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Sakmongkol ak 47

Monday 3 August 2009

The short on privitisation and education

What does a typical politician understand about the term privatization? My personal observation is as follows:

  1. Privatization is simply understood as an opportunity, arising out of a legal provision, for a government organisation to do business.
  2. When the government does business that gives opportunities for serving and retired politicians to earn extra allowances (through appointments such as chairman and directorships) and also opportunities to milk the business.
  3. When government does business as when they takeover some monopolistic enterprises, they stand to realise capital gains.

These to my mind, is what the term privatization means to the run off the mill politicians. To add an impression of sophistication in their thinking, they justify privatisation as a means to obtain private sector management expertise. This is simply a ruse as the records by most GLCs are simply cases of bright promises, dismal performances. This led to the corruption of the term privatisation to piratisation.

In any case, let's humour the common politician's view on privatisation. Let's take the justification on piratisation privatisation on private sector management expertise grounds. This politicians' obsession with 'private sector management expertise') is actually a misnomer. What they actually mean by privatisation is make the profits private, the liabilities public's. This whole argument about private management expertise is screwed up if it does not actually mean the introduction of a new management with a better-developed profit motive but more importantly, it must include as the overriding goal, to increase autonomy, choice and competition, and to focus services around consumer interests, rather than producer ones.

Social mobility and the closing of the road.

This whole thing about reversion to the teaching of maths and science in Malay may actually be a design by the elite to keep the common folks in their place. Education then becomes a means to curtail social mobility. Being multilingual may provide a ladder for talented people from poorer backgrounds, but this avenue may be swept away in a fit of egalitarian enthusiasm which resulted in a levelling down and the closure of opportunities.

We forget that egalitarianism is better achieved if people have choices. This fit of egalitarian enthusiasm and this resurgence in nationalism can actually impede egalitarianism. Consider further some of the issues confronting our educational system. We have already spoken about the possible impact of the closure of linguistic choices on our country.

Think now about the lowering of standards. Yes, we know that the key to social mobility has always been education, but despite an emphasis on education it has largely failed people of disadvantaged backgrounds. The government pressurizes universities to lower admission standards for people from poorer backgrounds, thereby discriminating against talented youngsters who happen to have middle class parents. It then becomes a disadvantage if people come from the middle class.

Lowering the standards of admission for example is like the minimum wage argument of Milton Friedman. We think by lowering admissions requirement or passing marks, we are allowing more pupils to pass or enter colleges and even universities. We are doing no such thing. What we are actually doing is to encourage those who under normal circumstances cannot enter or pass, earn a diploma or degree which they find out later cannot qualify them to get a job demanding higher level skills.

Lowering standards is not the answer, neither a valid nor a fair one. The better approach is to raise the standard of schools so their students can qualify on merit. The way to do this is to forget egalitarianism and to allow a variety of schools to flourish, and enable parents of all backgrounds freely to choose between them.


Raison D'etre 3 August 2009 at 11:23  

"a design by the elite to keep the common folks in their place"

Never thought of it that way since I've always thought it was a political move to appease the language champions by MY.

Hmmm... Very fiendish.

Anonymous,  3 August 2009 at 13:04  

Bottom line is there is no culture of excellence in this country anymore in most areas.

M'sia is steering itself towards a 'high end' banana republic country, with an islamist favour of course if we were to continue the same path. We need rigour and right people to steer the country out of this road.

We have the best of God given resources (which turned into a resource curse with rampant corruption) and the best of people yet we are unable to harness it to the best of our advantage.


Anonymous,  3 August 2009 at 13:19  

TDM's privatisation policy developed a lot of viable public services incl hiways,IPPs,public transport.
We learnt real hard skills/competencies thru these projects as evidenced by the global spread of Malaysian technical professionals.

Unfortunately,like all good things too many came for the cream and created doubtful schemes such as Bernas,MAS etc..

And after the 98 crisis we lost our marbles and opted for rescue schemes anchored on "govt bailouts."And the creation of GLCs to manage the assets makes it even worse..and nothing accentuates the downhill slope then the modus operandi adopted with PMB,MAS Wau.And the visionless number crunchers with no business sense rules the roost.

In reality,if we had allowed market forces to dictate there are adequate protection within the Privatisation Agreement that could hv been triggered to get better deals from the financiers etc...

Now we see the same going on with Bernas.

ben,  3 August 2009 at 18:12  


I couldn't have said it any better. You basically nailed the root problem of our education system. Our real smart young Malaysians deserve better recognition and treatment because even the mediocre students are getting strings of As alongside the genuine brilliant ones.

This statistics obsession must stop immediately if we're to save the nation. What's the point of churning unemployable graduates or school leavers. We need to go back to basic. If the student doesn't meet the standard then he/she has to resit and there is no two ways about it.

I fully agree with your take on the decision to revert Maths & Science to BM. We see such mean tactics being employed especially in third world countries and normally ruled by dictators or elites.

The only to eradicate poverty is through proper education. It is basically teaching them how to fish and not just giving them fish. This is one of root causes of NEP's failure!

Anonymous,  3 August 2009 at 21:11  

A child has to crawl first before it can walk. if you try to make the child walk by giving crutches; at times it can even run with the aid (propoganda through MSM);but once the crutch is removed for whatever reason then you know very well what will happen to the child. It will fall flat on its face. Thats what happened to privatisation and the eduction system.

kuldeep 3 August 2009 at 21:19  

The general perception is about US and Them.Us being the rakyat and THEM being the leaders,the cronies,the head honchos and such.

There is too wide a chasm.

Whereas previously lifestyles generally do not differ significantly..nowadays there are marked differences.The symbolism is pronounced in big houses,expensive cars,branded apparel,diamonds ,expensive holidays and most discouragingly; the lifestyle of the children of the elite.

Even in GLCs the gap between Senior Mgmt and the rank and file have grown tremendously...just over the last six years.And its widely regarded as buta money as the work functions remain essentially the same...

Thats why the Opposition seems attractive cos they seem to be just like in terrace houses,driving Wiras,wearing plain cotton shirts,kids in local schools..thus surely they understand our needs better.

Thus watever initiative 1Malaysia does..its seen only to benefit a certain group..and engineered to meet hidden agendas.

How can our leaders win back the trust of the rakyat?

Anonymous,  3 August 2009 at 21:44  

"To date, Najib said some RM54bil in shares had been allocated to bumiputras but only RM2.4bil was left because they were often sold off immediately.

He said the reasons for the mass sell-out included poor holding power, not being serious about holding onto the shares, the high gearing cost of buying the shares or not being able to take part in the running of the company since the shareholders did not have a 30% stake."...this is excerpt from PM's speech.

Privatisation in the nineties gave equity n mgmt control,access to capital markets and leadership positions.Why did it go wrong?Greed and mismanagement is obviously the easy answer but may not be the over riding reason...

Analyse in more depth and retune the whole process accordingly.

The GLCs as an operating company model DOES not works as bureaucracy gets in the way of entrepreneurship.

Equinas needs the right model...
A political party is as strong as its grassroots...similarly,a business needs strong foundations provided by a network of associates,supplychains..And however good a person is..he can't be good in all things.Tajuddin may be good at Celcom but running an established airlines needs different skillsets.And Halim can't be good at construction,property,telecoms,

Thus,before Equinas gets and learn from the past.

Anonymous,  5 August 2009 at 07:40  

The lowered standard for admission to Universities in Malaysia and the lowered passing mark has allowed poor quality graduates to graduate. By a quirk of fate these graduates managed to join political parties and became leaders of Malaysia. Now do you still wonder why we are where we are?
Anak Luarbandar

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