First the sms. Out of the blue I received this sms yesterday from a Datuk friend of mine. Cannot reveal names but these are not any ordinary folks. These are senior people who headed major institutions in our country. Anyway, he said the following
“The key to Singapore’s success story is English-based education & zero tolerance on corruption. LKY consistently mentions these 2 factors. How not to believe him? S’pore has zero natural resources, zero drop of oil or water, doesn’t plant a grain of rice. Always coming out tops for all the positive statistics.”
To which I replied : Dato can we start talking about reverting to our pre 1970 education system?
He replied : “Brilliant. We abandoned what is a time-tested & proven success formula that produced so many fine men & women all bcoz of what we believe is political expediency but it doesn’t serve us well in terms of producing First World manpower. U can start the ball rolling. Change the law if necessary, almost 2 generations hv been made to go thru this existing edu system that’s simply not good enuf.”
My reply : Ok Dato. Will Blog today. I hope we can get good support. (So folks please do support us.)
He replied again : “The bottom line is put more English based learning into the system like the old days. Look at Spore with over 80% Chinese it didn’t adopt Mandarin as medium of instruction. It goes for a language universally accepted as the language of world class knowledge.”
I have had the same conversation with four other people, two Datuks and two Tan Sris – semua Melayu – who said the same thing. They all said “Just bring back the tried and tested education system that we had in the 1970s”. It was English based and the curriculum prepared our students to the same standards as the Cambridge and London University’s “O” and “A” Levels. The same system that Singapore followed.
Yes folks, Singapore and Malaysia followed the same education system. There was no differenece at all between the Singapore and Malaysian schools. Singapore maintained their education system. It is we who went ahead and changed our education system. Kita ingat kita lagi pandai.
And what happened after we changed our education system?
In the 1960s and 1970s, both our per capita incomes (Malaysia and Singapore) was not too far different. Now, 30 years later (after we changed our education system) Singapore has the third highest per capita GDP in the world at over USD57,000 or RM171,000 per annum.
This is according to the IMF and World Bank ranking – using PPP or purchasing power parity. In economics, purchasing power parity (PPP) asks how much money would be needed to purchase the same goods and services in two countries, and uses that to calculate an implicit foreign exchange rate. You can read more here)
In comparison, Malaysia is ranked No. 58 by both the IMF and World Bank. You can surf this site and see for yourself. Sedih juga kekawan.
Folks, here are some other countries whose per capita GDP is higher than Malaysia : Botswana, Gabon, Chile, Croatia, Trinidad & Tobago. (Malu lah – Botswana is ahead of us)
Now we want to move to a higher income economy by 2020. Here is our ETP target statement :
“To lift gross national income (GNI) per capita from USD6,700 or RM23,700 in 2009 to more than USD15,000 or RM48,000 in 2020”
OK folks, there is some gobbledygook involved here aka high fallutin language. Purchasing power parity, per capita GDP, Gross National Income have to be understood. Other than studying management and engineering (and modern jazz dancing) I did study some economics at University ok (good old liberal arts American education). Not an expert but here goes :
Purchasing power parity is useful. It tells you how many Big Macs you can buy in Malaysia with your Ringgit Malaysia salary compared to say how many Big Macs a Japanese guy can buy in Tokyo with his Japanese Yen salary.
Per capita GDP is also useful because it takes the total amount of goods and services produced by all Malaysians inside Malaysia and divides that by the total population figure. Here is the Wikipedia :
Now Gross National Income or GNI is slightly different. GNI includes all goods and services produced by Malaysians inside Malaysia PLUS goods and services produced by Malaysians outside Malaysia.
To me this means only one thing – they want to include Petronas foreign earnings.
In 2010, Petronas earned about RM240 Billion of which 40% (RM96 Billion??) was earned overseas. Now in 2012 (and 2020) these numbers will be much higher. So Petronas’ foreign earnings will also go into our GNI calculations. (Plus maybe Tabung Haji’s property play in London plus EPF’s investment in the Battersea power plant redevelopment but that is peanuts compared to Petronas).
But despite including Petronas’ foreign earnings, the ETP’s projected per capita GNI by 2020 is RM48,000. Presently the per capita GNI is RM23,700. Considering that there are eight more years before we arrive at 2020, it means our incomes must jump 102% in eight years or 12.75% per year. Boleh ke? Bank Negara says our economy will only grow 4% to 5% this year.
So folks, if the economy grows 4% or 5% per year, can our incomes grow by 12.75% per year? I did not spend all my time in jazz dancing class but even my basic economics tells me that this is a tad too ambitious. (For those arithmetic wizards, yes this is a straight line division but even if you use the compounded method, at 5% pa growth in income, you get about RM35,000 pa in eight years).
And if we minus Petronas’ foreign earnings (of between RM100 billion to RM200 billion per year) the ETP may not achieve the targeted ‘high income status’. Why do we have to minus Petronas foreign earnings? Because not all of us work for or do business with Petronas – which only employs about 40,000 people across 103 countries.
How many Malaysians in Teluk Intan are involved in generating the overseas portion of Petronas income? How many Malaysians in Belimbing (near Kuantan) are suppliers to Petronas in Sudan or Kazakhstan? Not very many. So the growth in Petronas’ huge foreign earnings may push up our total GNI (Gross National Income) but the average you and me may not have a part to play in their growth.
Yes I agree that the Gomen will use Petronas money to build more universities, roads and almost free hospitals but it is not a direct increase in your wallet.
But lets get back to Singapore. They will also be aiming to move to an even higher income economy. If high tech, high income Singapore can match our projected 12.75% p.a. income growth between now and 2020, then by 2020 their per capita GDP would have reached over RM340,000. Some apples and oranges here but still our target per capita GNI for 2020 is only RM48,000 – potentially seven times less than Singapore (GDP) !!Alamak !!
And dont forget Botswana, Gabon, Chile, Croatia, Trinidad & Tobago. They will also be ahead of us.
But we can catch up. Yes even in eight years. I feel that an English based education will make the difference between our success and failure. We need to make drastic changes to our education system. It is not too late. We need to do it now. The quickest and easiest method is to switch back to a strongly English based education system. Just bring back the English education system that we had up to the 1970s.
And one more thing that I must state is to reduce the amount of religious education in all schools and also remove religious influences on all school, college and university campuses.
Religion must be made a private matter. Parents who so desire can spend their own money and their own time and educate their children in religion. Whatever religion.
Too much religion will make us backward. Remember religion will make you poor. Why? Because in religion “kita tidak perlu menggunakan akal”. Tak pakai otak pun its still ok. Unfortunately (or fortunately) to earn a higher income, you must gunakan otak dan akal.
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