Yes, Napoleons of all sizes. The big and the small. All over a small country like Malaysia. Napoleoon Bonaparte must be cringing in his grave if he knows how much his name is being bandied about in Malaysia now.
But what is meant by Napoleons in Malaysia, anyway? Dato Seri Najib said at a convention on innovation on 20 July, 2010:
“There is a remark about Little Napoleon. We cannot have Little Napoleon who does not understand innovation. Napoleon is quite brilliant as a nucleus strategist but we do need people who actually understand what needs to be done to support innovation.
“It is because the role of the public servant is so important in supporting the ecosystem that will nurture the innovation to take place”.
The Prime Minister also said decision makers in the government must become conversant with innovation.
“This will enable them to formulate frameworks, regulations and policies that support innovation and not hinder its growth. Without a favorable regulatory environment, innovation cannot stoke economic growth,” he said.
People of course interpret all sorts and apply the term Little Napoleon almost everywhere. Some people interpret Little Napoleons as those who “dare to throw the spanner into the wheels of development”. Whereas Najib meant Officers who may not understand innovation and wanted them to understand it. But now even 1Malaysia is interpreted as being affected by Little Napoleons. Perhaps not quite what Najib had in mind when he introduced the term Little Napoleon.
In reality, Napoleon Bonaparte was a relatively small-sized Frenchman with a big will, tried to invade and conquer Europe in the early 19th Century. From a common man, he rose to the top in the military and became Emperor of France. He failed to conquer Russia, the Coalition forces invaded France, forced Napoleon to abdicate and exiled him to the island of Elba, he escaped and returned to power. But he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, some accounts suggesting he was let down by his subordinates there.
Let’s discuss the following articles about “Napoleons in schools, in the Ministry of Education (see articles about the decision to drop UPSR and PMR below), in the civil service, in UMNO, against 1Malaysia, …”. The list could go on but we may be out of space. Let’s argue whether what they say is justifiable or not.
But are there not Little and Big Napoleons among the opposition – whoever they are and whatever they may be opposing?
We are interested in and are looking for the truths and fair comments that would help promote goodwill, understanding and unity in this country.
Little Napoleons everywhere — Lim Mun Fah
July 26, 2010
The Malaysia civil service system originated from the British colonial era, but we have more complaints and criticisms compared to the British colonial administration.
However, there are certain good things in the civil service system and laws handed down by the colonial government, especially the check-and-balance process involving three independent divisions, viz, the executive, legislative and judiciary, under the separation of powers model. They have played an important role in promoting progress and democracy in the country.
However, all systems and laws have their limitations. The world is progressing, the country is changing, and new things continue to emerge, and thus, systems and laws must also be amended and changed. Otherwise, they may become an obstacle to national progress and a burden for the people to seek a better life.
It is worth thinking about whether our huge civil service system and some of our laws have been caught in such a situation.
Lately, “little Napoleons” seem to be found everywhere. Otherwise, the prime minister would not have warned that “we cannot have little Napoleons who do not understand innovation.” Also, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng would not have been involved in a war of words with a low-ranking official.
The recent issue of banning non-Muslim societies in schools is viewed as just another case of little Napoleons exercising their little power to make things difficult for people.
If the difference between sekolah bantuan penuh and sekolah bantuan modal is an unconstitutional creation of the little Napoleons, then the circular issued by the Selangor Education Department on December 16, 2000 requiring all schools intending to form non-Muslim societies to get consent from the state education director is nothing.
Even though Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has clarified that all non-Muslim societies formed before the circular was issued can continue their operation, the people are still wondering how many applications would be flatly rejected by the little Napoleons in the state education department after the issuance of the circular? Even worse, they are also wondering whether the applications would be able to reach the state education department?
The people also want to know that how could such a double-standard circular, which has violated the principle of fairness, happen in Malaysia, a country that claims to respect the freedom of religion and belief?
I am afraid that the problem cannot be solved only by taking disciplinary action against those who are involved as after a little Napoleon is dismissed, there will still be many other little Napoleons waiting in the wings. What can we do to them?
The problem lies in the mindset. As long as the overall environment grows rigid and narrow thinking is not eliminated, there will be space for the survival and development of little Napoleons, who are everywhere to destroy our civil service system and the spirit of separation of powers, something that we used to be proud of! — mysinchew.com
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or the publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.
The big Napoleons — Tay Tian Yan
July 26, 2010
There is always a big Napoleon behind the little Napoleons.
It is said that it was a little Napoleon’s idea to forbid national secondary schools from having non-Muslim societies.
The little Napoleon said that any school intending to form non-Muslim societies must first get consent from the state education director, according to an Education Ministry circular dated December 16, 2000. Non-Muslim societies formed without consent must be shut down as it was a violation of the law.
As a result, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin came forward to clarify that the circular was issued on December 16, 2000 and thus, all non-Muslim societies formed before that date would not be affected.
“You can take my word for it,” he said.
Yes, three non-Muslims clubs — Kelab Agama Hindu, Kelab Agama Buddha and the Christian Union — at the Klang High School can continue their operation.
A historical problem has been resolved.
However, how about the present and future problems?
For example, could secondary schools form non-Muslim societies now, I mean, after December 16, 2000?
Also, does it mean that all national secondary schools have not been allowed to form non-Muslim societies over the past decade?
Sorry, I think I have asked the wrong person. It may have nothing to do with Muhyiddin, as according to the circular, schools must first get consent from the state education director before they can set up any non-Muslim society.
They cannot shut down the existing non-Muslim societies but it should be okay not to allow the formation of new non-Muslim societies as it is the power of the state education director for not approving the applications.
This is strange. Why non-Muslim societies formed before 2000 can be accepted but special permission is required after 2000?
Could it be because the non-Muslim societies formed before 2000 were more in line with the multi-racial national condition of Malaysia, able to promote good social atmosphere and instil correct values in students?
And such societies formed after 2000 could undermine the multi-racial national condition, harm the society and instil inappropriate values in students?
Perhaps, it is how the little Napoleons think. And such kind of information is provided by a big Napoleon.
The “big Napoleon” that I am referring to may be the manipulator who issued the circular, or someone in the state education department who is responsible to implement the circular. It may also appear as an ideology that views all non-Muslim activities with a narrow vision.
There are little Napoleons only when there is a big Napoleon.
Today, everyone, including both the ruling and opposition parties, is blaming the little Napoleons, saying that they are making trouble.
However, everyone seems to tolerate the big Napoleons, and blame only the little Napoleons whenever there are problems.
The British were afraid of Napoleon Bonaparte 200 years ago and thus, they exiled him to St Helena Island, which is located in the Atlantic Ocean, about 2,000km to the west of Angola.
Napoleon had no choice but to spend the last six years of his life on the island doing nothing, except watching seabirds.
It seems that our big Napoleons should also be isolated or exiled. Of course, we do not have any small island like St Helena. However, it is also good to leave them in an air-conditioned office room so that they can live a leisure life. — mysinchew.com
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or the publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.
Educationists and parents want UPSR, PMR to stay
UPDATED @ 03:21:48 PM 27-07-2010
By Boo Su-Lyn
July 27, 2010
PUTRAJAYA, July 27 — Political parties and educationists want the UPSR and PMR public examinations retained, an Education Ministry dialogue was told today.
Representatives from political parties like DAP and MIC and non-governmental organisations such as the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) and the United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) said that today’s meeting of about 40 representatives saw a chorus of reservation against abolishing the two public examinations.
“Majority do not agree to abolish both,” said Dong Zong representative Dr Lai Hoi Chaw today.
“Majority also thought this exam system has to be modified,” he added, (UPDATE) saying that creative content should be increased in the examination system.
Lai, the deputy director of the Malaysian Independent Chinese Secondary School Unified Examination Committee under Dong Zong, said that Dong Zong rejected the UPSR move until the government proposed a detailed alternative student assessment system.
“We do not agree to abolish UPSR immediately until we know more about the alternative formula,” Lai said, adding that the group would also decide on the matter of PMR when an alternative assessment system was proposed.
Lai also demanded for the school-based assessment proposal by Malaysia Examination Board director Datuk Dr Salbiah Ismail at the discussion today to be made public.
Salbiah’s proposal included creating an internal school assessment system and a guided methodology on how to conduct assessments up to the Form 5 SPM level, as well as implementing “psychometric tests” on students’ emotions and character, said DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua.
Pua said Salbiah’s proposal showed that the Education Ministry seemed to have decided to scrap the two public examinations even before talks were completed.
Education Director-General Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom said last week that a report on the roundtable discussions would be submitted to the Education Minister by the end of August.
The ministry’s first official roundtable discussion took place on July 19, and was attended by over 120 educators, district education officers and teachers’ unions representatives.
The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), the Sarawak Teachers’ Union, the West Malaysia Malay Teachers’ Union, and education academics reportedly favoured replacing the two public examinations with school-based assessments.
However, PAGE chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said that her organisation favoured retaining the two public examinations because a school-based assessment system was open to abuse.
“If we were to rely on school-based assessment, it is subject to manipulation, leaks, favouritism. A national assessment is independent,” said Azimah.
“Most (in the discussion) were in favour of keeping both (examinations), but with the adjustments of making it better,” added Azimah, pointing out that the focus of the current examination system on rote should be replaced with more open-ended questions.
Academic Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Abdul Rahman Arshad also called for the rigid examination system to be revised instead of abolishing UPSR and PMR.
“We must change the nature of the exam. You don’t demolish everything,” said the University-College Sedaya International chancellor.
“A good number are for adjustments to be made,” added Abdul Rahman.
MIC representative Tan Sri Professor T. Marimuthu said that his party was against scrapping the UPSR and PMR examinations, citing concerns of a school-based assessment system that is open to abuse.
“We are concerned about teacher load and teacher bias in a school-based assessment,” said the MIC education committee chairman.
Marimuthu added that the MIC wanted UPSR especially to be retained and for the government to address the pressure faced by UPSR students.
“Any change must be based on informed research. I am not sure what research has been done on this,” said Marimuthu, adding that majority in the discussion wanted to retain the two public examinations.
The DAP is also against scrapping the UPSR and PMR examinations and claimed yesterday that students performed better when subjected to public examinations as shown by international research.
“If the government is insistent in proceeding, as it appears to be, to scrap the exams, do a pilot project first,” said Pua, adding that the government should compare those who took public examinations and those who did not after several years.
“The consequence of scrapping exams for the whole country at one go is a highly risky move. We call for the (Education) Ministry not to repeat the mistake of PPSMI,” said Pua, pointing out that Putrajaya had proceeded with implementing the policy of teaching science and mathematics in English despite public reservation but was forced to abolish it a few years later.
DAP says public exams result in better students
UPDATED @ 06:20:03 PM 26-07-2010
By Boo Su-Lyn
July 26, 2010
PETALING JAYA, July 26 — The DAP claimed today that students performed better when subjected to public examinations, and urged authorities to retain the UPSR and PMR.
DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua said that most of the international studies investigating the effect of public examinations on students’ achievements concluded they had a positive impact.
“Most of the studies surprisingly stated that centralised exams have a positive outcome on student achievements,” Pua told reporters today.
“Studies which provide contrary conclusions are very few. The few we found say that an excessive amount of stress is bad, but a moderate amount will improve performance,” added Pua.
“It is the nature of examinations and teaching methods which will determine the quality of student achievements and not the fact as to whether examinations are abolished,” said Pua, reiterating DAP’s stand.
“Students in countries with central exit-exam systems perform 35 to 47 per cent… in test scores better in their middle-school years in both mathematics and science than students in countries without central exams,” added Pua, quoting a 2002 Harvard University study that sampled 450,000 students in 40 nations including Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Another study showed that the elimination of the Swedish exit examination system in the 1970s apparently caused a drop in the number of upper secondary school students taking rigorous courses in mathematics and science.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP pointed out that this would not bode well with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s aim of creating a highly-skilled workforce to achieve his vision of a high-income nation.
A Cornell University study in 1999 showed that students in countries with national exit examinations outperformed those from other countries in science, mathematics, reading and geography while accounting for national economic development levels.
Pua also criticised the Form Five SPM examination for its focus on rote and said that abolishing the UPSR and PMR examinations alone would not improve the quality of students.
“Even if the UPSR and PMR is abolished, the nature of the Form Five SPM examination as well as the teaching methods and quality remains unchanged, then the student output from our education system will remain little changed from what it is today,” said Pua.
The Education Ministry conducted a roundtable discussion last week which was attended by over 120 educators, district education officers and teachers’ unions representatives.
Education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom has said that a report on the roundtable discussions would be submitted to the Education Minister by the end of August.
Most parties like the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), the Sarawak Teachers’ Union, the West Malaysia Malay Teachers’ Union, and education academics are generally in favour of replacing the two public examinations with school-based assessments.
However, Pua dismissed the proposal for school-based assessments to replace the rigid public examinations, saying “if teachers are asking for the same type of questions in public exams, students will still be memorising.”
“Malaysian exams tend to be more facts-based. When you have MCQs (multiple-choice questions), it requires memorising,” said Pua, adding that the SPM has 40 MCQs compared to its counterpart O-levels examination which only pose five subjective questions.
Pua also pointed out that the Moral Education paper required students to memorise 36 moral values word for word, where students would be marked wrong if they missed out even one word.
Pua urged the Education Ministry to undertake a pilot project measuring the university entry scores and the types of subjects chosen by students who took public examinations and those who did not before making the “hasty and drastic” decision of scrapping UPSR and PMR.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP pointed out that abolishing the two public examinations may cause the performance of students from low-income groups to drop due to a lack of uniform achievement standards.
The true 1 Malaysia? — The Malaysian Insider
July 25, 2010
The spat between Lim Guan Eng and the civil service has now grown into a full-blown quarrel with Putrajaya, reflecting the frosty nature of ties between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
Not only has the Penang chief minister immortalised a federal officer by saying “little Napoleon now has a face” this week, but he has shown the cosy nexus between BN and the civil service.
Of course, an exclusive relationship of over 52 years will certainly lead to comfortable ties. After all, some civil servants have gone on to be MPs and one — Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi — even became prime minister.
Lim’s riposte to a federal officer’s rant has apparently underlined the constant call for Malay unity by Umno politicians and their supporters. They point to Lim’s outbursts as that of a dictator whose continued hold on power will destroy Malay dominance in Malaysia.
This really has nothing to do with Malay unity but everything to do with Umno and its supporters of state-sponsored racism and bigotry balking at a non-Malay leader who dared challenge their monopoly to speak freely.
The home ministry has freely allowed some newspapers to continue their racially-tinged attacks while putting restrictions on party organs, especially the Malay-language papers which might offer alternative views to that from Umno-owned publications.
Then again, Lim is not the only one being singled out. Most PR politicians are being painted as either reluctant to work on Malay unity or having betrayed the race by working with non-Malays.
Fact is, Umno leaders work with non-Malays. They have since before Merdeka in 1957.
Fact is, Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin and MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong have worked together on many issues, even rebutting attacks by Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali.
The point is that Malaysians of any race and religion should speak up to correct wrongdoings and injustice in Malaysian society. It isn’t just the job of BN leaders.
So, we definitely cannot leave it to Umno and its supporters to champion a better Malaysia. Not by speaking of 1 Malaysia and yet saying Malay unity is essential for political dominance.
Over the years, Umno has produced and nurtured this system which reeks of excess, divisiveness and corruption. Where little Napoleons ride roughshod over the rightful masters of this country — Malaysians.
It begs the question of which is the true 1 Malaysia. Is it that of all Malaysians, united no matter the government of the day?
Or just a Malaysia loyal to one dominant group?
Najib hilang kawalan ke atas Umno
by “Zulkifli Sulong, a veteran journalist who writes an exclusive weekly column with The Malaysian Insider apart from editing the Bahasa Malaysia weekly Siasah”.
September 02, 2009
Apakah Datuk Seri Najib Razak mengawal penuh Umno kini? Nampaknya ramai yang tidak bersetuju dengannya. Kawalan beliau hanya sama sebagaimana Tun Abdullah Badawi mengawal Umno sebelum ini sahaja.
Persoalan ini menjadi topik yang hangat sejak kebelakangan ini apabila Najib memperkenalkan konsep 1 Malaysia, rakyat didahulukan, pencapaian diutamakan.
Berdasarkan konsep ini, kelihatan Najib mahu menyatukan rakyat pelbagai bangsa dan agama di negara ini di bawah banner satu Malaysia.
Maknanya, usaha hendaklah dibuat oleh semua pihak khasnya Umno sendiri untuk menyatukan rakyat pelbagai kaum dan agama di Malaysia ini.
Jelas sekali, apa yang diusahakan oleh Najib adalah sebagai satu usaha beliau untuk menarik kembali sokongan orang bukan Melayu, Cina dan India, yang lari dari Barisan Nasional dalam pilihan raya umum 2008 lalu.
Ini kerana dalam pilihan raya umum lalu, lebih 70 peratus pengundi Cina dan India dikatakan lari kepada Pakatan Rakyat.
Ini menyebabkan pemimpin MCA, MIC dan Gerakan kalah di kubu masing-masing.
Para pemimpin Umno yang bertanding di kawasan yang ramai pengundi Cina dan India juga kalah.
Pendekatan Najib ini samalah dengan pendekatan yang diambil oleh Tun Abdullah ketika Umno kalah teruk dalam pilihan raya 1999 lalu. Oleh kerana ketika itu orang Melayu yang lari dari Umno, maka pendekatan yang diambil adalah pendekatan Islam iaitu untuk menarik kembali pengundi Melayu. Maka lahirlah konsep Islam Hadhari.
Abdullah berjaya tetapi hanya sekali sahaja iaitu dalam pilihan raya 2004. Selepas itu, BN kalah teruk dalam pilihan raya 2008 apabila masing-masing mula sedar konsep Islam Hadhari itu. Ia hanya pendekatan reaktif Umno untuk membeli kembali undi Melayu.
Sebagaimana 1 Malaysia sekarang, Islam Hadhari juga mendapat sokongan berbelah bahagi dalam Umno sendiri. Yang menariknya, sebagaimana sekarang, timbalan Abdullah ketika itu, iaitu Najib yang kelihatan tidak berapa menyokong konsep itu.
Mentor Najib, Tun Dr Mahathir menyifatkan Islam Hadhari satu ajaran baru yang mengelirukan.
Sebagaimana Abdullah mempunyai seorang anak muda di belakang segala programnya iaitu Khairy Jamaludin, Najib juga ada. Pemuda itu adalah Omar Mustafa Ong. Omar adalah arkitek di belakang 1 Malaysia Najib. Keyakinan kepada Omar menyebabkan Najib sanggup berdepan dengan mentornya Tun Dr Mahathir dalam isu perlantikan Omar ke Lembaga Pengarah Petronas.
Sebagaimana yang Abdullah hadapi, itulah juga yang dihadapi oleh Najib kini. Akhbar rasmi Umno sendiri, Utusan Malaysia dan timbalan beliau, Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin dilihat tidak bersama dengan konsep 1 Malaysia Najib.
Sebuah laman web melaporkan, Presiden Gerakan, Datuk Seri Dr Koh Tsuu Koon pernah bertanya dalam mesyuarat Kabinet tentang cara akhbar Umno itu membuat laporan.
Muhyidin dilaporkan telah mempertahankan pendekatan akhbar itu dengan berkata, itu yang diperlukan oleh BN. Kuat sokongan Melayu kepada Umno, kuatlah BN.
Pendekatan kedua-dua mereka ini jelas menjadi ikutan di peringkat bawahan Umno. Di Shah Alam, sekumpulan NGO yang mempunyai kaitan rapat dengan Umno sanggup berarak dengan kepala lembu berdarah ke bangunan SUK Selangor. Ia jelas sekali satu provokasi dan penghinaan kepada penganut agama Hindu.
Walaupun Datuk Ibrahim Ali, salah seorang tokoh utama pendekatan perkauman Umno ini, cuba memutar belitkan fakta dengan berkata ‘kepala lembu adalah lambang PAS dicucuk hidung oleh DAP’ namun Ketua Pemuda Umno, Khairy Jamaludin sendiri tidak bersetuju dengan tafsiran Ibrahim itu.
Khairy melalui Twitternya berkata, “Ibrahim Ali said checks by his org showed that the cow’s head not aimed at Hindus but at MB& non-Hindu Excos. — Must think Msians stupid.”
(Kata Ibrahim Ali, semakan oleh orang-orangnya mendapati, kepala lembu itu bukan ditujukan kepada Hindu tetapi MB dan Exco bukan-Hindu — mesti dia fikir orang Malaysia bodoh).
Persoalan yang tinggal kini adalah sejauh manakah 1 Malaysia boleh bertahan? Apakah ia mampu menghasilkan megic sebagaimana Islam Hadhari yang membawa kemenangan besar kepada BN 2004 lalu?
Nampaknya, dengan penentangan dan pendekatan dua nakhoda dalam Umno sekarang, 1 Malaysia tidak akan membawa Umno ke mana-mana. Silap-silap hanya ke longkang waktu sahaja. Bahkan ada yang meramalkan, tempoh pentadbiran Najib sebagai PM tidak akan melebihi tempoh Abdullah Badawi.