18 September 2023

A 'State-Government 4’ is divisive...

While PAS seems excited about the creation of a ‘State-Government 4’ or SG4 uniting the four states run by the Islamic party with former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as adviser, many are expressing their disagreement with these plans.Some are saying it is divisive and will create an entity that will supersede the role and interests of the federal government in these states.

According to Scoop, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Razak Faculty of Technology & Informatics lecturer Associate Prof Mazlan Ali said the formation of this grouping is in opposition to the Federal government. It is a move that will isolate the four states altogether and also jeopardise relations with Putrajaya.

Adding to the intensity of the debate is the role that Mahathir is supposed to play in the SG4. The PAS is saying Dr Mahathir’s extensive experience can help the four states under the auspices of Perikatan Nasional (PN) in the investment sector.

Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar said that through the cooperation of the SG4, they can further strengthen the potential that exists in the four states.

“Dr Mahathir also has a good relationship with foreign investors such as Japan, Korea and so on,” Sinar Harian quoted him as saying. He also said that Dr Mahathir ‘ordered’ them to be efficient, otherwise investors could run away.

Meanwhile, netizens remain sceptical about Dr Mahathir’s ability to bring foreign investments into the PAS states.

Twitter users have a different sentiment when it comes to this deal. They are unhappy with the steep division that is ongoing in the country. The general feeling among social media users is that Dr Mahathir should retire from the limelight and let the current generation of leaders sort themselves out.

"With Dr M two times as PM of Malaysia for more than 24 years, these four states are what they are now, just wonder not being PM can he bring developments to them? I am not optimistic at all. What happen to so call PN & with BN having govern Malaysia for about 2.5 years? No ideas?" says Jimmy Leu

Seemingly, users are also blaming the former prime minister for the lack of development in these states. Being the leader of the country for almost a quarter of a century, he wasn’t able to do much for these four PAS states. Furthermore, will it be a strong possibility for him to pull in investments now that he is no longer the prime minister?

Meanwhile, Twitter user The Az Report stated:

"You must be kidding. Kenapa pulak pelabur nak put their trust on an elderly mischiefmaker yang senang-senang letak jawatan sehingga mencetuskan keadaan huru-hara. Pelabur nak pemimpin yang level headed, tak dengki mendengki. Move on lah. Tun punya zaman kegemilangan dah over."

The wounds of the first Pakatan Harapan government collapsing in 2020 are still not healed among Malaysians. Many felt that what Dr Mahathir did was an utter betrayal of the people. – focusmalaysia

Quit the endless Bumiputera congresses...

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is scheduled to address the bumiputera economic congress in January next year. We have had far too many of these “congresses,” which tells us something of their value or lack of. These congresses serve no purpose other than for the inevitable shrill vocalisations of our community’s frustrations. The same tired themes and ineffective remedies would be regurgitated ad nauseam.

As Anwar will be visiting China next week, learn from that nation’s recent history. In the early years of China-America rapprochement, the United States had sent a low-level delegation to Beijing. To the surprise of the delegates, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping inserted himself and asked the head of the American delegation to phone President Jimmy Carter with the request to accept about 300 Chinese students into American universities.

Dumbfounded by the unusual request as well as Deng’s unexpected appearance, the leader of the American delegation phoned his immediate superior in Washington, DC, who in turn directed him to call the White House. Imagine Carter being awakened in the wee hours of the morning by a phone call from Beijing, and at the height of the still very frosty Cold War. From a low-ranking official to boot! Nonetheless, Carter acceded to the request as it came from Deng.

Today, thousands of Chinese students study in America so much so that they are now considered a security threat. Meanwhile, China is poised to overtake America economically and in many other spheres.

That is the consequential difference between Deng sending China’s best and brightest to elite American colleges versus Mao Zedong earlier banishing them to rural “re-education” camps. There is a lesson there for Malays. Sending thousands of Malays to Arab countries and introducing “hadith study modules” in national schools are but our equivalent of Mao’s re-education camps.

Instead of addressing at another congress, Anwar should gather the headmasters of residential schools with this directive: Send at least three of your students annually to top Western universities or you would be out of a job. How to achieve this objective would be up to them. 
Likewise, a similar mandate to the vice-chancellors of public universities. Direct their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) departments as well as that of English, economics, and philosophy to send one doctoral candidate annually to top Western institutions.

How best to achieve this would again be left to the academics. That would be far more productive and funds well spent instead of the current obsession with rankings and publishing in journals. A decade hence when Malaysian judges, prosecutors, and attorneys-general would come out of top law schools, we would see fewer of these DNAA (discharge not amounting to acquittal) cases.

Likewise, when the government’s chief secretaries have doctorates from other than Oklahoma State or New Hampshire State but MBAs from the Harvards, only then would we be spared another One Malaysia Berhad. No guarantee of course, but a good bet. Right now Anwar is blamed for their incompetence. He bears that only in so far as he has not been swift in getting rid of them.

Anwar appreciates the value of quality education. Privileged to have been a visiting faculty fellow at such institutions as Oxford and George Washington, he knows the quality of the discourses and intellectual climate on those campuses.

We spent billions on Malay special privileges with little to show for that. We send thousands to mediocre colleges abroad, an exercise in membajakan lallang (nurturing weeds). Likewise, with Malays pursuing Hang Tuah or revealed knowledge and prophetic traditions. We already have a glut of them.

Reward excellence. Give scholarships to Malays admitted to the top 100 global universities (Britain’s Oxbridge, Canada’s McGills as well as America’s Stanfords and the Ivy League) regardless of the field of study chosen. If they are smart enough to be accepted there, they would be better judges of what is best for them, not pompous local Public Service Department officials.

Also, reward those admitted to the next tier but still prestigious top 200-300 universities by giving them full scholarships but only if they were to pursue STEM, English, economics, and similar much-needed disciplines. Choose any other field and they would get a scholarship only if their parents’ income were below a certain threshold. A sliding scale would be applied above that.

Thus, a poor kampung kid accepted to the University of Minnesota (UM) flagship campus in Minneapolis would get a full scholarship regardless of his or her choice of studies. Get accepted to UM’s Duluth campus, however, and you are on your own. Had we done that back then, Malays would today have been spared the likes of Azmin Ali.

As for those qualified only for Universiti Utara Malaysia, they would get study loans but only if they were to pursue STEM and such disciplines as English. No scholarships, period. Pursue such a policy and within a generation, we would never have any need for another bumiputera congress. - M Bakri Musa


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