Thursday, 5 November 2009

All Hail - The Racist Speaks!!!

"The Chinese educationists do not even want
Chinese children to be near Malay children...
they mustn't get into contact with Malay children...
that is why they rejected our vision school"
- Mahathir
Critical pedagogue Ira Shor defines critical pedagogy as
"Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse." (Empowering Education, 129)
In the interest of national cohesion, I would support a single stream education system- however, only conditionally - if they were to introduce true meritocracy first, with some affirmative action for the deserving in the national school system.
It would be a travesty of justice and human rights for them to take away the relatively excellent Chinese education, only to dish out the substandard racist, bigoted and lazy system promoted by Umno. I wouldn't touch on the Tamil school system, as it is common knowledge where it stands ......

Before the proponents of vernacular education get rabid on me, allow me to say that I do not dispute the fact that education in any language can be good, and you can be proud of your education - that's good. However, at some point, the children should have to be able to relate to the general society which would comprise of those in mainstream education. That is where the problem starts
The simple fact remains - streaming education without equal opportunities is hardly a uniting factor.

Many don't understand why a single stream is essential - they get defensive and start accusing those against it of being biased, extol the virtues of "vernacular" education, the need to preserve identity/culture and what not. As far as I'm concerned, I believe that they miss the "big picture" and choose to parrot the political rhetoric - the very same which Mahathir mouths today.

"Where is the life we have lost in the living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information ?
The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries
bring us farther from God and nearer to dust."
- T.S. Elliot

First and foremost, one needs to understand the role spoken & written language plays in society, and how it translates to identity, and then to cohesion/unity. What many don't realize is the fact that what you speak and whom you speak to can very well determine what you think. Consequently, the racism that permeates the education system segregation in terms of race & & language, is the fortress of a race based politics, which in turn would translate to polarization, racism, bigotry & apartheid....

As a "compromise", I'd support the introduction of the English stream - (for I believe that it would outclass all other systems and render them invalid), should there be genuine meritocracy - as it is politically "Neutral". English education isn't the "silver bullet" to cure this social ill.
It would take much more than just an education system to do that. It wouldn't eliminate racism (that would be wishful thinking) ...... but it would minimize the effect of racist propaganda, and slowly but surely it is bound to evoke trust among the younger generation who would learn to see the value of pluralism.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on Sunday that
racist comments from “one or two Umno leaders” should be ignored
because the majority of members in the party were not racists.
- Veera Pandiyan, "Weed Out Racists, Not Ignore Them"

Just as Tengku Razaleigh implied, I believe that English shouldn't be viewed as a foreign language, as it was the language upon which Malaysia was built. It is every bit Malaysian (or maybe more so) as Mandarin, Tamil, Hokkien and even Malay. It is our heritage, which we should cherish - instead of making it the bogeyman used to "unite" the people through xenophobia. It may be a bit far fetched for now- but under ideal circumstances, they should make it THE medium of instruction, as it is the only "neutral" language. It can be done, if there is political will - and politicians like Mahathir and Muhyiddin do not inflame racist passions.

In "Where is the Spirit of Merdeka?", I had written -
"The spirit of Merdeka has been subverted by racists and the religious zealots over the years, and has been replaced by chauvinism – racial and religious..... Unfortunately, we are a society so paralyzed by symptomatic solutions one has to wonder whether we will learn anything from this mindless atrocity.......

Taking the above to another level, this "atrocity" which Mahathir (taking on the agenda mooted by his son) seeks to perpetrate, is one of the mind - they seek to enslave our children to the indoctrination by a certain "Biro". They wish to take over the freedom which can guarantee a good education for our children. They have no intention of introducing true meritocracy into the system, nor do they wish to improve the standards.
They want Malaysians to remain divided, "stupid" and gawk in awe at the elite community who get the best education for their children through various methods which money can buy.

Mahathir, in accusing the Chinese from preventing their children from mingling with Malay children has brought forward a simplistic argument which would appeal to the Malays, while promoting distrust and hatred for the Chinese - thus perpetuating the divisive politics of UMNO.
The Education Ministry's "1-Toilet" campaign aside, it is no wonder that Najib tells us to ignore the racists .... It appears that Mahathir is to be Najib's "1-Malaysia" alter-ego, proposing racist agendas to please the racists of Umno and ruffles feathers, while he smoothens them out (by telling them to "ignore" racist comments)!

"It will not do to cling to the cause and wish the result away.
Reality does not play mind games.
What is more, to anesthetize the mind in order to abort what comes to birth
when wrong ideas are conceived and borne in the womb of culture,
will only kill the very life-giving force of the nation that nurtures the idea."
- Ravi Zacharias

Many don't seem to realize that they have already fallen victim to the racist mindset unwittingly, when they support vernacular education - education isn't about race or culture or even language for that matter(although the traits can be there).
Education isn't "knowledge for knowledge's sake" - It's about knowledge in the interest of sustainable development & progress towards nationhood. It truly beats me how vernacular education assists us towards achieving nationhood, when it is already divisive to begin with.

These proponents don't seem to notice that they're being led by their noses, when they support the very thing that keeps in place the race politics which they deplore. These vernacular schools are the fortresses of the race-based politics of Malaysia, which is destroying the fabric of the nation.
Indeed - they happily cling to the cause, and wish the results away ....

If you think of yourselves as helpless and ineffectual,
it is certain that you will create a despotic government to be your master.
The wise despot, therefore, maintains among his subjects
a popular sense that they are helpless and ineffectual.

- Frank Herbert



  1. A long one. I gave it some thought.

    To add a few points:

    - that's just an internal, national, perspective;

    if we see the whole matter from a global perspective, the two languages which are useful are English and Chinese; english for knowledge in all fields, including medicine, and chinese to prepare all of us, malays inclusive, for an increasingly sino-centric Asia.

    We threw away our english language advantage because we let a few malay policy-makers decide everything. Now everyone wakes up to the loss, especially in a webified world of knowledge and communication; we have become an information-poor society and an idea-deprived nation.

    Now we will be making the same mistake twice if we just try to balance the language equation out by ignoring the chinese language as an increasingly important tool to connect to more than one fifth of the human race, and we haven't included the energized chinese diasporas all over the world which will be another important factor even as they themselves are clamoring to re-learn their roots as fast as the westerners are opening up more and more mandarin courses in their countries.

    These are facts; people may say they are not incontrovertible but unless one has seen things at ground and cloud levels, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that english and chinese will be the key factors going forward if we see things from a global perspective. And that's a geographically bigger picture.

    - secondly, we have education systems; the main question to ask is what is the primary objective of education and how does one go about to achieve it?

    Depending on the perspective we use, there are two possible primary objectives.

    If we use the national objective, the present group of policy-makers and their well-wishers will say it should be unity first since without unity you will not have racial integration and without racial integration you will not be able to eliminate racism.

    But that's just the beginning part. What about the end part when the students come out from school, enter the world of work and then see for themselves how racism is being practised underneath the nice banners and slogans above?

    So if you want to use education to reduce racism, reduce racism first in the present institutional set-ups. Otherwise it will give license to the policy-makers to extend their racism. Because they be using the same designed reason to perpetuate the cycle - survival of the identity of their race in the face of a more anglicized/sinonized world.

    Furthermore, one should also question what goes into a single stream and how such a stream can reduce racism.

    Let's take this here and now. First part, what goes into a single stream. You can imagine the process: take the national school model as standard, fold the vernacular school systems into it, then rehybridize to some ratio the various racial elements so as to thwart resistance from parents of one or the other races.

    Now if we do that, the present policy-makers will again call all shots because they can then say that since the malay language and Islam are the respective official language and religion of this country, no one should question the content of the new single stream. But we know this will put all in a difficult situation immediately, for all have already concluded the malay language is neither a knowledge-intensive nor a global-interactive tool; it is applicable only to this land and perhaps some parts of the indonesian islands. So what are its practicalities? Save for itself, it is impractical and impracticable in all other subjects. Secondly, Islam may be the official religion but this country is secular and has to remain so. We can debate this but your damn comment box is too small for a long round.

  2. contd/

    So the bottomline on the issue of single stream is content. In other words, who decides what goes into the syllabus. So if no amicable decision can be made, the single stream will likely turn out to be the vision school model which is what some parties have in mind in the first place.

    Now, take the second possibility. Education is to educate to the highest capability. What does that imply? There are standards to be maintained and common to the metrics of those standards is meritocracy.

    Does anyone breathing at this moment and standing on this land today believe there is real meritocracy in the national education system of Malaysia?

    It has been a salami approach, if you will care to notice. The people find out something fishy. It is confirmed and aired. The Umno government finds itself in a corner. It proceeds to concede a bit. If it can cover that loss somewhere else, it will do so. Then a few months or years later, another thing is uncovered. The same government goes through the same process again. It concedes another bit but adds a couple of limitations.

    Let me cut to the chase with a present issue that rankles all my bones. The toughest exam in the world is the STPM. It was even tougher as the HSC but that's another story. Now we have a new rule that the STPM student must do more non-subject things in order to accumulate credits that will go into admissions to local universities. Standards aside in those universities, these STPM scholars are asked to die. That is because they are already stretched to their limits trying to hone their knowledge for the world's toughest exams. And since most of them are non-malays, what conclusion can you draw? That the national exams syndicate will be making the STPM easier? That the UPU will be relaxing the criteria for admission of nonmalay STPM applicants? That more places will be made available for these scholars whose parents can't afford for them to go overseas or to take up private college studies locally?

    Try with some candid answers.


    Is it therefore any wonder that no nonmalay parent has any confidence or good opinion of our national education system? Is it any wonder that most of them are sending their children to the nationally undersubsidized vernacular schools? Is it any wonder that all of them can see with their own eyes how places like Mara can get pristine huge overbudgeted but underutilized campuses while roofs and floors collapse in jam-packed vernacular schools just by the stroke of a pen of some national education policy-maker who would not have even taken the HSC let alone worked in a real company outside the country? Is it any wonder all of them will ask those malay policy-makers what is it they really have against the vernacular schools that they can ignore the merits of meritocracy in order to push another hairbrained unification scheme that however is steeped in only their own monoracial and monoreligious elements?

  3. contd/end

    You know, don't blame any nonmalay parent if he or she starts asking our national education planners and ministers to first show their credentials before talking.

    They should start with that guy. Maybe they can accept his MBBS from Singapore. But can they accept that the application to it showed indian as race? And can they accept how approval was made surreptitiously during his administration for foreign Pakistanis who marry local malay girls to immediately get bumiputra status while the children of indigenous Ibans who marry chinese girls are shown the door?

    Really, this country is full of shitty contradictions. Because it is full of racism. And now the people who practise racism have the temerity to expect the citizens to believe them when they say you must have a single stream education system?

    I am reminded of what was on tv last night. Was it the third rate show BATS on the second channel? I thought it was about Batman and had the bad luck to see a bit. It showed RTM was either so poor or so unmeritocratic that it could air such a substandard flick across the nation. But that's not what i want to say. It was because of it that i switched channels and hit RTM1. And a program called Dialog. Which was a pukable interview of the socalled MB of Perak. Who had the gall to say he was working for Tajol in one of the latter's development committees before and thus could now talk about 'pelan' and 'blueprint' for Perak.

    As i listened to that in increasing disbelief, a question formed in my head:

    'So all those years when Umno's Tajol and you were planning to develop Perak, what has been achieved that requires you all to now talk about planning again?'

    He calls to mind a cheap snakeoil salesman from Baghdad. Maybe the series should be called Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.

    Now, tell me whether anyone thinks this new idea of single stream and official abc and racism will solve anything.

    The only reason why the people of this country no longer trust the Umno government and the only reason why they have decided to depend upon themselves even at ruinous cost to their physical and financial all for the future of their children.

    Which the Umno government and their supporters are obviously oblivious to - otherwise will they reassure the rakyat they too will be sending their children to the new single-stream schools since their children will by tradition later be national leaders and therefore it is important to believe in national integration as taught in these new schools?

    What do

  4. Well, your arguments are pretty much what I said, Neil.

    However, there is a difference - you ask that the racism in the "real world" be eliminated first.
    I on the other hand believe that it should be started young - and that means we need non-racists in the system, and BTN needs to be disbanded.
    So we come to the chicken and egg situation ....
    The only way is that both are done simultaneously - and there can be no quick-fix mechanism for this problem.
    It will take time for people to grow out of their racist leanings and indoctrination - a generation at least.

    For you to rationalize that China with its population, would overwhelm the information age, and hence we should encourage Chinese education is gross. What are you gonna propose next?
    That we start Hindi-medium schools to match the ecomic might of the Indians? It is the very kind of reasoning that I was referring to when I gave some other lame reasons (which the advocates of vernacular education give). Go ask the Tamilians - they'll tell you the same ..... and you don't realize that it contributes to the race-based politics you deplore so vehemently!!
    Doesn't it occur to you that the Mainland Chinese and Indians are scrambling to learn English?

    Anyways - the Chinese shouldn't have anything to fear should there be a good system that encourages meritocracy, as they can always carry on teaching Mandarin as a language to those who are interested.
    Knowing very well that the Chinese are real suckers for good education (that's a compliment, mind you) and industry, I'm certain that they'll still be successful beyond their wildest dreams - should they be willing to accept a paradigm shift in their approach towards education.

    Neil, you can give a million excuses why we shouldn't have a single stream education - but all you need is ONE good reason.
    My reason is so that we can achieve nationhood - without which, sooner or later, you're bound to lose what you believe today, is your God-given right.

    Think about it, Neil.

  5. Let me give you a simple reply and i'll call it quits here.

    Do you think the present government under Umno will honestly practise non-racial and meritocratic administration, whatever the philosophy, worldview and facts out there?

    By the way, that was the thrust of my wasted post here.

    Cheerio then.

  6. Neil,
    Maybe it wasn't a waste .... in fact I found it rather interesting.
    I think the answer to that question you pose is there for all to see in the above article (and many others on this blog).
    This post was about the education system - and that's what I chose to discuss.
    Cheers, mate.

  7. Cruzinthots,

    ‘What many don't realize is the fact that what you speak and whom you speak to can very well determine what you think. Consequently, the racism that permeates the education system segregation in terms of race & & language, is the fortress of a race based politics, which in turn would translate to polarization, racism, bigotry & apartheid....’

    Let’s put a context for the above phrase to the socio-political situations vis-à-vis Indonesia & the former Yugoslavia.

    Spoken & written language in those societies were identical. Yet where’s the common identity that will ensure cohesion/unity that u so eloquently claimed?

    There r bigger factors there! Religion is the biggest culprit. Next come political manipulators that play on the inherent hatred of those-that-r-different-from-us-think-different-from-us mentality.

    The Chinese Indonesians have been well integrated within the Indonesian society & yet every time ‘somethings’ happened, they automatically become the front-line scapegoats!

    One can hardly distinguish a Bosnian from a Serbian, if they don’t firstly mentioned their identity. Yet common spoken language & years of neighborly interactions didnt prevent them from slaughter each others as if they were sworn enemy.

    So, the racism that permeates throughout the segregated education system in terms of race & language, is the fortress of a race based politics is one0sided & WRONG!

    Languages do not cause bigotry. People do!

    If yr argument will to carry further does that mean the different tribes of Earth r all racists by the fact that they all speak different languages within their geological confinements!

    No wonder after years of SETI effort the earth is still been isolated without any advanced aliens contacts! Asgard will automatically come to the conclusion that Earth people dont like us because we speak differently!

    So, what takes with this - ‘Many don't seem to realize that they have already fallen victim to the racist mindset unwittingly, when they support vernacular education’?

    U r right in saying that ‘Education isn't "knowledge for knowledge's sake" - It's about knowledge in the interest of sustainable development & progress towards nationhood.’ But u r dead wrong in blaming the medium of that education. Look at Nazi Germany, did the Jew Germans not speaking German? Didn’t they achieve the most in the educational fields? Nearer afield, what about Switerzland? Do the four national languages killed her unity?

    U need to re-work yr thought! Remember - the medium of instruction for education is not the divisive factor for unity. The political propaganda of a siege mentality IS, period.


  8. Dear anomie,
    I understand perfectly what you're saying - it was why I added the following words, which you obviously, conveniently neglected in your argument:-

    "English education isn't the "silver bullet" to cure this social ill.
    It would take much more than just an education system to do that."

    Now, can you please try harder to debunk my argument, anomie? ......

  9. Dear Cruzeiro,

    BTW I've NOT conveniently ignored yr stated point. But try I'm by re-reading yr argument & yet the message that I consistently got was the same - language!

    Dont u think that's killing the messenger while reading the glaring bad news?

    Languge is but the medium of instruction. It's neutral by itself. Language DONT teach bigotry, people do.

    Vernacular schools by themself, thought more populated by a single race, do not create problems for inter-racial interaction. The root lies somewhere else as u r well awared.

    It's the same with natuional schools, where the implementation of ketuanan & mono-religious practices push-off a lot of parents to enrol their children in them, besides the poor standard which is in some way related to thoae factors mentioned.

    Yr argument about better children interaction can happen in vernacular schools too, iff other parents prepare to let their children learn another language. For that matter, that language has been in use within M'sia since her founding!

    I guess the final point is like etheorist said - the teaching of students who can think, creative & innovative.

    Iff a person can REALLY think then all the world's bigotic propangda will have NO effect in whatever forms. Then unity & inter-racial understanding r a forgone conclusion.


  10. Anomie,
    It is regrettable that you that you have not understood the sociological/anthropological implications of "language" - or what I wrote, for that matter.
    The message in the above fyi, was not "language", but its vital role as "one of the instruments" towards achieving "nationhood".

    Stay in a ghetto, and then come tell me that it is a conducive environment to unite with the larger outside world- or you can even come back to blame the others for not interacting with them in it.
    Going by your logic, the Hebrews should either have Hebrew education, or perish. Maybe, just maybe you also believe that they pine for the ghettos they had to live in, in the past.....

    If you cannot understand that much, I've got nothing more to say.
    Thank you for your opinion anyway.

  11. Dear Cruzeiro,

    I hate the use of the word 'ghetto' when we r discussion educations. That usage reminded me of a arrogant ex-journalist's attitude towards vernacular education in M'sia.

    'By staying in the ghetto' iff u mean the 'exclusive nature' of the vernacular system, then I have nothing more to say.

    That negative expression is only in one's mind! A closed one, period. Never was/is vernacular education a product of ghetto mentality!

    BTW, any where in my writing indicates, directly/indirectly about 'the logic, the Hebrews should either have Hebrew education, or perish. Maybe, just maybe you also believe that they pine for the ghettos they had to live in, in the past...'???

    Perhaps I'm looking too far ahead than yr understanding of that sociological/anthropological consequences.

    Thus my SETI implication. Well....Earthlings should live in isolation until they achieved common language/culture & that will properly takes more than the time when our yellow sun goes supernova!


  12. and I hate a very "far-thinking" person who can't write decent English.
    Thank you.


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