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NB: This press statement was released on 23 October 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

On Monday, I revealed that the Ministry of Education (MOE) entered into a three-year contract worth RM270 million to be paid to three consultancy firms, namely the British Council, Brighton Education Group and SMR HR Group, to provide a total of 360 native English-speaking mentors in order to improve the teaching of English in selected schools in Malaysia.

This amounts to RM250,000 a year, or almost RM21,000 a month to hire each foreign English mentor. In addition to the startling costs involved, I would now like to question the efficacy of this programme and the quality of mentors recruited.

Only three years experience required to be an expert?

According to British online recruitment website, JustJobs.co.uk, an advertisement was taken out for such mentors by Nord Anglia Education, a company partnering with Brighton Education Group, one of the consultancy firms hired by MOE for this programme.

The advert accessible at http://www.justjobs.co.uk/job_details.aspx?ad=68342 states that “Nord Anglia Education in association with Brighton Education Group is looking for English Language Teaching Consultants (ELTC) to improve English language and literacy teaching in clusters of Malaysian government primary schools.”

The advert further explains that “the ELTCs will be fluent English speakers and have a minimum of three years teaching experience in primary or kindergarten. Additional ESOL qualification and international experience would be an advantage.”

As for the job’s benefits, it is described as an “excellent ex-pat package including housing/transport/annual flight,” where “successful applicants will enjoy … a generous international package, based upon qualifications and experience….”

The “excellent” and “generous” employment package described above is certainly consistent with the extravagant RM270 million agreement between MOE and the three consultants, but is the government really getting their money’s worth when the so-called English experts only require a minimum of three years teaching experience? For the excessive amount of money being spent, surely only experienced senior English teachers should be recruited instead?

The Japanese comparison

Secondly, the MOE also needs to explain the need to hire expensive consultancy firms when Japan has been able to implement a successful English teaching programme since 1978 without the use of external consultants.

Now the largest programme of its kind in the world, the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme attracts English-speaking university graduates from all over the world to work as English teachers in Japanese schools.

Unlike the Malaysian version, the Japanese government does not outsource the programme to consultants, but instead runs it as a collaboration between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, in cooperation with the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations.

Interested applicants are required to apply directly through their local Japanese embassies or consulates worldwide. Meanwhile, all relevant information is publicly available online. For example, the starting salary for English teachers begins at 275,000 Yen or roughly USD2,800 a month, a modest sum considering that Japan is one of the most expensive countries to live in.

What are the results and will the mentoring programme be continued?

Considering the absurd amount of public money spent, the MOE has a responsibility to disclose the results of the programme thus far. Malaysians deserves to know what improvements in the quality of English amongst our schoolteachers have been achieved since the mentoring began in 2011.

This is especially pertinent considering that I have personally received feedback from teachers who have been involved in the programme suggesting that they have not gained much benefit due to the minimal training received. In most cases, they were only “mentored” for three to four hours a month.

Finally, the MOE has to declare whether the Government has any intention of renewing the programme after its completion this year. And if not, are they prepared to accept responsibility for the possibility that RM270 million of public funds has been wasted?

Zairil Khir Johari
Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera
DAP Assistant National Publicity Secretary

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NB: This press statement was released on 21 October 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

Recently, it was revealed that the Ministry of Education (MOE) paid RM20 million to McKinsey & Co for their consultancy services in drafting the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

However, it would appear that McKinsey’s RM20 million MOE consultancy job is only the tip of the iceberg. According to a Parliamentary reply I received from the Minister of Education, the ministry has engaged three external consultants, namely the British Council, Brighton Education Group and SMR HR Group, in a three-year programme designed to “increase the capacity” of local English-language teachers.

The three consultancy firms have been contracted from 2011 to 2013 at a total cumulative cost of RM268.5 million, or RM89.5 million a year. As part of the agreement, the firms will provide 360 native English-speaking mentors (120 mentors per firm) throughout the three-year period.

The parliamentary reply further states that a total of 7,500 teachers from 1,800 schools will be trained, with the responsibilities divided geographically. The British Council has been tasked to provide mentors to train teachers in Labuan, Sabah and Sarawak, while Brighton Education Group will train teachers in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Malacca, Johor and Negeri Sembilan. Meanwhile, SMR HR Group will train teachers in Penang, Perlis, Perak, Kedah and Selangor.

In other words, close to RM270 million is being spent to hire 360 English mentors. This breaks down to RM250,000 a year for each mentor, or an extravagant sum of almost RM21,000 a month.

No matter what explanation MOE gives, there is no way they can justify the absurd amount of money being spent to provide what is essentially a three-years paid working-holiday to 360 native English mentors.

On top of that, based on ground reports and feedback received from teachers undergoing the programme, it would appear that the “mentoring” they receive ranges from only three to four hours a month. This immediately brings into question the efficacy of the mentoring programme, as how is anyone expected to master a language, or any subject for that matter, with only three to four hours’ worth of training a month.

Furthermore, the total expenditure of RM270 million to train 7,500 teachers is equivalent to RM36,000 per teacher over three years. This sum is much more than what it would cost to enrol the same teacher into a properly structured English-language degree programme in a local university. For example, Wawasan Open University offers a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in English Studies at a total cost of about RM24,000, which is two-thirds the cost of the mentoring programme currently provided by the consultancy firms. Meanwhile, a six-month diploma course in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) would cost only RM4,500 at a local private college.

While the objective of improving the quality of English-language teachers is admirable and should be pursued, there is absolutely no justification for MOE’s penchant for hiring overpaid consultants, especially when cheaper and better options are readily available.

Zairil Khir Johari
Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera
DAP Assistant National Publicity Secretary

NB: This press statement was released on 18 October 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

The recent 2012 Auditor-General’s Report has once again raised a storm over the Federal Government’s track record in financial management and expenditure. According to Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming, up to RM6.5 billion may have been wasted over 64 cases identified by the report.

However, there is one major Government-Linked Company that does not get reviewed by the Auditor-General, and that is our national oil company, Petronas. Formed by an Act of Parliament in 1974, Petronas is the custodian of our nation’s entire oil and gas resources, and remains until today Malaysia’s one and only Fortune 500 company.

Petronas is also the Federal Government’s financial backer, providing 40 per cent of the Federal Budget through dividends, oil royalty and taxes, but excluding gas subsidies, which are additional contributions.

By law, specifically Section 3(2) of the Petroleum Development Act, Petronas is answerable solely to the Prime Minister. Even Members of Parliament have no access to its financial records besides a simple annual report that is published for public consumption.

More than a billion in losses

Besides oil and gas, Petronas has in recent times ventured out of its core business in an attempt to diversify its portfolio. As a result, Petronas is now heavily invested into properties as well as the healthcare sector through Prince Court Medical Centre, a luxury private hospital situated in the heart of KL city.

However, at a cost of RM544 million to build, the investment in Prince Court Medical Centre has not been able to reap any profit. In fact, according to its annual report, the private hospital has been suffering huge losses every year for 10 years in a row, particularly in the last five years since its operations started.

In 2008, Prince Court lost a total of RM111 million. This figure nearly doubled to RM192 million in 2009 before haemorrhaging a further RM450 million in 2010. By year ending 31 December 2011, the accumulated losses stood at an incredible RM1.08 billion, as shown in the table below.

Income Statement for Prince Court Medical Centre (2002-2011)

Year (31 March)

2002-2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2011

(31 Dec)

Revenue

 3,236,375

32,780,002

49,290,328

74,731,365

67,190,166

Gross Profit

56,029

21,955,887

40,077,219

36,766,570

Net Profit

Loss for the Year

55,158,456

111,221,071

192,794,384

450,578,215

166,455,753

138,106,830

Total losses

1,114,314,709

Total losses after reconciling effects of (1) reversal of fair value upon equity conversion in 2009 and (2) adopting FRS139 for year ended 31 March 2009

1,082,949,412

Prince Court’s financial performance is in stark contrast to other private hospitals. For example, according to IHH Healthcare’s 2012 financial report, Parkway Pantai, which owns a chain of hospitals in Malaysia and Singapore, recorded RM4.75 billion in revenue for 2012, out of which RM818 million was declared as profit.

Should the public subsidise a loss-making luxury private hospital?

According to a Parliamentary reply I received from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, the Government considers Prince Court’s business model to be sound, and that heavy investments are needed due to the superior state-of-the-art technology used.

Wahid further added that the hospital has been able to achieve 23 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2013 and was recently named the “World’s Best Hospital” in a medical tourism ranking by Medical Travel Quality Alliance.

Even if it is indeed the “world’s best hospital,” it still remains a question whether Prince Court is able to eventually turn a profit, and if not, then why is the public effectively subsidising a loss-making luxury private hospital.

The bigger question is: should Petronas even be engaged in non-core activities such as healthcare and property, being as its mandate and expertise is in the field of oil and gas? Other oil companies typically only invest in oil and gas-related industries and do not stray away from their core competency.

The huge losses amounting to RM1.1 billion suffered by Prince Court clearly proves that Petronas should not be involved in non-core businesses. Meanwhile, this episode also signals an urgent need for greater oversight in Petronas’s financial matters, especially considering the importance of the national oil company to our country’s coffers.

Zairil Khir Johari
Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera
DAP Assistant National Publicity Secretary

NB: This press statement was released on 12 October 2013 in Alor Setar. 

Saya merujuk laporan-laporan media mutakhir ini yang memetik Menteri Besar Kedah Dato’ Mukhriz Mahathir sebagai berkata bahawa kerajaan beliau tidak akan melayan sebarang permintaan daripada sekolah vernakular Cina dan sebaliknya hanya akan menumpukan bantuan dan keutamaan kepada sekolah kebangsaan sahaja.

Mukhriz telah mewajarkan kenyataannya dengan alasan bahawa beliau tidak boleh mengabaikan pengundi yang telah menyokongnya dalam Pilihan Raya Umum yang lepas. Tambahan pula, beliau berkata bahawa majoriti rakyat Kedah terdiri daripada orang Melayu.

Kenyataan sedemikian oleh seorang Menteri Besar, iaitu pemimpin tertinggi negeri, bukan sahaja tidak bertanggungjawab dan bersifat dendam, tetapi seolah-olah tidak belajar dari sejarah.

Pada tahun 1969, bapanya Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad telah membuat kenyataan yang serupa, di mana beliau mengujar bahawa beliau tidak memerlukan sokongan kaum Cina untuk menang dalam pilihan raya. Akhirnya, beliau telah tewas dalam pertandingan untuk kerusi Kota Setar Selatan. Kini, nampaknya Mukhriz ingin mengulangi kesilapan yang sama menjelang Pilihan Raya Kecil Sungai Limau.

Sepatutnya, sebagai seorang Menteri Besar yang bertanggungjawab, beliau harus menjaga kebajikan setiap lapisan masyarakat, tanpa mengira latar belakang politik.

Saya mengesyorkan agar Mukhriz belajar daripada contoh kerajaan-kerajaan Pakatan Rakyat di Selangor dan Pulau Pinang. Bantuan kebajikan yang diberikan, termasuk kepada Sekolah Agama Rakyat, Sekolah Jenis Cina dan Tamil serta sekolah mubaligh, adalah ikhlas dan tidak berunsur politik. Begitu juga dengan program-program bantuan tahunan kepada warga emas, ibu tunggal, OKU, murid sekolah, para nelayan dan juga pemandu teksi.

Malah, Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang baru mengumumkan bahawa peruntukan sebanyak RM40,000 setahun akan diberikan kepada setiap Adun pembangkang BN bagi projek-projek infrastruktur dalam kawasan mereka. Kerajaan Negeri Selangor pula baru mengumumkan bahawa Ketua Pembangkang Dewan Undangan Negeri Selangor akan menerima elaun tambahan sebanyak RM8,620 sebulan termasuk penggunaan kereta rasmi kerajaan.

Langkah Kerajaan Selangor dan Pulau Pinang ini bukan sahaja menghormati demokrasi dan pilihan rakyat, tetapi juga selari dengan hasrat persepaduan nasional. Sebaliknya, tindakan Mukhriz untuk memangsakan golongan tertentu boleh disifatkan sebagai dendam politik.

Saya yakin, sekiranya Mukhriz tidak menarik balik kenyataannya dan menyambung balik peruntukan untuk sekolah-sekolah bukan kebangsaan, BN akan ditimpa nasib yang sama dalam PRK Sungai Limau seperti yang dialami bapanya dalam PRU tahun 1969.

Zairil Khir Johari, Pengerusi Interim DAP Kedah merangkap Penolong Setiausaha Publisiti Kebangsaan DAP dan Ahli Parlimen Bukit Bendera

NB: This press statement was released on 9 October 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

When Dato’ Sri Najib Razak first became prime minister, he promised national unity in the form of 1Malaysia and a New Economic Model (NEM) that preached needs-based economic intervention in favour of the bottom 40 per cent of household income earners regardless of race. This signalled a departure from the race-based policies from the past, and a clear indication that the way forward must include every Malaysian, especially those who most need help.

Unfortunately, Najib’s promises have all been undone with the recent launch of his new Bumiputera agenda. Dubbed the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda (BEEA), it entails a variety of race-based initiatives including the setting up of a powerful Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Council, the creation of Bumiputera Development Units in every ministry, an assurance that major Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) will increase Bumiputera vendor participation, as well as the launch of 10 billion units of new Skim Amanah Saham Bumiputera 2 (ASB2) shares by Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB).

While the NEM offered market liberalisation and needs-based affirmative action that would focus on narrowing the gap between the rich and poor, the BEEA appears to be a reversion to the old New Economic Policy (NEP) that has been proven to benefit mostly a select class of Umno-linked Malay capitalists at the expense of the poorer, unconnected masses.

This is made obvious by the fact that, despite four decades of supposed Bumiputera-targeted assistance, the bottom 40 per cent of Bumiputera households today earn a measly average income of RM1,686 per month. At the same time, the politically-connected rich are able to purchase RM7 million bungalows at a whim.

As such, the proposed launch of 10 billion ASB2 units is highly questionable. Who is set to benefit from more ASB shares made available? Would the bottom 40 per cent of Bumiputera households be able to invest in these high-yielding shares considering that they hardly earn enough to get by?

According to the PNB’s annual reports, the average investment of Bumiputera investors stands at RM14,097 per person as at end 2012. At a glance, this appears to be a decent amount suggesting that many Malays have attained significant savings.

However, upon closer inspection, this figure is actually misleading. When the numbers are broken down, it turns out that three-quarters of Bumiputera unit-holders actually have an average investment of a mere RM611 per person. It is only the top quartile of Bumiputera unit-holders who are able to invest heavily in the shares.

How then, would the availability of more units benefit the average Bumiputera, when they are unable to take advantage of even the current available ASB shares?

In fact, a study by economist Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid found that the disparity of wealth is massive, whereby the top 0.1 per cent of Bumiputera investors have an accumulated portfolio that is 1,526 times more than the bottom 80 per cent combined. Hence, the likelihood is that this elite group of Bumiputeras will eventually reap the benefits of the additional 10 billion ASB2 units, rather than the common Malay who is able to invest only RM611 on average.

Thus, the question is – who is the ASB2 really for? Certainly not the average Bumiputera.

Zairil Khir Johari, Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera

NB: This press statement was released on 5 October 2013 in Alor Setar.

Setelah diberi penghormatan dan tanggungjawab oleh Jawatankuasa Tertinggi Pusat (CEC) ekoran keputusan pada 30 September yang lalu untuk melantik saya sebagai Pengerusi Interim DAP Kedah, saya telah membentuk semula Jawatankuasa Interim Negeri Kedah dengan keanggotaan seperti berikut:

Pengerusi Sdr Zairil Khir Johari
Timbalan Pengerusi Sdr Steven Sim Chee Keong
Naib Pengerusi Sdr Syed Araniri
Naib Pengerusi Sdri Lok Saw Mee
Naib Pengerusi Sdr Karuna
Setiausaha Sdr KB Teoh
Penolong Setiausaha Sdr Soon Peng Lim
Bendahari Sdr Por Lee Tee
Setiausaha Organisasi Sdr Teh Seng Teik
Penolong Set. Organisasi Sdr Yong Peng Sin
Setiausaha Publisiti Sdr Dr Lim Sin Keat
Penolong Set. Publisiti Sdr Vincent Chee
Pengarah Pendidikan Politik Sdr Tan Kok Yew
Ahli Jawatankausa Sdr Vincent Wu
Ahli Jawatankuasa Sdr Thomas Su
Ahli Jawatankuasa Sdri Ooi Sow Ching

Jawatankuasa interim ini terdiri daripada campuran pemimpin veteran dan anak muda, serta pemimpin-pemimpin dari luar negeri Kedah termasuk Ahli Parlimen Bukit Mertajam Steven Sim Chee Keong, Ahli Parlimen Ipoh Timur Thomas Su dan Ahli CEC Vincent Wu.

Dengan pemimpin-pemimpin yang berpengalaman serta dinamik, saya yakin pasukan ini akan lagi memperkukuhkan jentera DAP Kedah, khususnya dalam proses pengembangan parti di negeri ini.

Jawatankuasa Interim DAP Kedah dibentuk mengikut ketetapan perlembagaan parti

Terdapat sesetengah pihak yang mempersoalkan kesahihan lantikan Jawatankuasa Interim oleh CEC. Di sini saya ingin menegaskan bahawa fasal kecil (sub-clause) 11 dan 12 di bawah Fasal XIV perlembagaan parti memperuntukkan kuasa penuh kepada CEC untuk membubarkan mana-mana Jawatankuasa Negeri dan melantik Jawatankuasa Interim bagi tempoh enam bulan.

Justeru, peruntukan perlembagaan parti adalah jelas dan kedudukan saya sebagai Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Interim DAP Kedah adalah sah dan tidak boleh dipertikaikan.

Melangkah ke depan, saya berharap agar semua ahli DAP Kedah akan rapatkan barisan dan bersatu menggembleng tenaga untuk menghadapi cabaran yang terdekat, iaitu Pilihan Raya Kecil Sungai Limau pada 4 November nanti.

Zairil Khir Johari, Pengerusi Interim DAP Kedah merangkap Penolong Setiausaha Publisiti Kebangsaan DAP dan Ahli Parlimen Bukit Bendera

NB: This press statement was released on 27 September 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

The proposed amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (PCA) have caused a public outcry, not least because it appears to be a way of reintroducing the controversial provisions of the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) and Emergency Ordinance (EO), both of which were repealed by the very same administration.

Many have pointed out the double standards of Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak, who began his term promising “transformation” and respect for human rights and civil liberties, but have now succumbed to business as usual by undoing his very own reforms, and his own credibility in the process.

Further to that, the amendments to the PCA are problematic due to a few other reasons, as stated below.

No to preventive detention

Firstly, the reintroduction of preventive detention is completely unnecessary. This is especially so in light of the fact that the Government has already passed the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, which allows for preventive detention in cases of national security. Moreover, even without the amendments, the PCA already allows for remand of up to 28 days and then a further 28 days upon the approval of a magistrate.

Therefore, the PCA amendments can be seen as an attempt to broaden the ambit for detention without trial. Instead of taking the easy way out by using detention without trial, the police should focus on solving crime via the criminal justice system.

Overturning of the principle of justice

Secondly, there is a strong element of presumption of guilt in the proposed changes to the PCA. For example, section 7C(a)(i) states that a detention order can be issued on a person who has “committed two or more serious offences, whether or not he is convicted thereof, if the inquiry report finds sufficient evidence to support such finding.” In other words, a person who has been accused of an offence can be detained without having been proven to have committed it. Does this not contradict the basis of criminal justice, whereby a person is innocent until proven guilty?

Arbitrary power of the Prevention of Crime Board

Thirdly, it would appear that the arbitrary powers of the Home Minister that existed in the ISA has now been replaced with the arbitrary powers of a “Prevention of Crime Board.” This Board will comprise three members, with a chairman who “shall be or have been, or be qualified to be, a judge of the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal or a High Court.” In addition to the chairman, there will be two other members. However, the bill provides no specification of any criteria whatsoever for the appointment of these two other members. This raises many questions – who will recommend them and on what basis would they be recommended?

Lack of independence and check and balance in decision-making

Finally, the proposed law also prohibits legal redress by not allowing judicial review of the Board’s decisions. This is stated by Section 15A(1): “There shall be no judicial review in any court of, and no court shall have or exercise any jurisdiction in respect of, any act done or finding or decision made by the Board in the exercise of its discretionary power….” A judicial review is only possible on matters concerning the Board’s compliance with procedural requirements.

Oddly, however, Section 19A(2) appears to contradict the earlier section by allowing a review of “the direction of the Board… by the High Court”. As such, it is at best a contradicting law and at worst, one that ignores the fundamental principles of justice.

Conclusion

Thus, it is obvious that the proposed amendments to the PCA are a clear violation of civil liberties, and a return to a haunted past Malaysians believed to have been buried. While we do not object to the strengthening of existing criminal laws to tackle escalating crime, the current amendments are akin to the government reviving the oppressive EO and ISA through the backdoor via the PCA.

Steven Sim Chee Keong, Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam

Zairil Khir Johari, Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera

NB: This press statement was released on 26 September 2013 in Alor Setar.

Bagi pihak DAP Kedah, saya ingin menyampaikan salam takziah kepada keluarga Tan Sri Dato’ Seri DiRaja Ustaz Haji Azizan bin Abdul Razak atas pemergian Allahyarham yang cukup selesa dan rendah diri dengan panggilan mesra, Ustaz Azizan. Demikianlah janji Tuhan, tiada yang dapat menundanya mahupun mempercepatkannya barang sesaat juga.

Allahyarham Ustaz Azizan bukan sahaja tokoh pemimpin politik yang dihormati, malahan juga seorang pemimpin agama serta bekas ahli akademik yang disegani. Sesungguhnya, negeri Kedah telah kehilangan seorang pemimpin yang memiliki keperibadian unggul dalam banyak bidang – siasah, akademik, dan agama – yang amat sukar dicari ganti.

DAP Kedah juga ingin menyatakan rasa berbesar hati kerana dapat berkhidmat bersama Allahyarham Ustaz Azizan yang senantiasa tegas dalam komitmennya untuk memastikan kebajikan rakyat dan pembangunan negeri Kedah.

Meskipun kepimpinan Allahyarham di Kedah hanya sepenggal, namun dalam tempoh itu Allahyarham telah menunjukkan tauladan pentadbiran yang telus dan amanah. Semoga usaha, jasa, pengorbanan dan kerja keras Allahyarham dirahmati Allah.

Zairil Khir Johari, Pengerusi Interim DAP Kedah merangkap Ahli Parlimen Bukit Bendera

NB: This press statement was released on 26 September 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

Kami berasa amat hairan membaca maklumbalas Timbalan Perdana Menteri merangkap Menteri Pendidikan Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin mengenai pendedahan bahawa syarikat perunding McKinsey & Co telah dibayar RM20 juta untuk menyediakan Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia (PPPM) 2013-2025.

Menurut laporan media, beliau dipetik sebagai berkata, “Saya percaya itu satu kadar yang berpatutan sebenar pasal dalam mana-mana usaha yang kita buat pun, kita memerlukan beberapa pihak yang agak lebih pakar membantu.”[1]

Sememangnya kami tidak menafikan bahawa pandangan, pendapat dan analisa daripada pakar, khususnya pakar pendidikan, adalah diperlukan. Namun begitu, kami mempertikaikan mengapa perunding bukan pakar pendidikan telah dilantik sedangkan kerajaan mempunyai ramai pakar yang mampu melaksanakan tugas tersebut.

Sebagai contoh, laporan akhir PPPM sendiri telah menyenaraikan sumbangan daripada pakar-pakar tempatan, termasuk kajian oleh enam buah universiti awam tempatan, iaitu Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Penguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) dan Akademi Kepimpinan Pengajian Tinggi (AKEPT).

Malah, Kementerian Pendidikan juga telah memperolehi khidmat nasihat antarabangsa daripada pakar-pakar seperti Unesco, yang telah menyediakan laporan terperinci mengenai pembangunan kurikulum, teknologi maklumat dan komunikasi dalam pendidikan, pendidikan guru, latihan dan pendidikan teknik dan vokasional; serta peperiksaan dan pentaksiran murid.

Selain itu, Bank Dunia (World Bank) juga telah menjalankan kajian menyeluruh ke atas perbelanjaan awam (Public Expenditure Review) termasuk sektor pendidikan pada tahun 2011. Pada masa yang sama, Panel Dialog Nasional Pendidikan Malaysia di bawah pimpinan Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Mohd Noordin juga telah menyediakan laporan hasil daripada mesyuarat-mesyuarat Townhall yang telah diadakan di 14 negeri.

Pemandu pula melaksanakan Makmal Pendidikan dengan sokongan pasukan NKRA Pendidikan. Makmal tersebut diketuai oleh pakar-pakar tempatan daripada Kementerian Pendidikan termasuk daripada Institut Aminuddin Baki.

Di samping itu, Panel Penilai Bebas Malaysia juga telah ditubuhkan di bawah pimpinan Prof Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak. Panel Penilai Bebas Antarabangsa pula telah ditubuhkan dengan keanggotaan pakar-pakar seperti Dr Andreas Schleicher (Ketua, Analisis dan Indikator, OECD), Dr Byong-Man Ahn (Mantan Menteri Pendidikan Korea Selatan), Prof Michael Fullan (Penasihat Khas kepada Premier dan Menteri Pendidikan Ontaria, Kanada) dan Prof Sing Kong Lee (Pengarah, Institut Pendidikan Kebangsaan, Singapura).

Ketersediaan khidmat nasihat pakar-pakar di atas adalah bukti bahawa Kementerian sudah mempunyai pakar pendidikan yang bukan sahaja mampu tetapi bertaraf antarabangsa. Justeru, mengapa perlunya Kementerian melantik perunding McKinsey dengan jumlah RM20 juta? Adakah ini “berpatutan”?

Tambahan pula, sumbangan sebenar McKinsey – yang bukan pakar dalam bidang pendidikan – adalah tidak jelas kerana tidak disenaraikan langsung dalam laporan PPPM. Jika McKinsey tidak menyumbang dari segi input, adakah peranan mereka itu hanya sekadar menulis laporan sahaja?

Tampaknya, jelas bahawa khidmat perunding McKinsey adalah tidak perlu, bukan sahaja dari segi input malah dari segi penyediaan laporan. Ini kerana Kerajaan mempunyai pelbagai jabatan dan agensi yang tidak kurang kemampuannya, seperti pasukan NKRA dan NKEA Pendidikan (Pemandu), Bahagian Perancangan dan Penyelidikan Dasar Pendidikan atau EPRD (Education Planning and Research Division), serta Unit Pelaksanaan dan Prestasi Pendidikan (Padu) yang ditubuhkan pada bulan April 2012.

Apakah Menteri tidak mempunyai keyakinan pada pakar-pakar dan pegawai-pegawai sendiri untuk menjalankan tugas mereka?

Dr Ong Kian Ming, Ahli Parlimen Serdang

Zairil Khir Johari, Ahli Parlimen Bukit Bendera

NB: This press statement was released on 23 September 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

Kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang telah mengumumkan bahawa semua Adun negeri tersebut, termasuk Adun pembangkang, akan diberikan peruntukan untuk projek pembangunan kecil. 10 orang Adun pembangkang daripada Umno akan diberi peruntukan sebanyak RM40,000 bagi tujuan tersebut mulai 2014.

Tindakan tersebut jelas merupakan satu langkah besar ke hadapan untuk mewujudkan sebuah demokrasi yang matang di negara kita. Ia sekaligus juga membuktikan bahawa kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang tidak bermain politik dan sebaliknya serius dalam usaha pendamaian nasional yang tidak pernah diamalkan oleh kerajaan Persekutuan.

Usaha ini patut dicontohi setiap kerajaan negeri di Malaysia dan sudah tentu sekali oleh kerajaan Persekutuan. Pada tahun ini, sejumlah RM185.5 juta telah diperuntukkan kepada semua 222 kawasan parlimen. Jumlah ini bersamaan dengan lebih kurang RM835,000 setiap kawasan. Malangnya, Ahli Parlimen pembangkang langsung tidak diberi kuasa untuk mengurus ataupun meluluskan sebarang projek menggunakan peruntukan tersebut.

Jelas, tindakan ini merupakan diskriminasi terhadap Ahli Parlimen pembangkang dan pencabulan terhadap prinsip demokrasi. Ia juga boleh dilihat sebagai menghina rakyat di kawasan-kawasan pembangkang.

Justeru, kami menggesa kerajaan Persekutuan terutamanya Perdana Menteri Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak untuk mengikut jejak langkah kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang dan memberikan peruntukan tahunan kepada Ahli Parlimen pembangkang agar kami dapat melaksanakan kewajiban kami sebagai wakil rakyat yang dipilih secara sah.

Kami juga berharap Perdana Menteri akan mengambil peluang ini untuk bertindak secara berhemah dan membelakangkan kepentingan politik sempit demi mencapai kematangan proses demokrasi di negara kita.

Steven Sim Chee Keong, Ahli Parlimen Bukit Mertajam 

Zairil Khir Johari, Ahli Parlimen Bukit Bendera

Zairil Khir Johari

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