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Friday, September 28, 2012

Can there be a SPM trial exam question: Is it appropriate for police to use tear gas, water cannon or physical violence against peaceful demonstrators?

By Lim Kit Siang

Would the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his two deputies, Puad Zarkashi and Datuk Wee Ka Siong give their tacit approval or close their eyes and shut their ears if any of the following questions had appeared in a SPM trial examination paper for Moral Education:

• Is it appropriate for the police to use tear-gas or chemically-laced water cannon or used physical violence against peaceful demonstrators comprising all races, religions, age and gender who merely wanted to send a clear and unmistakable to the government that they want free, fair and clean elections?

• Is it appropriate for any government to misuse public funds for political party purposes especially in the run-up to a general election?

• Is it appropriate for voters in a general election to support candidates from a political coalition which is responsible for Malaysia having the lowest Transparency International Corruption Perception Index ranking of No. 60 as well as lowest CPI score of 4.3 in 2012?

• Is it appropriate for any Minister or MP to go against national unity efforts as publicly dissociating from the 1Malaysia policy, declaring that he or she is Malay first and Malaysian second?

Of course not. There can be no shadow of doubt that if such questions had appeared in any school SPM trial examination paper, there would be an orchestrated howl of protest and condemnation in the mainstream mass media of Utusan Malaysia, New Straits Times, Berita Harian and the Star as well as on government/Barisan Nasional radio and television channels, followed by a witch-hunt to expose, penalise and even criminalise those responsible for setting the questions.

Surely, Puad would not say: “As long as it does not affect the racial or religious sensitivities or malign any individual, I feel (the question) is not a problem…It is up to the rakyat to decide”.

This is what Puad said when commenting on a question in a school SPM trial examination on Moral Education in Johore Baru, which featured two photographs of the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, and asked: “Is it appropriate for a citizen to participate in an illegal assembly?”
A photograph of the question referring to the Bersih 3.0 rally from a an SPM trial examination paper at a school in Johore Baru appeared on Facebook, which showed that the answer given by the student – “tidak wajar (not appropriate)” – was ticked as correct.
Would Muhyiddin, Puad and Wee take the position that there is nothing wrong with the setting of questions like the four above for students, just as they now strike the posture that its “not a problem” for such a Bersih question to be posed in the SPM school trial examination?

In fact, in another trial examination for STPM General Paper in a school in Johore Baru, there is a clear insinuation that those who supported the Opposition could have their citizenship revoked?

Would Muhyiddin, Puad and Wee agree and approve if STPM General Paper school trial examination poses the question whether a person who supported corrupt political leaders have failed their citizenship responsibilities?

Clearly the politicisation of education has reached a new low with the Education Minister and his two deputy Ministers failing to condemn in the strongest possible terms the setting of these tendentious and misguided questions – which amounts no less to an irresponsible attempt to indoctrinate and brainwash schoolchildren to parrot the views of the ruling coalition.

With such continued politicisation of education, there can be very little public confidence that under continued UMNO/Barisan Nasional government, the education system could unite rather than divide Malaysians or that the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 recently launched by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak would be able to make any fundamental difference to the problems of politicisation and deterioration of educational standards in Malaysia.

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