Hornbill Unleashed

August 14, 2017

Preventing potential bad parents from being parents

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

Being a parent is not an easy job because it’s not something that you can take classes for before becoming one. You can get advice from existing parents but everyone knows that each individual child (and parent) is different.

I have two daughters, and to be honest, as much as I have prepared myself and to have expectations to the kind of parent I want to be, basically, I am still winging it for the most parts. But of course, winging it with proper preparation.

So, when news of parents who abuse their children crops up, I find it unfathomable as to how they could such things. The ‘monster dad’ who has been arrested and charged with sodomising and raping his teenage daughter more than 200 times is unbelievable.

News reports described how his charge sheet was so long that it took several hours to read and that the court for sexual crimes against children had to operate past usual hours so all the charges could be read fully.

All men are innocent until proven guilty and the accused has pleaded not guilty. But in cases like this, the stigma is such a burden that the public would have already convicted and sentenced the accused even before the case is heard.

The charges are horrendous and when we read about the potential punishments, it reinforces the horror. The accused faces a maximum jail term of 20 years and is also liable for whipping once he is convicted.

I can’t help but also feel disgusted towards the accused even if he is yet to face trial. I put so much effort into being a good parent and trying to provide the best environment for my children that I take child abuses such as this very seriously.

In my mind, there is no bigger responsibility than being a parent. And I know this may offend people, but I believe that I speak the truth when I say that even parents who smoke, but decide not to smoke near their children, are nevertheless being irresponsible.

If it’s not the second-hand smoke that would affect the children’s health, it would be the very fact that they see and know that their parent smoke and it would have a very direct impact on how they perceive smoking. It could very well be that they think it is acceptable behaviour.

Also, a parent would be selfish to smoke because although they might not think that they are harming anyone, by smoking and later on getting sick and diseased, they will directly hurt the ones they love (that is, their children).

Is there a parental test?

I guess that parenting and children is something that is very close to my heart and that any issue that relates to the well-being of a child and his or her parent is something that I would feel compelled to advocate for.

There are no criteria that need to be fulfilled before someone can be a parent. It isn’t like you have to go to a special government department, sit for a test, hope you pass and be given a licence to be a parent.

Anyone can be a parent as long as you’re sexually matured, even those who are underage, immature, irresponsible, jobless, uneducated, alcoholic, drug addicts, mentally unstable, convicted criminals and even sexual predators. There are no laws against these people having children.

So how do we solve this problem? I think education and being a well-educated society play an important role. It would probably be a good idea to create basic parenting classes for the parents-to-be to attend so they would at least have a basic understanding of child psychology.

Some people have mooted that a good idea would be to have a psychological evaluation for couples or individuals who want to be parents. But this is really against human rights because the instinct to have children is quite a basic human one.

So that puts everything into a conundrum because there really can’t be any systematic solution to make sure only good parents can be parents. There’s just no such thing because you can never be sure or guarantee that someone will be a good parent.

But ultimately, to have better parents and family units, there just needs to be a higher social consciousness in our society. And that just means making every effort to mature and progress our society. It may take time, but I hope it is much sooner than later.

Source : Malaysiakini by Zan Azlee
ZAN AZLEE is a writer, documentary filmmaker, journalist and academic. But his most stressful role he plays is as a father, although it is the one that gives him the most joy.




  1. I think that maybe parenting classes should be offered at no cost, especially for younger parents. We cant take away the most basic human right, it would be impossible to enforce. But if people tried to help new parents or if the government could offer classes, information packets ect it might help. Also there needs to be harder laws on people who abuse their children. A child rapist should get life in prison, they ruin the life of a child and get just a few years and are back out doing it again. Parents who best their children should be fined, made to take classes of some sort and if it comes to it put in prison.

    Comment by theunfairjourney — October 30, 2017 @ 9:59 PM | Reply

  2. Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the prime minister, received much criticism for a trip she took to the United Kingdom earlier this month.

    In response, Rosmah said that her trip to the UK, including a visit to the University of Oxford, was not for a holiday but to “pave the way for children under the Permata early childhood education program to join the university”.

    If Permata is under budget constraints, as claimed by Rosmah, I suggest that instead of visiting the UK, she can take a trip across the border to Singapore to learn how the top institutions there help their high achieving students to get into Oxbridge.

    The latest statistics show that there are currently 290 Singaporean students at the University of Oxford as compared to only 145 Malaysians. At the University of Cambridge, there are currently 351 Singaporean students compared to 239 Malaysians.

    Singapore sends nine times more students to Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (henceforth Oxbridge) than Malaysia on a per capita basis. Given Singapore’s success in sending so many more students to Oxbridge than Malaysia, it would make sense for Rosmah to visit Singapore to learn more about the ‘secrets’ of their success.

    She would just need to visit the top 5 A-level institutions in Singapore – Raffles Institution, Hwa Chong Institution, Victoria Junior College, Temasek Junior College and National Junior College – which are responsible for sending most of Singaporean students to Oxbridge (as well as a number of Malaysians). If she did, she would find the following:

    High academic achievements across the board

    In most schools, only a handful of students, perhaps the top 5 percent, would get 4As for their STPM. Those with 4.0 CGPAs are even rarer. In a top A-level college like Raffles Institution, the percentage of students in a cohort with the equivalent of 4As was 53 percent for the class of 2016 (629 out of 1162 students). Basically, if you were to throw a stone into a crowd of students in this school, you would have a more than 50 percent chance of hitting someone who scored 4As.

    Having a larger number of academic high achievers means that you have a larger pool of students who can potentially apply to places like Oxford and Cambridge. While we can discuss whether or not academic results are the best reflection of intellectual potential, there is no escaping from the need to have good academic results to gain entry into Oxbridge.

    Offers from Oxbridge are usually given to students contingent on them obtaining a certain academic result. Most entry offers are contingent of students obtaining 3As or 4As for their A-levels (or the equivalent).

    The question which Rosmah has to answer, as the patron of Permata, is how many of its pre-university students obtain straight As for the A-level exams (or its equivalent)? What does Permata need to do in order to reach similar academic standards as the top pre-university institutions in Singapore?

    Exposure to Various Intellectual Challenges

    Students in these top A-level institutions in Singapore are given opportunities to expand their intellectual horizons beyond their normal academic syllabus.

    Students who show greater aptitude in certain subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography and Informatics, are given the training and the opportunity to compete for selection into the Singapore team for Olympiad competitions at the international level. The Olympiad infrastructure which exists at the school and national levels have allowed Singapore to improve its performance in these international student competitions over time.

    For example, Singapore has placed in the top 10 in the International Math Olympiad since 2011. Many of the students who participate in these Olympiads will go on to gain entry into top universities around the world, including Oxbridge.

    The exposure to various intellectual opportunities goes beyond training and participating in Olympiad competitions, which are only open to a relatively small number of students. Students who show interest in other fields, including the arts, public policy, scientific research and information technology have access to specialist programs in these fields.

    In addition, students who want to gain exposure to university standard courses can opt to take H3 level papers for their A-levels (This is an addition to their ‘normal’ A-level papers which are called H2 level papers). Students who take H3 level papers are better prepared to ask more insightful and critical questions in their field of studies which would also help them when writing essays and answer questions during interviews for Oxbridge entry.

    This is perhaps one of the intentions of Permata Pintar’s Nobelist Mindset program which is a program to give Malaysian students a sense of what it takes to have the mindset of a Nobel Prize winner. But from the following description of the Nobelist Mindset program, we have a long way to go in terms of producing graduates who can write proper sentences in English, let alone Nobel Prize winners:

    “This workshop was held for 5 days at the PERMATA pintar Center. Students are divided into 12 groups and will be taught by two instructors in the classroom.

    “Students will learn and be exposed sciences to become a scientist and features a prize winner. The workshop was also attended by the students of the boarding school from the outside (SBP, BPT, SKK and so on. The highlight is the selection of students and Young Scientist who managed to qualify for Londo trip.

    “The trip to London was to provide an opportunity for participants to visit special laboratories relating Nobel there.”

    Having well-trained Academic Councillors

    Gaining admissions into a top overseas university is not as simple as merely getting good academic results. It requires well-written application essays which can make you stand out from the crowd. It requires good reference letters from credible sources. It requires extra preparation for Oxbridge courses which require subject exams. It requires knowing what questions to anticipate and how to converse with professors from Oxbridge during interviews.

    Most of the top A-level institutions in Singapore have well-trained academic councillors whose full-time jobs are to help students prepare their applications to these top universities. This is one of the reasons cited as to why Raffles came out top in terms of the number of students accepted into Cambridge.

    As far as I know, Permata Pintar does not have any full-time academic councillors to help guide students on their higher education options. The closest item I found was a research mentoring program whereby a student can be mentored by a UKM academic in an area of his or her interest.

    Having well-qualified and well-trained teachers

    Many of the teachers in these top institutions are Ministry of Education teaching scholarship holders. This means that they were sponsored by the Ministry of Education to study overseas before coming back to Singapore to teach.

    Some of them have studied in top overseas universities including Oxbridge. There are also expatriate teachers in these top A-level institutions with experience in teaching in some of the top secondary schools overseas including schools in the UK which send a high number of students to Oxbridge.

    Does Permata have a similar cohort of teaching staff who can create the right academic environment for the geniuses who are studying at Permata? Do the staff have the right experiences which can help these students to not just do well academically but create a mindset among the students which can enable them to apply to some of the top universities overseas including Oxbridge? The evidence does not seem to confirm this.


    The onus is on Permata to create a high achieving environment for its high IQ students. The environment at Permata should be one where high performers are created across the board. The last thing we would want is for places at Oxbridge to be “bought” in exchange for visits and special donations to Oxford or Cambridge by Malaysian dignitaries such as Rosmah.

    Rosmah does not have to take a contingent of 30 or more people to the UK to help future generations of Permata students gain entry into Oxbridge. She should just go across the border to Singapore with a few of the Permata top management and teachers.

    If she wants to save even more money, she should visit some of the top A-level colleges in Malaysia which routinely send many students to Oxbridge including KYUEM, Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ), Methodist College, Taylors College and INTEC Education College in Shah Alam. Then she wouldn’t have to ask her husband, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for more funding for Permata.

    Comment by Shirly — August 16, 2017 @ 11:43 AM | Reply

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