What is the projected inventory in the next quarter?

Reams of excel spreadsheets are generated. Lots of score cards are prepared. Numbers. Digits. Plus. Minus. Percentages.

To be fair, the same questions that the finance men ask are equally asked by business leaders who worked their way up from operational ranks. 


But, the comprehension and insight offered by these numbers differ markedly between the finance men and the business leaders who were involved in the core business - whether from the production side or the sales department.

I have nothing against finance men. Some turn out to be great business leaders. Many others turn out to be the investors' greatest nightmare.

It may be that the excessive presence of finance men - who have no clue about the core business, the human capital in these businesses and the future potential of the businesses - is the factor that ails the GLCs.

I may be wrong. 

But, I don't think I am.

The remedy?

Don't discard willy-nilly the homegrown career managers. Give them a fair shake at leading the core businesses.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Malaysians Say "YES" To PPSMI

I received the message below from PAGE Malaysia. Please support this worthy cause to alert the Malaysian Government and, in particular, the Ministry of Education that it must respect the rights of Malaysian parents on the choice of PPSMI-

Dear parents and friends,

The quality of Malaysian education has deteriorated to an alarming level, with our schools and local universities churning out TOO MANY unemployable graduates who possess a severe lack of ability to communicate or correspond in English despite numerous A's scored in examinations, and producing ‘professionals’ of worryingly poor calibre especially in the fields of science and mathematics.

The former Prime Minister took steps to rectify the situation by implementing the policy of English for the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics and Science (Malay acronym: PPSMI) in 2003. The policy was fully embraced by the Government of the day, and ICT, hardware and software were acquired and designed and teachers were trained. Parents were greatly relieved that finally something concrete was being done to arrest the decline of the Malaysian education system.

Shortly after that, the general election was held and a new minister took over the Education Minister’s portfolio.

Shockingly, after only 6 years of implementation, without even allowing the first cohort of students who started with PPSMI in Primary 1 to complete the full cycle of schooling, the new Education Minister decided to abolish PPSMI in 2012, mainly for political reasons, despite
  • huge public outcry and protests from parents and students alike;
  • a massive number of letters and articles in newspapers and cyberspace from people in support of PPSMI, far outnumbering those against PPSMI;  
  • support for PPSMI from various professional bodies, business concerns and numerous concerned groups both local and international; and
  • solid evidence that PPSMI has improved student outlooks and is advantageous for the future of our children and the country.

The Education Minister has IGNORED the pleas of parents and has blatantly disregarded the provision of the Education Act 1996 which stipulates that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents.

The world is moving forward but yet Malaysia is going backward. We are going to remain stagnant in terms of progress and development.

Students in Form 1 next year will have to study Mathematics and Science in Bahasa Melayu after learning these subjects in English in primary school. Worse, for those who are going to Form 4, after learning Maths and Science in English for 9 years, they will be forced to switch to Bahasa Melayu for 2 years and then back again to English for their tertiary education!

Parents and friends, enough is enough. We are the Rakyat. The days of ‘the Government knows best’ are OVER! A democratic government must abide by the wishes of the majority.

We believe the majority of parents in Malaysia would choose PPSMI for their children if given the option. Unfortunately many choose to remain silent. Why? WE MUST MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD! Our numbers must be significant so that the Minister has no choice but to heed our wishes!


If you want your children’s school to be given the option of continuing PPSMI in 2012, attached is a simple form for you to REGISTER YOUR SUPPORT. It will take only a few minutes of your time to fill in. We urge you to register immediately as 2012 is just around the corner.

Please also help to forward the email to as many people as possible.

Please be assured that all information you provide will be carefully guarded and we will take great care to ensure that your personal information remains confidential.

Thank you for showing that you care about your children's future AND the future of Malaysia!

Parent Action Group for Education (1266-10-WKL)pagemalaysia@gmail.comwww.pagemalaysia.orgFor Our Children. Demi Anak Kita

-- PAGE Parent Action Group for Education (1266-10-WKL)pagemalaysia@gmail.comwww.pagemalaysia.orgFor Our Children. Demi Anak Kita