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Posted by Awanama | Posted on 9:32 PTG

Philosophy Politics Economics


WCE Concession Revision: Not Good Enough!

Posted: 07 Jan 2013 07:14 PM PST


The revision of the West Coast Expressway agreement proves the power of Pakatan Rakyat checks and balances but still falls short of ensuring that the interest of the man-on-the-street are fully protected

Exactly a year ago in January 2012, I had called upon Datuk Seri Najib Razak to justify how the cost of the West Coast Expressway (WCE) increased by 134% from RM3.015 billion to RM7.07 billion while its concession period also nearly doubled extended from 33 to 60 years between 2007 and 2012.

The concessionaire, Kumpulan Europlus (KEURO) Bhd who failed to carry out the project in 2007 was further given new additional benefits where the Government will grant WCE a RM2.24 billion soft loan at 4% interest and an interest subsidy, of up to 3% from commercial loans for a period of 22 years.  The land acquisition cost amounting to RM980 million will also be borne by the Government.

However, despite the barrage of criticisms from myself and other Pakatan Rakyat leaders, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who oversees the privatisation department remained completely silent.  He failed to explain the increase in the burden to the government to support the private concessionaire, and more importantly, he failed to carry out his transformation promise of "transparency, open-tenders and accountability".

The "good" news however, was that further negotiations was carried out between the concessionaire and the Government.  The outcome was that the cost of the highway was "shrunk"  by 26.4% to RM5.2 billion, even though this is still 72.5% higher than the original RM3.015 billion.  In addition, the Government also scrapped the 3% interest subsidy for commercial loans taken by the concessionaire.  The Edge Financial Daily also reported that there will be an early termination clause if the concessionaire generates higher than expected returns and was about to recoup its cost earlier.

The above "improvements" to the contract was only possible because of the scrutiny by Pakatan Rakyat, "saving" the people of billions of ringgit in tax-payers funds.

However, despite the improvement, the new deal still falls far short of what would be in line with the promises made by the Prime Minister under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP).

First of all, the RM5 billion ringgit contract is still directly negotiated with a company which generated only RM19.8 million and RM27.7 million in revenues in its financial year 2012 and 2011 respectively.  The company's cash pile stood at a miserable RM1.03 million, bare 0.2% of the required capital to carry out the project.  Without a competitive tender, there is absolutely no way of telling if the Rakyat are still substantially over-paying for the highway, especially when it's awarded to KEuro, a company without the necessary track record.

Why did Najib not take the past 12 months to carry out an open and competitive tender to obtain the best value for tax-payers' monies?  What is so specialy about this RM19.8 million company that the Government must die-die give them the contract?

Secondly, the Government has failed to be transparent in the award because it has steadfastly refused to disclose the terms of the agreement.  The terms of the agreement are crucial as it will determine the benchmarks set for the cost of the highway, the toll rates to be charged, the details of the proposed profit-sharing formula as well as the rate of return defined for the early termination clause.  As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Without the above details, there is no way of telling if the Government is signing another agreement loaded in the favour of the concessionaire as it has done in the past or if the rakyat are substantially protected.

A Pakatan Rakyat government will promise to not only carry out open, competitive and transparent tenders for all procurement and privatisation projects, we will ensure that all contracts with concessionaires are made publicly accessible for thorough scrutiny.

When the Penang state government awarded the Penang People's Park and Subterranean Penang International Convention Exhibition (sPICE) public-private partnership project 15 months ago, it was awarded via open and competitive tenders.  However, what made the Pakatan Rakyat government shine was the fact that the concession agreement was public.

Hence we call upon the Najib's so-called "transformation government" to learn from the Pakatan Rakyat state governments as well as our manifesto to ensure open and competitive tenders for all projects as well as declassifying all government concession and procurement contracts to ensure transparency and eliminate corruption and abuse of power.

TIMSS 2011 Proves Malaysian Examination Results Manipulated

Posted: 15 Dec 2012 07:11 PM PST


The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study has proven that the Ministry of Education has deliberately dumbed down our education syllabus and lowered our examination standards in order to produce more student passes and distinctions

In the recently released 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), Malaysia's ranking in Math fell from 20th in 2007 to 26th in 2011 while our ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 21st in 2007 to 32nd in 2011.

In terms of marks scored, Malaysia was the worst performing nation of the 59 countries survey by showing the biggest decline since the study was first conducted in 1999. Malaysia's average score for mathematics fell 79 points from 519 in 1999 to 440 in 2011.  By comparison, the next worst country Thailand posted an average score decrease of 40 points for mathematics.  Similarly, Malaysia's average score for science meanwhile dropped 66 points from 492 in 1999 to 426 in 2011.  This decrease is higher than the next worst country, Macedonia whose average score for science fell 51 points.

However, while the disastrous TIMSS results proved the failure of our education system, surprisingly our students continue to score better results annually for their Mathematics and Science examinations for the PMR and SPM papers.

For example, the PMR results over the years, as measured by the Average National Grade (or GPN) has been steadily improving from 2.83 in 2008 to 2.78 in 2009 to 2.74 in 2010 and mostly recently to 2.71 in 2011 (the lower the grade, the better the score).  More specifically, those obtaining As in Mathematics increased from 26.7% in 2010 to 28.9% in 2011 and those obtaining As in Science increased from 18.5% in 2010 to 21.7% in 2011.

At the same time, our SPM results in 2011 was reported to have been the best recorded in five years with the overall National Average Grade improving from 5.19 in 2010 to 5.04 in 2011 (the lower the grade, the better the score).

In addition, the pass rate for Math and Science at the SPM level have also steadily increased since 2007 as indicated in Table 1 below.  For example, the pass rate for Math for those in the rural areas increased from 70% in 2007 to 77.5% in 2010 and the pass rate for Science for those in the urban areas increased from 85.9% in 2007 to 91% in 2010.

Table 1: Pass rate for Math & Science SPM
for those in the rural and urban areas (2007 to 2010)


Source: Ministry of Education
The steep fall in our TIMSS 2011 scores which are measured objectively across 59 countries clearly contradicts the astounding achievements by the same students in our PMR and SPM examinations.

One cannot help but to conclude that firstly, the Ministry of Education has been deliberately manipulating the Math and Sciences standards for the PMR and SPM examinations to artificially increase the pass rate.  Secondly, it also raises the obvious question that our education syllabus has been "dumbed down" so that more students will be able to do better for their examinations.

In fact, this deliberate attempt to dumb down our syllabus and lowering the passing marks for the examination subjects is a key reason for the declining standard of our education system.  The Ministry of Education has over the years simplified the syllabus and lowered passing marks in order to give the perception of improving performance, which is measured by the number of passes and "A"s achieved in these examinations.

The obvious outcome to such a skewed education policy is that our Malaysian young will learn less in school, while needing to know and understand even less to secure a pass or obtain an "A" in the examinations.  This saddening outcome is now proven by the TIMSS,  which showed how Malaysia is the country where its students suffer from the fastest declining standards for both Mathematics and Science.

The New Education Blueprint (NEB) must openly admit and aggressively address the deliberate "dumbing down" of our education system.  The Preliminary NEB report has not only completely neglected the above, it has to the contrary, sung praises for our students' academic achievements in the PMR and SPM examinations.  If the Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin fails to reverse the dumbing down process and start increasing standards in our examinations and syllabus, then he can be assured that not only the NEB will fail miserably, Malaysia will continue to drop down the TIMSS scores and ranking in the future.

TIMSS 2011 Proved Malaysian Education Disaster

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 07:05 PM PST


The International Mathematics & Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 proved beyond doubt that the Barisan Nasional Government has completely destroyed our education system, causing Malaysia to suffer the biggest drop in results among all tested countries in the world for both subjects.

The 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) which was released on the 11th of December showed a worrying and unacceptable fall in Malaysia's ranking and average scores in Math and Science.

Malaysia's ranking in Math fell from 20th in 2007 to 26th in 2011 while its ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 21st in 2007 to 32nd in 2011. Our average Math score fell from 474 in 2007 to 440 and our average Science score fell by an even greater degree from 471 in 2007 to 426 in 2011. The results are summarized in Table 1a and 1b below.


Table 1a: 
Fall in Malaysia's TIMMs ranking in Science and Math, 2007 to 2011




Table 1b: 
Fall in Malaysia's TIMMs average score in Science and Math, 2007 to 2011




When we compare the results across all the countries, we suffer the ignominy of being the only country other than Jordan which suffered declines in scores in all tested domains for Mathematics (3 areas – Knowledge, Application, Reasoning) and Science (4 areas – Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Earth sciences).

However, the most damning outcome of the test is that Malaysia has suffered the biggest drop in test scores among all countries for both Mathematics and Science between 1999 and 2011.

For Mathematics, our score dropped by 79 points, compared to the next worst country, Thailand, by 40 points.  For Science, our score dropped by 66 points, compared to Macedonia, which fell by 51 points.

The poor achievement of Malaysians students in Math and Science is clearly seen in the % of students scoring full credit for what should be basic Math and Science questions.

For example, for the simple algebra question of  "What does xy +1 mean" (The answer is "multiply x by y, then add 1"), only 43% of Malaysian students answered this question correctly, ranking us 37 out of 42 countries.

In comparison, 94% of students in Hong Kong answered this question correctly. For a relatively simple Chemistry question, "What is the chemical formula for Carbon Dixoide" (The answer is "CO2), only 67% of Malaysian students answered this question correctly, ranking us 43 out of 45 countries. (See Appendix 2 below) In comparison 99% of Japanese students answered this question correctly.

Given the above, it is no wonder that many parents are voting with their feet and their wallets by enrolling in private primary and secondary schools at an alarmingly increasing rate.

The drop in our Math and Science scores as measured by TIMSS an unmitigated disaster our national education system which has been destroyed by the Barisan Nasional education policies.

In the context of the extent of our failing education system, the National Education Blueprint (Peliminary report) is clearly half-hearted in its attempted to reverse the decline and it has failed to address the primary issues of the severe in standards.

The Ministers of Education for Malaysia over this period, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad (1999-2004), Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein (2004-2009) and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (since 2009) must bear full responsibility for failing Malaysia's young and the future of this country.

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