Hornbill Unleashed

December 13, 2013

Schools should be decentralised, says World Bank

Azli Jamil

The Malaysian Reserve

Autonomy in schools will allow the resident learning centres to accommodate local needs and allow ownership by teachers, administrators, parents and students.

Malaysia needs to decentralise its schools, provide feedback to parents on performance and find quality teachers as a crucial step in its race to become a high income nation, according to the World Bank’s Economic Monitor report on High-Performing Education released yesterday.

The report said Malaysia’s education system, which is among the most centralised in the world, makes it difficult to adapt to rapidly changing needs and circumstances. (more…)

November 19, 2013

Goodbye illiteracy!

Filed under: Education — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Arifah Razif

Spelling the word pen, is simple, but a word like education is mind boggling – education volunteers show the way to eradicate illiteracy.

All the children in class understand the teacher’s explanation, but one child does not. The other children progress in their studies, but one child gets left behind. Future prospects for the other children looks bright, but his future seems blurred.

A year ago, Zarul was illiterate. (more…)

November 1, 2013

How low can you go?

File picture shows the silhouette of a student with a graduation cap during a diploma ceremony at the John F. Kennedy School of Government


  • What is the passing mark for an SPM subject? Many teachers estimate it to be seriously low for some papers, way lower than the school’s benchmark.

WHEN I last wrote that more than 100,000 students, or close to a quarter of those sitting for the SPM English, were at risk of leaving school without an SPM certificate, the response was unexpected.

“Ms Goh,” I was told, “don’t worry, the marks may be lowered even further to allow many to pass.”

And that view, I was surprised to learn, was shared by many.

Teachers who have been teaching upper secondary students as well as examiners who have been grading the exam scripts for many years let on that the passing marks are not all they seem to be. (more…)

Why proficiency in English?

education (1)Lokman Mustafa

Someone recently wrote that impeccable mastery of English language isn’t the ‘be-all and end-all’ in order to attain our goals in life.

What’s more important, according to the writer is the meaning embedded into the language itself. Hence, even if one speaks with broken English, as long as the idea gets through to the audience or listener, we shouldn’t worry as to whether the sentence is grammatically correct or otherwise.

Such a view will surely not go down well with the masters of English language of yore who were known to bellow grammar lessons to students and believed that the basic rules with regard to subject and predicate must first be memorised by heart by those who wish to speak the language. (more…)

October 30, 2013

Schools are not abattoirs

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Kua Kia Soong

  • The appropriate place to slaughter animals for food is within the walls of the abattoir. That is what abattoirs are built for.

Any educationist must wonder if the news and images of the slaughter of cattle at a national school ever reached the consultants from McKinsey who wrote Malaysia’s Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

As usual, there is a wide disconnect between the visionary pronouncements in the blueprint and the actual reality on the ground which makes us wonder if the RM20 million paid to the foreign consultant was money well spent. (more…)

October 6, 2013

Buying into the consultancy fad

Eric Loo

I was lost looking for the street art in Georgetown a fortnight ago. What were two-way streets are now one-way. Multistorey complexes now stand where once were landmarks in the 60s when I was a student of St Xavier’s Institution.

Few of the students spilling into the streets that afternoon could understand my query in English. Bahasa was fine. The Christian Brothers who ran the top school in Penang – and made us proud to be a Xavierian – would be shocked with the students’ profile today in their sloppy uniforms and broken English.

The sorry state of my alma mater represents all that have gone wrong with the public education system. (more…)

July 30, 2013

Unity is strength

Lim Sue Goan

The success of Malaysian Chinese education, which has nearly 200 years of history, has relied on the united forces and diligent work of the Chinese over the years.

The 728 Assembly of Chinese Associations of Malaysia In Protest of Education Blueprint 2013-2025 involving 1,100 groups and attended by about 2,000 was the continuation of the Chinese education movement, reflecting the determination of the Chinese community.

Some measures in the Education Blueprint 2013-2025 are unfavourable to Chinese and Tamil schools, such as the proposed implementation of the same Bahasa Malaysia curriculum of Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK)for students in Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina (SJKC) and Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil (SJKT) beginning with the Year Four students in 2014, causing Chinese and Tamil schools to increase the learning hours for BM from 180 minutes to 270 minutes and extra needy students would have five hours of extra BM classes, making it 570 minutes per week. (more…)

July 21, 2013

Teach the parents, too

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 7:07 PM
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education21-e1368490842654Richard Hartung

As we look at how to teach children better, perhaps we are looking in the wrong direction. We focus on the children, which is indeed important. Yet, since study after study shows that the parents’ role is critical, it may be equally important to teach parents how to help their children in the right way.

As one indication, the Brookings Institution said “three decades of research have shown that parent training can improve developmental outcomes for children”. And the United Kingdom Department for Children, Schools and Families even said research showed that parental behaviour has a bigger effect than school quality on pupils’ attainment. (more…)

June 25, 2013

‘Bring back English medium schools’

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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FMT Staff

Mastering the English language does not make an individual less patriotic or less nationalistic, says PBB’s deputy publicity chief Peter Minos.

Sarawak has called for the return of English medium schools.

State Barisan Nasional’s main party , Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) supreme council member and publicity chief Peter Minos said English medium schools is a “must” if the country aspired to be competitive and recognised internationally.

“English cannot be taught half-heartedly or haphazardly. English medium schools is a ‘must’ to really learn the language. Those of us in schools in the 1950s and 1960s should know. (more…)

June 7, 2013

Either re-introduce English-medium schools or revamp national school syllabus

Filed under: Education,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Education gap wideningHussaini Abdul Karim

 The AXN show “The Apprentice Asia” on Astro, hosted by AirAsia’s Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, which is participated by executives from Asian countries like India, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, is an eye-opener. Watching and hearing all the executives, especially Malaysians Nik Aisyah, Nash and Ng (Hanzo), communicating in English comfortably and very well with the rest of the international participants is a very pleasant sight and is also pleasing to the ears.  It would be nice and good for the country to have more young Malaysians who are as good as them, or better.

I am sure all the participants were made to go through a very thorough selection process and they had to compete with hundreds of other hopefuls in all the countries mentioned and eventually only the best 10 people were chosen. (more…)

May 25, 2013

RM8 per day for rural school meals?

Joseph Tawie

Why has the Ministry of Education reduced the budget per head of the much needed allocation for meals in rural boarding schools?

Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin must explain why the ministry  has reduced the per head cost of meal allocations for students in rural Sarawak.

Raising the issue at yesterday’s Sarawak Legislative Assembly sitting, Krian assemblyman Ali Biju described the current M8 per head per day meal allowance for rural category A primary boarding schools as “most unjust”.

He said as a result of the Ministry’s cutback, the food quality in these rural boarding schools had “drastically declined”. (more…)

March 18, 2013

Incorporating technologies into education

Firdaus Nuruzzaman

The advancement of technology should allow us to improve our education system and create a new generation of thinkers.

Nowadays, the advancement of technology benefits various aspects, and all of a sudden life has become easier for everyone. For examples, items like plasma televisions, smart phones, notebooks and other electronic gadgets make our life a colourful one.

In the same way, the daily routine of students to has changed.

When we talk about technology in education, the first thing that appears in mind is the computer or laptop and internet. (more…)

January 30, 2013

Why the Malaysian government should fund higher education

Anas Alam Faizli

Education was institutionalised to formalise the process of knowledge acquisition and research in man’s quest for understanding. The earliest universities in the history of mankind, namely Al-Azhar, Bologna, Oxford, Palencia, Cambridge and the University of Naples (world’s first public university, 1224), have one thing in common; they were built by notable early world civilisations as institutions of research, discourse, learning, proliferation of knowledge and documentation. This contrasts largely from the role of universities today as institutions of human capital accreditation, qualification and, most unfortunately, business and profits. (more…)

January 29, 2013

PPSMI: Parents to rally outside Muhyiddin’s office

Lisa J. Ariffin

Four groups plan to submit memorandum to Muhyiddin on their concerns over the Malaysia Education Blueprint.

Four parent groups plan to submit a memorandum addressing their concerns over the Malaysia Education Blueprint to Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin during a rally outside his Ministry of Education (MoF) next month.

They want Muhyiddin, the Education Minister, to retain the PPSMI (teaching of Science and Maths in English) as an option, re-introduce English medium schools, and appoint a non-political figure as head of MoF. (more…)

December 24, 2012

Educators baffled by plan to ship in English teachers from India

Filed under: Education,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Zurairi AR

PAGE believes reintroducing PPSMI will do more for students than the proposed Indian tutors.

Putrajaya’s plan to import Indians to teach English in national schools appears to be meeting resistance from educators who doubt the government’s idea will help Malaysian students master the language.

Local English-language teachers and an education reform group polled by The Malaysian Insider voiced concern over what they saw as a short-term solution they said would unlikely benefit a multiracial class whose learning could be further hampered by coaches speaking in an unfamiliar accent. (more…)

December 15, 2012

Just teach them in English!

Azly Rahman

It is an attempt to self-fulfil a prophecy that the rural children, especially the Malays, cannot be challenged and must continue to be given easy passes through social promotion.The refusal to teach Mathematics and Science in English is not just an ideological position but an idiotic one as well.

The refusal to acknowledge that English is currently a language of scientific progress, more than Bahasa Melayu, is an example of hypocrisy in dealing with success on the part of our policymakers and Malay language nationalists.

Based on spurious research findings headed by a teacher training university, sanctioned by other public universities, the government has erred in its decision that will not only impact the future of Malaysian children in a continually globalised world, where English is the lingua franca. (more…)

December 14, 2012

Education Ministry accused of dumbing down maths and science syllabus


Malaysia has consistently underperformed in maths and science over the past three TIMSS assessments. — Reuters pic

Malaysia’s dismal performance in an international benchmarking study on mathematics and science tests has raised questions about whether standards in the education syllabus have been deliberately lowered.

Glaring comparisons have been made between the improving scores made by students here in the PMR and SPM public examinations which coincide with poorer performances against international peers. (more…)

November 1, 2012

Education for quick success and instant benefits

Filed under: Education,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Lim Sue Goan

The people’s first reaction to the SMK Sacred Heart’s announcement of awarding a new Perodua Myvi car to the Best Teacher and Best Student of the school was — will it cause the deterioration of education?

After awarding cars today, would they give diamond rings or sport cars tomorrow? Awarding such expensive gifts for students might distort the purpose of education. If children study only to receive gifts and rewards, would they understand the true meaning of studying? Would they study for themselves, or to receive material rewards? (more…)

September 20, 2012

Premature to abolish remove classes?

Lim Mun Fah

 I was a remove class student. The objective of remove class in the 1960s was very clear, namely to train students from non-English primary schools, including Sekolah Kebangsaan, as well as Chinese and Tamil schools, who did not even know how to say “May I go to toilet”, through a year of intensive course so that they could master basic conversation in English and understand English textbooks.

I can still remember that we spent nearly half the time in learning English that year. From conversation to grammar, from giggling only in early of the year to saying “yes” or “no” in the middle of the year and conversing in simple English sentences in the end of the year, it was the most important part of my secondary school life. (more…)

A discourse on a true educative blueprint

Filed under: Education — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

 Once again we return to the perennial question of the kind of educational system that we have.

Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to state that our present academic set-up, instead of encouraging critical thinking, acquiring soft skills and other relevant intellectual weapons, sad but true, is precisely the very one that kills creativity, stifles innovation and impinges on independent dynamism.

Indeed, our prevailing exam-oriented, score-based, points-mindset educational system undeniably distorts motivation and learning by our zealot overemphasis on the importance of scores as outcomes and measures of students’ abilities. (more…)

September 19, 2012

Two popular request ignored in the Education Blueprint 2013-2025

Toh Boo Huat

The just released Education Blueprint was touted to be very comprehensive as it took into account the views and desires of Malaysians who were given opportunities to provide input during dialogues held in major towns across the country.

However, if the responses and loud cheers from large section of the crowd during the dialogues are any indication of popular support and demands by the people, then two such requests are missing in the blueprint i.e. calls for Science and Mathematics be taught in English and, for a non-politician Education Minister. (more…)

September 14, 2012

Ambitious National Education Blueprint

Lim Sue Goan

The National Education Blueprint (2013-2025) is voluminous and magnificent. To put it simply, it is a timetable as well as a set of important data and targets.

It is an ambitious plan. The target would be to turn third-grade Malaysian students into first grade in 13 years. Other countries have spent over 20 years to do so.

The blueprint sets nine key areas, 11 education transformations to cultivate students with six qualifications.

The country has been independent for 55 years, but students are still in the lowest standard in the fields of reading, mathematics and science. A large number of educational resources has failed to bring expected effects. Where does the problem lie? And now, a bold target is set. It would be an impossible task with the current efficiency of the public delivery system of Malaysia if weaknesses are not corrected. (more…)

September 12, 2012

Is abolishing PPSMI not the answer?

Imran Mustafa

(Full Downloadable  Education Blueprint link inside) We read with interest the article entitled “Abolishing PPSMI is not the answer” by Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim (September 10, 2012), in particular, the fallacious arguments made in the name of science policy.Before going into the details of the argument, it is best to remind oneself what the term “PPSMI” means “Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris” or “The Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English”. What this obviously implies is that everyone, regardless of background or first language, is, have been and will always be obligated to learn the two subjects, science and mathematics, in English. (more…)

September 11, 2012

New Education Blueprint: Why the need for tuition?

Filed under: Education — Hornbill Unleashed @ 5:18 PM
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SP Nathan

(Full Downloadable Blueprint link inside) The new education policy fails to address one pertinent issue i.e. are schools sufficiently equipped to “school” students as they are supposed to do?

Why I raise this question is the mushrooming of tuition centres including home tuition right across the country. If the schools are doing all that they should be doing then why the need for tuition?

Originally extra tuition was meant for weak students to “catch up” with their studies. However, a casual survey will indicate this is not so. Almost everyone, especially in the urban areas attend extra tuition classes. (more…)

New education blueprint – salient points

Filed under: Education — Hornbill Unleashed @ 2:25 PM
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(Full Downloadable Blueprint link inside) Below are the salient points from the blueprint. Members of the public will be able to view the blueprint during open days in the next three months. The final plan will be presented to cabinet in December.Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin unveiled the country’s new education blueprint today, a process which began in October last year when the government embarked on a national dialogue with the aim of revamping the education system.


  • All Year 1 to Year 3 students to undergo Literacy and Numeracy screening (Linus) twice a year in both English and Bahasa Malaysia (currently Linus tests are done only for BM).
  • After-school remedial classes for Years 4-6 (to phase out ‘remove’ classes for those with problems with English and BM after Year 6 by 2017). (more…)

September 8, 2012

Patriot-producing history syllabus – an act of hubris

Terence Netto

The announcement by Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that the new history syllabus being drawn up would promote a high level of patriotism must have raised a chuckle on the part of some pundits.

These can see a Pakatan Rakyat government in the near future tinkering with the curriculum to achieve some purpose they consider would be an antidote to the legacy of those they replaced as governors, particularly if they can show that that legacy was pernicious.

Quite apart from the dubious notion that the study or practice of a subject or activity – music, sport, art, etc – can engender virtues, such as patriotism, there is also the problem of whether politicians are the ones equipped to determine the content of curricula they consider suitable for fostering a moral good. (more…)

August 22, 2012

Education in Sarawak: An Outsider Looking In (or Why I Quit My Job)

Stupid Me! 

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education – Albert Einstein

It’s the superficial differences you notice first, of course. Sarawakian schools are better landscaped; British schools are better resourced. British schools have a greater sense of structure; Sarawakian schools have a greater sense of community.

There are superficial similarities, too – it seems that teachers all over the world have parallel concerns about government interference and volumes of paperwork. But after 18 months mentoring English teachers here in Sarawak under the new KSSR curriculum, I hope I’ve started to get (ever so) slightly under the skin of the primary education system here, and as an outsider looking in, this is what I’ve learnt about… (more…)

August 17, 2012

Lessons you don’t learn in school

Filed under: Education — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Nicholas and Kevin of AwesomePenang.com

Three simple things that schools don’t teach to produce successful entrepreneurs.

Schools provide the very foundation to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset among students at a young age. The question is, are our schools being too technical and are basing their lessons too much on theories instead of practical applications?

We have listed down our personal experiences with the three most important lessons that schools should have taught to its students to produce more successful economic drivers and entrepreneurs.

ABCs not taught in schools?

“I failed in some subjects in exam, but my friend passed it all. Now he is an engineer in Microsoft and I am the owner of Microsoft.” – Bill Gates (more…)

July 30, 2012

Transforming our educational system: The brutal truth

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi

The fact that our educational system needs immediate and drastic transformation is clearly evident. In the 2007, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) said around 20 per cent of Malaysian students failed to meet minimum benchmarks for both Mathematics and Science, compared to only five per cent in Science and seven per cent in Mathematics in 2003. According to the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) 2009+ report, Malaysian students ranked 55th out of 74 countries in terms of reading literacy, 57th in Mathematics and “only marginally better” in 52nd position for Science literacy. The number of unemployed graduates with either a diploma or degree from local institutions of higher education has risen since the 1980s to a record of 24.6 % in 2010. (more…)

April 24, 2012

Above and beyond PTPTN

 Zain HD (loyarburok.com)

The issue of PTPTN has been so hot lately that I’ve been wondering if it has fried some of our perspective and thinking. A cursory glance at the discussion online is enough to make you ask whether most of us actually received an education, loan-funded or otherwise.

That said, it is good to see Malaysians participating in the discussion. It means we either care, or we’re angry, which means we care too. So that’s good. But I am not about to bring more hugs into the room. Instead I’d like to bring forth a different set of concerns that I think we must have in the back of our minds (at least), that to me brings out the real issue: whether tertiary education should be free or otherwise. (more…)

April 5, 2012

To dupe voters, thick-skinned Muhyiddin praises sky-high a flawed education system

To dupe voters, thick-skinned Muhyiddin praises sky-high a flawed education system

Moaz Nair

As election is approaching the Malaysian education minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, has no choice but to praise sky high to dupe the people into thinking that all is well with the country’s education system.

It is a known fact that education in this country is tinkered with politics. And as long as education is not kept out of politics, Malaysians can never see a learning environment in schools and universities that can truly enlighten the masses.

Many Malaysians fed-up with the dreary and lacklustre education given in schools have opted out of school and are doing surprisingly well in the vocational world. (more…)

November 2, 2011

Anti-PPSMI: It’s about quality, not language

Anti-PPSMI: It's about quality, not language

Feizrul Nor Nurbi

A question to start off today’s discussion:

“Will teaching Mathematics and Science using English as the medium of instruction at school-level, significantly improves the quality of learning experience leading to the improvement in the proficiency of learners in those two subjects?”

Here are a few reasons why I decline to answer in the affirmative to this question.

Firstly, there is the issue quality. To answer with a yes, a proponent will agree that teaching school-goers M&S in English will improve the student’s understanding in the two subjects. The reason cited, among others, is the abundance of references available in English. (more…)

November 1, 2010

Is our Education system failing?

By Dinesweri Puspanadan,

When one particular question is raised; ‘ Is our education system good?’, majority of Malaysians, sweeping aside their political preferences and individual principles, echo one mutual answer; NO. Whether we like it or not, we need to accept the fact that our education system has been failing.

Before exploring this issue further, let me remind you that we are not going to discuss the issues of passing examinations with flying colors, enrolling into prestigious Higher Institutes,or graduating as a gold medalist but another dimension of (more…)

August 22, 2010

Changing faces of Malaysian Education … For Whom?

Filed under: Education,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:40 AM
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Never let your schooling interfere with your education.  —Mark Twain

By Bunga Pakma

My last effort left me feeling as though I had been rooting through a particularly fetid dumpster. Two weeks’ worth of showers has rendered me tolerably clean and fresh again, and most unwilling to return to the cess-pool.  Others have been brave enough to dive in their turn. And so, today something different.

Not long ago here in Greater KL the festive time in the academic year rolled around once again.  Every kolej, school and university in the Klang Valley and beyond was holding its Konvokesyen. The traffic grew much worse. Recently minted graduates thronged university gates after the pomp of the Vice-Chancellor’s speech and the awarding of degrees, garbed in scholarly robes and mortar-boards, clutching diplomas, bouquets of flowers and teddy bears given them by their parents and friends. (more…)

January 28, 2010

In praise of the Chinese schools

Filed under: Education — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Sim Kwang Yang

malaysian chinese community people 170807 child with mother

Ask any purely Chinese educated Chinese citizen what his number one political concern is, and he will tell you it’s the issue of Chinese education. The Chinese language is the number one anchor of his identity as a Chinese Malaysian.

On the other hand, the Chinese person who insists that the existence of Chinese schools is a hurdle towards national unity in Malaysia and should be scrapped is probably wholly educated in English or Bahasa Malaysia, and has never any experience in the Chinese school system. Professor Khoo Kay Kim, who is now advocating the one school stream proposal, probably belongs to this category.

The six years of my primary education was spent in a Chinese primary school in Kuching, and I am eternally grateful to my late mother who sent me there. Though I was transferred to an English medium school for my secondary education, I was able to learn the Chinese language throughout my life on my own.


November 21, 2009

“bait and switch.”

Filed under: Alternatives,Education,Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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Bunga Pakma

Are you hooked, reader?  The title and first line of an article should be bold, striking, catching your attention, piquing your interest, whetting your appetite, giving you a thirst for more.  Starting a piece can be the hardest part of it to a writer, and it helps you, the reader, and me, the scribbler, to begin with something completely irrelevant to the body-topic.  One Dayak blogger whose short thoughts I enjoy prints pictures of pretty young ladies in short shorts and tops before his postings, and headlines them “Two Guinness stouts give you better sex!” and things like that. Then he follows with a report of the state of the drains this landas.  The technique is known as “bait and switch.”

Sigh.  I’m learning the hard way that sensationalism and burning passion drives more journalism—and more types of journalism—than I had ever imagined. And right now I’m plumb out of sensations. It’s time for some reflection.

After a puzzling drought of mail, I finally got the 2 Nov. issue of the New Yorker, the most literate and intelligent magazine in America that still can be called “popular.”  Elizabeth Kolbert ( Photo top right )contributed a thoughtful article on the way errors, lies, and distortions enter Cyberspace and won’t go away.  This had been on my mind for some time. Why, I’ve always wondered, if half of people is for something, anything, the other half is always against it?  Pak Bui’s recent article here raised the subject in my consciousness, Kolbert’s put it to the fore.


October 24, 2009

Criticism – good or bad?

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

BullShitALL of us have been criticised, sometimes unfairly. We have all criticised others at one time or another.  To be critical is human.To criticise is to pass judgement on something or somebody out of our personal interpretation of what is good or bad.  Some are better than others in this business of offering criticism.

We know the odd individuals among us who criticise everything and everybody. They probably have a bloated self-image, thus appointing themselves as the ultimate judge of everything human. Their constant whining criticism probably stems from their need to assert their sense of superiority. It is often an inferiority complex working in reverse gear.

We have been told often times to make constructive criticism, and avoid negative criticism. What is the difference between the two?


October 19, 2009


traffic_light_-_cautionBy Maximus Koh

I read with interest the earlier contribution to Hornbill Unleashed, “Why do people follow the law?” It is indeed a complex area of discussion. Views range from ancient Greece to our local “kopi tiams”.

It gets even more difficult when you throw in the equation, that there seems to be one set of laws for those that enforce them and another set for those that are obliged to follow them.

All of those who have sat in traffic for half an hour at the Jalan Song traffic lights waiting for the lights to turn green will know what I mean.

Just as it is your turn to move and you are gleefully shifting your car into gear, a distant sound of fast approaching sirens becomes audible. Getting louder and louder, it is the familiar sound of the heralds and the entourage of one of the many “VVIPS” rushing across town.


October 17, 2009

Reading and writing with a pinch of salt

By Bunga Pakma


Last week I went to see my panel doctor, in order to get looked at and to pick up a renewal of medication.  After ten minutes the receptionist called me into Dr. S****’s office, and I sat myself down by the desk in the chair to which Dr. S waved me.

“Let’s take a look at your B.P., B.P., hehe.” He wrapped the cuff around my upper arm.

We had made some jokes before and taken the measure of each other, and I sure did appreciate Dr. S’s hokey humour.  It speaks of a sane and realistic approach to our precarious hold on well-being, not to mention mere being in the prospect of non-being.  A grave theologian, the Rev. Dean Swift, has written that “Health is worth preserving, though life is not.”

“Hm,” said Dr. S, after the air hissed out. “A little high, not too much. You walked here, didn’t you?” He gazed at me and with gentle suddenness his expression narrowed to one of scrutiny. He’d noted something.


September 12, 2009


Filed under: Education,philosophy — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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”  Today I can hand over the controls to someone else.  He’s an old friend, also teaching in a certain institution of higher learning (not mine), and we often compare ideas and exchange hints.  He’s been involved in academia without break all the while I had been whacking the bushes, and his experience has been of great value to me. I groused to him recently, and here’s how he replied. “

–  Bunga Pakma –


Dear Bunga Pakma,

Why can’t I more briefly call you “Pak” or “’Ma”, or “Bung”? Alas,“Bung” is Javanese and I already have a Pak and a Mak, hehehehe!  But seriously four syllables are too many for your name, friend, at the head of a letter.

This morning I brought up the BBC on my laptop, and not long into the news I heard that Pres. Obama had made a speech to children on their first day of school, and that Conservatives had screamed that he was “indoctrinating” their little kids with “evil socialist lies.” Such as, you can’t get something for nothing, you’ve got to work for what you want, and that to fail yourself is to fail your country, stuff my father taught me.  You know Americans pretty well. What is it with these people?  If the right-wing nut-cases number to match the attention they’re getting, I’m worried. (more…)

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