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How Pakatan is shackled within the old paradigms of government

By Murray Hunter - posted Wednesday, 12 June 2019


Any external policy guidance from the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) Report is locked up under the Official Secrets Act and not transparent to either the parliament or public at large.

Policy development is going on completely under a cloud of secrecy.

The above factors can clearly be seen in Mat Sabu’s Defence Ministry. The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) is near completion of a long awaited White Paper on Malaysia’s defence outlook, policy objectives, and strategies. However under the previous Barisan Nasional administration MINDEF’s budgets were drastically cut to the point where the armed forces found it very difficult to remain operational in many areas. Almost half of Malaysia’s Russian combat aircraft are grounded with service facilities inoperable. Malaysian submariners have been trained locally rather than overseas due to cost restraints. Morale within the army is at an all-time low with VIP reservists taking high ranks over career officers, who call them ‘Toy Soldiers’.

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The government’s apparent solution to the problem is to continue with its barter trade of palm oil for military hardware which may not get the armed forces the best and most suitable equipment at the right price.

Under the Pakatan Government it’s almost certain that the armed forces will continue to decline relative to other forces within the region, thus substantially weakening Malaysia’s defence capabilities and readiness in a region where there is great military competition and claims on sovereignty.

Education is another area where not only are the old paradigms of the previous Barisan Nasional Government being pursued, but being pursued even more vigorously.

The continuation of education quotas is producing great voter disappointment. This continuation has been reaffirmed by the Minister of Education, Prime Minister, and even Prime Minister in waiting.

It also appears that the last couple of Vice Chancellor appointments made by the minister were people with Salafi leanings.  This is worrying as it has been done to ensure Malaysian public universities maintain their pseudo-Islamic orientation rather than seeking to engage diversity of new ideas into the tertiary education system.

There are still racial quotas existing on the selection of academic staff which is preventing selection based on meritocracy. Nepotism still exists within internal promotion processes. Budget cuts have led to the forced retirement of many experienced academics who are desperately  needed to assist in revamping and regeneration the university system. There is now a great void of experience in Malaysian universities with young and inexperienced academics trying to fill the gap.

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The university system is still based on the fundamental premise of producing skilled and obedient staff for industry rather than focusing on creating independent and creative people who are critical thinkers for the future of the country.

Malaysian education is still embedded within the old paradigm of the last administration and it appears to be going into a much deeper nose dive.

The Malaysian economic environment has always been business friendly. However markets are saturated with controls and regulation. Much needed reforms have been lacking to free up markets.

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This article originally appeared in the Asia Sentinel.



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About the Author

Murray Hunter is an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis.

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