Friday, May 08, 2020

MALAYSIA: Opening daycare centres, crafting our fatalities

Malaysiakini
OPINIONS

COMMENT | Opening daycare centres, crafting our fatalities

Published
Modified 3 May 2020, 4:37 am
8
COMMENT | Opening up Malaysian schools soon? The young will bring the virus to the old at home. The oldest of the old will suffer the worst.
Malaysia might see a spike in infected Covid-19 a month after May 4. Learn from Singapore too. First, it was okay, then not okay. Is there enough testing done in Malaysia to reopen the economy? Are you in the government rushing through under an illusion and a nice numbers game? Let us frame this issue of reopening the economy to how the global economy itself is crashing down.
Young lives at risk
Will children in daycare wear full-bodied suits and masks all day and be forced into cubicles 6X6 feet to ensure maximum safety? Do children in daycare centres know about "physical distancing"? Isn't it better to still keep them at home for now? How do you ensure that caretakers at the centres are not carriers of Covid-19? Are these centres well-monitored to begin with?
O' Malaysians: Why risk the lives of the young (and old too) opening daycare centres now? And schools next, soon?
Children in daycares are the most difficult to take care of without the proper training of caretakers. With Covid-19? Three-quarter of the states in the US have closed schools until the end of the academic year in June. Daycares and pre-kindergartens are especially vulnerable.
The fear is that in a few weeks after May 4, Malaysia will become Singapore. We too have foreign workers, in fact, millions. Malaysian healthcare workers will have a tough time in a few weeks after May 4 following the rush to open. The virus does not care.
In Malaysia, it was reported the virus has mutated into a more dangerous strand. Fast and infectious. And you still want to open on May 4? Think!
Would parents dare send their kids to daycare centres and schools at this time? How many out of a million have the Malaysian government tested? To trumpet those nice numbers? In a conversation online, on Facebook, a Silicon-Valley, a California-based Malaysian-born surgeon and a dear friend of mine said:
“I don't think Malaysia has the virology capacity to detect any strains or mutations. Any test, regardless of how hi-tech or automated, requires a human skill component to it. Even a simple blood chemistry test could and had been bungled by a careless technician.
“For clinicians, it is common practice (in fact we would be considered negligent) if we do not repeat the test whose result is at variance with the clinical situation. There are endless reasons for false positives as well as false negatives. The challenge of interpreting screening tests or tests in asymptomatic individuals only compounds the difficulty...“
The Malaysian decision to open so soon is like Trump's America in their red states. Stop emulating the US without sufficient data.
Hypocrisy of Labour Day
The nation just celebrated Labour Day. In the year of the pandemic where the spectre of coronavirus is haunting the globe, as Marx and Engle’s would have put it in an updated and revised 2020 version of "The Communist Manifesto".
O’ Malaysians: On Labour Day don’t just talk about Marx and Das Kapital. Name your local capitalists - the owners of banks, airlines, plantations, tin mines, oil and gas companies, government-linked companies (GLCs) or the government-linked crony-economy.
Tell us who controls what and the nature of distributive justice, in a world of modern slavery. On Labour Day which labour will the Malaysian NGOs, socialists, wannabe-Marxists, Bangsar liberals champion? Foreign labour? In this post-Covid-19 era, send the illegals and refugees back to their homes. Start building a strong national economy using our own labour.
Bankers will protect their astronomical earnings, bonuses, what they cream off from lenders. They don't care, do they? Chiefs of GLCs are being paid "coronapoliticalload" of money to appease them politically, while the poor stay at home jobless. When we say the economy's bleeding and collapsing statistically, we are hearing the lamentation of the filthy rich.
It is as if, in the auditorium of the banking drama on moratoriums, the elite gets to go to the sanatorium and the people sent to the crematorium as bankers smoke opium.
Should companies with offshore accounts and foreign headquarters be helped by the government?
Migrant workers are now stuck with no jobs. Danger looms. Perhaps they should journey home and build their nations. Every country is in ruins now. Millions in the US have either lost their jobs or furloughed. Next, - immigration will be suspended to protect jobs for Americans. The condition in Malaysia should be no different.
Billionaires have become beggars to the poor, asking governments to bail them out, and governments wanting workers to get back to work in this time of the peaking Coronavirus outbreak. The poor will die by the millions but oil sheikhs are crying blood now. Oil, the black gold, like blood diamond, is now useless - the classic diamond-water paradox. Life continues to be precious.
Budget airlines holding customers' money for their own bailout, keeping refunds. UK-based Virgin Atlantic is going bankrupt as reported. Most of the world's airlines will be filing for bankruptcy soon.
These are the questions concerning the global economic collapse.
Society cannot pretend to get back to "normal", using the same paradigm that created a "world of normalcy that is abnormal. In post-Covid-19, the world might not turn socialist in toto, contrary to Marxist hopes. However, it might fuel other forms of crude liberal democracy and monopoly capitalism.
It might also lead to the next world war, be it with sticks & stones, as in the opening scene of Stanley Kubrick’s cult movie "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Benjamin Franklin’s America - big business, big banks, monopoly capitalism - defeated Thomas Jeffersonian pastoral-agricultural-philosophical ideal. Today's America is Benjamin Franklin's. Today, Covid-19, with nature as its ally, is destroying Franklin's Paradise. Adam Smith, the grand wizard of classical economics too is weeping – seeing what the “invisible hand” has done to humans, the powerless human beings in face of a global health catastrophe!
Back to the changing reality of Malaysian politics. Enough of my musings on the butterfly effect of things, of the whirlpool and whirlwinds of the collapsing global economy and of the destruction and deconstruction of a new world order.
Meanwhile in Malaysia, here is our message - Malaysian elected officials, we want to see you live on Zoom in Parliament. Not on golf courses cutting deals and cutting grass. Come May 4, will the Malaysian Parliament, or the People's Daycare Centre, be open for political play too?
Save our children. Save our nation. Stay at home. We are not going back to the old normal.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

A Malaysian human sacrifice?

Malaysiakini
OPINIONS

COMMENT | A Malaysian human sacrifice?

Published
Modified 6 May 2020, 7:44 pm
32
COMMENT | Malaysians opening up the economy too fast is human sacrifice, I’d say. I can’t put it any milder after learning from the case of the US and New York City as the world’s epicentre.
I have taught world history as well and the history of global infectious diseases. Learn particularly from the 1918 pandemic (the Spanish Flu which started in Kansas, US). Learn from the US today, after the protests in its red states. The economy can wait to recover. Lives lost prematurely can't be your policy!
Why are we risking our young and the elderly by reopening the economy now? How many spikes in cases and how many deaths do you wish to see?
Malaysia will see a spike in Covid-19 cases. A month after May 4. Too eager to open. Too slow in thinking that we can still wait and use data to predict and project and take precautions. Opening daycare centres is a huge mistake. Child fatality next? Think!
A recent international report on the human predicament in the US during this pandemic reads:
"The relaxation of social-distancing rules will more than offset any decline in transmissions that might come from warmer weather and stronger containment measures, such as more wide-scale testing and tracing the contacts of infected people so they too can be tested and isolated, Murray said." (Dr Christopher Murray of the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics [IHME]).
The revised IHME projections coincided with the disclosure of an internal Trump administration forecast predicting a surge in Covid-19 cases killing 3,000 Americans a day by the end of May, up from a current daily toll that a Reuters tally places at around 2,000.
That projection, first reported by the New York Times and confirmed by a Reuters source, also forecast about 200,000 new coronavirus cases each day by the end of the month, up from the current rate of about 25,000 cases every 24 hours.
Every country must ask also this question: What if the vaccine still cannot be developed as fast as it can to stop the death of millions? What radical adjustments to everything should be made? 
Scenarios are good. Best case and worst case. Alternate reality should be crafted and lived in. Not lamenting things past. We must learn to get used to changes so abrupt that our psychological and cultural well-being will be radically affected. Change can be painful, especially as “economic beings” (homo economicus) our lives collectively is dictated both by the state and by market forces.
Today we are seeing the welfare state taking care of those whose lives have been ravaged by the design of free enterprise. Covid-19 is like George Soros and his band of currency traders, only that the former cannot be seen and wreaks planet-wide havoc.
Foreign workers line up to be tested for Covid-19 at Pudu.
Okay, enough of the base-economic and “Vladimir Lenin’s Commanding Heights” stuff I just threw into the mix of our discussion on the global-economic-matrix of the impact of Covid-19. 
We were supposed to talk about this “human sacrifice” the current government is engaging in. By opening up too soon, so that money can be made. So that the workers, legal and illegal, can be called back to work. There are more than two million of them, whose fate we can no longer ascertain.
The recent raid on undocumented migrants is bringing us into the idea of what we wish to salvage as a nation. As a country still struggling to forge a better understanding amongst the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Orang Asli, Iban, Kadasan-Dusun, and others that have been here since before and after independence, as legal Malaysians.
Then the undocumented migrants arrived. By the hundreds of thousands. The addiction of the owners of the means of production to profit immensely through the system of modern-day slavery. Now we have got a major problem of what to do with them, when our economy had just nose-dived, tanked!
Millions of undocumented migrants hoping for jobs. Some 200,000 Rohingya refugees hoping for citizenship. Legal citizens hoping they will still have jobs. Graduates don't have a clue what awaits them. Government still thinking in the pre-Industry 4.0 paradigm. Chaotic thinking must be fixed. Now.
Post-Covid-19, each country must take care of her own citizens. The world has changed. Nationalism is back in popular demand. We are all economic beings, tied to the dictates of citizenship. No jobs anymore for undocumented migrants and hopeful refugees. New reality.
For Malaysia, having millions of undocumented migrants is not a good policy to develop her economy. Train the locals first. Fix our labour laws to meet the need of social regeneration and the goals of sustainability rather than think of making immense profits entirely. Herein lie the miseducation of the human rights activists, I sense.
In conclusion, I am writing this article on the “human sacrifice” on a national scale, poorly planned by the current government. A rush job inviting fatalities. It is May 6. We will know of the casualties of this war by June 6. Perhaps.
I hope we will not be another Italy.
Or the US.
In our haste to make money.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Will Malaysia's coronapolitics destroy our educational hope?

Malaysiakini

Will Malaysia's coronapolitics destroy our educational hope?

Published
12
COMMENT | You may all have known of my passion for education. Out of the more than 500 articles I have written, over the last 15 years of writing for the public, over 33 years of teaching, perhaps more than 60 percent addressed education and critical consciousness taking Malaysia as case study, framed within the context of global and comparative education. But how can a sound and sane education system be borne out of a regime change that was forced-delivered out of the birthing room of Malay coronaviral politics
Our concern for our children
As yours too, my concern is simple:
In the hands of leaders who do not have the idea of the political-economic, macro, and micro, or even neurological aspects of education, or even worse, those who do not have the experience of being in a classroom developing minds, we will be heading towards the doom mentioned above.
In the hands of those whose interest is to continue to divide and rule and reproduce beings into racists and religious bigots in a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-talented society, we will create an education system of social reproduction that will produce and reproduce more and more human beings ready to go to war with one another - whatever we may call a "war" is - when it comes to hidden and visible war to protect each other’s racial and religious interests. Besides protecting wealth and power.
This is my fear of the power of the "social conveyer belt" in education! What are we seeing reproduced?
What must we demand of the new ("illegitimate") government as it finalised the installation of the chief execution officers of education who will not butcher the future of our children?
Education is Malaysia's biggest failure. That's where we breed race and religious bigotry. How long will this last? Will Malaysian education continue to be in the hands of "the rats mending the pumpkin"? As the Malay proverb, “seperti tikus membaiki labu” goes? This is my concern, as well as those fed-up with the never-ending politics of the “game of toilet bowls”, sacrificing the future of our children.
Coronapolitical regime
Only a people's choice government, betrayal-free can last long. Not the old-greedy Pakatan Harapan-type. Not the new one either! Is a new regime comes with a new spirit? Not necessarily. Individuals cannot be separated from ideology. Anti-multiculturalist-backdoor, we are seen parachuted into this new set-up, deemed by many observers, as an illegitimate child of a coronapolitical coup.  
Mahathirism has ended. We must rejoice. But we have entered a new age. Of uncertainty and fear and no cure. Of Malay-coronapolitics. Voters took their responsibility seriously. Harapan fooled them quickly. All ended in idiocy.
We have a prime minister who thinks “Malay first and Malaysian later” in a cabinet pushing for the agenda of Malay-Salafi-Wahabbi only. I’d say: Why not be human beings first, Malaysian second, and Malay next? Wouldn’t this kind of thinking help up move forward? 
Harapan under Dr Mahathir Mohamad too was not keen on pushing the agenda for racial justice and harmony, through education. The goal of the new coalition, through education, as we may predict, is to render the non-Malays and non- Muslims inferior to Malay-Muslims, as citizens. Looks like there will be no hope for Malaysians to be Malaysians in a country heading towards damnation.
Imagine too those about to be prosecuted for crimes against the nation - may be scott-free? Is this divine justice? Today's Malay politics: about the war to be billionaires as fast as one's term of service allows. We voted for that game show!
I don’t know if any of you were interested in the announcement of the new cabinet, when all is about a robbers' banquet? In the new game, even PAS will gradually gobble up Umno. Because one is more religious than the other. Fit to rule in toto.
The hudud might become the preferred form of punishment. There will be a great push for this. Thought-police and moral-police will be twin ideological state apparatuses of the new regime. "Liberals" will be hunted down. Malaysia's new regime will pave the way for that "Islamic state" many longed for. Start reading Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid's Tale, may we?
The gradual closing of the corruption cases will signify the highest form of hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of the new regime. It will be a government based on both, revenge and the insatiable urge to plunder. Race-religion as twin-turbo-force. The goal of the new regime is to make Ketuanan-Melayu-Salafi-Wahabbi take over everything. Education, especially.
As a political observer, my fear is non-Malays will not have a future in the new society, even if Mahathirists take over. The new regime is beginning to be swallowed alive by the race and religious deep state. A fatal game, selling off Malaysians.
Malaysia, you and I fear, is on its way to total political collapse and the eighteen months of Harapan seemed just a figment of our imagination. We are back to square one, with even worse politics of vengeance continuing. When in the world and hell-when are we going to progress?
In conclusion
In the entire scheme, this is my conclusion: Malaysia’s coronapolitics is merely an internal class war. Between billionaires from BN and wannabe millionaires from Harapan. 
Of immediate concern to us is the future of education. Will it continue to create coronaviral politicians only good at killing one another through back door deals, backstabbings, and backing each other who were robbers in this epic of Ali Baba and the now perhaps 222 thieves?
I don’t know. Do we all - anymore? We are tired, aren’t we? 

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Malaysia's 'coronapolitics' not a game of thrones, but toilet bowls

Malaysiakini
OPINIONS

Our 'coronapolitics' not a game of thrones, but toilet bowls

Published
33
COMMENT | What is "Malay-coronapolitics"? It is when the old and new are infected by the same deadly breath of stinky politics.
Malaysia will soon become just like Nicaragua, a banana republic. Tinpot politicians ruling. And please stop calling it a "Game of Thrones", that is too honourable. The fiasco should be called the "Game of Toilet Bowls", with musical chairs.
It is not about the transition of power but of Mahathir Mohamad who allegedly created a system of greed, of authoritarianism in his 22-odd years of Umno culture in him. First, they fought when they were in Umno. Now, when they in a cloned party, the rakyat suffers.
When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground, says an African proverb. In Malaysia, these old men burn everything. Kubur kata mari. Rakyat kata pergi. How I love this new Malay saying.
Instead of being wise, old leaders, they became better at conning each other. Pathetic, grumpy, vengeful, stinky old men they are.
Numbers game?
When a politician says "I have the numbers" I thought he meant Sports Toto. Or, when they say “I have the numbers”, they mean I have contact numbers of "frogs" that could jump at a moment's phone call. How honourable is the fate of Malaysians when it rests merely on the politics of "I have the numbers".
But welcome to Malaysia's "coronapolitics" where kleptocrats will get their grand pardon. A never-ending game.
GE14 was a great con-game by the great con-artists. The people who voted cried in joy. But now, conned to tears. The novelist Shannon Ahmad was perceptive and prophetic when he wrote the postmodern political novel, Shit
I am reading Shit again now. This truly is not a "Game of Thrones" I repeat. But a "Game of Toilet Bowls". Never glamorise filth. Those fighting for the country's loot are ex-Umno. Same old game. Only they got older. Really old.
In Malaysia, maybe we should not anyone above 70 to be the country's leader. Look at Donald Trump. We ought to study gerontology. When an old man becomes so powerful, nothing matters to him. He will bulldoze everything. Never cross his path. The ugliness of gerontological politics has dawned upon Malaysians. The damage is irreversible. The worse is yet to come.
And I read that the attorney-general Tommy Thomas (photo) has resigned? What a mess this country is in. So many fake news flying around while a fake government consisting of political frogs is being installed.
But seriously, our national energy should be on preparing to deal with Covid-19, not some stupid power grab. These pathetic politicians are, perhaps, already billionaires, capitalising on their mastery of fooling people all these years. Mostly these pathetic politicians want to get up there only to ride the gravy train. Not to serve the people. Parasites.
Why not pay MPs the same salary as fresh graduates until they prove their worth? Get them to they use Grab, too. They do not deserve to be treated like kings and queens when they are prone to plunder the nation and con the voters.
Wrong steps
Today, suddenly, all Umno folks under investigation for all kinds of white-collar crimes are getting a libido-rush and their spirits surging like the Kelantan wau bulan. A Malay-Freudian moment. 
All these "Langkah Kajang", "Langkah Port Dickson", "Langkah Sheraton", "Langkah Senget", or even better "Langkah Shaitan" - not Sheraton - are maybe giant steps to Sungai Buluh Prison.
Many wanted to become the prime minister. That is part of the problem. Create more prime minister jobs, more ministerial posts, more posts with power attached. Power to rule over others. To feel important and be worshipped and crafted and curated well by the media. 
Yes, create more positions. A simple supply-demand issue solved. Law of diminishing sanity. Why not have 10 prime ministers and offer them each minimum wage. See how well they would work to keep their jobs.
Alas, after 30 years of writing about Mahathirism and Malaysian politics, I feel I have nothing much to write about anymore. I feel that these politicians are not interested in doing good work for the good of the nation. Only dirty work for their own good. I don't know how many lives politicians have and how many layers of shame their faces are blessed with. Mascara of mangled personae.
Our nation will be in deep turmoil, yet again. Another Bersih-type rally is needed, perhaps?
The ugliness of race and religion politics will be back in full swing. Damn these politicians! 
The return of Umno culture, with unsavoury characters as leaders, supported by Ali Baba and his 40 thieves. That's our story.
Look what the old man has done? He has destroyed democracy over and over again and still want to keep the nation ransom. No shame. He wanted to be known as a "statesman" but ended up a "staleman". He well overstayed his welcome. Power and greed got the best of him.
Master strategy?
These politicians we gave our vote to can't even work together. These clowns. How can they govern so that the people of all races can work together as well?

Those who marvelled that man as a "master strategist" do not have an idea of how pathetic our politics has become under him. We read about the day Mahathir quit. Resigned. The ministers lost their job. Then Mahathir got his job back in a day. He got everybody's job. All for himself. Then a counter-coup happened. Aren’t we tired of reading about this nonsense? At a time of coronavirus, we are forced to read about this Malay coronapolitics. How pathetic.
Call for new elections. This is the only way to do justice to the voters who were fooled, lied to all this while. Three decades of Mahathir rule direct or indirectly, have created a democracy dead on the inside. Pathetic patronage system we have seen being cultivated.
Crazy, is it not? You don't like somebody till death, you burn the entire village. This insane move is like removing the handcuffs from those being prosecuted in the 1MDB scandal. 
Ali Baba and his 40 thieves will escape in joy. Chaos! 
Bursa Malaysia will continue to shake and rattle. All the fish in the ocean of coronapolitics, big and small, will be jumping ashore running away. What a way to destroy the economy.
What unity government?
A “unity government” was earlier proposed. A unity government in a toxic political environment? Who decides on the composition? One man again? His self and his age are two of Mahathir's greatest enemies he must confront in his final battle over time. 
The rakyat is tired of reading about this nonsense in Malaysian politics. Whether you call it realism or realpolitik or any other fancy name, it is insulting our intelligence.
In the ultimate analysis, how dare these politicians in Pakatan Harapan destroy that bit of remaining hope for reform they promised? Just because they think they can do anything. The voters are now angry and want to go to the polls to choose real leaders, not clowns and conmen and women.
This species called politicians beg for your votes so that they could play their Game of Toilet Bowls all night long. In this kind of toxic and pathetic political culture, we may see a change of government every year as in many failed nations.
In the year of Vision 2020, we have destroyed what we planned to be. Total chaos. Because one man wanted it all. What a shameful country Malaysia is. Can't even have a decent leader elected through a good and clean political culture.
Though costly, a new election is needed to choose apples or oranges or durians. Voters need to decide and to punish betrayers.
What now?
We will have a kamikaze government doing a seppuku on itself. Imagine the governmental disruption, the fiasco that this game of toilet bowls has caused in the name of greed and selfishness. Imagine the chaos in all states? Just imagine what we are now made to become?
What then must we do? We are super sick of being mere spectators while Ali Baba and the 40 thieves are having their last laugh - escaping prosecution. 
Can't we salvage some things?

THE FUTURE of EDUCATION: An interview with the Oxford Cambridge Society, May 13 2020

THE FUTURE of EDUCATION: An interview with the Oxford Cambridge Society, May 13 2020