"I believe in a country where hard work and merit, not privilege or background, determines success."
Tony Blair 2005

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Racial integration : a fallacy?

In Malaysiakini, letter section

Diskriminasi kaum di sekolah kebangsaan
M Sanmugavelu
2:32pm Wed Apr 28th, 2004

Saya sebagai seorang bapa, ingin memberitahu bahawa apa yang Pak Lah katakan terhadap masalah sekolah kebangsaan di negara kita adalah benar.

Tenaga pengajar di sekolah kebangsaan kita terlalu pro-kauman di mana mereka lebih mementingkan satu kaum sahaja.

Mereka akan memarahi anak-anak kaum lain dengan perkataan yang sungguh kesat dan walaupun ibubapa pelajar tersebut membuat laporan kepada polis dan Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri, sehingga kini tiada tindakan diambil.

Kerajaan BN memohon supaya semua kaum mendaftar anak-anak mereka di sekolah kebangsaan kerajaan tetapi tidak sedar bahawa tenaga pengajarnya tidak dididik untuk menyesuaikan diri dengan masyarakat majmuk.

Saya tidak faham kenapa sehingga kini tindakan tidak diambil terhadap guru-guru seperti tersebut di atas. Bolehkah polis daerah Batu Pahat dan Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri Johor memberi jawapan kepada soalan ini?

The tone of desperation of the above parent is evident. Racial discrimination in schools, why is it still happening? It appears that teachers remain the main culprits in the above scenario. It reminds me of another letter in a local paper, where a policeman candidly commented that the chinese should go back to China. So it appears that this mentality is not confined to teachers.

But this is sad as teachers should be the strongest advocates for racial integration. They are the educators of our future generations. They are to shape the mentality of our young children's minds. Children that will one day be our leaders. Thus a teacher's important role is undeniable. Unfortunately, they themselves are plagued with skewed beliefs and persecutory complexes.

How then are we to racially integrate? Will it remain a distant dream? It should not.

Being a multi-racial country is in itself challenging. The thoughts of many races being able to live together baffles others. We pride ourselves with this fact. Nevertheless, many deny and refuse to accept that there are cracks. Such denials will certainly be catastrophic if these cracks are left unrepaired and unchecked.

Swift action by the Education Ministry with regards to the above case should be delivered. It would be the first step in mending such cracks. Teachers who racially discriminate should be removed. They should not corrupt an institution that serves to educate the contrary.

Malaysians, in my opinion, requires a total change in mindset. We should no longer see along racial or religious lines. These are only arbitrary variables. We should treat each as an individual with equal rights as ourselves. We need to break down the barriers that have been put before us for centuries. Then only can we be fair and non judgemental.

These are monumental tasks. But not impossible. It requires commitment and sacrifice. It will be a journey that will be fraught with unexpected obstacles. But for the continuing existence of humanity, it is a necessary journey. It is only hoped that at the end of the day, cooler heads will prevail.

Finally, i believe racial integration starts in our education system. Let us only pray that this education system will keep its end of the bargain.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Proton's commitment to customer safety??

This is from a recent advertisement by Proton. Their first line is "Customer Safety Comes First". They also claim that independant tests showed 80% of Gen-2's cabin remained intact (after collisions). But that is not the whole story. What was shown is a full frontal test which is best for evaluating the performance of seatbelts and air bags. If customer safety really came first, Proton would have installed airbags in all of its cars. IN actual fact, they should recall all its previous versions for ann installation of an airbag. That is the meaning of CUSTOMER SAFETY COMES FIRST!

The tests used to set Standards can be different in different countries. For example, frontal impact crash tests differ from country to country depending on the Standard. The American, Japanese and Australian Standards require the full width of the front of the car to be crashed into a solid barrier at a speed of 48 km/h (United States, Australia) or 50 km/h (Japan). This test is particularly effective for evaluating the performance of occupant restraints like seatbelts and air bags.

The European Standard requires an offset frontal impact crash test instead of a full frontal test. In an offset crash test, 40% of the front of the car (on the driver's side) strikes a deformable barrier at 56km/h. This test is used because offset frontal collisions are more common in real world crashes than full frontal collisions.

The tests are different but both sorts of test will result in a minimum setting that the vehicles must comply with. It is then up to manufacturers to decide how they will design their cars to comply with a frontal impact Standard.

Extrcted from Land Transport Safety Authority ,NZ

In this picture, it clearly shows the presence of an airbag in the car. Proton still refuses to introduce air bags to local cars. So i assume that local cars are made different and these test will only apply to cars meant for export. Thus a lower quality of safety, perhaps.

A check of its website did not detail the results of such sites unlike some car manufacturers that would produce results of such safety tests to the public. It is our right to know if we are buying cars with a good safety profile.

The other thing is when they mentioned that 80%of Gen-2 cabin remains intact, which 80% is that. That 20% could spell danger if in the wrong places!. How about the results of an offset crash test??

More questions than answers. So Proton don't fool us with pictures of so called tests. Be specific. We deserve that much!

Daihatsu's tests

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Exuberance of Med students

An opportunity was presented to attend the IMU Ball. It has been some time since the last contact with my alma mater. It presented me with a chance to step back in time and reminiscent.

The evening began with views of students gloriously dressed. They appeared years ahead of their chronological age. It was full of elegance and style. The excitement and enthusiasm was immediately felt. It was about 10 years since the first Ball with 60 plus students. It has now swelled to 400!

Meeting up with former lecturers and staff was refreshing. Sadly, the majority of the faculty and staff decided to opt out.

Representing the Alumni as its president was my ex classmate which whom I have not met since we departed to our respective partner schools. It was a fruitful exchange of ideas and thoughts.

But the night belonged to the medical students. Their display of talents were awesome. Their organisation of the event commendable. It was indeed their night to strut their stuff.

Their exuberance was astonishing. It reminded me of years gone by. But more importantly, it created a sense of belonging to an alma mater that continues to grow from strength to strength despite unrelentless trials and tribulations. Perhaps it is such exuberance that provides the impetus for its successes.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

trusting the devil

In the Star today,

Media free to help patients

KUALA LUMPUR: The media will soon be allowed to publicise appeals by needy patients and collect funds for them without having to obtain prior approval from the Health Ministry.

Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the move to give the media a free hand to undertake this social responsibility would help reduce red tape and ease the anxiety of patients and their families.

The move would also help ensure patients receive prompt treatment, he said.

Wrong move Datuk Dr Chua! Are you really getting the best advice? You are putting your trust in organizations that love to sensationalise issues. Dr Chua should take heed from Najib's lament that the press has blown the National Service issues out of proportion!

This will definitely set a bad precedent and gives the green light for the public to bring their issues immediately to the press. This should not be encouraged. Instead proper channels should be made available for such greviances to be addressed in a suitable and fair manner. Taking issues directly to the press may distort and smear the image of the Ministry of Health(MOH) disproportionately. It is like digging their own graves! Looks like the election of Datuk Dr Chua has thrown the MOH from the frying pan into the fire!

The media is also allowed to control the funds collected and it is the media that decides which patient gets the cash available from such donations. Where is the logic in allowing a media organisation to manage such funds? Who will monitor its management? Are you really sure media organisations can perform in a just manner? Dr Chua mentioned that accountability of such media organisations should not be questioned as they have helped patients before!. I have never heard such irresponsibile and naive remarks before! Proof to the people that media organisations have no hidden agendas and can be fully trusted. They are after all profit and private organisations and will have certain vested interests.

“Bureaucracy must be at a minimum in health matters for quick decisions and treatment,” Dr Chua continued! This has nothing to do with bureaucracy. Patients have always been treated according to the urgency of individual cases. There is no bureaucracy! This only opens the door for non-urgent cases to gate crash. So now the media decides on which patient they feel needs urgent treatment and thus a media highlight. This is unacceptable.

The MOH should set up an independant , non profit organisation to run this donation campaign. Such organisation can then liase with the press and the MOH to ensure patients needing urgent donations can be suitably addressed.

The immaturity of Datuk Dr Chua's administration is showing. This decision is regrettable and will not augur well for the future of healthcare in Malaysia. In chess terms, he has sacrifised the queen to save a pawn!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

For the fun of it!

This graphical picture appeared on the website of The Star when they featured news on contraception. I was just tempted to reproduce it here as I found it humourous!. Perhaps it should be hung on the bedroom door when contraception is desired!! Don't you just feel sorry for all those cute looking sperms??!! :D

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Woes of a specialist

In the NST letter section,

Long road ahead for young specialists
Apr 19:

I AM a senior specialist in government service demoralised by delays
in promotions, ridiculous paper work and red tape, grossly under-funded
services for patients and poor working conditions.
Many of us could make eight to 10 times more in the private sector, but we stay on because we care for the patients.

But this letter is not about me. It is about our younger specialists. We are again poised to lose a large number of our younger specialists as a result of the recently implemented Malaysian Remuneration Scheme (SSM) that replaced the New Remuneration Scheme (SSB). The Ministry of Health and the Malaysian Medical Association fought for the rights of doctors (and paramedics) and every specialist to be placed on the U2 scale (Now U48 under SSM). So, after five years of medical school, three years of preliminary service, and then a post-graduate degree, this doctor would earn about RM4,500 a month. This was considered a small success.

With the introduction of SSM by the Public Service Department, the same doctor will now be on U44, earning about RM3,500 per month, despite holding a post-graduate degree and having worked for 10 years.

To be promoted the doctor has to study for a test known as Penilaian Tahap Kecekapan (PTK) (read admini-strative documents and public health related medicine) at the same time as post-graduate studies. Passing the latter alone is therefore useless for promotion! One solution is to recognise the five years of medical school (longer than any other undergraduate course). Doctors should start on a higher pay scale. They should be moved to the U54 scale once they have passed their post-graduate examinations. If they pass the postgraduate examinations they should be exempted from the PTK.

It should be left to doctors who choose not to specialise.


Another area to look at for sure. Government specialists are indeed poorly paid as compared to their private counterparts. It does not take a genius to discover the reason for a shortage in specialists in government funded hospitals.

This letter says it all! The Government has to look seriously into the matter. They can no longer close an eye to this growing problem of brain drain. Doctors cannot be compared to other professions in public service. Doctors spend a lot of time studying for the medical degree and even more sacrifice to pass postgraduate examinations. They need to feel rewarded just like any human beings. All those years of sacrifice, should be translated into a better payscale.

At the end of the day, it is about monetary benefits. Doctors have to take care of their own backyard as well. If the Government is not prepared to look seriously into this matter, then I am afraid that more doctors will leave!

I am sure we will be seeing a wave of doctors "coming out" to voice their greviances, that have been kept pretty much under wraps before this. Someone in the current administration should take heed. Perhaps, Dr Chua himself.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Hitting back

maz : of course in islam we cannot let unmarried couple holding each other hands. why does this bother you? since youre not a muslim u should shut your face.

Hmmm... I guess some do have strong words. Unfortunately , most hide cowardly behind pseudonyms and thus showing in their bravery to express such profanity! Judging from his/her grammatical errors, he/she has not fully understood the contents of my blog. Furthermore, reading my blogs require a good general knowledge of current affairs which the writer above obviously lacks.

For his/her benefit, a non-Muslim couple was caught at KLCC park for holding hands. The 2 City Hall officers actually asked for a bribe in return for their freedom for which they refused and were given a summon!... The 2 officers are now undergoing the process of law. UNfortunately, the summons that was issued remained and the couple now has to go to court to answer these charges! So my question is, "is holding hands in a public park an offence, especially for non-muslims!!????"

Internet profanity is rife , unfortunately , as these barbarians can now operate in the cover of darkness!!. How low should they stoop to get at somebody? Just like the anonymity of spammers , these uncivilised minds are hard at work! Many still cannot deal maturely with the freedom of expression that the Internet brings!

Lastly, just as i respect Islam as a religion, its followers should equally respect others in their own right, as stipulated in their religion! So Maz's utterance has inadvertantly degraded himself and his religion by such uncontrolled anger! But I forgive such poor souls and this will be my last comment on this matter!

Super Sapiens : Hellboy

When a Nazi mystical experiment goes awry in 1944, the target of a wizard's spell, the child of Satan, Hellboy, is wrenched from his home, and adopted by the U.S. agents who intercept his arrival. Raised as a force of good, Hellboy grows up to be a full-fledged demon in the form of a man, complete with fierce red skin, a tail, a giant armored glove, and two large circles where his horns should be (if they ever grow back, Hellboy is quick to break them off). Now, the adult Hellboy, an investigator of the paranormal, is sent on a mission that brings him back in touch with the evil genius that started it all... that Nazi wizard (and just who is *he* anyway?). Accompanying him along the way are other agents, including Liz, a pyrokinetic woman Hellboy has feelings for, and Abe Sapien, a mysterious amphibian hominid...

A highly entertaining movie. Hellboy is a lovable character despite his devilish looks! He has charm, humour and character! He brings life to a show that otherwise would be mediocre. I would recommend this and give it a 8.5 out of 10!

Hellboy Movie

Are we moving forward?

Malay songs with English lyrics banned

PETALING JAYA: One of P. Ramlee's classic hits Madu Tiga may end up being banned on RTM due to the Information Ministry's latest ruling which disallows the airing of Malay songs with lyrics that are intertwined with a sprinkling of English words.

The current batch of songs that have been “taken off the air” include Anita Sarawak's Seksis and Diva, Ruffedge's Tipah Tertipu, Too Phat's Alhamdulillah and KRU's latest song Bade.

The ever-popular Madu Tiga song, from the movie of the same name, has got the line “I Love You”.

First, the ridiculous rule of not allowing couples to hold hands at the KLCC park and now this. I think we are getting overboard with such nitty gritties! What are we hoping to achieve here? Or do we want to emulate Singapore with their rule of social dictatorship!? It puzzles me!

I am bewildered by such incomprehensible decisions. Is using another language in a song diluting the national language? I do not think so.... Bahasa Malaysia itself has plenty of borrowed words. It remains a fact that B. Melayu is a young language and the power of its vocabulary remains much to be desired. But that is besides the point.

A song is an artistic expression of the artiste. It is not about the language but the emotions and the messages that a song hopes to express and relay to its listeners. Barring the use of certain languages can stunt the expression of an artiste.

The other question is why only English? As mentioned in the article, why not arabic or chinese? Why English?

I can offer no explanations except that these idle policymakers have wandered off into another world. There is no logic in their actions. This will certainly pull Malaysia back a few steps in our forward direction towards being a developed nation!

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Outsourcing : the solution?

In a letter to The Star

Outsourcing of medical services will benefit everyone

I REFER to your report, “Chua wants waiting time at hospitals cut,” (The Star, April 3).

The long waiting time at government hospitals has been a perennial problem since the Government expanded the outpatient services both in the urban and rural areas.

There has also been a recurrent exodus of doctors from the public sector to the private sector since Independence.

As a result, the Government is unable to cope with the large number of patients seeking free medical treatment at government outpatient clinics and health centres.

It must now make a paradigm shift in its archaic and failed policy of caring for the sick.

The management and treatment of patients at government hospitals must be outsourced to the private doctors who can manage them at a lower cost.

Outsourcing of services is the trend in all sectors to create a cost-efficient outcome.

Banks today have outsourced a major portion of their workload to concentrate on their core business.

The Health Ministry should concentrate on hospitalisation and outsource all rudimentary clinical services to the private general practitioners.

It is wasting its limited resources in competing with the private general practitioners and overloading the limited number of government doctors.

The fees structure for these services will be far cheaper than that which is costing the government hospitals.

A study done in the 1990s found that the Government was spending an average of RM25 per patient at its outpatient clinics, excluding rentals and infrastructure cost.

Outsourcing of medical services will ultimately lead to the re-emphasis on the role of family doctors in the country's primary healthcare delivery system.


Petaling Jaya.

Outsourcing will benefit everyone, will it? Most probably the General Practitioners! I disagree with Dr Mahendran that outsourcing is the way to go. For a start, if GPs want a greater role in alleviating the long waiting lines, then they must be prepared to give free services or at least rock-bottom prices. It would cost the Government $25 per patient as meticulously calculater by Dr Mahendran, but how much would it cost the general public if they were to visit a GP?. Mind you not many in the rural areas will be able to fork out even $10, let alone $25!

Secondly, the practice of certain GPs are not in line with the latest in clinical practice guidelines. This creates a problem if outsourcing is allowed. There will no longer be uniformity in the treatment patterns and the Government has no control over them except perhaps through the Malaysian Medical Council. I have come across several GPs that prescribe exotic and at times experimental treatment. Some even prescribe traditional medications to their patients!

However , noble the intention, i believe outsourcing is not the answer. It would only solve matters in the short term! The strategy is to maintain and improve the current resources that are available. There is a need to improve human resource and administrative skills in the Government. We need individuals trained in business administration to help run the Ministry and hospitals. Doctors do not know how to manage people in a corporate manner. This is the main reason why many government employees are not happy and thus showing in their declining productivity. The Government needs to take the cream of the crop not the discards, as is happening today!

IN short, we need an overhaul of our administration. Our current system is weak , thus our current predicament. But will this be possible? *shrugs*

Friday, April 16, 2004

High Time

In the NST,

Doctors’ salaries to top agenda
Chow Kum Hor


Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek knows what it is like to be an
underpaid Government doctor. He also knows that this issue has been around since his days as a houseman in the Johor Baru Hospital in the mid-1970s.

When he meets members of the Malaysian Medical Association on May 6, salaries will be on the agenda.

"I expect remuneration for Government doctors to be among issues to be thrashed out," he said. He was responding to a letter in today's New Straits Times written by a Dr RVM, a pseudonym for a doctor in Government service for the past 10 years.

That is the difference with having a Health Minister who holds a medical degree and has gone through the hardships that only a doctor will know. I only hope that this will translate into positive results.

It is time to review the salaries of doctors. Although it may not solve the manpower shortage, it will at least give respite to some doctors especially those serving in urban areas where the cost of living can be exorbitant.

The MMA has fought for the increase in salary for a long time now. There had been little breakthroughs. Any increase was minimal and does not commensurate with the workload and sacrifice of a government doctor. Someone has to see this and something has to be done.

It is a good first step that the Health Minister recognises this to be a problem, rather than expressing disgust that doctors are unpatriotic and disinterested in their service to the nation, as previously done.

Perhaps that is the difference between a doctor and a lawyer! :)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

A plight of a government doctor

In the NST ,

Consider plight of doctors in government service

MUCH has been said about waiting time and the shortage of doctors in
government hospitals. As a doctor for almost 10 years, let me highlight some of the problems that doctors face in government service.
It is sad that very few steps are taken to improve the working conditions and the pay scheme of doctors after all these years. A newly- graduated doctor's salary is about RM2,600, which is rather good as a starting pay, but after that there is only a yearly increment of about RM90, which is nothing much. This means that a doctor with 10 years' working experience will be earning about RM3,500.

The same doctor will be able to earn RM10,000 to RM15,000 as a general practitioner. There is a promotion after eight years as promised by the Health Ministry, but how many doctors are going to wait that long? Anyway I am still waiting for mine.

Call allowances for doctors, either senior or junior, are comparable to a cashier's in KFC, which is RM1.61 and RM1.04 per hour on weekdays and weekends for house officers; RM4.84 and RM4.70 per hour on weekdays and weekends for medical officers; and RM2.90 and RM2.83 per hour on weekdays and weekends for specialists on call.

Food can be so bad that doctors often don't have a proper meal during the on-call days or even a drink sometimes. Patients' meals are sometimes better than the meals for doctors! The reason for the poor quality of food was that there was no allocation for food for doctors and that the money came from the food budget for patients.

Housing allowance for doctors is RM160, which is about enough to get a small room in places like Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru, or maybe just the toilet only. Housing allowances have to be increased for doctors working in bigger towns.

Parking is a major problem in big hospitals. Doctors in hospitals don't have a place to park their cars and sometimes have to spend time looking for a parking space, but the clerks in the office all have parking spaces allocated to them.

The new SSM (Malaysia Remuneration System) is good for doctors who will be able to get their promotion after sitting for examinations, but there are drawbacks.

If all the doctors are going to sit for examinations at the same time, who will manage the wards? Not sitting for examinations or not passing them (passing mark is 80 per cent) means no promotion.

Is the Health Ministry serious about resolving these problems? I don't think so, considering that these problems existed 10 years ago when I first started service and is still prevalent today.

Dr R.V.M.
Kuala Lumpur

This letter clearly portrays the current state of government doctors in Malaysia. The pay is low but at the same time is expected to perform miracles. Doctors have been shortchanged by the Government for a long time now. However, the dedication of government doctors have kept them working in the harshest of conditions in Malaysia.

We are losing doctors to the private sector at an alarming rate. Top and experienced doctors are being lured into a more lucrative environment. Despite this, the Government is doing little to stem the tide. They confess that they cannot offer huge salaries to doctors. Little do they know that most doctors who leave government service , do so not due to monetary reasons. Reasons like poor working environment , lack of opportunities and unappreciated work have been the main factors in the doctor's decision to leave government service.

Promotions are also inconsistent and non transparent. Under the SSM scheme, passing the "tahap kecekapan" examinations do not always guarantee a promotion. There are many " behing the scenes" ongoings that may decide the outcome of a promotional exercise. Criterias for such promotions are usually shrouded in secrecy.

Doctors earn less per hour as compared to many other occupations. Long tiring hours are not rewarded adequately. On top of that, doctors in government service are rarely appreciated even by top managers at the Ministry of Health.

It is sad that clerks get certain perks that doctors don't. It boggles the mind. It defies sensible reasoning. It smacks of utter disrespect for the profession.

Now that the Government has uttered its aim of reducing waiting time, doctors have to work doubly hard. Man power shortage is still evident. The fact remains that 1 + 1 = 2 NOT 3. TO reduce waiting time, doctors have to rush their consultations. This may lead to probable substandard care afforded to the patients. Hiring foreign doctors is not the answer. Their performances on many occasions have been questionable.

Perhaps , I should have been a teacher! ;)

Sunday, April 11, 2004


Was occupied this past week. Attended the course held by the Institute of Health Systems Research. This workshop was intensive. My team decided on a study about "determinating factors of diabetes control" as the topic of our research. Long nights with little sleep! Thus the hiatus in my writings! ZZzzzzz.......

Monday, April 05, 2004

Smoking ban - the answer?

Smoking Ban Linked to Drop in Heart Attacks
Sun Apr 4, 7:10 PM ET
by Reuters
Ireland's ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants could have added health benefits if research in the United States is anything to go by.
Nearly two years before the emerald isle became the first country to outlaw smoking in public places, the city of Helena in Montana passed similar legislation and saw a sharp drop in heart attacks.
Opponents subsequently had the U.S. law overturned but in the six months it was enforced, hospital admissions for heart attack fell by 40 percent in the city.
The observations...suggests that smoke-free laws not only protect people from the long-term dangers of second-hand smoke but also that they may be associated with a rapid decrease in heart attacks, said Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco.
Smoking is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke but Glantz's research, which is published online by the British Medical Journal Monday, is the first to report a link between a ban and heart attacks.

The awareness of smoking hazards is increasing as governments are trying to find ways of reducing mortality directly related to smoking. If Ireland can impose such a ban in their pubs, Malaysia can do much better!

What are we doing to decrease smoking? The 'Tak Nak' campaign is one endeavour which costs the Government millions of ringgit and is on going. Its success is questionable. Why are we deluding ourselves that young adults are going to listen to advertising campaigns? They have been bombarded by so much information regarding the ills of smoking that their senses become immune. If they can defy the wishes of their parents, what makes us think that we can change that mentality???

I think the article above presents us with an obvious answer! It is time for concrete action not beating around the bush! The time for talking is over! We need to act to curb the rising trend of smoking despite the government's sincere efforts to stem it.

'Ban Smoking', I say!

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Wrong move by MOH

In the NST today,

Son's letter brings ray of hope

A LETTER to a newspaper over the cancellation of an appointment for an eye operation for Siti Tabran, 70, not only brought doctors and specialists but also the Deputy Health Minister to her home.

Newly appointed Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad visited Siti at her house in Kampung Kelompok Hala Cara Baru, Parit 16, Sungai Panjang, Selangor and was briefed on her condition by eye specialist Dr Tan Lian Hong (right).

Siti's son Mohd Taufik Ismail, in his letter to Harian Metro which was published on Monday, said the cancellation of the appointment at the Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah in Klang was not fair since her sight had been deteriorating and added that doctors had told him that the operation was postponed to September.

This article reflects hypocrisy. Firstly, the Ministry of Health should not have bowed to pressures from the press to score political points. This stunt appeared to have been orchestrated to gain political mileage! It only sends out the wrong message to the public that their grouses will only be heard through the press.

Siti Tabran most likely has cataracts which is a non urgent case! Some patients including government officers wait for months for their turn on the operating table. Urgent cases are always given the priority and nothing or no one should interfere with that. Certainly not the Deputy Health Minister!

This is not the way to a patient-friendly approach. It was an irresponsible and incorrect move by the Ministry of Health in addressing the issue. The more proper method would have been to issue a reply letter explaining the situation and the reasons for the postponement of the operation. No one should hold the Government at ransom for personal gains!

Mohd Taufik was unhappy and he should have brought the matter up with the hospital director! Bulldozing your way through is unfair to other patients who are waiting in line. Many of them are not as manupilative or as conniving as Taufik!

The Government made themselves look cheap by this uncalled for stunt. It reflects the immaturity and inexperience of our new bosses in power!

Certainly an early minus point for Dato Dr Chua Soi Lek's young administration!

When A1s mean nothing anymore....

From the letter section of NST,

When A1s lack distinction
UPON completion of my under-graduate and postgraduate studies abroad, I became a lecturer in a local university in Malaysia. After spending most of my young adulthood both working and studying overseas, I was a bit out of touch with the education system here.

Because of this, I was initially both impressed and intimidated by my students' examination results.

My Senior Cambridge Certificate (GCE-O level) shows only a C3 for English while many of my students had A1s and A2s for their English (at SPM level). Looking at the abundance of As in their certificates made me feel more than a little inferior. Obviously, the children today are a lot smarter than we (the baby boomers and the Woodstock alumni) could ever be.

For those who are too young to know who Ricky Nelson is, baby boomers are those dinosaurs born in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Most of us were also part-time Elvis Presley impersonators in the privacy of our bathrooms.

The Woodstock alumni are those fossils born in the mid to late 1950s. They don't know who Ricky Nelson is either but they know that John Travolta can dance.

In our days we would look at anyone who had more than 3As in awe and wonder. Today, a child having 3As or less would probably have to run away from home or go and live in Inner Mongolia so as not to embarrass his parents (who incidentally probably did not get that many As in their day).

However, my impression about my students' academic achievements took quite a tumble when I heard them speak in English. I could not believe my ears. How on earth could they have gotten those "A" grades? When I read their examination papers, I started to cry.

There was a parent who wrote an indignant letter (NST, March 9) asking how it was possible that his son who scored A1 for the 1119 English paper in the 2003 SPM examination, could only manage a 5C for the GCE-O level for the same paper.

It may not be much of a consolation but one of my students who had an A2 for his English in SPM, barely passed with a 7P at the GCE-O level. Boy, they sure don't make them like they used to.


New Straits Times

I thought this letter sums up our current pathetic state of our education system. We have diluted our quality so much so that it has become a laughing stock for others. Scoring As no longer holds ground when pitched with the true standards of the outside world. We paint an illusion of excellence for our future generations.

What is the point of lowering standards? But mind you, teachers sometimes display a shameful standard of English themselves. I have several patients who are teachers that are suppose to educate our children in Maths and Science in English, and they cannot even hold a conversation in English. The Government hopes that technology will help them as pointed out by my previous post but this remains a wishful thinking. Even the standards for qualifying teachers have been lowered.

Even in Medicine, we are not spared. Doctors are mass produced and i have come across many who cannot even speak English well! Some do not even understand certain simple words in English. What went wrong? How can they read journals or even produce good research for international publications? Being fluent in Malay and English , and in our case, some Chinese dialects is important to survive in Medicine!

I have lamented on this before that unfair preference have sometimes been blatantly provided to certain individuals. This practice will destroy our nation. If Mahathir says "lets call a spade, a spade", then i say "let's call meritocracy, meritocracy". There is little point in proclaiming meritocracy when we are not practicing it.

This is why the Government is afraid of globalisation. Can we compete? Are we prepared to face the challenges? Are we groomed well enough? If a good comglomerate like Proton, cannot provide its customers with good cars, how are our universities to provide us with quality graduates? This similiarity in mindset is astonishingly true.

I can only pray that we can recognise this problem earlier. The failure to do so will only have detrimental consequences.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Centrino tech for teachers! What for?

Centrino notebooks for 35,000 Malaysian teachers
KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry said that 35,000 Malaysian teachers are now equipped with Intel Centrino-based notebooks to help improve their teaching techniques.

Reflecting the ministry's goal to integrate technology into Malaysia's primary and secondary school curriculum, the new notebooks will also provide teachers with greater freedom to connect in new places and in new ways, US technology giant Intel Corp said in a statement.

The deployment of the 35,000 Intel Centrino mobile technology notebooks is the first phase of the ministry's five-year technology integration plan, which also includes WiFi-enabling all schools...........................
The Star

Centrino technology!!!??? WIFI-enable all schools???>..... all this when teachers still cannot speak decent English. Are we missing something here? Provide teachers with greater freedom??... For what...???

I find it difficult to comprehend the intent here. Perhaps I have not grasp the true vision that the Ministry of Education has in store!.. Why are we investing in more expensive CENTRINO technology when we can use cheaper models to achieve similar functions? Do teachers know the basics of personal computing? Should they not grasp that knowledge first before plunging into a costly deal to buy Centrino notebooks and getting WIFI access?... I think dial-up access will suffice for most schools and cheaper computers will perform to task what has been planned!

I agree that technology is important and rather than equipping the teachers , we ought to equip the students and the schools with the necessary computing power. Teachers could do with some initiative to get a computer themselves and learn. We are trying to emulate developed countries with huge cash reserves but on the other hand, we do not have the cash resources and the expertise. Yet we disguise ourselves in hardware to mask our insufficiencies and project a false image of progress..

I feel this bitter as basic equipment in healthcare , like glucometers are unavailable due to budgetary contraints. One would only cost between $200-400. Even simple stationary like files and educational posters are in short supply. Most clinics too have old computers that we try to make do with. These computers have been increasingly important for managing expanding patient registers. Even an attempt at getting a defibrillator machine in an emergency unit was turned down due to "no budget".

Yet we find the Government spending in unnecessary Centrino technology!! I can only sigh in disbelief!
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