Let institutions educate, but don’t suffocate them


April 29, 2016

Let institutions educate, but don’t suffocate them

by Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz

“Real education enhances the dignity of a human being and increases his or her self-respect. If only the real sense of education could be realized by each individual and carried forward in every field of human activity, the world will be so much a better place to live in.”– A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

A recurring theme in this column is the importance of institutions in building the nation: in particular those preserved and established by the Federal Constitution and other laws.

Tunku Abidin Muhriz and Associates

But nation-building can also rest in institutions that are not established by statesmen, constitutionalists or hacks seeking a narrow political objective: in particular, those created by educators.

Over the past week, I have been reminded of this in powerful terms visiting schools and universities in the United Kingdom that — despite their academic accolades, graduate employment statistics or state-of-the-art facilities — still speak proudly and passionately about their histories and traditions. On their students they impart not only knowledge, but an institutional heritage too.

At the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, where my father was last week conferred an Honorary Fellowship, it was clear how proud they are of their founding in 1505, and their central role in the development on the profession itself. A story to which they have devoted a large (and sometimes macabre) museum.

At Aberystwyth University, where my father was an undergraduate and was made an Honorary Fellow in 2014, they spoke beamingly of how the university pioneered certain disciplines and enthusiastically shared their plans to renovate their Old College building.

At the University of South Wales, where my father received an Honorary Doctorate in Law in 2013, a connection was made between the latest facilities in the aerospace engineering faculty and the origins of the two establishments that merged to form the current university — a mechanics institute founded in 1841, and a school serving the coal mining industry founded in 1913.

These visits were short, but still their peculiarities shone through. When talking to Malaysian students at the three universities, their focus was no doubt on how the knowledge and skills acquired will contribute to their goals in support of their families, employers or country (there were many government scholars), but still they were aware that they have become ambassadors for their universities and not just ambassadors for Malaysia while there.

More so than universities, in terms of instilling a unique identity and character building, are secondary schools, especially boarding schools. At my old school, Marlborough College, on the way back to London, a brief walk around campus reminded me of the hours I spent reading history books, imagining glacial formation, getting my head round quadratic equations and practising Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu, and also an entire vocabulary of school-specific terms that I haven’t had to use since 2000.

St John’s Institution is once again known by its old name. — Picture by  Malay Mail

St John’s Institution is once again known by its old name.

The Penang Free School (Founded in 1816) will celebrate its 200th Anniversary on October 21, 2016–Fortis Atque Fidelis. The name is back too. UMNO Politicians, known to mess everything up, tried to call it Sekolah Menengah Penang Free.

I realise now how crucial this was in fostering a deep camaraderie. Some critics condemn such institutions as elitist and exclusionary, and their reaction is to favour uniformity: to remove the things that make specific establishments unique: to make most people get the “same” treatment.

This ultimately results in a centralising tendency in which bureaucrats, rather than principals and teachers, make many of the decisions that directly impact on the student experience. Thus, instead of having educational institutions that are inspired by their own ethos and history, we have schools and universities that have to operate within over-prescribed limits.

We have already seen the effects of this, from the reduction in diversity between schools and the reduction of diversity within them. That is why so many who were educated at English national-type schools want them to return, because they attracted Malaysians of all races.

Most tragic is the loss of institutional memory in our historic schools, where simply the passage of time, the relocation of campuses or name changes have been used to erase aspects now deemed undesirable.

There does seem to be some resistance:  St John’s Institution just won the right to revert to its original name after a campaign from its alumni. Even this needed to be cleared by the ministry, though.

Earlier this month, I was at Tuanku Muhammad School in Kuala Pilah (which my father attended in the 1950s) to witness the unveiling of its centenary landmark, and there too I saw different generations reminisce about the classrooms they were taught in, the food they ate, the corridors they walked.

But recently, in much newer schools too I have seen how innovative principals have used what they can to endow some unique characteristics for their pupils, from the names of their houses, or even the murals on the walls. I hope that such phenomena will be seen as beneficial by our politicians and bureaucrats.

Great educational institutions may have their idiosyncrasies. And in being so, they prepare young people for real life: to endow the idea that as workers and citizens, it’s the shared experiences that create unspoken bonds, that everyone is bound by the rules, and that traditions matter.

* Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz is Founding President of IDEAS.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/let-institutions-educate-tunku-abidin-muhriz#sthash.ODU4PO1i.dpuf

 

The American Dream: Detroit’s resuscitation


April 4, 2016

The American Dream: Detroit’s resuscitation

by Shrey Srivastava

If one could epitomise the phrase “could have been” in one simple image, it would indubitably be the image of Detroit. The unyielding forces of time have taken a once great city and denigrated it to the status of one of not only one of America’s most economically destitute, but also one of its most dangerous regions. Nowadays, Detroit carries many of the hallmarks of the lesser developed countries of the world, especially with roughly 47% of the population being described as “functionally illiterate” by The National Institute for Literacy, a rate only 13.8% higher than that of Afghanistan. Despite this, Detroit still carries as much, if not more potential as it did in the 20th century, and is simply crying out for some economic solutions to its varied and diverse range of problems. Much of Detroit’s high crime rate can, in truth, be narrowed down to a high unemployment rate, leading to a lack of jobs for people to occupy themselves with, so even this ailment, is, at its core, financial. What this means is that there is still hope for this long-suffering city, as long as the relevant American policymakers act in a fashion that is both effective and sustainable; alas, it is clear to see that this has not happened thus far. Nevertheless, what I endeavour to achieve with this article is to perhaps shed some light on how Detroit can again become the bustling, cosmopolitan hub that it once was, through, primarily, the introduction of a special economic zone.

Special economic zones, which seem like a highly unusual step for a developed country such as the USA, may in fact be a simple and effective solution to revitalise the city of Detroit. The step of making the city a special economic, or more specifically, an industrial zone could potentially be the catalyst for a holistic revitalisation of the Detroit economy. In a nutshell, an industrial zone is a zone specifically made out for industrial development, where tax cuts and tax holidays, among other financial incentives, would incentivise corporations to set up operations in Michigan’s largest city.

Detroit’s unemployment rate was a whopping 29% during the worst that we saw of the 2008 recession, meaning that more than 1 in 4 people were unemployed at the time. Despite having reduced somewhat due to, among other causes, a steady outflow of people from the city, unemployment rates are still grossly high, and if Detroit wants to reverse its fall from grace, this is one of its first facets that need changing. The only way to do this, in truth, is by somehow persuading businesses to come to this dilapidated zone of urban decay, and invest in the revitalisation of the area. Now, feasibly, the only way in which this can happen is by supplying them with the aforementioned financial incentives to encourage them to locate in Detroit, supplying jobs for a great proportion of the population. This is the intuitive first step to Detroit’s regeneration.

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Functional illiteracy, as alluded to above, is also a major proverbial roadblock to the future success of Detroit. The solution to this is almost as obvious as its problems itself; to invest more in education. Despite politicians’ repeated assertions stating the importance of education, they themselves seem not to believe in what they say, the evidence of which lies in Detroit’s astonishingly abysmal literacy rates. Regardless, education is quite frankly one of the most important facets of any developed region, so for Detroit’s schools to be in the state they are in (as repeatedly shown by the mass media) is frankly shocking. Needless to say, this can only be solved through an increase in education spending in the city, which would give a better education to many residents of the city, thus giving them more transferable skills with which to work and earn money. In addition to this, education has a vital role to play in keeping school-aged adolescents off the streets, thus reducing crime rates, and making the city overall more attractive for people to relocate to. With the low house prices across the whole of Detroit nowadays, it could prove a popular location for many individuals desiring a lower cost of living, if only there was a basic level of security and educational services in the area. By spending more on education, many of Detroit’s fundamental problems could perhaps be ameliorated or even eradicated altogether.

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To make sure that Detroit does not fall prey to the same evils which caused its dilapidation decades ago, they need to learn from their various mistakes. The biggest of these was to rely far too much on the car industry, which turned into its Achilles heel when Ford Motors, among other corporations, left the city. Diversification is the key here to financial prosperity, as Detroit needs to ensure that when one industry perhaps fails in the city, there are many others to continue to back up the city financially. This was exactly the problem with the city before; they did not have a backup plan for when demand for automobiles lessened. The conversion of Detroit into an industrial zone and a renewed focus on education will only be sustainable if the city manages to provide wide-ranging sources of income; otherwise, they will simply consign themselves to the same fate as before. In addition, without diversification, a great deal of brain drain would occur, with talented residents leaving the city due to lack of opportunity in their chosen field of expertise. As such, it is crucially important for Detroit to spread its roots far, not deep, if they want to ensure their continued financial prosperity. Of course, in addition to the 3 economic reforms outlined here, much social reform needs to take place in the city before we can truly say that it has been regenerated, but these financial steps provide the building blocks to restore Detroit, again, into a great pillar of the USA.

 

 

Message to Malaysian Civil Servants–Stand Up and be Counted


February 27, 2016

Message to Malaysian Civil ServantsStand Up and be Counted

by Pola Singh

 Malaysian Civil Servants–Pak Turuts and  Pak Hunggoks

FOR some unexplained reason, civil servants are reluctant to be seen with the rakyat in championing certain causes; no matter how worthy they are. Something is preventing them from showing their support.

Take for instance preserving and protecting the remaining green lungs in KL city; Bukit Kiara (BK) located in the heart of the city is a good example.

At the national level, the Cabinet in 2007 agreed to gazette 189 hectares to turn it into a public park. But things moved at a snail’s pace with parcels of land being given out to the well-connected through the years.

We now learn that the Government will finally gazette Bukit Kiara next year and not surprisingly only 159ha will be gazetted. The rakyat is also not sure whether this hectarage figure will remain intact when it comes to crunch time.

So in order to send a strong message to the powers that be to uphold their promise to gazette Bukit Kiara speedily, Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK) has so far organised three “Save Bukit Kiara” walks. Although a sizeable crowd turns up, there are hardly any civil servants participating in such an event. Why? If they don’t seem to be interested, why are the heads of departments not encouraging their officers and staff to support such worthy causes especially when they are in line with their own policies and what they expound.

For instance agencies such as the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and ministries such as the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry have formulated clear green and environmental policies while City Hall (DBKL) and Jabatan Landskap Negara have developed the KL Master Plan to implement.

When announcing the sound policies, promises are made and assurances given that they will actively engage the key stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of the policies.

But when such opportunities arise they are nowhere to be seen. It appears as if they are disinterested to push forward their policy agenda.

Now it looks like that only the NGOs and public support such causes while the policy formulators who should be actively involved at the ground level appear indifferent.

Why are the civil servants so reluctant to turun padang but instead seem content watching from a distance? After all it is their cause that the rakyat is supporting. By right they should be turning up in full force as well as helping in organising such events.

Is it fear? Are they afraid for reasons best known to them, to be seen mingling with personalities from NGOs? Or could they think that they might incur the wrath of certain well-connected people? Or is it simply a case of plain apathy?

Whatever it is, the mind-set has to change. Heads of departments should encourage their officers and staff to take part in such meaningful events as well as intermingle with like-minded rakyat. More importantly these departments and agencies must walk the talk.

On an individual personal basis and as a concerned citizen, aren’t they prepared to play their part to protect and preserve the green lungs so that their children, grandchildren and future generations can enjoy what they are currently enjoying.

http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2016/02/26/stop-being-indifferent/

The Continuous Revisit of Islamic Thought is A Must


December 29, 2015

The Continuous Revisit of Islamic Thought is A Must

By Anas Alam Faizli

Anas Alam FaizliThirteen years ago, my brother, Dr Afif completed the monumental task of memorizing the Holy Quran within a short period of no more than 18 weeks. Instead of pursuing Form 4, he took a break after PMR and chose to become al-Hafiz.

Alhamdulillah, I was proud of my sibling’s genius! Ideas gushed to my mind as to ways to expand his potential. Imagine the lethal combination of excelling both in the knowledge of the revelation and science. I recall having shared such suggestions with him when asked what he should pursue for his upper secondary.

I then had this notion considering his ability to memorize the Holy Book, he should pursue the Science Stream and continue with Medicine. After all, my maternal grandfather had always wanted a grandchild to be a medical doctor.

I thought by doing so he would be more respected than your ordinary Ustaz. Looking back, what caused my perception? Perhaps, back then the idea of an Ustaz not mastering Science was seen by me as less credible. Many years after that I thought maybe I should have suggested him to pursue Hadeeth as we are severely lacking in Hadeeth experts.

Muhammad Iqbal

Muhammad Iqbal

Allama Iqbal (1877-1938) in his Lectures compiled as “The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam” addressed such pertinent questions. Is science compatible with religion? The renaissance man of Islam has been trying to separate faith from science and history.  To him, secularism is progress. For Iqbal, ultimately there can only be one truth. The truth that faith discovers cannot be different from the truth discovered by science or history.

In the same compilation, he argued that, “To have a succession of identical thoughts and feelings is to have no thoughts and feelings at all. Such is the lot of most Muslim countries today. They are mechanically repeating old values…”

The frustration that was felt by Iqbal is not new. Some might argue that he went too far in his ideas. Others were inspired like the modernist reformer Tariq Ramadan. Iqbal’s frustrations reappears from time to time from the birth of Islam until today. An example is of Ibn al-Qayyim, one of Ibn Taymiyya’s most “passionate advocate” who had repeatedly sought new methods to deal with the problems of the 13th century.

a-l Qayyim gave more weight to “formulated evidential theories” more than oral testimony. He sought scientific method on how to prove a child and its alleged father by using experts to identify facial similarities. He also opined that a judge can obtain a sample of a husband’s ejaculate for lab tests to measure his impotence when woman sought divorce using that ground.

Today, these examples sounds backward but back in the 13th century that was progress–a marriage of science and faith. At that time, the Imams of the day kept to the old ways of their ancestors when the problems that was facing and plaguing the Ummah has changed tremendously in all fields, be it science, economics, medicine and every other aspects of human and societal life.

Iqbal, Qayyim and Tariq obviously have disagreements with each other, as an example onTariq Ramadan innovation (bid’a) but essentially we can agree that we need constant revisit to changing circumstances.

The revisiting and reconstruction of Islamic position is a continuous process that can change over time according to circumstances. Perhaps we need to be reminded that Imam As-Shafie himself had changed his opinion in a certain matter in a short span of time.

The followers of Imam Abu Hanifah have also had different opinions with his earlier followers and remarked that if Abu Hanifah was still alive he might have adopted their new position due to the changes that have taken place. Abu Hanifah himself had made seven different opinions with regards to an issue which had change due to changing circumstances.

Such is the fact that there is room for continuous change in opinion in Islam. Whilst many areas of Islam is straightforward and there’s no room for change; mostly in the realm of creed (aqidah), there are other areas where pressing change is required. There are areas where evolution of thoughts are necessary. Continuous reconstruction of religious thought must be allowed.

We have to say no to dogmatism and stop refusing to see things any other way, and be open to the possibility that we might be wrong. We need solutions for new problems that come with changing times or in different geographical locations, or due to different racial or religious composition of a country. Some has become dogmatic that they have forgotten the basic foundation of legal theory (Usul al-Fiqh) that everything is permissible until proven wrong and not the other way around.

Islam is a religion that inculcates rational thinking and discourse. If we encourage thinking, and if we allow continuous discussions and debates, we will nurture intellectualism and promote progress. We need to question first, in order to understand the purpose of certain jurisdictions, rulings or systems. On the surface, this may seem like encouragement to partake in unnecessary rebellious activities questioning or threatening the religion. But it should not be the case.

Throughout history we have seen how new ideas are often rejected without proper deliberation. We have seen how the ideas of democracy was initially out rightly rejected as haram and must be fought against. We have seen how the idea of woman being allowed to vote was rejected as haram. As we have allowed a revisit, we find today that democracy is although not perfect but is consistent with the spirit of Islam and we have now supported woman leaders among many other issues.

I have no authority to speak in this subject matter but I fear of what is currently happening. I fear of the ongoing ruckus and the continuous blackening of Islam’s name when most of the time we are partly to be blamed. I fear how people are shying away from Islam in crafting solutions to problems that is plaguing the Ummah. Problems ranging from policy making, health, environment, economy, security, national harmony and many others.

If the intellectuals do not continuously revisit to changing circumstances and their best to provide answers and solution to the people, the concept that Islam is Syumul (complete) and covers every aspect of life will not be felt by ordinary Muslims. They will not feel it as they see that Islam cannot provide a comprehensive answer for their life’s or societal problems.

If the intellectuals fail to deliberate and adapt to changing circumstances, the people will shy away from following the guidance of the religion and the concept that Islam is Syumul will not weigh any bearing. The concept that Islam is Rahmatan Lil Alamin (blessing to all universe) will not be felt by mankind.

Islam is a religion of love, compassion, forgiveness and peace. A religion that inculcates and nurtures mental spiritual strength in its followers. Islam is not a religion that punishes and instils fear.I quote Ahmed Deedat, “Imagine Islam as a perfect Car and the Muslims are the Driver, blame the Driver not the Car.”

There is no escape from continuous learning, unlearning and then relearning.In that we remain relevant and can move forward in the journey of personal enlightenment.

Lessons from NEP Architect–James J. Puthucheary


November 16, 2015

Lessons from  NEP Architect–James Puthucheary

by Adam Reza

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

james

Writing in 1960, a key architect of the New Economic Policy (NEP),   the late James J. Puthucheary, author of Ownership and Control in the Malayan Economy, made an astute observation about the troubles brewing within the seemingly idyllic setting of rural Malaya.

Ethnic Malay paddy farmers had found themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of low productivity and mounting debt. Defaults were widespread and the ensuing transfer of land to the hands of mostly ethnic Chinese creditors prompted the government to intervene.

In a bid to prevent land from changing hands through debt to non-Malays, the government introduced the Malay Reservation Ordinance. Unfortunately, this did nothing to solve the key underlying problem of low productivity. The farmers continued to default and the only difference was that the beneficiaries of the land were a small group of Malay elites.

This chapter of our economic history illustrates the perils of viewing developmental problems from a racial lens. Affirmative action done right yields positive results as our Malaysian experience shows. Done wrong, it ends up benefiting an elite few without solving the root cause of the issue.

The lessons are clear, but as is so often the case, men and indeed politicians rarely draw the right lessons from the past.In the context of today, over 40 years since the inception of NEP, it is clear to see how little we have learned.

For a start, the rhetoric has not changed. The old narrative remains ubiquitous: Chinese interests continue to dominate the economy, justifying the continuation of far-reaching affirmative action policies. It is often highlighted that inter-ethnic income gaps still exist and that the Bumiputeras are ill-equipped to compete in today’s economy.

These are valid concerns that should be looked at, but the question remains, why after over 40 years since the NEP’s implementation are Bumiputeras still ill-equipped to compete?

Now, this is not to say that NEP has been a failure. A big part of NEP’s initial success was in creating a new middle class through accelerated involvement in the great leveler of society – education, thus creating a new middle class.

Indeed, access to quality education was critical in the realisation first prong of NEP, the eradication of poverty regardless of ethnicity.This is something that is lacking today. It is no secret that education standards have declined. Rankings in our institutions of higher education are slipping, academic freedom remains illusive, and 400,000 graduates find themselves without jobs.

Like Puthucheary’s rural Malaya, the problem today is low productivity and perhaps the issue here is not so much a lack of affirmative action but more a failure to provide quality education and hence a lack of upward mobility, a situation which affects all of us regardless of our ethnicities. More needs to be done in this respect and hopefully our education blueprints will be executed well.

Second, is there any justification for continuing affirmative policy measures in business particularly for SMEs? According to Development economist  Tan Sri Kamal Salih, although noble in its intentions, it is on the execution side that we have found lacking and more often than not, the beneficiaries have not been the entrepreneurs.

A study by Dr. Terence Gomez of University of Malaya finds that programmes to nurture Bumiputera entrepreneurs were hardly successful as they were based on selective patronage, in turn sealing off non-Bumiputera owned companies access to domestic and foreign markets.

Again, we are caught in a situation where the industrious and innovative are left behind and the elite few and politically well-connected are rewarded. We need to be more transparent in this respect, ensuring that those with political interests do not exploit the system.

Perhaps we could take a leaf from our successes in the start-up industry, where more of those who are innovative and industrious have been allowed to succeed regardless of ethnicity or political connections.

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Now, this is not to say that positive discrimination is completely uselesss. Where it may remain relevant is in the case of recent evidence of discrimination in hiring by the private sector in a study done by  Dr. Lee Hwok Aun and Dr. Muhammad Khalid.

Alternatively, we might want to consider is what the Conservative government is doing in the United Kingdom today, with name-blind job applications.

Yet at the same time, if our priorities are truly about creating a more diversified workplace, we need to address issues such as under-representation of non-Malays in the public sector where for me the need for diversity is most acute.

I would like to think that increasingly we want policy to be shaped from a more inclusive multi-cultural perspective. Suggestions that non-Malays ostensibly shun the civil service due to low pay are a complete hogwash.

Take the significant number of non-Malays in the government-led Perdana Fellows programme recently or my fellow millenials who shun the more high paying jobs to participate in initiatives like Teach for Malaysia. Clearly there is more to Gen Y than dollars and cents.

Moving forward, our future developmental solutions must continue to have the Bumiputera agenda in mind but must also be more inclusive.For starters, we need to go back to the core of what Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak proposed in 2010: an urgent revision of the NEP, towards a national development strategy that is more transparent, merit driven, and market friendly, and towards a new needs-based affirmative action.

That is the right way and we must not lose track of the end goal that affirmative action should be temporary in the first place.

As Tun Dr Ismail once said:

“The special privilege or position accorded to the Malays under the Constitution is mainly intended to enable them – to borrow an expression from the game of golf – ‘to have a handicap’, which would place them in a position for a fair competition with better players. Therefore like a golfer, it should not be the aim of the Malays to perpetuate this handicap but to strive to improve his game, and thereby reducing, and finally removing, their handicap completely.”

As an ethnic Malay myself who believes that we can be the community of aspiration and hope, I long for this day.

 

On Leadership–Rafidah Aziz


October 28, 2015

Former Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz is right to advocate a mindsetDin Merican@Rosler change to enable Malaysians to think critically, have a passion for learning, undertake research, open their minds to new ideas by love of reading. Malaysian have to become global citizens.

The question is where to begin? My simple answer is that we should not be spending millions of ringgits on producing glossy master plans and blueprints prepared by foreign consultants (like Mckinsey and others) , which are  not read and understood and implemented by our Ministers and civil servants.

Permandu CEO, Idris Jala should no longer talk about transformation of the Malaysian economy, while that is important; in stead he should make the re-education of our inept and self-serving ministers and top civil servants and timid GLC chief executives as matter of priority. We need ethical leadership so that we have the capacity to implement much-needed administrative and structural reforms.

ITT Harold GeneenOur Ministers, senior civil servants and others in business have to be taught to lead by example. We need competent individuals, men and women in leadership roles, be it politics, business, public administration, and academia, who are knowledgeable and respected for their character, intelligence and conceptual skills, not a bunch of apple polishers, sycophants and jaguh2 kampong (village champions), who cannot think beyond their narrow self interests.

If we wish to operate in the blue ocean, instead of navigating the Pahang River, then we should educate our politicians and civil servants on good governance and ethical leadership. Everything starts at the top. There must be cultural change if we are to be a respected member of a global community. Being a developed nation requires us to think beyond GNI/GDP terms.

Our politicians, civil servants and business leaders, as champions of the status quo, are major obstacles to change. We need enlightened leaders who understand what leadership means. To me, to be a leader one must have impeccable character imbued with a high sense to duty to our King and country. –Din Merican

Time to change Malaysian Mindsets, says Rafidah Aziz

by Jennifer Gomez

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

RafidahMalaysia must identify what has made it fall behind and determine whether such factors were reality or people’s perceptions, outspoken former minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz said today.

She said the country must take stock of what areas needed to be transformed, adding that transformation could not take place in conferences, seminars or laboratories.

“You must have a developed country that is matched by a society that can think forward, that is not lagging behind in terms of expectations of a developed country,” she told reporters after speaking at a conference by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants in Kuala Lumpur.

The former minister of international trade and industry added that mindsets needed to be transformed first, and that Malaysia had to move away from politicising important issues.

“Mindset moves everything.We are politicising education to the disadvantage of our future generation, we are politicising issues based on the racial divide. We are politicising issues based on the gallery we speak to which is very divisive, we are politicising issues, which are far removed from the good of the people and the country.”

Najib-Razak-and-Rosmah-Mansor-Thumb-DownAntithesis of Moral and Ethical Leadership

Rafidah has of late been vocal on social media about current issues affecting Malaysia, including the country’s political turmoil and lack of confidence towards the government.

She has urged national leaders to provide clear answers to alleged wrongdoing involving the government, and only yesterday said Malaysia, which once enjoyed rapid economic growth, needed to rebrand itself.

Rafidah today said the school system must also be revamped so that students were taught correct values such as integrity and honesty.

Asked about Budget 2016 meeting the targets of becoming a high-income nation, Rafidah said there should not be too much excitement about it, given that it was just financial planning for one year.

She said instead, there should be more concern about longer term strategies to move towards 2020.

“The budget is just an annual allocation of funds, collection of revenue and programmes and projects, residual from previous years.I am not concerned so much on the quantitative aspect, money spent and projects done. I’m more interested in the mindsets of the people.

“Are the mindsets oriented towards first world mindsets?Are we readying the young to be the workforce of the first world? Are we readying the young to be able to interact globally?” she asked, adding that there was only five years left to achieve this.