Skilled workers – no short cuts

The Borneo Post today reported that only 28% of our labour force is skilled. The Government is planning to increase this number by 2020.

It has yet to dawn on our top politicians that skilled labour begins with a good educational system. Malaysia has always boasted that we have a great educational system. In the same vein, Malaysia loves to compare to lesser nations. As advanced countries look ahead at improving, Malaysia is fixated on looking over its shoulders and foolishly comparing itself with slower paced nations.

Our educational system including our universities are still not known for producing marketable graduates. We are not equipping our citizens and young minds with the necessary tools to be independent thinkers and innovators. In fact, we are stifling them with political intrusion in the curriculum. We are force feeding our young on only the information that political leaders want them to know. Sure we can produce more skilled labour by 2020 but they will just be clones.

Languages are still an important part of education. It will not only amalgamate a fractionated country but it will be an asset to a strong economy in a part of Asia where different languages prevail in a small geographical region. Our current system produces only at best a bilingual society. Even then, the standards of English is appalling. Why don’t our education system teach at least 3 languages in schools and maintain a high standard?

The ruling government claims that we need to take into account the rural communities and hence the need to lower standards. Perhaps they should focus on how to improve the level of competency in rural communities and bring them on par with their urban counterparts and not lower to their level. That would be a mistake leaving our nation to trail further as compared to other emerging economies.

We need to re build a nation after decades of destructive policies , which only served to maintain the political hegemony of the current ruling government and fatten the pockets of those connected to the privileged few.

Be fair

Michelle Yeoh has been flayed by netizens on her acceptance of the award by the King, carrying a Tan Sri title. Many are unhappy about her open support for Najib.

Yeoh has defended her rights and rightfully so. She should not be criticised for her political associations. She is our Malaysia brand ambassador and our only significant representative in Hollywood. She did put Malaysia more prominently on the world map.

As much as we dislike Najib, it is important not to behave in a way that will bring disrepute to your own self. We are fighting for transparency and free speech, claiming that BN is curbing this. Therefore, let’s not be hypocritical an practice what we preach.

Be fair!

Parti 1Malaysia

The loss of popular support stings. Without the process of gerrymandering , Barisan Nasional (BN) would not be in power today. The overpowering attendance at opposition rallies from all races also speaks volumes that race based politics is over. With MCA and MIC being dealt the death blow in consecutive elections, UMNO must be feeling increasingly isolated. Its rural ‘fan’ base is unlikely to provide it strength to withstand the constant pressure to change its governing style . The latest crackdown on opposition figures is also unlikely to help its tattered image. BN must change!

So entertaining a single party comprising all races is not too far fetched. In fact, it takes bravery from the leadership of UMNO, in particular , and MCA or MIC. Its current members are unlikely to look at it kindly going by the rhetoric in previous general assemblies especially at UMNO. Many will remain short sighted , looking at this move as an attempt to remove special rights of the Malays. With PERKASA, remaining an undeniable influence on UMNO and the continuing presence of Mahathir, a single party will receive a stiff opposition.

However, this will likely be a saving grace for BN. It can win voters over and put the ball back in Pakatan’s court. PR remains a loose coalition of parties with diverse ideologies. Allowing it to rule at the federal level is a gamble voters were willing to take with BN in power. If BN can convince the nation that race based politics is over and hard liners that Malay rights is enshrined in the Constitution , it will no doubt regain both the majority in Parliamentary seats and the popular vote.

The bogeyman is not the Chinese or the Indians in Malaysia, it is the the surrounding nations that border us. Other nations know very well that if Malaysia gets its act together, stemming corruption and increasing transparency while promoting meritocracy, it will be a formidable economic power house in the region. Singapore will be surpassed in a decade and Malaysia will be the tiger of Asia once again!

Unfortunately, we are far from that vision now. We need the leadership that transcends race, religion and political ideology. We need an untainted statesman to direct the nation and make the ingrained patriotism in all Malaysians , to drive Malaysia to greatness.

Parti 1 Malaysia can be a great start. But who will be our statesman ?

GE13

Winning the popular vote but losing based on technicality is never easy to accept. It is not uniquely Malaysian, remembering the US elections where Gore won the popular vote but lost to Bush on electoral votes in 2000.

So a loss is a loss. It is exceptionally painful this time is because a record turnout of over 80% could not ensure a change in government. Some blame election irregularities while others blame money politics. However , if the force of change was great enough, it would have prevailed.

The fact remains that some votes matter more than others . A voter in Puchong carries less influence than a voter in Sarikei. So in this sense, our votes are not equal. In another words, if it takes 150,000 people to decide one seat while it takes only 5,000 in another, it was never a fair process. By right, a larger population should carry a higher weightage in terms of seats in Parliament. The constituent of Puchong should have been redivided to reflect the growth in this area. But this would not be in BN’s favour for sure. So the lesson here is PR needs to play the same game. Go for seats where it matters. Influencing 5,000 in Sarawak is as effective as 150,000 in Puchong. To form the next government, they need both.

To influence change we need to reach out to those rural areas. Get to know their issues and why they voted the way they did. Sure there could be phantom voters, but the task is to galvanise a nation to accept change for the better.

It is likely true that the majority of non-Malays voted PR but a substantial number of Malays did vote PR. If we could choose our PM directly, Anwar would have been PM this time around. But this is not the rule.

As of now, BN and in particular Najib has to convince the nation that he can lead the entire nation, not just UMNO. He started badly by a less thought out comment but he has another 5 years to prove his worth. The caveat is that he must keep his party happy and continue as President of UMNO. Badawi had to step down when in 2008, BN had substantial losses in the election. I do not forsee Najib doing it on his own. It would have to be UMNO who has to decide whether to keep or remove him.

Pakatan however has to get its act together. Squabbling over who should be Mentri Besar of Selangor is not a good way to start. This should have been sorted out before. Indecisions can be bad for a nation.

Pakatan should also form a shadow federal government to make a transition of power in future more physically tangible to the general public. They have failed to reach a consensus on many issues and can only agree on one aim, which is to overthrow the BN government. What if they succeed? What is common then? It is true that apart from the aspirations to overthrow a perceived corrupt government, DAP and PAS are total opposites. The voters need proof that they can do it.

The election process was not clean. This is a fact. The citizen’s initiative to ensure a fair process is a proud moment for the nation to savour. Sure there were mishaps and cases of mistaken identities but this is the call for a fairer election process. I am pretty sure the next BERSIH rally will occur to an even more rapturous response.

There is much more I could write about this GE13 but much has already been said. We have to hope that BN would not continue to plunder the nation. As of now, the majority actually do not trust the current government. This is also a fact.