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Affirmative Action A Flop, Make It Needs-Based, Says Sabah Think Tank Chairman

Picture: Simon Sipaun says the policy is unfair to non-Malay minorities as it only benefitted the majority race of a particular religion. (Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Institute for Development Studies (IDS) Sabah chairman Simon Sipaun says the affirmative action policy is a failure as it has only benefitted the elite few and caused divisions in society. Speaking at the Roundtable Discussion on Inclusive Governance Utilising International Standards on Non-Discrimination here, Sipaun said this was because affirmative action in Malaysia was race and religion based and not based on needs.

“It is not conducive to the creation and maintenance of genuine national unity and integration. It has become a divisive factor, defeating the objectives of the New Economic Policy (NEP), which we sometimes refer to as the ‘Never Ending Policy’,” he said. The former Suhakam vice-chairman said the policy was unfair to non-Malay minorities as it only benefitted the majority race of a particular religion, although it involved public funds contributed by all tax-paying Malaysians irrespective of race and religion.

He also blamed the policy for triggering a brain-drain situation in Malaysia with as many as a million of mostly highly qualified Malaysians leaving the country, as reported by the World Bank in 2011. “This has made the country less attractive to potential investors. I think that figure is much higher by now. More recently, a study showed 71% of Malaysians feel race and religion-based affirmative action is obsolete. “Critics of the policy prefer ‘colour blind’ affirmative action targeting the poor and needy irrespective of race and religion,” he said.

Besides, he said, the policy had not produced the desired effect, with the economic gap between Malays and non-Malays continuing to exist. He attributed this to the strong will of the non-Malays to survive under adversity and the dependency syndrome of the Malays. He suggested the government revisit the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) which was launched by former prime minister Najib Razak last year. “Since then, I have not heard anything about it. I am surprised no MP appears to be interested to ask questions about it in Parliament. It should be revisited to ascertain if it made any difference for the better in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country,” he said. He also called for the creation of a new ministry called Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs. The Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954, he said, should be repealed and the Federal Constitution amended to enable the Orang Asli to enjoy all the rights and privileges of the Malays. “If there is any community which deserves affirmative action, it should be the Orang Asli. They are the original inhabitants of Malaya. “Since Aug 31, 1957, I believe the government has not trained and prepared even one Orang Asli to head the department which is supposed to take care of the Orang Asli.

“After more than 61 years of Malaya’s independence, finally there is at least one Orang Asli MP. The Orang Asli are subjected to an apartheid-like system,” he said. He proposed the repeal of all laws which empowered the government to arrest without trial. He also called for the strengthening of Suhakam by making it obligatory for Parliament to debate its annual report and for the commissioners’ term of appointment to be changed to one-term non-renewable for a period of seven years. He proposed that human rights education be introduced in schools and institutions of higher learning. “Democratic institutions should be strengthened, including the observance of clean, free and fair elections. Government assistance should be based on needs rather than race, religion and politics,” he concluded.

Source of Article: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/04/03/affirmative-active-a-flop-make-it-needs-based-says-sabah-think-tank-chairman/

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Creative Industries Board Proposed For Sabah

Picture: Sabah Assistant Education and Innovation Minister Jenifer Lasimbang (second from right) speaking during the seminar on the state’s rural creative communities in Kota Kinabalu today.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Assistant Education and Innovation Minister Jenifer Lasimbang has called for the establishment of a board to develop the arts and creative industries in the state. The board will help streamline the three main arts and creative groups, she said, adding that it will enable them to move forward and prosper. The main groups are those dealing with cultural heritage, the performing arts and the creative media. Describing the arts and creative scene as “fragmented”, Lasimbang said the setting up of the board would ensure monitoring as well as promotion and marketing.

“It’s good to have the same vision and mission so no one is left behind,” she said at a seminar on “Sabah’s Rural Creative Communities: Developing and Revitalising Rural Communities Through Art and Creativity”, organised by the state think-thank Institute for Development Studies (IDS) here today. She urged IDS to help identify a group of professionals to assist arts and creative groups, especially those from the rural areas, to write proposals for grants from international organisations. “There are funds from international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) available but the only problem is it requires stringent proposal writing to obtain the funds and reporting after getting the grants,” she said. While the government and local organisations also offer grants, she said those from international NGOs are considerably higher and could go a long way towards helping creative groups in the rural areas. Having worked with Unicef before, Lasimbang said she had on numerous occasions helped the rural communities to draw up proposals to apply for international grants.

Earlier, IDS chairman Simon Sipaun said there was big pool of creative talents in Sabah, including those from the rural areas. However, the opportunity to develop such talents to their full potential was limited, he said, due to the lack of a support mechanism from the government. A board established under the Chief Minister’s Department to spearhead and monitor the development of the arts and creative industries in Sabah was, therefore, welcomed, Sipaun said.

Source of article: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/03/28/creative-industries-board-proposed-for-sabah/

Published in Events

Education Reform Needed To Curb Racial And Religious Polemic, Says Academic

Picture: Sharifah felt that it was necessary to review curriculum involving religion because some teachings made children grow up thinking life revolves around religion. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KOTA KINABALU, March 25 — The education system in the country needs to address the current racial polemic that is becoming more divisive, an academic said. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Strategic Studies and International Relations Department senior lecturer Sharifah Munirah Alatas said it was worrying that there was no redress being taken through the education system as racial tensions in the country continue to flare.

“All the rhetoric and narrative that keeps appearing in newspapers and social media is politicised and given tinge of race and religion. It’s dividing us. This problem is pervasive in society but we are not addressing it in universities or schools. “Teachers should go into class and tell seven-year-old kids before their maths or science class that it is unrealistic and unacceptable that society rejects people of different races; include that in daily teaching,” she said at a forum co-organised by moderate Malay group G25 at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) here.

Sharifah, a G25 member, felt that it was necessary to review curriculum involving religion because some teachings made children grow up thinking life revolves around religion. “The kind of religion that’s taught in our schools — the kind is taught to separate people when in reality Islam unites people.“So something is wrong with our education system. We wouldn’t have this problem now if our schools taught the right thing. It’s not dealt with, but everyone is upset — on social media, all discussions go back to education,” she said.

She said that the current system causes students to lack the understanding of the situation, with many taught to be polite and get along. Sharifah also said part of the problem was that the narrative was also controlled by politicians, who were themselves part of another problem — the political system. “How do we start the narrative when politicians belong to parties whose foundations are based on race or religion? To nip it in the bud, there should be no race or religion-based parties, whether Opposition or government, but who is going to start this discussion?” she asked.

Sharifah also said that in the May 9 polls (GE14), the country had voted for a multiracial Malaysia, and though the “New Malaysia” started on these ambitions, the trend has reverted back to the race and religion narrative. She cited the opposition to Lim Guan Eng as finance minister and Maszlee Malik as education minister due to their race, the latter’s statement on declaring Sabah and Sarawak as a grounds for Islamic proselytisation and the decision to abstain from ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) as examples. “In the beginning, it wasn’t race issue but subsequently it became about race. They are running away from the issue of reforming the country. We no longer talk about reforms but have gone back to talking about race and religion again and that is sad,” she said. A report released by Pusat Komas recently stated that there was a spike of media reports and cases of racial discrimination following the 14th general election (GE14) and the debacle surrounding the ratification of ICERD. he report also said that racial politics was a major concern in 2018 as politicians and political parties from both political divides had utilised race and religion for political mileage.

Source of article: https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/25/education-reform-needed-to-curb-racial-and-religious-polemic-says-academic/1736310

Published in Events
Tuesday, 12 March 2019 16:23

Net Revenue’ Sources under MA63

Net Revenue’ Sources under MA63

IDS Chairman, Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (left) moderating a panel discussion. The panellists are (from right): Y.B. Jamawi bin Ja’afar and Mr. Brenndon Keith Soh. The half-day Panel Discussion on “‘Net Revenue’ Sources under MA63” was held on the 12th March 2019 at IDS Hall, Wisma SEDIA, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

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