Friday, April 24, 2009

Mahathirism - Education & Foreign Relations


  • If we take a look at the education policies in Malaysia, the students enjoy a wide variety as options.
  • Tun Dr M was instrumental in liberalization of education policies that allow top foreign universities to set up campuses in Malaysia.
  • These campuses include Monash University Malaysia, Nottingham University Malaysia and many more.
  • It was also under Tun M that students today especially Lim Kok Wing University College attain global recognition for their work.
  • For those in my generation might not know this, but elders will know the Buy British Last policy.
  • In UK, when the universities there charged higher tuition fees on Malaysian students.
  • Conflicts arised not only from these but also aircraft rights.
  • Mahathir stood up for us all and proclaimed a boycott of British products under the "Buy British Last" call.

Foreign Relations
  • When drugs are unwelcomed by everyone, and Malaysia imposed a capital punishment on two Australians for drug trafficking, Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating blasted the Malaysian sovereign rights and laws and labelled the sentence as "barbaric".
  • It was Dr Mahathir who stood in front of everyone and defended our laws. That forced a formal apology from the former Prime Minister at the Parliament.
Israel & The World
  • In 2008, the world saw with their own eyes when Israel pounded Gaza although the world plead to them for ceasefire.
  • Interesting enough, the "superpowers" did not provide any warning to Israel that they will not hesitate to intervene with military operations if Israel fail to stop the attacks.
  • It was also reported that The Israeli military are accused of :

  1. Using powerful shells in civilian areas which the army knew would cause large numbers of innocent casualties;
  2. Using banned weapons such as phosphorus bombs;
  3. Holding Palestinian families as human shields;
  4. Attacking medical facilities, including the killing of 12 ambulance men in marked vehicles;
  5. Killing large numbers of police who had no military role.
  • If we review the speeches of Tun Dr Mahathir, we will of course recall that in 2003, Tun Dr M warned the world about Israelis.
  • Tun labelled Israel as the enemy allied with most powerful nations at the Organization of Islamic Conference.
  • His statement was heavily slammed by not only Israel but also the Western nations that we today call "superpowers".
  • President Bush considered the statement to be "reprehensible and hateful" while Italy expressed their regrets that Tun's statement was offensive and counter to principles of tolerance, dialogue and understanding.

* This will be the last part of the other side of Mahathirism which has been painted wrongly as a Draconian and fearful philosophy of administration.

Before this :

1. Mahathirism In My Eyes & The "Pariah" Writer
2. Mahathirism's Pet Projects

(Credits to The Star, AFP & Agendadaily for the photos)


Jimmy Tham said...

Liberalization of education sector, yes but why the need? Simply put, supply can't meet the demand and more often than not most of these institutions are heavily skewed against bumiputera and not reflective of the racial composition.

If the universities attracted are of top notch quality teaching postgraduates and excel in research field then that would be something to be proud of. Instead we have foreign institutions coming in to fill the gap left by government that teaches undergraduate, something which any developed country should be capable of doing. =) On a funnier note, so who is pimping our country to foreign countries now? But in an economic sense, opening up that sector to bring in challenges and allowing local companies to compete will bring out the best in them. They might be small and probably not at par as other prestigious universities but what took these western universities with hundreds of years of history to achieve is not something one can emulate easily.

Tun M pointed out the hypocrisy of the developed countries and stand up against them, a feat which is commendable even when he knew Msia is an export dependent economy. But let me point out a minor hypocrite act of Tun M, he s asking people like us to buy Proton but what about his stable of porsche and what about those owned by his families?

Anonymous said...

Dear Jimmy,

I beg to differ from you. Dr M did not only liberalize the education sector, but he democratised it as well, to open up tertiary education for as many people as possible. Through the opening up of many public universities and private colleges, many Malaysians whom find it hard to enter university (not smart enough) are able to engage in some form of higher education or another. Sooner or later, most jobs would require at least some form of higher qualification.

While increasing the quantity of graduates may compromise quality, it is still a worthwhile effort as it improves the standard of living of many Malay(sians), either bumiputera or non-bumiputera. Eventually, the democratisation of higher education will instill a culture of academic pursuit amongst the younger generation of Malays and other races as well. Many 2nd generation Malays who benefited from NEP are sophisticated, intelligent and certainly deserve their place in public institutions. Younger generation Chinese whom parents have no access to higher education, are also displaying a penchant for higher education as well. It is a win-win situation for all.

In fact, other developing countries like South Korea have 40%of their population having undergraduate qualification. They too are facing high rates of unemployment, but the problem of unemployment is not the reason for us to stop democratising education for the masses.

In fact, to make higher education exclusive for just a smart few (think MENSA), is not gonna make one country competitive in the long haul. No country can be competitive, having a small group of scholars and a multitude of janitors lacking in education, not because they can't study, but simply not given the opportunity to (in the name of the holy meritocracy).

I agree that the public universities in Malaysia should reflect racial composition, and mind you, 45% of public university students today are non-bumiputera! To maintain that non-bumiputera are still marginalised, is to perpetuate the "myth of a persecuted minority", as pitiful consolation to the self, a false sense of moral superiority and a justification to evade from nation building.

Pimping foreign universities to set up branches in Malaysia, is more driven by an economic agenda I must say, but it brings blessings as well. It provides a challenge and a benchmark for public universities to attain. With limited public funding compared with well-endowed foreign universities with top faculty members (it is often parallel with the ability to hire), I agree that public universities will be pressured to perform their best despite of their limitations.

They therefore require our utmost support, and certainly have much room for improvement. Blatant uninformed criticisms would be counterproductive.


p/s: Forgive my engrish, I am public school graduate

Jimmy Tham said...

Dear Kerepok,

Your English is fine. Don't worry about it.

Simply put, if you can't meet the qualification to enter into a degree course in a university, there's lots of other colleges exist elsewhere offering diploma or in the case of Australia, TAFE. If a person simply can't meet the bare requirement, then he is just not qualified for it. Your admission of how local universities are lowering their standards just to take in these graduates shows that these universities are compromising its quality for the sake of attaining a desirable level of population with higher education.

I doubt the fact that by attaining a higher degree of questionable quality would lead to a better standard of living but I'm not against NEP, I've seen a fair share of bumiputera who are qualified and up to the job but I would prefer NEP that gives privileges to those who are qualified and not based on the quota system. It is indeed a win-win situation with the democratisation of education but at what social cost in the long run? Racial marginalization & segregation according to education background? I'm not making this into a racial issue but I'm just trying to say Government should fulfil its role of providing quality education to its populace and not "outsource" this role to the private sector.

East Asian countries who are predominantly of Confucious background places high regard to education and thus explains the level education rate they are enjoying now but UK and Australia doesn't has those sort of ratio yet they are still considered a develop economy. (Source: NationMaster) It is because they have the required number of high quality graduates. You do not need to have a large number of graduates to propel the nation forward although a larger number of graduates is desirable for any society.

According to the book "Education Dilemma: Debate and Diversity" which has a long example on Malaysia, conclusion is, countries adopting quota system experienced growth but not in the long run. These countries would have to shift their priority into quality for the economy to develop and the long run brain drain will be detrimental for a nation.

Sorry for not being able to source for the latest figure but assuming you're right and it is indeed 45%, but I'm sure that's not including the number of students in UiTM and numerous other MARA colleges but of course one could say I have to add up the number of students in the UPTS as well to be fair.

By citing a study done by OPP and available on Lim Kit Siang's website,

Let’s not get into the debate of who is marginalised and who is not as this is debatable and I’ve not resort on expressing myself as being superior or marginalised. I wouldn’t call that a myth that the minority are at disadvantage or persecuted after all what NEP is all about my friend? To provide bumiputeras with the means of advancing themselves.

Foreign universities too have difficulties in sourcing for funds but most of it comes from private sector donations and prudent fund management. Heck, Monash and UNSW has to set up overseas campus to subsidise their operation cost but they too can claimed they have limited resources just like our public universities but look at what they had achieved. Let’s be frank here, have the public universities act upon its dropped in ranking even with the presence of these foreign institutions for the past 10 years?

I’m sorry if I you perceived my comments as uninformed criticism (I assume you mean I do not have any source as reference but so did you) and here am I trying to be informed and provide you with the sources of my arguments.

Have a good day fellow commentators.