Academics slam NGO proposal to replace History with subject on social contract

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Changing the History syllabus or replacing it altogether with a subject on the 'social contract' will be detrimental to students' understanding of the nation's past, say many academics. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 28, 2015.

Changing the History syllabus or replacing it altogether with a subject on the ‘social contract’ will be detrimental to students’ understanding of the nation’s past, say many academics. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 28, 2015.

Academics and teachers have denounced a suggestion by the head of a Penang-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) to do away with the teaching of History in schools.

They said the proposal by Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang chairman Tan Sri Mohd Yusoff Latiff to replace the subject with one that explained the social contract was regressive and that young Malaysians would grow up without truly appreciating the sacrifices made by their nation’s founding fathers. Read more

Counselling for Orang Asli community in Pos Tohoi tragedy, says deputy minister

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Children from the Temiar tribe outside their home in Kampung Penad, Kelantan. Education is important but the Orang Asli parents in this remote village have decided to withdraw their children from SK Tohoi. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, October 27, 2015.

The Education Ministry will hold counseling sessions for the Orang Asli following the Pos Tohoi tragedy where four children at a boarding school died after allegedly fleeing their school to hide in the jungle.

Deputy education minister P. Kamalanthan said the ministry will do all it can to ensure that parents from the indigenous community would send their children back to school.

“Education is for all and the ministry does not want to see anyone left out,” he told reporters at a press conference after a cheque presentation ceremony to 44 Tamil schools in Negri Sembilan.

Seven Orang Asli pupils at SK Tohoi in Gua Musang, Kelantan, went missing on August 23, reportedly because they feared punishment by their teachers.

Four are dead while two, Miksudiar Alui, 11, and Norieen Yaakob, 10, were found safe after weeks in the jungle.

The dead pupils – Ika Ayel, 9, Haikal Yaacob, 8, Linda Rosli, 8 and Juvina David, 7 – were buried last Sunday.

Traumatised parents from Orang Asli villages in the area then said they would pull out all their children from the boarding school situated some two hours away from their homes. Read more

New houses for Kelantan flood victims to be completed by June

Source: The Malaysian Insider

A woman and her son look out from their tent at the flood relief centre in Bandar Utama Gua Musang in Kelantan in this photo taken last May. Some 12 families will continue to live in these tents, until next March. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 28, 2015.

The Federal government has assured that the construction of 1,759 new permanent houses for flood victims in Kelantan will be completed between March and June next year.

Kelantan Federal Action Council chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the focus now is to complete building the houses that have not yet been completed. The government has managed to resolve several issues that delayed the construction of these houses, especially ownership of land for the site.

“The original promise was to complete the houses before the end of this year, we did not expect the land issue to be so complicated and now the question of land for the construction of these houses in all the affected districts have been completed,” he told reporters in Kota Baru, last night. Read more

HRW: Malaysia government creating culture of fear

Source: Al Jazeera

Demonstrators gathered during a Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur in August [Phil Robertson/Human Rights Watch]

Malaysia is in danger of becoming a “failed democratic state” if it continues on its current path of repression against government critics, according to Human Rights Watch.

In a damning new report Creating a Culture of Fear, The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in Malaysia, HRW on Tuesday detailed the various ways the Malaysian government has used its laws to stifle criticism.

The crackdown on freedom of expression began after the 2013 election when the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition lost the popular vote for the first time since independence. Read more

Malaysia 5th most expensive country for degrees, says report

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Average working parents in Malaysia spend 55% of their income on their children’s tuition fees. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 28, 2015.

Malaysia is the fifth most expensive country to get a university education in relation to its household income, news portal AsiaOne reported.

It cited the London-based Expert Market – a business-to-business marketplace – which found that average working Malaysian parents spent 55% of their pay on allowing each child to finish university, even though Malaysia registered the lowest tuition fee cost among the top 10 “most expensive places to send your kids to university” based on a survey of fees in 40 countries.

“The country has around 20 universities and fees are competitive compared to the rest of the world. Read more

Jakoa, JPN laksana program untuk pelajar SK Tohoi kembali ke sekolah

Sumber: The Malaysian Insider

Kehadiran pelajar di SK Tohoi menurun kepada 50%, berbanding 85% sebelum tragedi kehilangan 7 kanak-kanak Orang Asli dengan 4 daripadanya meninggal dunia. – Gambar fail The Malaysian Insider, 28 Oktober, 2015.

Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli (Jakoa) Kelantan akan bekerjasama dengan Jabatan Pendidikan (JPN) negeri itu, dalam melaksanakan program bagi menarik minat murid Orang Asli di Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Tohoi, agar kembali ke sekolah.

Jakoa dalam kenyataan semalam berkata, kehadiran pelajar di SK Tohoi menurun kepada 50%, berbanding 85% sebelum tragedi yang menimpa 4 pelajar sekolah berkenaan. Read more

30 years later, is there an end in sight to smoke problem?

Source: The Malaysian Insider

An Indonesian soldier trying to put out a peatland fire in Ogan Ilir, Sumatra, in September. President Joko Widodo has instructed his ministers to revoke licences of companies found to have used fire to clear land, which is blamed for the smoke blanketing much of Southeast Asia. – Reuters pic, October 28, 2015.

For decades, smoke from Indonesia blows into Malaysia towards year-end, erasing the country’s iconic skylines and driving people indoors to wait out what has now become known as the “haze season”.

A headline from nearly 20 years ago said “Asean ministers to discuss smog problem” – and in 2015, they are still discussing it.

After talking for so long and extensively, what have Malaysia and Indonesia achieved?

“Sadly, nothing much,” said Dr Helena Varkkey, a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s Department of International and Strategic Studies, in an email interview. Read more