All posts by rafiziramli

Konvensyen Pakatan Rakyat Kedua

Konvensyen Pakatan Rakyat berjalan dengan baik dan berakhir dengan sempurna.

Apa yang paling menarik mengenai konvensyen kali ini ialah tumpuan kepada menterjemahkan Dasar Bersama kepada beberapa langkah khusus yang menggambarkan kerajaan persekutuan di bawah Pakatan Rakyat. Selama ini, Pakatan Rakyat dituduh (selalunya oleh media perdana dan pencacai mereka) kononnya tidak mempunyai kerangka cadangan dasar dan program yang jelas untuk rakyat.

Saya sebenarnya kurang bersetuju dengan pandangan itu kerana ia tidak adil kepada Pakatan Rakyat.

Sekiranya kita meneliti Dasar Bersama yang mengikat parti-parti Pakatan Rakyat, pendirian, pendekatan dan program yang dicadangkan dan dimeterai bersama adalah cukup komprehensif. Sesiapa yang menghadam dokumen itu akan benar-benar faham arah tujuan negara Malaysia di bawah Pakatan Rakyat.

Kelemahan di peringkat Pakatan Rakyat adalah masalah mesej yang tidak sampai kepada rakyat – sama ada kerana tidak cukup “follow through” atau kekangan kewangan apabila dokumen itu tidak dicetak besar-besaran untuk difahami rakyat.

Sebab itu, kesilapan yang sama tidak boleh diulangi kali ini.

Buku Jingga iaitu buku poket yang mengandungi rancangan-rancangan konkrit Pakatan Rakyat sebagai kerajaan perlu dicetak secara besar-besaran dan diedarkan ke seluruh negara.

Hujah yang dihurai di dalam Buku Jingga yang menjelaskan fakta-fakta kenapa Malaysia sedang dilanda krisis dan perlu diubah sekarang, perlu juga dijelaskan di dalam ceramah secara bersepadu di seluruh Malaysia.

Memang tugasnya besar, belanjanya besar.

Tetapi jika program-program kita sampai ke pengetahuan rakyat, mudah untuk kita meyakinkan mereka. Tema Buku Jingga yang menumpukan kepada bebanan kehidupan rakyat dan jalan penyelesaian yang kita tawarkan, sukar untuk dijawab oleh lawan.

Majoriti rakyat akan mengundi kepada perkara-perkara berikut:

1) Penghapusan tol

2) Kenaikan gaji RM500 kepada guru-guru

3) Ambil alih semula perkhidmatan air yang diswastakan agar tarif air rendah dan program air percuma seperti yang dilaksanakan di Selangor diluaskan ke seluruh Malaysia

4) Hentikan subsidi korporat terutama jumlah RM19 bilion yang diberi kepada biawak hidup ekonomi Malaysia (iaitu syarikat-syarikat IPP seperti YTL, Genting, Malakoff) dan mengalihkannya kepada subsidi rakyat

5) Internet wi fi percuma kepada semua rakyat di semua kawasan bandar dan separa bandar

6) Mengembalikan peranan Felda sebagai pembuka tanah rancangan untuk rakyat, dengan mengubah fungsi Felda Plantations dari syarikat ladang ala swasta dan mengembalikan ladang-ladangnya kepada generasi kedua dan ketiga Felda

Tawaran-tawaran ini sukar dicabar oleh lawan.

Cabaran kita sekarang adalah memastikan mesej ini sampai secara konsisten kepada rakyat.

Step-Changing The Economy: Education, Education, Education?

This is the final article in a 3-part series published in The Edge on addressing the key constraints of our economy

It is a common observation by most that Malaysia suffers from three acute constraints in step-changing the economy towards a high-income nation.

The first constraint is the relatively lower level of capitals available for enterprises to expand, indicated by a stagnated level of private investments for the last decade and compounded by a severe drop in foreign direct investments. Secondly, the nation has not made a big leap in transforming from a technology user to a technology creator.

My views on these two constraints have been shared in the last two articles.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which perspective we take later), both constraints have its root in the one issue that arguably has had the biggest influence on the direction of our country and its economy – our education system. The make-up of our society is predominantly influenced by the education system. By extension, the ability of our workforce to drive the big step-change into a high income economy will depend on what kind of educational upbringing they have had so far; to prepare them for the demands of a high income economy on its workforce.

What are these demands? These are well-known and have been articulated well in various economic planning documents for Malaysia released in the last one decade (to the credits of the civil servants who prepared them). A workforce that is productive and creative can subsequently innovate. Innovation (new products, new service, new thinking) drives the economy to a much higher income level.

That is easy enough to establish. What has proven to be the most difficult for our country is to make the upgrade from a workforce designed and trained to man manufacturing facilities (and paid relatively cheaply at that!) to the one which design the manufacturing facilities. Making that journey has proven to be the biggest bottleneck for the last thirty years.

So where should the journey begin?
Fortunately, most of the bottlenecks in the efforts to make this upgrade can be traced back to the education system. An education system that is rigid and too obsessed with structured model of success carries an inherent risk of stifling creativity and innovation. An education system with only one model of answers that restricts the exploration of reasons and ideas beyond the ones approved by the authority can also kill off the creativity altogether. So, if we fix the education system we can say we have progressed well in the journey.

Unfortunately, fixing an education system that has evolved over a century and as diverse as ours, will prove to be a difficult task. What more when the framework of our education system is very much intertwined with the socio-economic and political structure of the country – undoing the make-up, approach and design of the education system is by itself a near revolution because it is akin to undoing the socio-economic and political power structure that has dominated this country for so long.

So I will not attempt to comment on the humungous task of redrawing the education system as this short article will not do justice to the gravity of the task. It is a philosophical question and challenge which will continue to haunt and define our society for many years to come.

However, there are a few radical thoughts on education system that may have a profound impact on the development of our workforce; that can be implemented without the redesigning of the education system framework of the country. I will attempt to explain three such thoughts here.

First thought concerns the school environment that is imprinted in the minds of our future workforce during their formative school years. In general, our school has not been able to become a place where a student’s potential is realised. Interestingly enough, I feel it has failed to do so not because it lacks resources (as often is simplistically argued, each time we discuss the failings of our education system); but because we only cultivate one model of success. In the process, we fail to inspire our younglings and eventually they choose to conform to expectation, even if it does not bring the best out of them.

I came across a case of one Malay student at a top boarding school, who did not do too well comparatively in his SPM. He never liked science stream but had to do science because the whole school was supposed to do science subjects. Not surprisingly, he struggled along the way and his result was not good enough for a scholarship post his SPM. Naturally the system expected him to go to a matriculation as a step to enter into a local university; but he had a different plan in mind.

He chose to do STPM instead and had had a difficult time explaining to the school, teachers and relatives why he chose that route, as many people will only consider STPM as a last resort. Luckily, he scored well in his STPM after he switched to economics; offered a JPA scholarship and now reads economics at one of Australia’s top universities.

It may be a remote case that does not repeat too often; but it exemplified the mentality of conformance that restricts ideas and reduces the boldness of our future workforce to experiment. This conforming, “one model of success” school environment is detrimental to our economy because we need to cultivate a sense of inquisitiveness and risk from the very beginning. Otherwise, our future workforce will continue to fall back to what is being given to them – they won’t be creative because it is outside conformance, let alone being innovative because that can be too upsetting. In the end – from the offices of civil servants to our factory shop-floor, we are a nation of “yang menurut perintah” and “this is how it has been done forever”.

In this respect, I welcome the plan to put more emphasis on school-based assessments and move away from the rigidity of national exams at all levels. However, this is only a tool and will compound the situation (if school heads begin to cut corners to produce better school-based assessments linked to their promotion) unless there is a radical change in our school environment so that we encourage differences, exploration of ideas and some risk taking among our school children. Hopefully they will retain these traits as they grow up – they can do wonders with these traits at work!

The other thought that has tickled me over some time concerns the policy to send top scorers after SPM/STPM overseas for a degree. This must have consumed billions of ringgit in national budget each year; so considerable financial resources that could have gone into our local higher institute of learning ended up as a significant foreign exchange earner for other countries. If the equivalent financial resources are diverted to the local institutions, there can be a significant improvement especially in terms of facilities.

But even the impact of few billions gone is minute compared to the impact of not having the top 3,000 brains each year going into our universities. This is where (I think) there is a taboo when discussing the performance of our local institutions and someone should be bold enough to call a spade a spade, even at the risk of hurting the sentiments.

The fact of the matter is this country has annually sent thousands of its top students overseas, thus depriving the local institutions the necessary infusion of good students as a catalyst for competition and standards among the peers. This is a policy that dates back to pre-Merdeka days and is considered sacred for (strangely) both Bumiputras and non-Bumiputras. Thus, it is not easy to argue against the continuance of the policy.

Yet, the impact of this deprivation comes in many folds.

The local institutions have to grapple with various questions on standards and competitions, as they have to work within a certain sets of constraints to meet their deliverables. The top students going overseas may not necessarily fulfil their potential and achieve the maximum benefit from their overseas stint, because many chose to stick in small circle of Malaysians. This argument can be strengthened further by the fact that the number of Malaysian scholarship recipients admitted into the world top universities is still relatively small.

Even worse, those who did benefit greatly from the overseas experience will realise that the world is their oyster. Many choose not to return and I dare say it is one of the contributors to the brain drain we are facing. By the time they have settled down overseas with good home and good pay, it is very difficult to lure them back (unless you can match the pay, but then how many companies or organisations can do that).
We should question whether there is a case to continue sending top students for a degree overseas since we have the means to cater for their placement at local institutions, unlike the yesteryears when we just do not have enough places locally. Should we not restructure our national scholarship system so that only post-graduate students are sponsored to go to top universities and research centres world-wide – after all this will have a more profound impact on our economy, than producing overseas first degree holders?

Thirdly, if we were to redirect our top students leaving the school system each to local institutions, the latter has to drastically improve its standing to do justice to these students. The ways and changes required to effect this have been discussed greatly elsewhere (and I am running out of space for the column!) so I will not discuss it here.

I won’t fault you if you feel cheated that we end up talking about schools and universities instead of economics and numbers. My belief is we can forget about the high income economy unless we go back to the basics and address the major stumbling block towards that journey.

Cliché as it may sound, the remedy to the economic malaise we are facing may not be economics at all – we can benefit greatly by going back to the New Labour’s cliché of “Education, Education, Education” in 1997 that put them in power for the longest time and presided over the longest boom. We should learn a thing or two from that.

Kenyataan Media SA: Jangan Lari Persoalan Rekod Pembelaan Rakyat Terbanyak

Saya merujuk kepada pelbagai kenyataan yang dibuat berkenaan isu ketuanan rakyat, terutamanya dari kalangan pimpinan Umno.

Pertamanya, saya mengucapkan tahniah kepada pimpinan Umno, PERKASA dan kaum-kerabat mereka yang tidak pernah gagal mengingatkan rakyat Malaysia bahaya politik perkauman sempit. Dalam satu minggu yang lepas, segala usaha pentadbiran Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak melalui kempen 1Malaysia yang menelan belanja puluhan juta ringgit menggunakan wang rakyat; hancur musnah apabila pimpinan-pimpinan Umno dan PERKASA menunjukkan kembali wajah sebenar mereka. Tidak kira berapa banyak wang yang dibayar kepada perunding antarabangsa sekalipun, budaya perkauman sempit yang dibawa oleh Umno dan Barisan Nasional tidak akan hilang kerana ia sudah menjadi sebahagian daripada darah daging mereka.

Pun begitu, saya melahirkan rasa kesal kerana Umno dan PERKASA tidak mahu berdepan dengan gagasan yang dibawa oleh KEADILAN dalam Kongres Nasional Ke-7 baru-baru ini. Gagasan tersebut, seperti yang disampaikan oleh Presiden parti Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, menyentuh mengenai mekanisme terbaik untuk membela orang Melayu. Persoalan yang dilontarkan oleh Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah adalah mudah; iaitu kaedah bagaimana yang boleh menjamin kelangsungan dan darjat orang Melayu yang akan dihormati dan bermaruah, dalam kerangka masyarakat pelbagai kaum yang ada di Malaysia dan arus globalisasi yang deras meninggalkan kita?

Kaedah sedia ada dibawa oleh Umno – iaitu mengabui mata rakyat mengenai hak mereka (melalui Umno) untuk terus berkuasa tidak kira prestasi mereka dan kebajikan rakyat keseluruhannya, terutamanya nasib orang Melayu. Konsep “Ketuanan Melayu” yang dilaungkan secara terbuka dan dibisikkan secara senyap ini oleh BTN dan agensi-agensi lain, menakut-nakutkan orang Melayu bahawa perubahan kerajaan kepada pakatan politik yang lain akan menyebabkan orang Melayu hilang kuasa. Apabila orang Melayu hilang kuasa, maka nasib orang Melayu akan terjejas dan akan tertindas.

Sebab itu, saya menganggap bahawa tindakan Umno dan PERKASA mengheret institusi Raja-Raja Melayu dengan mentaklikkan “Ketuanan Melayu” sebagai “Ketuanan Sultan” adalah satu tindakan yang bacul di pihak Umno dan PERKASA. Mereka tidak mampu berdepan dengan persoalan penting membicarakan kaedah terbaik membela orang Melayu terbanyak seperti yang ditimbulkan KEADILAN, lalu mereka cuba menggunakan institusi Raja-Raja Melayu. Tindakan seperti inilah sebenarnya yang menghina institusi Raja-Raja Melayu kerana ia tidak menghormati kedudukan Raja-Raja Melayu yang memayungi seluruh rakyat jelata tidak mengira kaum, agama dan pegangan politik.

Namun, tindakan Umno dan PERKASA itu bukanlah perkara baru. Rekod mereka mencalarkan kedudukan institusi Raja-Raja Melayu di mata rakyat sudah diketahui umum. Krisis-krisis perlembagaan yang melemahkan institusi Raja-Raja Melayu dalam tahun 1983 dan 1993 dicetuskan oleh Umno. Lebih malang, dalam kedua-dua siri krisis perlembagaan yang disusun oleh Umno itu, berlaku serangan-serangan yang bertujuan mengaibkan Raja-Raja Melayu dalam akhbar-akhbar dan media milik mereka. Ada beza yang besar diantara cakap-cakap seorang dua rakyat jelata yang dituduh mempersoalkan kedudukan Raja-Raja Melayu, dengan satu gerakan tersusun yang dilaksanakan secara besar-besaran oleh sebuah parti politik yang mengaku mempertahankan Ketuanan Melayu.

Saya beri amaran supaya Umno dan PERKASA jangan lagi cuba memfitnah KEADILAN dan Pakatan Rakyat dalam perkara ini. Dasar Bersama Pakatan Rakyat yang diluluskan pada 19 Disember 2009, secara jelas mempertahankan kedudukan istimewa orang Melayu dan Bumiputra dan institusi raja berpelembagaan.

Ini dinyatakan dalam Fasal 1 Perkara a(i) “Pakatan Rakyat akan mempertahankan Perlembagaan Persekutuan, Islam sebagai agama bagi Persekutuan dan agama-agama lain boleh diamalkan dengan aman dan damai di mana-mana di negara ini serta melindungi kedudukan istimewa orang Melayu dan anak negeri mana-mana antara Negeri Sabah dan Sarawak serta kepentingan sah kaum-kaum lain sejajar dengan Perkara 153”; dan Fasal 1 Perkara a(ii) “Pakatan Rakyat akan mempertahankan peranan dan tanggungjawab institusi raja berpelembagaan”.

Makanya, KEADILAN ingin membawa kembali polemik “Ketuanan Melayu” ini kepada perkara dasar yang diulas oleh Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail – iaitu wacana kaedah terbaik untuk melahirkan anak bangsa Melayu yang beriman, boleh berdikari, berprinsip dan berdaya juang supaya mereka kekal bermaruah dalam kerangka masyarakat pelbagai kaum di negara ini dan arus globalisasi mutakhir.

Apakah kaedah Umno yang memperkecilkan kebolehan anak Melayu, dengan menakut-nakutkan mereka dan menimbulkan rasa curiga terhadap semua yang bukan Melayu, akan berjaya melahirkan anak bangsa Melayu yang bermaruah?

Apakah “Ketuanan Melayu” yang berpaksikan kepada sistem kroni dan mendokong rasuah dengan menghamburkan kekayaan negara kepada beberapa kroni rapat Umno (tanpa mengira kaum) akan melahirkan golongan peniaga Melayu yang berdaya maju? Apakah budaya rasuah yang berleluasa di dalam Umno akan menjamin kedudukan istimewa orang Melayu tidak akan dijual suatu hari nanti?

Apakah anak bangsa Melayu yang membesar dengan perasaan curiga akan dapat mengambil pendekatan positif menunggang arus globalisasi untuk menjadi pemimpin antarabangsa?

Persoalan yang dibawa oleh KEADILAN adalah persoalan jatidiri dan kaedah terbaik membina jatidiri tersebut. Kaedah “Ketuanan Melayu” yang dibawa oleh Umno dan PERKASA bukan sahaja terbukti gagal membina jatidiri orang Melayu, malah menyebabkan kebajikan rakyat terbanyak (terutamanya golongan berpendapatan rendah yang majoritinya orang Melayu) terabai.

Sehingga kini, selepas 3 dekad “Ketuanan Melayu”, 75% dari bilangan keluarga yang pendapatan isi rumahnya di bawah RM2,000 adalah orang Melayu. Golongan ini jugalah yang dikategorikan sebagai golongan 40% paling miskin di Malaysia, seperti yang dihuraikan Perdana Menteri sendiri dalam Rancangan Malaysia Ke-10.

Selepas 3 dekad “Ketuanan Melayu”, rakyat terbanyak juga yang dibebankan dengan pemotongan subsidi sedangkan subsidi korporat sebanyak RM19 bilion setahun (dalam bentuk subsidi gas kepada penjana bebas) tidak disentuh. Umno dan PERKASA tidak melahirkan sedikit keluhan pun apabila bantuan kepada rakyat termiskin, yang rata-ratanya orang Melayu ditarik setiap enam bulan untuk menampung perbelanjaan boros kerajaan membayar perunding antarabangsa, sedangkan tidak ada satu mekanisme pun diperkenalkan untuk menyalurkan kembali rasionalisasi subsidi kepada golongan termiskin ini.

Justeru, KEADILAN yakin bahawa polemik “Ketuanan Melayu” ini adalah benteng terakhir Umno dan PERKASA yang kian rapuh dan ditolak rakyat. Demi melahirkan Malaysia yang majmuk, mengamalkan toleransi dan berdaya saing, KEADILAN akan konsisten membawa gagasan Ketuanan Rakyat melalui bangsa yang bermaruah – kerana kami yakin gagasan ini tidak dapat dijawab oleh Umno dan PERKASA.

YB SAIFUDDIN NASUTION ISMAIL
SETIAUSAHA AGONG KEADILAN

6 DISEMBER 2010

Tidak Banyak Yang Berubah ;-)

Ahad lalu beribu-ribu yang turun menyertai rapat umum membantah kebongkakan Syabas dan kroni Umno untuk terus menindas rakyat.

Seperti biasa, perkara biasa yang ditimbulkan oleh sesetengah pihak:

1) Kenapa perlu merosakkan ketenteraman awam dan menyusahkan “rakyat”

2) Kenapa tidak dibuat di dalam stadium sahaja, senang dan tidak perlu berdepan dengan polis

Saya agak letih melayan pandangan-pandangan sebegini yang tidak mengerti bahawa hak untuk berkumpul itu adalah hak rakyat. Jika kita mengambil pendekatan berdolak dalih seperti menerima hujah tempang bahawa rapat umum hanya boleh dibuat di stadium tertutup demi “kesenangan” sesetengah pihak, maka kita menerima dan mengiyakan bahawa pihak berkuasa boleh menakrifkan ruang litup “hak rakyat” ikut sesuka hati mereka.

Maka, perkara berkumpul di tempat awam bagi rapat umum, adalah perkara prinsip. Jika kita berundur dari prinsip itu, maka lunturlah prinsip.

Pun begitu, rapat umum berjalan dengan baik di sebalik semburan air asid dan gas pemedih mata. Saya perhatikan ramai anak-anak muda yang mengambil tempat di depan, maka all is not lost and those who come later are in the good footsteps of those before them.

Yang agak menarik adalah dengan kehadiran media baru, liputan serta-merta dapat dikongsi secara terus dengan orang ramai di seluruh dunia, siap dengan gambarnya sekali. Terima kasih Twitter dan blackberry.

NOTA KAKI

Ramai juga yang tidak faham bahawa double standard pihak polis yang membenarkan perarakan dan rapat umum kumpulan-kumpulan sebelah sana seperti PERKASA, UMNO dan terbaru GAPS adalah bukti bahawa jalan kekerasan yang diambil polis bukanlah sangat atas pertimbangan keselamatan awam, tetapi pertimbangan politik.

Tidak banyak yang berubah walau kepalanya sudah berubah 😉

More Discipline With Blog (ha ha)

This blog is dilapidated for the last one month (or so). Things took the turn for the worse when one after another event came along the way, that this blog has ended in utter neglect.

But just like everything else in life, all it takes is an adjustment. I recalculate the time I spend every day on e-mails, FB, reading news and Twitter and realise that with some streamlining, all it takes is just half an hour every day to put my thoughts here.

Or when I am waiting for something or when time is idle – eg. waiting for lift, at clinics or for food to be served, I guess there is enough time to blog. After all, blog is supposed to be what is in your mind naturally.

The only trick is not to be tied to a laptop and wifi.

I have been trying to configure blogging through email but that did not work well, I messed the code quite a bit (Note 1).

But someone (a young friend – Baang) pointed out that there is already a wordpress application for Blackberry – so suddenly blogging is at our fingertips and mobile too.

So here I am, hoping that my response time to issues, comments etc will be a lot quicker after this.

For now, Pakatan Convention is next weekend and there’s plenty of work (ha ha which somehow finds its way to you last minute *wink wink*) to be done in a short time. Sigh.

Welcome back to the blog 🙂

NOTE 1

I did Electronics & Electrical Engineering for a degree, a large portion of which involved programming (C or C++). I used to hate programming so much in uni and at one point (in my final year) went to see the Head of Faculty telling him I wanted to change from EEE to History (he laughed of course).

But at the height of reformasi, suddenly programming (via HTML at the time) became a necessity as we scrambled to find a room to contribute.

And that was how I reconnected with the technical side – while finishing my accountancy exam in London, a great portion of the free time was spent relearning programming languages, especially the ones relating to websites and databases.

The one person who first coined the term “necessity is the mother of any invention” is one of the most gifted among us 🙂