Pakatan Harapan: What is so special about this Naik Fella from India?


July 12, 2018

Pakatan Harapan: What is so special about this Naik Fella from India?

By Dennis Ignatius

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

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Dr. Mahathir Mohamad protects an Indian Cobra

What’s so special about Zakir Naik? Why is he so uniquely deserving of Putrajaya’s support and attention?

These are among the many questions that Malaysians are asking in the wake of the government’s decision to allow him to stay; so far no satisfactory answers have been forthcoming.

Well-deserved reputation

Any which way you look at it, Naik is a highly polarising demagogue. Considered one of the most influential Wahhabi ideologues in the world, he aggressively propagates a version of Islam that even Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Salman says is in need of reform, and which, incidentally, the National Fatwa Council (NFC) of Malaysia declared “has no place in Malaysia”.

Countries as diverse as Canada, India, the UK and Bangladesh consider him an extremist who seems to endorse terrorism. Some countries have denied him entry as well. Bangladesh alleges that he inspired a terrorist attack in Dhaka in 2016 which left 22 dead. India’s National Investigation Agency is also investigating his foundation for alleged money laundering.

While he consistently denies these allegations and claims that he has been misunderstood or taken out of context, it’s hard not to conclude from even a cursory viewing of his many YouTube offerings that his reputation for extremism is well-deserved.

Dishonest and deceitful

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Now that he is in the dock of public opinion, and desperate for refuge in Malaysia, he is attempting an image makeover, claiming that his “primary concern” has always been “to foster social harmony”. He is, of course, being utterly dishonest given that he has a long history of being extremely intolerant, insulting and demeaning of other faiths.

And when cornered by his own remarks, he immediately cries that he is but a victim of some vague conspiracy against Islam, part of a “broader objective of demonising Islam and Muslims”, never mind that it is his own hate-filled invective that does more to demonise Islam that anything else.

Skillfully exploiting our divisions

While many of us might shudder at the thought of someone like Naik being turned loose in a country like ours which is struggling to contain religious and racial extremism, he has apparently no shortage of supporters. With the Wahhabi narrative already well-established in the corridors of power, the NFC’s opinion notwithstanding, he is of course a perfect fit. His choice of abode – in Putrajaya – is itself very telling.

He also seems to have adroitly exploited Malaysia’s political, racial and religious divisions to his advantage, endearing himself to many in UMNO and PAS by his endorsement of both Islamic and Malay supremacism. And they, in turn, have showered him with a level of praise, privilege and protection that he never found anywhere else. No surprise then that he loves it here.

Legal obligations

The Indian government is now apparently seeking to extradite Naik (who remains an Indian citizen) to face money laundering and terrorism-related charges.

Ultimately, extradition is a legal matter subject to treaty obligations which the courts must decide upon. The government must take a principled stand and affirm that it will respect its legal obligations. To do otherwise, to insist that Naik be treated differently from others in similar situations, would undermine the government’s own oft-repeated commitment to the rule of law.

Does Naik deserve to be here?

Beyond the issue of extradition, however, is the larger question of whether or not he deserves to be a Malaysian permanent resident. A strong argument can be made that extremists like Naik do not deserve residency status in our country.

His values, his actions and his worldview stand in sharp contrast to the kind of tolerant, respectful and inclusive nation we are trying to build. He has nothing to contribute to making our nation a strong, united and prosperous one. He is but an intolerant religious bully who does not deserve our respect let alone our protection.

And don’t forget that this is also the same opportunist who, convinced that UMNO would rule forever, insisted at a seminar last year that Muslims ought to vote for a Muslim leader who might be corrupt (read Najib) rather than a Muslim leader who depends on non-Muslim support (read Mahathir).

Of course, once Najib lost power, he immediately ingratiated himself with Putrajaya’s new leaders and now sings their praises. And this is the man that some in Pakatan Harapan are now defending.

Naik doesn’t belong here. If he doesn’t have the courage to return home to India to answer the charges against him, let him find sanctuary in Saudi Arabia; after all, he is a great admirer of the Wahhabi clerics who hold sway there.

Government owes us an explanation

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In the interest of transparency, the government has an obligation to explain why it refuses to extradite him and why he deserves to remain in Malaysia.

As well, the government needs to clarify whether it is paying for Naik’s ever-present security detail, whether he is receiving financial support of any kind from the public purse, and whether he is being considered for Malaysian citizenship now that India has withdrawn his passport.

Whatever it is, the government should not underestimate how deeply offended many Malaysians are with Naik and how deeply disappointed they are by the inexplicable and shocking decision to continue offering him sanctuary here.

Dennis Ignatius is a former ambassador.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

PH Lions have become Lambs under Mahathir


July 11, 2018

PH Lions have become Lambs  under Mahathir

By TK Chua

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

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I have many things to remind the PH government. Many PH supporters will probably accuse me of being impatient. However, I am being uneasy rather than impatient.

Firstly, all the “lions” of PH have gone silent for whatever reason. Issues which usually would have caused strong reactions from them are no longer highlighted. It is as if no one is fighting for multiracial and multicultural Malaysia anymore. The official federal opposition led by Umno and PAS, as it is today, is essentially Malay-Islamic centric only.

It is not like new Chinese primary schools were being approved every day in the past. It took a “general election campaign” to get 10 new schools approved by the previous government. Hence, I find it too “convenient” and too sweeping for the present education minister to suspend the project pending “professional study”. I think he has to give us the timeframe of this study.

The same goes with the recognition of UEC qualification. By all means, go ahead with another “holistic study” but please save us the charade if there is any. Please tell us what other factors are being considered by the education ministry and the timeframe for the completion of the study.

Where is the impact from the zero-rated goods and services tax (GST)? Are we supposed to get at least 6% reduction in prices of goods and services which had the GST previously? If not, why not? We will be reintroducing the sales and services tax (SST) in the near future. I hope the government is prepared to face another round of price increase when SST comes into effect despite the removal of GST having very minimal impact on prices thus far.

Why do we need human rights commission, Suhakam, and some NGOs to remind the federal government on the evils of child marriage? Why is the government so afraid to act boldly and quickly on something which is right for the people? We complained about the lack of federal power at one time. Now, are the power and jurisdiction of the federal government subjected to sanctions and decrees of some religious organisations?

We need more cogent and serious considerations on the appointment of the Dewan Rakyat speaker. We do not need a “don’t challenge me” speaker like in the past, neither do we need a speaker who only knows how to run errands or is beholden to someone. We need a speaker who has the tenacity to uphold the legislature against the onslaught of the executive branch. We shall see.

I am glad the Prime Minister has taken notice of the “clandestine” appointment of friends and supporters of politicians to government positions without proper justification. I think the restriction should not be confined to federal ministers. Has anyone read the proposal by state menteris besar and chief ministers to appoint special advisers and officers to appease strong party supporters? At the rate PH is going, I think we may reach 17,000 political appointees faster than BN.

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If we have a good reason not to deport controversial preacher Zakir Naik, we must have second guessed India’s motive in seeking for his extradition. If that is the case, could India too have second guessed Malaysia’s motive not to agree to her request? You see, cleverness is quite a common commodity.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

No more politicians as envoys, says Wisma Putra


July 10, 2018

COMMENT: Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah should be complimented for this decision.

Our Ambassadors should be chosen on the basis of their outstanding personal qualities, track record in the public and private sector, and professionalism. They should be required to attend a 1 month crash course on Diplomacy and Negotiations and Public Administration before they are posted abroad.  Our representatives represent Malaysia and only the best should be appointed since host countries tend to judge how serious we take our relations with them by the quality of our Ambassadors. (See below)–Din Merican

READ: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/07/10/ex-envoys-back-new-no-politician-policy/

 

Tun Muhammad Ghazali bin Shafie (King Ghaz)

Tun Muhammad Ghazali bin Shafie (King Ghaz)–The Father of Malaysian Diplomacy, Secretary-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Advisor to 4 Malaysian Prime Ministers, and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was also an ASEAN Pioneer.

 

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Tan Sri Zain Azraai bin Zainal Abidin

Oxford University educated Tan Sri Zain Azraai bin Zainal Abidin was our Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He served as Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, Secretary-General to the Malaysian Finance Ministry and Chairman, Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

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Tan Sri Zakaria Ali

After receiving training at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1957, Tan Sri  Zakaria  was formally inducted into the Malaysian Foreign Service. His first overseas assignments were in London and New York.  In New York, he initially worked with Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman and later with Tun Omar Ong Yoke Lin. He also worked with two legal luminaries there, Dr Radhakrishnan Ramani and Tan Sri P. G. Lim, on issues confronting their young nation. In March 1976, he became Secretary-General of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, a post he held until his retirement in 1984. He served our country in many diplomatic capacities with distinction.

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Tan Sri Zainal Abidin Sulong

Tan Sri Zainal Abidin Sulong, another grandee of our Foreign Service was the greatest “Indonesianist” (and “Aseanist”) in our midst. Zainal Sulong was also a highly respected and resplendent personality. He was Secretary-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

No more politicians as envoys, says Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra)

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Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says appointments will be made according to existing procedures specified by Wisma Putra.

SHAH ALAM: The Foreign Affairs Ministry has decided that it will no longer appoint politicians as Malaysia’s ambassadors abroad.

Image result for Malaysia's New Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said appointments would be made according to existing procedures specified by Wisma Putra.

“For subsequent appointments, we offer to any senior government officials, anyone interested can try and apply for the post. Screening will be done by top officials of the ministry before the names of the candidates for the ambassador’s post are decided by me,” he told reporters after an event at the Karangkraf Complex here yesterday.

He was commenting on the status of several politicians who were appointed as ambassadors by the previous government. He said the issue was resolved amicably before he was appointed as foreign minister.

“I was informed that the case had been resolved without intervention from me. One returned to Malaysia while another will return (to Malaysia) soon.”

The contract for former Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia, Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, was terminated four months ahead of the actual date in October. Malaysian envoy to Vatican City Bernard Dompok meanwhile was reported to have returned to Malaysia following instructions from Wisma Putra.

Malaysia: Race-based power sharing coalition is here to stay?


July 6, 2018

Malaysia: Race-based power sharing  coalition is here to stay?

By Darshan Singh@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

“Whether we like it or not, Malaysia’s political fundamentals are anchored in a race-based power sharing ideology, thus race politics will stay and BN is an established structure to effectively serve that purpose. All that BN needs is to adopt a moderate and inclusive approach moving forward.”–Darshan Singh

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A lot has happened since May 9, when Malaysians decided to alter the political landscape of the country, electing a loosely formed coalition called Pakatan Harapan (PH) into government. A devastating blow landed on the once mighty UMNO-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition when, for the first time in over 60 years, it lost the mandate to rule.

Never had I thought that this would be possible in my lifetime. I expected BN to lose a couple more seats but to win the election as usual.

While the majority of non-Malays were expected to vote for the PH coalition, what surprised me was the fact that a sizeable percentage of the Malay electorate decided to ditch BN as well. Traditionally, the majority of the Malay population had voted for BN, fearing a loss of political power if they did otherwise. This trend was expected to continue but unfortunately this time, it didn’t. Dr Mahathir Mohamad had successfully provided the necessary comfort in assuring that Malay rights and privileges would continue to be protected even if BN was no longer in power. After all, it was Mahathir who had indoctrinated the concept of supremacy during his previous 22 years as prime minister.

It will be interesting to see if the Malay electorate continues to vote for PH post-Mahathir in GE-15.

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UMNO Baru: More of the same racist politics under Dr. Achmed Zahid Hamidi from Pornorogo–Hidup Melayu

Personally, I think it was the inability of the former Prime Minister to offer any reasonable explanation for his alleged involvement in financial scandals which influenced the end result. It is a little far-fetched that BN did not expect to lose power, and even more amazing that the former Prime Minister was detached from ground realities.

Warning signs were all over that the people were disappointed and angry with the BN brand of politics, which was plagued by alleged corrupt practices and abuse of power and complete disregard for the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. The only democratic value left was probably holding general elections on time.

True enough, with the seizure of hundreds of millions in cash and belongings from premises linked to the former Prime Minister, public perception on embezzlement is slowly becoming reality.

Since losing power, BN has been in disarray, desperately trying to recover from the shock election defeat. In such a situation, it does not help when one-time allies decide to jump ship and walk away with those who have newly acquired power. Effectively, there are only three parties left in the BN coalition, and at this point in time, it is not even certain if it will stay this way. There are obvious cracks visible even among its surviving members.

In reality, this election defeat should be viewed positively as an opportunity for BN to review its structure and ideology, correcting the mistakes of the past and emerging stronger. Being in the opposition can be useful to test the newly laid foundation which can be continuously improved until the next general election is called. People will surely appreciate an opposition which roars responsibly in Parliament.

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UMNO Baru’s Malay First President

Whether we like it or not, Malaysia’s political fundamentals are anchored in a race-based power sharing ideology, thus race politics will stay and BN is an established structure to effectively serve that purpose. All that BN needs is to adopt a moderate and inclusive approach moving forward.

The majority will continue to claim rights and privileges while the minority will scream racism. This will not change even if the odds are tilted in any other way as we are a selfish and racist society.

Darshan Singh is a FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

 

UMNO new Leadership Devoid of Honour and Integrity


July 5, 2018

UMNO new Leadership Devoid of Honour and Integrity

By Dennis Ignatius

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Any hopes that UMNO would somehow be able transform itself into a viable political party in keeping with the hopes and aspirations of the people evaporated last Sunday after Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and some of the worst, least credible leaders of the former government were elected to helm the party in the post-GE14 era.

While polls suggested that the wider Malay polity favoured more open-minded and reformist leaders like Khairy Jamaluddin, party bosses went with the status quo. Money politics was also apparently at work once again.

Without principle or honour

What we now have as the face of UMNO are the same people who were Najib Razak’s principal cheerleaders and collaborators, his proxies in effect.

To see the very people who were complicit in all that went wrong during Najib’s administration now strutting around talking about democracy, professing their respect for the Rule of Law and complaining about money politics, is simply revolting. And to watch them pretend that the massive corruption and abuse of power that attended their long years in office was somehow a minor detail, or that they lost the election merely because of the “non-conventional approach” taken by Pakatan Harapan (to quote Zahid) is to witness monumental self-deception first-hand.

The fact is, the kind of massive corruption and abuse of power that went on during the last couple of decades was not just the work of one man – it was a team effort in every sense of the word. Every last one of them aided or abetted Najib by commission or omission. They lied or remained mute witnesses when they should have spoken up. They obfuscated the truth and consciously misled the public to the very end, and continue to do so even now.

How many of them now trying to refurbish their image would even dare declare their assets?

Zahid himself, now under investigation on a number of issues, deceived the public when he claimed to have met the mysterious Saudi who supposedly donated RM2.6 billion to Najib. And now, in response to allegations that some RM800,000 in personal credit card bills were charged to his foundation, he says it was all an honest mistake. Perhaps, but what people want to know is how does a politician rack up RM800,000 in credit card bills in the first place, and then pay it off without so much as a second thought?

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And then there was the shocking re-election of Jamal Yunos (pic above), a racist demagogue given to empty-headed gestures and a fugitive from justice to boot, as division chief. What does it say of UMNO if such obnoxious people can find favour within its ranks?

What we have then, for the most part, are leaders without principle or honour, and without an iota of remorse for all the wrong they did. They betrayed the trust of the people and their obligation to protect and defend the constitution.

Entrusting the leadership of the party to the same bunch of unprincipled and opportunistic leaders that were rejected by the voters on May 9 only suggests that Umno members still do not appreciate the full measure of the disdain in which many ordinary Malaysians hold their party.

Discredited ‘bangsat’ policies

In the hands of such men, nothing more can be expected from the party than the racism, bigotry and dishonesty of the past. In a harbinger of things to come, Najib, their mentor, disgraced and rejected as he is, is claiming that the PH government is neglecting the Malay agenda, sidelining the national language, and undermining the position of the Malay rulers.

And this despite the fact that nobody, absolutely nobody, has done more to damage the interests of the Malays than he and his party. They pretended to be defenders of the faith but defrauded the faithful; they claimed to champion their race but massively cheated their own people.

What Najib and UMNO cannot and will not see is that PH’s election victory was in fact a victory for the Malays by the Malays. Finally, the Malays have rid themselves of the “bangsats” that entrapped and impoverished them in the dead-end politics of race and religion while laughing all the way to the bank. Under more progressive Malay leaders, the Malays themselves are now free to soar like never before. And the higher they soar, the more irrelevant Umno will become.

History catching up

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The final chapter in UMNO’s sordid saga is now being written by the investigators looking into all the allegations of its corruption and abuse of power. When it comes to full fan, many more UMNO leaders will be joining Najib in infamy, and the insidious nature of UNMO will be laid bare for all to see with devastating consequences.– Amb (rtd)Dennis Ignatius

History, it is said, has a way of catching up with the follies of men. The moment party leaders rejected Onn Jaafar’s proposal to make UMNO an inclusive big tent party fighting for the rights of all Malaysians, it sowed the seeds of its own destruction. While many pretended for years that there was something noble in its struggle, there was, in fact, nothing redeeming about its racist approach to nation-building.

The final chapter in UMNO’s sordid saga is now being written by the investigators looking into all the allegations of its corruption and abuse of power. When it comes to full fan, many more UMNO leaders will be joining Najib in infamy, and the insidious nature of UNMO will be laid bare for all to see with devastating consequences.

Dennis Ignatius is a former ambassador.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

The Way Forward: Education and Opportunity for All, Not Race-Based


June 29, 2018

The Way Forward: Education and Opportunity for All, Not Race-Based

By Teoh King Men@wwwfreemalaysiatoday.com

READ: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/06/26/dr-m-malays-will-continue-to-get-special-privileges/

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Dr Mahathir says: Malay Special Privileges to continue–Any Problem with that? No, Politics, please.  Just Do it differently by stopping to spoon feed the Malays.–Din Merican

Malaysia is now one and a half months into a political term under a new government that they thought would bring hope and reform to the Malaysian establishment. Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s coalition was voted into office on May 9 in a historic unseating of the BN coalition for the first time in six decades since the country gained its independence. It was also unprecedented that an ex-prime minister was voted back into office – this time leading the opposition against the party he formerly led, and joining forces with Anwar Ibrahim, a man he was once partly responsible for putting into prison on disputed charges of sodomy.

We voted, and in the end fairness and truth prevailed. The tide turned against BN on election day as millions of disillusioned, disenfranchised Malaysians took to the ballots and chose Mahathir. Wearied by the kleptocracy, cronyism and corruption that had been gnawing away at the heart of our public institutions for years, the people in the end sided with the coalition that promised widespread reform in our constitutional, political and electoral systems.

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It is time at long last that corruption is put to an end and the branches of government are kept separate with an end to inter-branch collusion. We are now one step closer to a new Malaysia where racial inequality and discrimination will be stamped out of public policy and business practices and Malaysians will no longer be defined by their race or religion. This was shown when, two weeks into the new Malaysia, the newly appointed finance minister responded to a question about being the first Chinese Malaysian to be made finance minister in 44 years. Lim Guan Eng said: “I’m Malaysian, I don’t see myself as Chinese.”

However, I awoke to the disappointing news that Mahathir, in one of his press interviews as prime minister, had said that “Malays will continue to get special privileges”.

Just when I, among many hopeful young Malaysians, thought we would read of widespread reform in a new Malaysia, more disheartening details were laid out, with Mahathir continuing to say:

“Malays still needed assistance in the availability of scholarships to study overseas.For example, when I was in the UK, I met a number of Chinese students. They were there because their fathers, their parents were able to pay for their studies there. But I find that Malay parents, by and large, cannot afford to have university education for their children.”

Mahathir said the Chinese were largely in business and that “in business, you can make tonnes of money”. In contrast, he said, the Malays were largely civil servants and wage earners who could not afford to send their children to university.

I beg to differ with our Prime Minister as this is an utterly backward perception. He makes sweeping generalisations about Malays being poor and unable to afford quality education for their children. While it is true that most of the families who are able to send their children overseas for education are Chinese, the Prime Minister should make no mistake: NOT all Chinese are well-off – the Chinese who cannot afford quality education are the ones who, by the very fact that they are in the lower income bracket, do not have their concerns raised and heard in much of our political discourse.

As such, the affirmative action policies have done more harm than good to the poorer Chinese, particularly as public education admissions are rationed to Malays with priority, depriving otherwise industrious and bright Chinese youths of a chance to develop their full potential in a wholly pro-Malay system. Over the long run, this will drive many capable people who happen to be Chinese out of a unified local labour market or out of the country altogether, leading to what economists pejoratively call a country’s “brain drain”. Worse still, and more fundamentally, it breeds and fuels resentment, and resentment only leads to more tension and conflict between the races in our society.

Don’t judge a book by its cover!

A person’s poverty or wealth is not inextricably tied to the colour of their skin, so don’t judge a book by its cover!

Students who are able to study overseas are not necessarily from families that are wealthy; more so, it is a result of the enormous value that some families place on their children’s education. This has been my experience being born into a low or medium income family. And from what I have experienced and seen, my peers and friends around me have found that studying overseas is definitely not an easy journey. It comes with the colloquial blood, sweat and tears every step of the way.

Many parents make many sacrifices, save every single penny they can, whether by getting a loan, refinancing their house, moving to a smaller house, withdrawing their EPF money, driving a second-hand car, or tightening their living allowances, are among many measures taken. It doesn’t only apply to students who study overseas but students in private colleges in Malaysia enrolled in external programmes.

Reform and provide quality education for all

So, the question is, why would the wage-earner parents sacrifice so much to send their children for overseas education or to private colleges? It is about quality education. It is the general perception of our society and the increasingly prevalent view held by employers that applicants with an overseas university degree are more qualified than applicants with locally awarded degrees. The problem is more indicative of a general negative regard that Malaysian employers have towards our national education. Reform needs to be implemented so that our education can be seen as on par with that of the countries to which so many of our disenfranchised students flock.

So why should race have a role to play in the education system? Do race and quality education intertwine? Why would there be a need for special privileges when we know that the problem runs more than skin deep?

In my humble opinion, every student should be treated equally as quality education should be enjoyed by every young Malaysian regardless of race or religion.

Instead of having special privileges, systemic reform is much needed by the government in achieving an inclusive and quality education for all. The government should aim to provide equal access for all, and eliminate gender, race or wealth disparities in the vision of quality education which is also one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Goal 4) for which we ought to strive.

Teoh King Men is a law graduate and youth advocate.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.