Politikus: Why We Need Khairy Jamaluddin

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

by Marshall D. Teach

I have always said for this country to prosper and have a bright future, we need more politicians like Khairy Jamaluddin. Despite continuing insults and accusations from pro-Mahathir (and pro-Mukhriz) bloggers, KJ continues to shine with his efforts in speaking out in issues that matter to the people. He has spoken out on the issues of PPSMI (he's against the dumb policy), minimum wage (he's against it), AUKU (he favours a review) and Malays' siege mentality (he advocates a change in mindset). When I said spoken out, he did not just come up with clever one liner or an incoherent views on the issues (like most UMNO idiots) but he really presented his arguments in clear and coherent language using either public stages (like UMNO assembly or parliamentary debates) or newspaper's columns.

The latest issue is Goods and Services Tax (GST). KJ uses the opportunity during Budget 2010's debate to ask the government to reconsider the planned implementation of GST starting from 2011. He argues (correctly) that:

a) the GST is a regressive tax which basically means it does not matter if you are wealthy or poor, EVERYONE is taxed at the same percentage rate when he / she buys a product or services,

b) by virtue of its regressive nature, the poor will be worse off since they spend much, much more of their income on necessities compared to the wealthy (savings will be squeezed, especially for middle class). Case in point, if at present I manage to save RM400 a month (if I eat bugs for dinner and hitch-hike to work, that is), with the implementation of GST, my capacity to save will most likely be reduced to say, RM100 because of the widespread increase in prices. This, in turn will have adverse effects on my retirement, my children future education, etc. Now, imagine if at present you (like most Malaysians) are struggling to even save RM50 a month.

More on GST here.

Now, do you see idiots like Mukhriz and Khir Toyo (or anyone else from the backbenchers for that matter) raising this issue? Why? I have a suspicion this kind of issue is wayyyy too heavy for their tiny little brains. All we can hear from them is really important life-or-death matters like Ketuanan Melayu, Anwar Ibrahim's arsehole, and similar crap. And you wonder why I like KJ?

Just to reinforce my points, I copy and paste the following article written by KJ in the NST on PPSMI . Read the article and ask yourself whether any of the idiots running the country now could come up with something like this.

Letter to the NST on teaching Maths and Science in English

IT has been almost a year since I called for a review of the teaching of Maths and Science in English while debating the motion on education at the Umno general assembly. I did so based on feedback from grassroots members and also a consistent opposition to the policy since it was announced by the previous prime minister.

I had felt then, as I still do now, that the policy was half-baked, lacking in any rigorous analysis and another attempt at putting a quick-fix band aid on a serious problem requiring structural reforms.

The report "Study reveals policy's flaws" (NST, Sept 7) sheds new light to justify my reservations about the policy. I feel the research conducted by Professor Emeritus Datuk Isahak Haron of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris and other surveys of secondary school students pointing to similar problems must be perused exhaustively and could prove to be crucial in tilting the debate on the issue ahead of the government's promise to review its implementation next year.

For the sake of clarity and lest I be accused of being retrogressive in my thinking, I would like to reiterate that I believe most Malaysians are in agreement that a strong command of the English language is an essential prerequisite for any school-leaver who wants to understand and absorb the massive corpus of knowledge available in reference books written in English at the tertiary level, or any graduate who wants to compete in the marketplace.

The English language has become a basic requirement for students and job-seekers in this increasingly globalised world where it is, for now, the undisputed lingua franca.

The issue here is not the importance of English. That is self-evident and the education system must commit itself to making our students fluent in English. In fact, in my Umno debate I urged Malays to emulate other communities in Malaysia by becoming bilingual, even trilingual. The real issue here is how we improve our children's command of English. I believe strongly that it most definitely is not through a poorly conceived policy like the teaching of Maths and Science in English.

UPSI's findings proved my fears were real and it uncovered the harsh realities our students face in schools due to this flawed policy. In particular, the impact of the policy on Malay students in national schools especially in the rural areas and from lower socio-economic backgrounds has been catastrophic. Not only has it not improved the students' command of English, it has managed to hamper their understanding of mathematical and scientific concepts.

Furthermore, the problems and weaknesses of this policy are not confined to one ethnic group. The study revealed that the ones who gained from the policy were a small percentage of Malay students from upper middle-class families who went to good, urban schools. The paper further showed that even Chinese students struggled with learning Maths and Science when taught in English, demonstrating that this is a problem that cuts across ethnic lines.

In our effort to bridge the urban and rural divide, the gap between rich and poor, it is sad to see that in reality students in national schools, mostly in rural areas and from lower socio-economic backgrounds, have lost out the most as a result of the decision to teach Maths and Science in English.

The full report of the study also confirmed the often-heard anecdotal evidence that one of the key problems is that teachers are finding it difficult to teach in English and consequently students are having a hard time understanding these lessons that are conducted by teachers who themselves are not proficient in the language. As a result, almost 85 per cent of the teachers end up teaching Maths and Science in a mixture of English and Bahasa Malaysia, exposing a fundamental flaw in the implementation of the policy. How do you expect to answer exam questions in English when it is not entirely taught in English in the first place?

I also find myself concurring with the study leader's suggestion that it would be better to allocate more time, staff and money to the teaching of English at the primary school level rather than pursuing the teaching of Maths and Science in English. I have made this point repeatedly, that English is best learnt by the teaching of the English language and not by conflating it with subjects such as Maths and Science.

And to answer the point made by Samuel Yesuiah in his letter "Let's continue with the policy" (NST, Sept 8), if our students are given a sound foundation in the English language itself with proper instruction given to grammar, vocabulary and syntax, they will have few problems understanding "science reference books and journals in English at universities". They don't need to be taught Maths and Science in English to read reference books in English later on. They just need to be proficient in English, which clearly this policy has failed to achieve.

I wrote to this newspaper in November last year calling for immediate improvements to the teaching and learning of English in our schools. But that objective must not be pursued through a policy that not only falls short of its aim to improve English among our students but also seriously hampers their ability to learn Maths and Science.

It is high time we ditched this policy for the failure that it is and learnt from an episode of a flawed and ill-conceived policy defeating what were, I presume, noble intentions.


Anonymous said...

aku setuju dgn artikel ini....
KJ mempunyai kelebihannya yg tersendiri



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