Los Teropong (Teropong means binoculars) comments on current issues in Malaysia, and sometimes the world, and put forth another opinion and perspective. BY THE WAY - THEY HUNG THE WRONG GUY ...


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Friday, August 26, 2005
Future of Universities ...
Was invited to a Luncheon Talk at Equatorial Hotel, Penang on the 25th August 2005. The lunch was in conjunction with the meeting of the Committee of Vice Chancellors/Rectors of the Public Universities in Malaysia, hosted by the Universiti Sains Malaysia and the talk on, 'Preparing Universities for the Future', was delivered by Professor Luc E. Weber, former Rector/President of the University of Geneva.

LUC E. WEBER is a full professor of public economics at the University of Geneva and an international expert on higher education for the World Bank, the Council of Europe, the European Association of Universities, the Confederation of EU Rectors' Conferences and the International Association of Universities.

There was a lot of ground covered, among others, the autonomy of a (public) university and its capability face globalisation and the democratisation (this is really an old but persisting topic) of education. There is also this restraining component when public universities are merely performing 'public services' and on the other hand trying to produce Nobel laurettes. Not a balanced equation, believe me.

I asked him a question. Prof. Weber, in your vast experience and your opinion, should the Ministry of Higher Education be headed by a politician or one of the Vice-Chancellors?

He related that in the past (in Europe), Universities and Vice-Chancellors were highly regarded and even held Ministerial posts but now they are 'normal' human beings. Btw, the Minister of Education of Hong Kong is a Professor.

Come to think of it, why can't the Minster of Higher Education of Malaysia be one of the VCs of the public universities? They can hold the post for 3 years and rotate among the VCs, just like the Sultans taking turns to be the Agong. Who better can handle Higher Education than the VCs. Since we have split the Ministry into two, with one in charge of primary, secondary and teacher education and the other in charge of tertiary education, let the politician handle the former and one of the VCs handle the letter. Sounds good?

They will know what it takes to be a research university, a world-class university, a postgraduate university, an open university and NOT politicise the whole issue. They will also know, REALLY how much is needed to do certain things, and will probably have the b**** to say that, if you want this, give us the money or don't talk so much. They will know how to integrate the findings in a university (funded by public money) into the community and not be bogged down by other agencies obstructing such endeavours when they themselves are not doing their job properly. Hey, I believe this can work. Perhaps the Committee of Vice-Chancellors should put that in their agenda. Aiyaa, tak tau lah ...

posted by Rozhan @ 8/26/2005 04:20:00 PM   1 comments
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Telcos .. why do you hide?
I can't remember exactly when but it was in the newspapers a few days ago about people's reluctance to change or switch telecommunication companies because they have used their mobile phone number for some time and this would create a disturbance to them if they have to update their address book for the new number.

In the meantime, Telcos who supossedly provide 'offer' packages of 'one payment' per month with luxurious talk time and free SMS are reaping the benefit with 'high' bills on the consumer (much to the surprise of the user, of course) due to the 'limitations' of the offer, which coincidentally was not 'revealed' to the cusomer upon purchase.

Ok lah, to cut a long story short, we will have none of this nonsense and TERMINATED our three lines with the so-called offer packages provided by the company. Again, it is a matter of principle, and if we don't do something about it, nothing will change. The customer will continually be manipulated by the telecommunications companies. Also, the customer service was apalling, typical of the ethnic nature of the ownership of the company.

Naturally, we subscribed three new line for our children, as supplementary lines to a principal line, with all charges made known to the customer.

Aahhh, one more thing. If you get a message of promotions of new downloads, remember that you are paying for it. To get rid of it, REPLY to the message and type "STOP" and send. This should put a stop to it.

Shame on the Telcos who try to pull wool over the customers eyes. You will definitely be the loser in the long run. Aiyaa, tak tau lah...

posted by Rozhan @ 8/24/2005 11:50:00 AM   5 comments
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Teaching .. stressful?
The Star (22 August 2005, Pg.2) - Those who find teaching a stressful profession should not apply to be a teacher, said the Education Minister of Malaysia. This statement was in response (according to the newspaper) to a stsment by National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) that there was a rise in menta stress among teachers. The Minister said more people were applying to become teachers.

Hmmm .... I found this both strange and disturbing. All the more since it came from the MINISTER. Macamnilah, it is just like saying, if you find living stressful, then don't live?? If you find studying streesful, then don't go to school, college or university?? Is it really that simple..?

As always, I say 'what is the real problem here?' Let us get to the bottom of this, since a myopic statement was given. What is stress? Stress occurs when the pressure on an individual seem to be overwhelming and out of control. Then, what caused it? Something must be overwhelming and out of control is happening in the MOE and schools that has caused this stress.

Maybe the NUTP should REVEAL this and make it transparent so that we can all see what is stressing the teachers. Conversely, the MOE should also take note of this STRESS and solve the problem. It is easy for ANYONE to sit on a comfortable chair in an air-conditioned office and a chauferred car and talk about stress.

But as always, we go for the Malaysian solution of sidestepping the issue and look for teachers that can 'handle' stress' , so to speak. When they cannot handle anymore, transfer them, and look for MORE teachers that can handle stress. WE HAVE YET TO TACKLE THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM. NUTP, can you tell us the root of the problem(s)?? - other than cited in the paper such as suicide cases among teachers and teachers beating students - any statistics for us?? Maybe we can solve it for the people concerned... Aiyaa, tak tau lah ...

posted by Rozhan @ 8/23/2005 04:50:00 PM   2 comments
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Malaysians and the English language
Aiyaa, what is all this balyhoo about English. This is again Classic Malaysian endeavour. Ok, first of all, as a positve person, I congratulate the effort by all parties in this embracing English project, and the sponsors and the newspapers - for whatever motive you may have. For the politicians, this is too clear for all to see.

Macamnilah (translation: It's like this) ... ( ... this is also the url of my blog) - let me share my experience in this Englishsising (don't think there is such a word, but what the ***l) processs. For as long as I can remember, we spoke ENGLISH at home. That's process No.1 - SPEAK

Then I used to read ENGLISH-language COMICS. War stories (the small booklet type), Beano, Dandy, Beezer, The Mighty Thor ( I have a big 'old' collection), Fantastic Four, Spider Man, Green Lantern, Ironman, Dr Strange, Superman, Teen Titans, Flash, Justice League and the Reader's Digest. That's process No. 2 - READ

I advocate writing things down. This started when I was in Standard Two at the St. Geroge's Primary School in Balik Pulau (Penang). It was kind of a competition - but in an educational way. We we ask by our teacher to write down (in English, of course) a collection of 3-letter words, 4-letter words, 5, 6, 7 and as many letter words as one can gather in an excercise book. Whether you understand the words or not is not an issue. Gather them you must, no tricks, you can refer to the dictionary. I got third place and got some chocolates. But the process stuck until today. It was not so much of the competition but the gathering of words, looking them up, writing them down .. that was interesting. That's process No. 3 - WRITE.

However, all these are LONG TERM PROCESSES ...

Another true story - There was a research done in a 10-year period in the United States. This was how it went. EVERY morning, before anything else, a (experimental) class was asked to READ (English) for 20-minutes. The students in the class were just asked to READ. Anything!! - newspapers, comics, books, magazines - anything - Everyday. They were NOT taught English in a formal way. To cut a LONG STORY short, the English competencies of these children were FAR BETTER than those taught formally. I can give you the name of the Professor if you want.

Now, we Malaysians like to really do things in a BIG way, not in a correct way (just like the computer , oops, not here, not here ..). Now, we have a big ceremony with company sponsorship (thank you companies) and promoting reading NST ( very good, no doubt). Now even Minister also happily promoting this and thanking here and there. Further said,
"I want to congratulate the NSTP group for its role as a responsible corporate citizen. I’m proud that so many generous sponsors have stepped in to offer their support. "I want to see this programme succeed and expand. You will have the co-operation of my Schools Division to work on identifying the neediest schools in the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak."

ALL THEY HAVE TO DO IS READ ENGLISH. Not just NST, ANY English book, magazine, reader's digest. It does not have to be brand new. Go buy ALL the second hand books in the shops. Hey, just flipping read ... anything (relevant lah , don't be s*****!! - we are also good at being loyar buruk) don't make this something burdensome. Aiyaa, tak tau lah ... nak glamour je ..

posted by Rozhan @ 8/18/2005 04:29:00 PM   0 comments
Well done M. Nasir ..
Omedeto guzaimas .... doomo arigato guzaimas .. xie xie sifu ... Thank you for a memorable AF3. You are now bigger than you were before. We were able to se the 'other' side of you in your interactions with the students and the trainers. We (my family and I) were equally amused looking at you and your wife during the weekly concert, one sitting in a pretty 'stoned' face and the other quite animated by the student's performances.
posted by Rozhan @ 8/18/2005 04:22:00 PM   1 comments
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Study Loans .. and SMS??
Hmmm .. read in The Star (Saturday, 13 August 2005, pg. 21) about the statement by National Higher Education Fund Corporation Chairman that the money SHOULD be used wisely for their studies. Further he also commented on the statement by former PM Tun Mahathir Mohamad that some Malay students like to dabble with SMS and are not serious in improving their studies (Akademi Fantasia also cited as one of the reasons).

I say, with all due respect, this is definitely OLD story .. and for some unknown reason too, AF-bashing.
  • Look, when I was in the UK doing my A-Levels in 1977, there were also Malays who were supposed to go to class but spent their time going to Football matches to the point that they were SENT home after getting the scholarship tp study abroad. Not serious?
  • There were also those who were captivated by the Tabligh movement and spend their time (in the UK, this time during University days) follwing these people on their rounds or visits and only ended up with 3rd Class degrees - not serious?
  • Also there were many female students during University days (in the UK again) who got married and STOPPED studying. This was in spite of obtaining a place in a University - not serious?
  • There were also those who went crazy buying MOTOCYCLES and HI-FI sets and LPs, expensive leather jackets, and many more crazy stuff - I won't reveal them all ...
I am not too well verse with the local scene as I never studied in a local institution. Would anyone like to contribute? What is the difference now? Now the scenario is different in terms of the gadgets and the way of doing things, such as SMS, computer games, CDs, MP3s iPods, and the like. But one thing remained - STILL NOT SERIOUS!! what is new?? - Then, Now and perhaps even in the future (Dahulu, Sekarang dan akan Datang). In any case, can we have some STATISTICS rather than blurt out in abstract terms ... aiyaa, tak tau lah ...

I am not one to comment but offer no suggestions. May I suggest that those students who were successful in obtaining scholarship, sponsorship or whatevership fill up a monthly - or perhaps 6-monthly form just like the INCOME TAX, so that we can see their expenditure. Keep all receipts for verification. Then we can see where the money goes. They don't agree, fine, give back the money, go find funding somewhere else!! Very easy ...

This is not new. Pepople in the USA do this for verification by the IRS, and our Income Tax system now require us to keep all receipts. Why can't the students or loan holders do the same.

Haaaa, who is going to monitor is another MALAYSIAN story ... aiyaa, tak tau lah (again) ...

posted by Rozhan @ 8/17/2005 12:36:00 PM   20 comments
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Crossroads ??
Don't know where my daughter got this from, but I thought it is a nice way to represent the many facet of our life. Some things are 'go', a few are on 'standby' and there are also 'no go' areas. These lights also changes from time to time.

Just shows how complicated our life can be. Equally so if ALL lights are 'red' and ALL lights are yellow and green. Aiyaa, tak tau lah ... 'nuff said.
posted by Rozhan @ 8/16/2005 04:51:00 PM   2 comments
No Hugging Please .... Anything else?
Read in The Star (Saturday, 13 August 2005, Pg.6) abou the Deputy Prime Minister's message in hitting out at such actions being promoted by certain TV reality shows and programmes. Further, he stressed, 'This is not a question of young or old people hugging. This is about religion. It is forbidden in the religion.' Teng, teng, teng ...

I really don't know where to start.
Firstly, a BIG thank you to the DPM for his concern. Really!! I am the positive type, always going forward, always turning the page, progressing, never belittling anyone. Let's make the world a better place, after all we are not going to live forever. There is another world waiting ... not to mention a world court too ...

So let's take it to another level. Based on 'this is forbidden in the religion', what else can we put in this category ( apologies if this is going to sound like a sermon)?? We are forbidden to;
  • drink alcohol (including sell and transport) - can MAS stop serving alcohol on board? Pakistan Airline is alcohol-free on board and the plane is full all the same;
  • gamble (TOTO and the like ..) - can we stop Muslims from wasting money at the TOTO outlets - yes, until today many Muslims still play TOTO;
  • expose ourselves beyond set limits (for male & female) - tutup aurat lah tu!! - maybe our top government officials should set a good example by following this code of dressing;
  • practise corruption - maybe this coffee money concept can be abolished - difficult to prove but God knows and the concerned person also know
  • shaking hands between male & female? - there was a directive from the government for female staff members in High offices to shake hands with foreign visitors since some of them were refusing to do so. I had a news clip of this statement but don't know where it is now, but for sure it exist ..
  • lie, cheat, back-bite, envy, and many more.
As the DPM said, 'This is about religion.' and I say, if WE don't take care of our own religion, WHO WILL??

But let us not CHOOSE what we want to open our eyes to, or open one eye and shut the other by way of implementing the codes of conduct of the religion. It must be pratised wholly ...

There are enough kissing, hugging, bed scenes, beauty contest and other exciting stuff on the televison and the Internet to captivate the nation. Malay films and dramas (no need to mention lah) also contain very interesting interactions of the male and female species in a form not strictly allowed by the religion. I hope any and all relevat parties will take heed of this call from the DPM. May Allah give us guidance. Aiyaa, tak tau lah ...

posted by Rozhan @ 8/16/2005 04:50:00 PM   2 comments
Friday, August 12, 2005
Malaysia Robot Olympiad
Malaysia Robot Olympiad (MRO) 2005 - National Level (Peringkat Kebangsaan). This is interesting and the response of the Ministry of Education is even more so. It so happened that my son is representing his School, one of the Schools representing the Northern Region of Malaysia to the MRO.

This Olympiad is organised by Sasbadi Sdn. Bhd. The participants are the Primary and Secondary Schools of Malaysia, including Sabah & Sarawak (East Malaysia). To Sasbadi, I congratulate you on your effort and contribution to the personality building of the students. I was made to understand that the organisers also contributed RM200 to the Primary School as participants. Anyway, I have bought my fair share of Sasbadi Books for my children.

Ok now, this is organised by Sasbadi, for the Schools .. what is the role of the Ministry of Education? Very good contribution. They have given the go ahead for the Schools to participate.. and that's it. No budget given, only permission. Excellent MOE, excellent. Now the School called the parents of the four students representing the School to request for joint funding (food and bus fares) for the duration of the Olympiad (all day on the 18th of August, but they have to go a day earlier, of course). Naturally the parents were agreeable to the request .. but, you guessed it .. THAT IS NOT THE POINT!!!

This is the kind of activity the MOE should be organising AND sponsoring. This is the kind of character building that should be instilled in the students. Giving permission only is CHEAP. This is a worthwhile effort that should have strong support from the MOE. Too much money have been spent on computer labs (that I dare say WILL NOT WORK, believe me) and too little on the real activities to excite the studets. Smart School are NEVER about the computer .. and the sooner this is realised, the better. It can help, no doubt about it, but do we really know how to use it appropriately? Clever students are not created by the computer. We need creative teachers, creative activities and the environment to induce and incite innovations from the students. I leave you with with the quotes from Sam Palmisano ...

From Sam Palmisano (Global Innovation Outlook, November 2004) - 'You don't create innovation simply by increasing your R & D budget. You do it by creating an environment where innovation will fluorish' ...... Further - 'INNOVATION isn't the same as INVENTION. Innovation is a societal, not technological, phenomenon, one that arises from the intersection of invention and insight.' Aiyaa, tak tau lah ...

posted by Rozhan @ 8/12/2005 03:18:00 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Meet Ponnu ..
Ponnusamy has climed close to a million coconut trees in 30 years, climbing 80 trees daily. NST (24 July 2005, pg. 18) reports the livelihood of Ponnu who raised two sons (now working) with his small income. He is paid RM0.38 for every litre of toddy and he can collect up to 91 litres a day. He remembers the day (some 10 years ago) when his friend fell to his death in front of him.

Confrontation with snakes and wasps are normal occurances. The constant climbing of trees often results in their legs becoming bent but Ponnu has not had that problem yet. Such is life. Tree climbing is one activity that I am not capable of ... tak tau panjat pokok daa ...

posted by Rozhan @ 8/03/2005 05:04:00 PM   1 comments
Waste not on WAR
NST (1 August 2005) - Food by lorryloads is finally reaching remote northern Niger, EIGHT months after the first pleas for help for the hungry. A locust invasion last year followed by drought has left a third of the population in this already desperately poor west African nation at risk of malnutrition or worse , with children the most vulnerable - repeated UN appeals went unanswered until the situation reached crisis. These are more urgent needs - we don't need more WAR, don't need invasions, world policeman ...we need to feed the needy, wherever they are, whoever they are .... it might be US one day ...

Any spare cash ..? Maybe? If we transfer some war cost, then perhaps we have some spare cash ... what is the cost of the Iraq invasion to the United States; the bill is currently counting at $134.5 billion and increases at a rate of $177 million per day, $7.4 million per hour and $122,820 per minute (1, 2).

Deborah Rappaport, spokesperson for Project Billboard (2), added: "The Iraq conflict has already cost American taxpayers an astonishing $134.5 billion. "We feel it is vital that citizens be aware of this considerable expenditure at this important time in our nation's history. What better place than in the billboard capital of the world."

The $151.1 billion spent by the U.S. government on the war could have cut world hunger in half and covered HIV/AIDS medicine, childhood immunization and clean water and sanitation needs of the developing world for more than two years. As a factor in the oil price hike, the war has created concerns of a return to the "stagflation" of the 1970s. Already, the world's major airlines are expecting an increase in costs of $1 billion or more per month (2). Aiyaa, tak tau lah ...

posted by Rozhan @ 8/03/2005 05:03:00 PM   1 comments
It takes two to TANGO ..
posted by Rozhan @ 8/03/2005 05:02:00 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The fruits of consistency ...
It is not so much the title, but the story behind it, the formula for success. Nothing beats hard work, dedication, discipline, passion and the will to win. To sustain it for a period of time is a challenge. I hope she will be World Number 1.

posted by Rozhan @ 8/02/2005 04:12:00 PM   1 comments
Parents should SUE ..
Read in The Star (1 August 2005, Pg.3) that a seven-year-old girl ended up witha fractured hand after being allegedly beaten on the palm with a two-foot long stick by her teacher. Her right thumb was dislocated and she had a fractured metacarpal. She was punished for failing to control a noisy class. To cut a long story short (full story in the newspaper), the Headmaster and the Assistant Headmaster went to the student's house thrice, including once with the district education officer, and offered a total of RM950 in cash for Aiman's treatment. The Star also reported that the father was also ASKED TO SIGN A SETTLEMENT LETTER. The family planned to take legal action against those responsible.

This is a SHAMEFUL state of affairs of our education system. Those responsible should be brought to justice. Yes, dear family, please SUE ... as there are provisions in the law that the safely and well being of the students in the school during official school time must be ensured.

According to the news, the teacher has been transferred to a school in Tikam Batu. Welcome to the CLASSIC Malaysian solution - JUST SHIFT THE PROBLEM to somewhere else and see history repeat itself. We never get to the root of the problem. Aiyaa, tak tau lah ...

posted by Rozhan @ 8/02/2005 03:52:00 PM   0 comments
Akademi Fantasia Apes West?
Wah, not been in for quite a while. Man, busy, busy ... got a stack of newspapers to go through. Should stumble across interesting news to talk about. Hmmm .. saw in the NST today (2 August 2005) regarding the comments from the Deputy Prime Minister about our Academi Fantasia. He went further to say that 'most scenes failed to conform to Eastern values and were unsuitable for Malaysian audience. Hmmmm .. I watched AF since they stated it 2 years ago. Were we watching the SAME AF??

What I saw was:

posted by Rozhan @ 8/02/2005 03:19:00 PM   1 comments
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