Book Review: This is What Inequality Looks Like


December 13,2018

Book Review:

This is What Inequality Looks Like

by Serina Rahman 13 Dec, 2018

https://www.newmandala.org/book-review/this-is-what-inequality-looks-like/

Teo You Yenn (Ethos Books, Singapore, 2018)

In an ideal world, “dignity doesn’t have an expiration date attached to economic productivity. It affirms the worth of personhood. It feels different from what we have” (p221). In This is What Inequality Looks Like, Teo You Yenn writes a moving collection of essays that shine the light on a reality long swept under the carpets of gleaming, green and glamourous Singapore. In the home of Crazy Rich Asians, statistics that indicate growing numbers of millionaires every year conceal the lived realities of those who fall through the cracks and are barely acknowledged.

The stories on these pages are not a mere dry academic dissertation on poverty. Teo writes candidly accessible tales of real people and relationships, encountered and made familiar over years of academic fieldwork. It is her long study and thorough understanding of the policies and institutional systems that compound the difficulties of these lower-income citizens that make this book a powerful commentary. While she lays bare the processes that prevent many of them from moving out of the cycle of poverty, she appeals for awareness, and even empathy—as much needs to be done to review and revise some of the structures that trap the lowest segments of the population into immobility.

Sometimes it is the most basic and subtle of differences that have the most impact. Teo describes the run-down clusters of rental units she spent many hours visiting, hidden between internationally-acclaimed high-rise government apartments, yet a world apart. She describes them as zones “marked not only by the visual but also something quite primal and physical” (p46). She does not mean to ghettoise these homes, but she pinpoints for the reader the details that make the difference: the ubiquitous presence of police and narcotics officers, as well as loan shark and crime notices. She draws a sharp comparison between this oppressive negativity and the cheerful ambience and positive messaging of owner-occupied blocks—just one example of what inequality looks like.

Teo makes it clear that members of Singapore’s bottom percentiles are not tucked away and alienated from the island’s daily hustle and bustle. But they are made invisible by the roles that they play and denied a presence by wilful or unintentional blindness on the part of many who benefit from their services. “Low-income persons are in reality highly present in most Singaporean’s everyday lives… when we say we cannot see poverty in Singapore, it is partly because its manifestations are masked and partly because we do not look” (pp192–193). Working among every other Singaporean are those for whom a rental unit is a step up from homelessness; where the “typical” trajectory of finishing school, getting married, buying a home and having children (p80) is either out of reach or follows a different order. “Normalcy” is defined by the mainstream majority. The neighbourhood and lived reality of those who can just barely afford to rent are a world far beyond the imagination (if at all contemplated) by the average Singaporean—and deemed “inferior” and “problematic” (p29).

Through Teo we experience the warmth, generosity and hospitality of low income families who genuinely come together to help each other in the most difficult of times, whose kindness to those who have less than themselves belie the struggles that they face. This community is common in other parts of grossly poor Southeast Asia, and a stark contrast to hollow top-down orchestrations to engender a kampung (village) collective in many owner-occupied constituencies. Teo shows us that the mainstream caricature of those who “deviate” from societal “norms” are far from accurate. These communities that she has grown to appreciate comprise hard-working, self-reliant, family-centric citizens that not only actively contribute to Singapore’s economy but constantly strive to improve their lot in life.

Beyond the link between poverty and inequality, Teo deftly weaves in the importance of dignity and illustrates how there is a distinct lack of social justice in the treatment of the very poor where “every day is a struggle with (in)dignity” (p194). The problem of poverty in Singapore should not be one “of the ‘other’” (p250). The narrative that their issues are “are an exception” (p196) needs to be disrupted so that the search for solutions becomes a national effort. It should be a quest bred on a sense of responsibility and morality; of helping one of our own—simply because we can.

In a poignant concluding chapter, Teo peels back the layers of a wound as she recollects the reactions to her work over the years. Responses ranged from those who are surprised that poverty exists in swanky Singapore, to those who trivialise the plight of the people she describes, or deny their existence. More tellingly is the reaction of one particular audience member who chastises her for publicly going against the great “Singapore Story” and “airing dirty laundry” to an international audience. This chapter (p225) exemplifies the narratives and blind spots that we have perpetuated both to the world and ourselves. Nationalistic tendencies and the discomfort of discussing the ugly realities of those who have always remained hidden need to be overcome. Perceptions attributed to petty folk beliefs of “race”, which are discussed in an additional epilogue, need to be discarded.

To be fair, the discussion of inequality has been all the rage in Singapore recently. In May 2018, a Channel News Asia documentary hosted by a member of parliament, Regardless of Class, examined Singapore’s social divisions but was met and countered by netizens and online portals for its lack of the sort of analysis that Teo lays out in her book. Another MP referenced her book in an opinion piece on the government’s promotion of self-reliance—a topic that Teo herself dissects and illustrates as she chronicles the lives of those who do everything they can to not ask for help. Teo points out that this is because of the futility these families face in their appeals for assistance, and how the process erases any last shreds of dignity that they held. If nothing else, then, Teo’s book has already succeeded in taking the debate on inequality in Singapore out from behind closed doors.

In response to Oxfam International’s Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, released in October 2018 (where Singapore was placed at number 149 out of 157 countries) a number of ministers were quick to point out the outcomes achieved by the city-state. These include 90% home ownership, high life expectancy, and extremely low infant mortality. In a post-National Day dialogue, Singapore’s prime minister brought up the issue of social mobility, also eloquently expounded on by Teo in her book. Most recently, another online news portal published a feature on a number of young people who were able to escape and overcome the difficulties of growing up in the lowest strata of Singaporean society. While the national response (whether explicit or implicit) to Teo’s work has been varied, it is clear that she has made a point in the corridors of power.

As she closes her book, Teo invites her readers to consider how their lives can be understood from the perspectives that she has presented. She asks that the middle and upper class majority in Singapore understand the consequences of their decisions and actions and how they inadvertently enhance the inequality and indignity faced by some fellow citizens.

For me personally, this book is a breath of fresh air that resonates vividly with my experiences across the border in poor rural Malaysian communities.  At a recent conference I attended, a scholar mentioned that while Singapore leads ASEAN this year, the rest of the region seems to look at the island with some disdain. Teo’s revelation of a rough underbelly makes the nation seem more “normal” in the eyes of the region. Smudges in the sparkling sheen that Singapore tries to portray may oddly endear it to the rest of Southeast Asia, as it is turns out that the island-state is not very different after all.

This is What Inequality Looks Like has clearly raised the blinds on a topic once hidden far out of sight. It is a book that needs to be read by all Singaporeans. Conventional tropes of meritocracy and social mobility need to be examined with a critical yet empathetic eye.

The poorest citizens of the nation need to be embraced into the mainstream and their struggles surfaced as national priorities. Only then can Singapore truly declare itself a first world nation. In the meantime, as Teo robustly concludes, we need to harness the values, beliefs, habits and aspirations that she believes exists within us as a nation to ensure that inequality can be refused and dignity restored.

 

Serina Rahman is a Visiting Fellow in the Malaysia Programme at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore, conducting research in the fields of sustainable development, environmental anthropology and the economics of the environment. Serina co-founded Kelab Alami, an organisation formed to empower a Johor fishing community through environmental education for habitat conservation and economic participation in coastal development. She received her PhD in Science from Universiti Teknologi Mara in 2014.  Read her recent account of rural Malaysia post-GE14 here, and her review of Living With Myths in Singapore.

Book Review: Exile in Colonial Asia


December 16, 2017

Book Review: Exile in Colonial Asia: Kings, Convicts, Commemoration

Ronit Ricci, ed. (University of Hawai’i Press, 2016. vii + 294pp.)

Reviewed by Craig Reynolds@www. newmandala.org

Image result for exile in colonial asia kings convicts commemoration

 

Exile in Colonial Asia is a compact book, but it’s a large book in its treatment of forced migration, prisoner resettlement, and exile across the globe from East Asia to Africa. The ten essays cover people up and down the social hierarchy: rulers (kings, princes, sultans); pretenders to thrones; convicts; and a few pirates and smugglers.

The life of a slave might be better than that of a prince, and a prince one day might be a rebel the next, and soon after on a ship to another part of the world. Commemoration in the subtitle means memory. To restore lives lost to the historical record, the authors pick their way through grudging source material—letters, notes, trading company documents, and lists. It’s amazing what a detective-author can resurrect from the dry lists of people and objects buried in archival records.

In the period covered by the book the world was mapped not by countries but by empires: Portuguese, Dutch, British, French, Belgian, and Italian. Colonial authorities and trading companies like the Dutch East India Company (VOC), a quasi-state, removed people from their homelands and exiled them to foreign lands. The globe is criss-crossed with the movements of these people shown on maps drawn by Robert Cribb. Exile was not a peculiarly Western imperialist measure. Indigenous political systems—the Chinese and the Vietnamese, among others—also used exile and prison colonies to expand their territories. Not all the people sent into exile became alienated in their new surroundings. Some adapted by converting to a new religion, or by seizing opportunities in commerce or agriculture.

From ports in the Indonesian archipelago the VOC transported prisoners to the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa. From the French colonies in Indochina 600 prisoners were sent to Gabon on the west coast of Africa and the Congo. The French also sent prisoners from Indochina to French Guiana, New Caledonia, Madagascar, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. High-level political prisoners in the French colonies went to Algeria, Tahiti, and the Marquesas. The British sent Indian convicts to the Andaman Islands which became a penal colony after the Great Indian Revolt of 1857–58. Rebels against British rule in Ceylon were sent to Mauritius.

Prisoners built and fed European empires. Convicts laboured as brick and tile makers, blacksmiths, boatmen, cart drivers and grass cutters, or were engaged in experimental industry and agriculture. Convicts worked in tin mines in Burma, and in Mauritius in silk and cotton production and the cultivation of sugar and coffee.

This historical study on Asia is one of the few that sees fit to include Australia, in this case to illustrate a place that was both colony and penal settlement. In Asia proper we find ourselves in India, Lanka, Java, Singapore, the Malay world, Vietnam, and Burma. Siam is not among the case studies, because it was not colonised, but when the king of Siam visited Java in the early 1870s he saw what might become of him if the British and French decided to take away his crown and carve up his realm. He observed the sultan of Jogjakarta being marched around and guarded by troops. The Javanese sultan displayed the paraphernalia of royalty, but he was a prisoner in a gilded cage, dethroned and demoted within his own country. Native rulers could be packed off to other outposts of empire. Amangkurat III was exiled from Java to Ceylon. The last king of Kandy in Ceylon was sent to Madras. Maharaj Singh was banished from the Punjab, where he was considered a threat to colonial consolidation, and then sent to Singapore. Sultan Hamengkubuwana II of Yogyakarta was exiled to Penang after he opposed the British takeover of Java in 1811. Some exiles became submissive, some were moderate. Some became militant, some were already militant.

The book is not sentimental, but exile, banishment, and forced migration are melancholy topics. I came away empathetic not only with the individuals affected by dire circumstance but also with the authors’ struggles to salvage memories of those uprooted and sent away. Exiles pined for home, and if they were rulers they dreamed of regaining their thrones. Several authors discuss the emotional pain in the exiled life of their subjects. Anand Yang refers to his chapter as a meditation, and Ronit Ricci’s story of the return to Batavia of Amangkurat III’s remains after his death in Ceylon is told with sorrow.

The final essay by Penny Edwards is a fitting end, if not a conclusion, to the volume. Prince Myngoon, the son of a modernising Burmese king in the mid-nineteenth century, was an embodiment of the Burmese monarchy the British had just eradicated. Edwards calls him a trickster who outwitted the British as he darted from Rangoon to Pondicherry to Benares to Saigon. The prince was a subversive figure able to elude colonial administrators trying to keep track of him. His story is shaped by subterfuge that challenged colonial surveillance. Colonial power had its limits.

The book is not divided into sections, a bold decision by the editor assisted by Maria Myutel. Cross references cite other essays within the volume to make comparisons and contrasts, but not in a false or jarring way. The book began life as a workshop, that familiar factory of academic production, and the authors apparently arrived soon enough at a consensus about what to discuss. Clare Anderson’s introduction is a masterful account of exile as a global phenomenon that ties the essays together, and the book’s striking cover depicts wayang figures on a Dutch ship that conveys movement, one of the volume’s themes. No surprise that the International Convention of Asian Scholars this year awarded Exile in Colonial Asia an accolade for the best edited volume.

Readers of this book cannot fail to reflect on today’s accounts of refugees forced from their homelands by repression and civil war. History is present knowledge, and each author in his or her essay reaffirms human possibility in an inhumane world.

 

American Liberal Education: Lessons for Malaysia


November 6, 2017

American Liberal Education: Lessons for Malaysia

by Dr. M. Bakri Musa

Morgan-Hill, California

Western secular, humanistic liberal education may have many faults but it is still superior to what is being offered elsewhere. That is a good enough reason for Malaysia to embrace it.–Dr. M. Bakri Musa

Image result for allan bloom the closing of the american mind
Professor Allan Bloom–The Closing of the American Mind

 

My praise for American liberal education notwithstanding, there is no shortage of criticisms of the system. Allan Bloom may be among the earliest and harshest, but you could have a small library compiling books, monographs, and essays critical of the system. A few years ago The New York Review of Books carried an article reviewing eight such books, including one co-written by the former President of Princeton University.

Examine the typical American high school today; it is huge. The largest has an enrollment exceeding 5,000. As there are only four high school years, this means the graduating class would have about 1,250 students. That is less a school, more a huge human educational factory or warehouse. Many American schools now have policemen patrolling and metal detectors. Still that had not prevented great tragedies like the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 that shocked the nation

The physical challenges brought on by the sheer massive size of these institutions aside, there are other even greater non-physical crises. For the most part they are hidden and consequently become entrenched and pervasive.

Then there are the exorbitant and rising costs of college which defy rational explanations. They are then hidden by the ready availability of student loans. Those loans contribute to the problem as universities can now raise fees with impunity. Economists predict that the next financial crisis in America will be with student loans. The scale and impact would be much bigger than the current [2008] housing bust.

Then there is the faculty. At many universities especially the top ones, professors are more akin to full-time researchers, with teaching a chore to be avoided at all costs. Professors brag about “protected time” from teaching, that being the new badge of honor! Teaching falls increasingly on over-worked adjunct (part-time) faculty and graduate students.

More alarming, researchers at universities are mostly funded by industry or special interest groups, thus calling into question the integrity of their work. An alumnus of Harvard Business School related how the luminaries there were heaping praises on Royal Bank of Scotland’s management right up to the bank’s collapse. No surprise there as those professors were highly-paid consultants to the bank at the time.

At the other end of the spectrum is the corrupting influence of lucrative collegiate sports. On many campuses, the highest paid and most influential individual is not the president or the brilliant professors, but the football coach!

Those criticisms do not detract from the value of the American broad-based liberal education. It aims to produce “T” graduates, depth in one field with interest and general understanding across broad areas. In contrast, the Malaysian system we inherited from the British produces “I” graduates with narrowly focused skills and interests.

The world now recognizes the value of a liberal education. China, India, and Japan (indeed the world) send their best students to America. These countries are also busy enticing American colleges to set up branch campuses in their home countries. The greatest concentration of American colleges is in the Middle East, specifically the Gulf States. Within a generation this will prove transformational for the Arab world. Already in Egypt, the most prestigious university (where the elite send their children and where the graduates are highly sought after) is not the centuries-old Al Azhar but the American University in Cairo, established less than a hundred years ago. Likewise, despite the turmoil in Lebanon, the American University in Beirut remains the crown jewel of Arab intellectual achievement.

My concern is not with the American criticisms of its system, rather those coming from commentators and intellectuals of the developing world, specifically Malaysia. Those criticisms carry much more weight with local policymakers and parents.

To these Malaysian critics, American liberal education is devoid of “values” and geared only to serve the needs of the economic machinery of its capitalistic system. They hold up as exemplary the Islamic education system with its objective of producing “good” citizens inculcated with the “correct” moral values. To these critics, unless you believe in God, (not any God however, only the God that they pray to), you cannot be moral, ethical, or “good.”

These critics belittle the achievements of Western education in producing competent engineers and scientists, denouncing them as mere “tools” of the capitalistic economy. That may well be, but by being those “tools” these graduates are serving and contributing to the good of society. When American universities produce competent engineers who design safe jet planes, the whole world benefits; likewise when the system produces scientists who discover vaccines against major killers like polio. Those graduates fit the Islamic definition of being soleh.

Condolence to Syed Hussein Alatas
Professor Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas
Image result for The Myth of The Lazy Native by Dr Syed Hussein Alatas
 

There was one critic worthy of special mention because of the wide reception of his views especially in the Muslim world, the acclaimed sociologist Professor Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas. He accused the Western system of education of perpetrating “intellectual imperialism,” imposing its views on students and scholars from the developing world. They, in turn, are guilty of having a “captive mind,” which he defined as an “uncritical and imitative mind dominated by an external source, whose thinking is deflected from an independent perspective.” That external source is of course Western scholarship

I commend Dr. Syed Hussein’s take on the social sciences but when he tried to extend his observation to the natural sciences, he was on “thin ice,” to use an English metaphor. To him, my using that metaphor reflects this Western intellectual imperialism. Otherwise, he would presumably argue, I would use a different metaphor, like stepping on a banana peel. That would be more in tune with our tropical environment, quite apart from being more readily understood by those from the tropics.

Image result for The University of Malaya in the 1960s
The University of Malaya, Pantai Valley, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia circa 1960s

 

That aside, Dr. Syed Hussein’s observation carries considerable truth. In the early years of the University of Malaya, its leaders and policymakers were more obsessed with replicating a jungle version of Oxford and Cambridge than making a university of Malaya, meaning one that would serve the specific needs of the local society.

Far too often what goes on at local campuses bears little relevance to the surrounding reality. Malaysia desperately needs English teachers, yet not one local university has a Department of English. Likewise, rubber and tin are our two major resources, yet there is very little research into either commodity done on Malaysian campuses. The same goes for endemic local parasitic diseases like dengue.

Dr. Syed Hussein was correct in citing the lack of creativity of students from developing countries who have had the benefit of superior education at Western universities.

I once asked a Malaysian professor why he had not contributed any original published work since getting his doctorate from an Ivy League university. When he noted that I was not impressed with his ready excuse of heavy administrative burdens, he tried others, such as inadequate support facilities like libraries. He obviously had not heard of the Internet. Indeed, many journals and research institutions now give free membership (and thus access to publications and research findings) if you identify yourself as a scholar or faculty from the developing world.

I agree with Dr. Syed Hussein when he chastised Third World graduates and scholars who have had the benefit of superior education afforded at leading Western universities for exhibiting “captive minds” and not demonstrating creativity when solving local problems. I disagree with him however, when he faulted those institutions and their faculties.

Many of the innovations and creative thinking in the developing world today are the products of minds nurtured at leading Western universities. The good Dr. Syed Hussein was Exhibit One, as he had a Phd from the University of Amsterdam. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syed_Hussein_Alatas ).Those “captive minds” that Dr. Syed Hussein condemned are more likely to be the products of Third World universities including such leading ones as Al Azhar. I cannot think of any innovation, Islamic or otherwise, that emanates from that institution.

Western secular, humanistic liberal education may have many faults but it is still superior to what is being offered elsewhere. That is a good enough reason for Malaysia to embrace it.

 

A New Way to study Economics


September 13, 2017

A New Way to study Economics

by John Cassidy

https://www.newyorker.com

Image result for The New Way to study Economics

Dealing with Unemployment,Inequality, and  Poverty

With the new school year starting, there is good news for incoming students of economics—and anybody else who wants to learn about issues like inequality, globalization, and the most efficient ways to tackle climate change. A group of economists from both sides of the Atlantic, part of a project called CORE Econ, has put together a new introductory economics curriculum, one that is modern, comprehensive, and freely available online.

In this country, many colleges encourage Econ 101 students to buy (or rent) expensive textbooks, which can cost up to three hundred dollars, or even more for some hardcover editions. The CORE curriculum includes a lengthy e-book titled “The Economy,” lecture slides, and quizzes to test understanding. Some of the material has already been used successfully at colleges like University College London and Sciences Po, in Paris.

The project is a collaborative effort that emerged after the world financial crisis of 2008–9, and the ensuing Great Recession, when many students (and teachers) complained that existing textbooks didn’t do a good job of explaining what was happening. In many countries, groups of students demanded an overhaul in how economics was taught, with less emphasis on free-market doctrines and more emphasis on real-world problems.

Traditional, wallet-busting introductory textbooks do cover topics like pollution, rising inequality, and speculative busts. But in many cases this material comes after lengthy explanations of more traditional topics: supply-and-demand curves, consumer preferences, the theory of the firm, gains from trade, and the efficiency properties of atomized, competitive markets. In his highly popular “Principles of Economics,” Harvard’s N. Gregory Mankiw begins by listing a set of ten basic principles, which include “Rational people think at the margin,” “Trade can make everybody better off,” and “Markets are usually a good way to organize economic activity.”

The CORE approach isn’t particularly radical. (Students looking for expositions of Marxian economics or Modern Monetary Theory will have to look elsewhere.) But it treats perfectly competitive markets as special cases rather than the norm, trying to incorporate from the very beginning the progress economists have made during the past forty years or so in analyzing more complex situations: when firms have some monopoly power; people aren’t fully rational; a lot of key information is privately held; and the gains generated by trade, innovation, and finance are distributed very unevenly. The CORE curriculum also takes economic history seriously.

The e-book begins with a discussion of inequality. One of first things students learn is that, in 2014, the “90/10 ratio”—the average income of the richest ten per cent of households divided by the average income of the poorest ten per cent—was 5.4 in Norway, sixteen in the United States, and a hundred and forty-five in Botswana. Then comes a discussion of how to measure standards of living, and a section on the famous “hockey stick” graph, which shows how these standards have risen exponentially since the industrial revolution.

Image result for The New Way to study Economics

The text stresses that technical progress is the primary force driving economic growth. Citing the Yale economist William Nordhaus’s famous study of the development of electric lighting, it illustrates how standard economic statistics, such as the gross domestic product, sometimes fail to fully account for this progress. Befitting a twenty-first-century text, sections devoted to the causes and consequences of technological innovation recur throughout the e-book, and the information economy receives its own chapter. So do globalization, the environment, and economic cataclysms, such as the Depression and the global financial crisis.

Given the breadth of its coverage, the CORE curriculum may be challenging to some students, but it takes advantage of being a native online product. (In Britain, a paperback version of the e-book is also available.) The presentation features lots of graphs and charts, and, in some cases, students can download data sets to create their own. The quizzes are interactive, and the presentation is enlivened by potted biographies of famous dead economists (Smith, Keynes, etc.) as well as video interviews with eminent living ones, such as Thomas Piketty.

Image result for The New Way to study Economics

Unlike most textbooks, the CORE e-book was produced by a large team of collaborators. More than twenty economists from both sides of the Atlantic and from India, Colombia, Chile, and Turkey contributed to it. (Two of them, Suresh Naidu and Rajiv Sethi, teach at Columbia and Barnard, respectively.) The coördinators of the project were Wendy Carlin, of University College London, Sam Bowles, of the Santa Fe Institute, and Margaret Stevens, of Oxford University. The Institute for New Economic Thinking provided some funding to help get things off the ground.

The members of the CORE team deserve credit for responding to the critics of economics without pandering to them. They have produced a careful but engrossing curriculum that will hopefully draw more young people into economics, and encourage them to continue their studies. (At University College London, students who took the CORE course did better in subsequent economics classes than earlier cohorts who took a more traditional introductory course.)

But the CORE material isn’t just for incoming students. It will also reward the attention of general readers and people who think they are already reasonably conversant with economics. (Personal testimony: Having gone through some of the material in detail, I think I might finally understand the Malthusian model and how to calculate bank leverage ratios!) All this, and the price can’t be beat.

 

BolehLand (CanLand)’s Towering Academic–Dr. Kamarul Yusoff


May 30, 2017

BolehLand (CanLand)’s Towering Academic–Dr. Kamarul Yusoff

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Kamarul Yusof vs, Hannah

Dr. Kamarul Yusoff was surely modest when he posted a small part of his credentials in responding to critics of his lambasting of Hannah Yeoh.

In fact, building on his ‘lofty’ American undergraduate achievements, he has returned to our tanah air to become a ‘highly productive’ scholar and academic.

His academic and intellectual track record can be discerned from his employer, Universiti Utara Malaysia’s website. He is listed as a Senior Lecturer and presently Director of the Malaysian Institute of Political Analysis (MAPAN) as well as is attached to The Ghazali Shafie Graduate School of Government.

In the website, he has described his work and career in capital letters in the following way

I AM A POLITICAL SCIENTIST SPECIALIZING IN MALAYSIA POLITICS. MY DOCTORATE THESIS WAS ON PARTI ISLAM SE-MALAYSIA (PAS) MAKING ME AN EXPERT ON PAS. MY MAIN INTEREST IS ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF MALAYSIAN OPPOSITION POLITICAL PARTIES. I HAVE RECEIVED GRANTS FROM UUM TO CONDUCT OPINION POLLS ON MALAYSIAN CURRENT POLITICAL ISSUES AND WILL BE RECEIVING A FEW MORE FROM VARIOUS RESEARCH AGENCIES TO STUDY CURRENT MALAYSIAN POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT. I HAVE BEEN FEATURED QUITE REGULARLY IN THE MALAYSIAN MEDIA COMMENTING ON MALAYSIAN POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT.

Members of the public interested in his work can view his ‘prolific’ scholarly output at UUM’s repository website – http://repo.uum.edu.my/profile/kzaman.

From it we can see that he has been a contributor to the country’s Malay print media – notably Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia during the past three years. Even with his columns printed in the country’s leading media, Dr. Kamarul, alas, does not appear to have been able to generate much of an audience for his political analysis.

According to the repository portal’s records his ten most viewed articles have received a total of some 700 hits or an average of 70 hits per article. Perhaps now that he has emerged prominently in the public radar screen, he will be attracting more readers to his writing.

Image result for The Ghazali Shafie School

His research output to date is even less prolific and appears to be focused on opinion polls. He has listed only one publication (with other collaborators) in an obscure – and what is likely to remain an insignificant – journal, The Malaysian Journal of Youth Studies.

Perhaps the most interesting part of his academic career is his current leadership of an institution, MAPAN, which is aspiring, in its words:

  • To become the eminent political research centre related to political issues, specifically in Malaysia.

  • To become a political research centre and a poll centre that is professional, independent, credible, transparent, and respected at both the national and international levels.

  • To become a political research centre that is capable of giving consultation services and becoming a reference for individuals, groups, and the nation.

  • To become a political research centre that is referred to by political adopters, analysts, researchers, and observers from all over the world, and thus enhancing the image of the college and university in the global arena.

  • To become a research centre that can assist the university to generate financial income, specifically through organising conferences, performing research consultation, and producing publications.

Although established in 2010 with these ambitious/lofty objectives, MAPAN appears to have undertaken little research.

This cannot be due to a lack of research funding or government support since the gallery section of the institute’s website shows the Director in September 2013 in prominent proximity with the Mentri Besar of Perlis, and with the latter shown opening up one of the Institute’s reports.

One can understand how impressed the MB must have been with the work of this “alternative, credible, and rational source having scientific value, high reputation, and being well respected by the general public” (http://mapan.uum.edu.my/index.php/en/corporate-info/mapan-background).

However, to date there is only one title found in MAPAN’s online publication page. In 2013, on the eve of the General Election, it co-published a 19 page poll research report jointly produced by MAPAN and the Majlis Profesor Negara (MPN) Tinjaun Pendapat Umum Di Kawasan Utara: Calon & Parti Pilihan Rakyat Dalam PRU 2013.

It will not be surprising if MAPAN led by Dr. Kamarul soon awakens from its academic hibernation to undertake opinion polls relating to the coming election, and engages in a fresh burst of activity and pro- Barisan and UMNO election analysis that will be “referred to by political adoptors [what this term refers to is anybody’s guess] analysts, researchers and observers from all over the world.”

Incidentally, the Majlis Profesor Negara which co-authored the 2013 poll report is the pre-eminent academic body in the nation. It is currently comprised of over 2,000 professors. Surely the day is coming soon when academics such as Dr. Kamarul Yusoff and his Ph. D colleagues supporting him in his memorandum to the Registrar of Societies calling on it to de-register the Democratic Action Party, will also join this august body to further strengthen the ranks of our “super gurus”.

 

GW Establishes Program to Bring more STEM Teachers to High-Need Schools


May 20, 2017

 

https://gwtoday.gwu.edu/gw-establishes-program-bring-more-stem-teachers-high-need-schools

by GW Today

George Washington statue in University Yard

The George Washington University’s Center Courtyard–Making History at GWU

Read the full Strategic Plan (PDF)

The George Washington University has evolved into one of the nation’s leading universities. To continue advancing, the university has produced Vision 2021, an educational vision that reflects our aspirations to provide a unique, rigorous education to every one of our students and to secure our position as one of the world’s premier research universities.

View Our Progress

GW Establishes Program to Bring more STEM Teachers to High-Need Schools

Scholarships will contribute to two years of college tuition in exchange for teaching after graduation.

A new program at the George Washington University will offer science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors the opportunity to receive teacher training and scholarships for agreeing to teach in high-need school districts across the country after graduation from GW.

The new initiative is made possible by a grant through the National Science Foundation and the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. The five-year, $1.5 million grant will begin at the start of the 2017-18 academic year and is expected to assist more than 25 students total with $20,000 per year toward the cost of tuition and teacher training in their junior and senior years.

Once students complete the GWNoyce program, they will be prepared to apply for licensure with the D.C. public school system, which would make them eligible to teach in 48 states.

“Producing high-caliber secondary math and science teachers for high-need schools is essential to support our nation’s increasingly STEM-driven economy,” said Larry Medsker, research professor of physics and director of GWNoyce. “This work on behalf of our high-need communities aligns well with the GW mission statement goal of improving the quality of life in D.C.”

Dr. Medsker said the program will be particularly strong because it will recruit students who are already studying STEM-based fields and offer them courses, workshops, seminars and service projects to prepare them to be teachers in high-need schools.

Image result for the george washington university

It also will offer preparatory stipends and projects for freshmen and sophomores who are interested in applying to the program, in conjunction with activities offered by the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, GWTeach, a separate GW undergraduate program that prepares STEM majors to become teachers, and a new partnership between GWTeach and the Smithsonian Science Education Center.

Because of these additional offerings, the program is expected to reach more than 500 GW students by 2022.

High-need schools are defined as having at least one of the following characterizations: high percentage of individuals from families with incomes below the poverty line; high percentage of secondary school teachers not teaching in the content area in which they were trained to teach; or high teacher turnover rate. These school districts can be found in urban, suburban and rural settings.

“The GWNoyce program will enable our students to more easily transition into STEM teaching in high-need schools, a cause that is critical to meeting the needs of colleges, graduate schools and ultimately our nation’s STEM workforce,” said Ben Vinson, dean of the GW Columbian College of Arts and Sciences where GWNoyce is housed. “The goal of the GWNoyce program is a timely one and aligns with our vision for an engaged liberal arts, one that will bring our education and research to a new level of excellence.”

The GWNoyce program also will create a new relationship with Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus, allowing students accepted into the program to transfer to GW for the start of the junior year. The scholarship will help ease some of the financial burdens in pursuit of their bachelor’s degrees. The program is expected to create new opportunities for Virginia students interested in studying STEM fields at GW.