Open letter to Education Minister on needed revamp
Published on: Sunday, October 06, 2019
By: Datuk John Lo
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Previous government leaders have deluded themselves for more than 30 years into believing that indulging in messing education with politics can give them political control and economic solutions at the same time. With the benefit of hindsight, this policy has solved nothing and is now backlashing on Malaysia as reflected in our uncompetitive economy and slowing growth. 

Worse, social/political problems have already emerged as the number of unemployed/unemployable graduates are at record high. Many are just not educated to face the world. Their numbers will increase each year as schools, colleges and universities [public and private] are regurgitating thousands of graduates, many of whom will jump straight from graduation ceremony to unemployment. 

Adding to this problem is Malaysia’s failure to retain talents because of negative policies, limited opportunities, relatively low pay and under appreciation. Other countries like America, Britain, Australia and Singapore welcome them with open arms. 

The Malaysian economy has been held back and bogged down for too many years because of poor education standard, lack of realistic policies, excessive political consideration and reluctance to implement meritocracy. Malaysians have great expectation that the PH government, after GE14 victory, would bring forth comprehensive transformation in education with you in charge. 

We expected a totally new direction, exciting policies, only to be disappointed that you have been pussyfooting since May 2018. 

Need not look any further, all the Asian Tiger economies have spent billions for world class education. Result? high income economies. Malaysia has also spent billions each year. Result? Economic mediocrity. Tun M has been and is still a visionary. 

He initiated the Super Corridor, Proton Saga, the steel industry and many other things. The Super Corridor would have been Malaysia’s Silicon Valley and was ahead of its time. China did not even have one then. Now look at Shenzhen, a village which started in 2008 and can now rival America’s Silicon Valley in innovation, speed and all aspects of the high-tech industry. 

Without wasting time on complicated introspection, our Super Corridor has failed to compete because of severe lack of home-grown high-tech talents. The only reason for this lack of competitiveness is Malaysia’s poor science, maths, coding, high tech and basic technical education. 

Proton has failed and had to be rescued by Geely is to a very large extend, due to lack of suitably qualified Malaysian technical personnel. We never learn. Bitten many times but still not shy. Our delusion is endless Now we are wanting to build a flying car when we have to farm out to Japan to build the prototype. This must be a world’s first! Malaysia doesn’t have capability to build the prototype, how to build the real thing? How to innovate and produce cutting edge new models? Simple logic!  

I cannot imagine China will farm out to another country to build their prototypes in quantum computers, rockets, missiles, satellites, high speed rails, tunnelling machines etc. They don’t need to because her universities can produce first class engineers, scientists, innovators/inventors by the hundreds of thousands.

I cannot comprehend why you’re dilly dallying over the implementation of teaching of science and maths in English which after all, has been Tun M’s priority for many years. Even Tun M’s priority cannot receive your attention?

For Malaysia to move in the right direction, we must have innovation/invention capacity, both of which need world class brain power. These are very much lacking in universities and private sector. Malaysia’s R&D is practically zero in output. 

YB Dr, I can confidently say that the present system of education will not progress Malaysia into high income. In fact, if not for revenue from oil/gas, oil palm and low labour cost in the chip industry and SMEs, there would be a real and present danger of us sliding back from middle to low income.

As a Sabahan, may I say this to YB Dr Please visit schools in the deep rural and coastal areas too like Paitan and Tambisan. The neglect is criminal. Speaking to the press on 3rd October, 2019, you said 3 billion Ringgit is required for repairing 587 schools meaning average repair cost of more than 5 million each. Most rural and coastal schools would need less than this amount to build a new one. Please do your sum again. Please refer to Sabahan YB Datuk Yusuf Yacob’s statement.

YB Dr, the future of Malaysia is in your hands for good education is the very basic foundation of a progressive country. 2 options open for you—-Either you continue dithering and papering over cracks which can only get larger. Malaysian society will be dominated by mediocrity in education which will continue to stagnant economic

growth. Or you can pluck up political courage, transform Malaysian education system into world class that will [a] produce graduates in demand by the private sector NOT graduates from convocation to humiliating unemployment. [b] first class competitive graduates, know the importance and value of productivity, schooled in science, engineering, coding, robotic etc NOT mediocre ones mired in narrow mindedness. [c] graduates who will contribute towards propelling Malaysia into high tech NOT graduates who look for life long financial/privilege crutches. [d] Graduates with confidence to face the real world NOT inward-looking graduates fond of hiding behind special privileges. [e] Graduates with innovative brains, NOT graduates looking for status quo or comfort zone. 

To achieve above please consider these [a] implement meritocracy. [b] recruit the best teaching staff, if the best is not available locally, go foreign. Low quality teaching staffsunemployed/unemployable graduates [c] reward the best financially. [d] Compulsory requirement for universities to conduct innovative and cutting-edge technological research, no point to have tons of useless finished research papers gathering dust.

YB Dr, Malaysia is dependent on you to pull our country out from the abyss of mediocrity, racial/religious bigotries into the reality of the new age of super computers, robotics, 5 G and its applications in all of our economic endeavours.


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