Tuesday, October 29, 2013


By Mansor Puteh

The 2014 Budget which prime minister, Najib Tun Razak presented in parliament this afternoon, is too general; it gives emphasis to the same areas that they have covered, which basically are those involving the industries and activities of all the ministries in the government.

It is described as a post-election budget. But it can also be seen as a pre-next election budget, whose aim is to appease the larger groups to reshape their thinking and personal or collective attitudes to override their personal emotions on a host of social, cultural, religious and pseudo-political views that were shaped by the incessant propaganda and protestations by the opposition political parties and other NGOs.

So the 2014 budget like the earlier budgets that had been presented in parliament, the larger groups are the main focus.

There is no special attention given to the scholars and experts that we have in the country; their numbers are small and often-times they are not represented.

The irony is that scholars and experts may act on their personal basis and individually, which is how scholars and experts and important entrepreneurs do, as in the case of the many known individuals who have caused the economy of America to evolve over the years, but in Malaysia, they are left to their own device.

Whereas they are the ones who can introduce or create or even expand the industries that we have using their personal vision and views to achieve that.

One industry that had been neglected by the government for too long is the film industry, which has been left to the device of the respective ministries and their officials.

This is one industry which can be further expanded, so that new Malaysian films can become the rage in all the Arab and Muslim countries and Malaysia can become the center for the production and promotion of films for the Entire Muslim World, which includes Muslim viewers in non-Muslim countries, an industry which can also have subsidiary effects in that it can cause the promotion of unity amongst the World Muslim Ummah, a strategy that has been used by those who had created and developed Hollywood so much so that the films they produce have become tools of propaganda.

Hundreds of millions of ringgit had been allocated by the government to help develop the industry, but without a clear vision on the real usefulness of the cinema, the film industry that we have today is stunted with the films produced to purely entertain the viewers, when they can do much more, whose industry can also involve the other sectors of the economy including the airline and tourism industries, etc.  

It could have become a better budget had Najib provided some direction as to why the country needs qualified Malaysians to come to the fore, and especially for those who are currently living and working abroad to return to the country to serve it, in any field they are in.

It is obvious that the government only thinks for the welfare and well-being of the larger groups of its citizens so that individuals with vision and views are often sidelines.

Whereas, the vision and views of the scholars and specialists are the ones which can open more avenues for the government to gain more revenue in the form of the expansion or even the introduction of new industries which they have till now not given any attention.

And what sort of programs can the government have for these scholars and experts? Grants to allow them to achieve their personal vision to prove of their worthiness and perhaps funding to allow and encourage them to get attachments at bigger organizations abroad in their chosen fields, so they can benefit the whole country upon their return.

They are scholars and experts, no doubt, so they should be treated like beggars.

On the contrary it is the government which must force them to contribute their brilliant ideas to the good of the nation since many of them have also become jaded and frustrated being pushed around so much so that most of the top scholars that we have in the country have become mere government servants.

So surely, the talk about encouraging Malaysians to pursue their education at some of the most prestigilous universities in the world, particularly the Ivy League and Oxbridge ones in America and the United Kingdom, respectively, is nothing but just talk.

The truth is that the government does not care for their personal well-being, and if their academic backgrounds and professional experiences in all the fields they are crucial and beneficial to the growth and expansion of the industries and hence economy of the country, then surely, they should be given special roles to play in the industries they are in.

Why then encourage the students to pursue their education at such universities when the government does not really know what to do with them?

The ministry of education is organizing some town hall-type of activities to encourage people to attend them and give their views on how to further improve the level of education in the country.

Yet, the same ministry does not even know who they are and where they can be found. Some of them are already in these universities with the many others who have already returned to the country, quietly and unannounced.

They are not like the sportsmen and women who habituatlly attend sports meets all over the world, and if they lose, they are not condemned. However, if they win, it becomes a media attraction.

Scholars who go abroad to study in such prestigious universities are hardly given any notice, and even when they return they are not welcome by the very ministries that should be first to embrace them, so that they are given the right treatment and posts in the ministries and agencies or other government-linked companies or GLCs to lead the departments which are suitable to them.

Some of them have wide professional experience, and they can easily be taken in as consultants to the government or the ministries so that they are not led by the same tired and jaded PTD officers who move from one agency to another agency without showing any real or personal conviction.

These officers who hold the posts of the deputy and secretary-generals of the ministries are the ones who are always in the way of progress, because most of them are not qualified, but who could assume the posts simply because they remain in the government service, so they could rise up the ladder to be what they are today, until they retire at the age of sixty, before they are given another post in other GLC.

No wonder some of the industries which the government is trying to develop cannot develop fully because they are held back because the ministries or agencies do not wish to have qualified persons messing around with them.

Malaysia cannot say that it has that many people who have academic qualification from the prestigious Ivy League and Oxbridge universities, and the few that we have must be utilized fully, or else, they would wither and not able to contribute much because the are not given the right jobs with the right tasks to perform.

And it is also odd for Malaysia not to have anyone with degrees from these universities who are vice-chancellors or deans of the universities, when they are supposed to be the top brains, who must personally endeavor to excel in their education so that they can then look at the students in their respective universities to become good examples to them.

Malaysians who are teaching at the public or state universities are generally not so well-educated; they only have a string of degrees because they are paid to study and to get degrees.

So they normally go to non-competitive universities and worked on researches that are not relevant to the needs of the country, because their main reason to pursue their education is to get a better post with a better pay later. It is not for them to excel in their education to become internationally-recognized scholars or academics.

There is one so-called professor of rural poverty who lives in the city and who does not want to sit in the warungs or mix with the poor in the pasar malam. Yet, he had the audacity to claim to be an expert in rural poverty.

This explains why the so-called scholars that we have in the country are really not scholars in the right sense of the word, but officers of the universities, so their comments and views on anything are so general.

And when they retire from the universities, some go into politics or disappear. Some gang-up to form associations whose main intention is to ensure that they are remembered as former vice-chancellors or senior army officers and senior government servants, and so on, where they will use this vehicle to trust themselves by screaming themselves coarse in public forums without ever benefiting the very persons they claim to benefit. 

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