Monthly Archives: January 2013

7 posts

USSA’s awarding of an honorary doctorate to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and its ongoing ‘bid’ to retrain up to 50,000 teachers in Malaysia is a clear conflict of interest

Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 22nd January 2013

President and CEO of the United States Sports Academy (USSA) Dr. Thomas Rosandich recently defended the award of an honorary doctorate to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, saying that it was based on merit and his proven track record and not linked to a project USSA undertook for the ministry.[1]

What Dr. Rosandich failed to explain is the clear conflict of interest in awarding Tan Sri Muhyiddin this honorary doctorate when the institution he represents, USSA, could potentially benefit from a contract worth up to RM1.15 billion if its pilot project involving the training of Malaysian PE teachers is extended and expanded.

Indeed, in the USSA website, it was stated that ‘It is anticipated that the International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IDPESS) program may expand into a five-year effort and include the retraining of 50,000 Malaysian teachers.’[2] The pilot program to train 1000 PE teachers already cost the Malaysian taxpayer RM22.9 million or RM22,900 per diploma in 2012.

An expansion of this program to retrain 50,000 PE teachers could cost the taxpayer an additional RM1.145 billion over 5 years! No doubt such a contract would be given to USSA via its sole Malaysian agent, KH Sports Sdn Bhd whose chairwoman Hisham Suhaili Othman is the Puteri UMNO Chief in the Langkawi division.

The awarding of this honorary doctorate to Tan Sri Muhyiddin when negotiations for the expansion of this program are still ongoing represents a clear conflict of interest on the part of USSA. Tan Sri Muhyiddin also showed poor judgement in accepting this honorary doctorate since it could easily be interpreted as an attempt by USSA to ‘curry favour’ and perhaps even to ‘bribe’ him into agreeing to the extension and expansion of this program.

USSA’s website indicates that this pilot program has been extended to cover 2013 and the number of PE teachers who will undergo this program has been increased to 1,500.[3]

We call upon Tan Sri Muhyiddin to confirm whether this pilot program has been extended and why this PE teachers’ training program continues to be awarded to a predominantly online US university via a Malaysian agent whose main business is selling sports equipment and whose chairwoman is a Kedah Puteri UMNO leader.

We sincerely hope that this will not be met with the same deafening silence as our call for an explanation for Malaysia’s disastrous performance in the 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) where our 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.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

Tan Sri Muhyiddin needs to explain why a contract worth RM23m to retrain PE teachers was given to an UMNO leader via direct negotiation

Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 18th January 2013

Our education minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate on the 17th of January by the United States Sports Academy (USSA), which is based in Daphne, Alabama, for his efforts “to enhance physical education to help in the building of a nation” through the creation of the “One Student – One Sport” initiative.

For a 6 month period starting from June 2012, USSA trainers were in Malaysia to provide retraining for PE teachers and training for other teachers interested in PE through an “International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IDPESS)” program. This pilot program to retrain 1000 teachers cost the Malaysian government RM22.9m and the contract was awarded to a Syarikat KH Sports World Sdn Bhd (who is the authorized agent in Malaysia for USSA) via a direct negotiation.

According to KH Sports World website (http://www.kh-ussa.com/management-team/), its chairwoman is Hisham Suhaili Othman whose list of titles includes “Naib Ketua Puteri UMNO, Negeri Kedah”, “Ketua Puteri UMNO, Bahagian Langkawi”, “Ahli Jawatankuasa Perhubungan UMNO, Negeri Kedah”, “Bendehari Biro Sukan & Kecergasan Puteri UMNO, Malaysia” and “Ahli Lembaga Pelawat Hospital Langkawi”.

While the intention of providing retraining to PE teachers, especially those without the proper qualifications, may be a good one, we question why this contract was given, via direct negotiation, to a company which was founded in 2008 “to venture into the sports equipment and product market” in Malaysia.

We also call into question the decision to appoint a US based college whose method of teaching is almost exclusively via distance and online learning . Such a college would certainly not have sufficient teaching faculty and resources to deliver face to face teaching programs, especially for the 1000 teachers who were supposed to enrol in this program. For comparison, the estimated current number of students at USSA is less than 600!

We also call into question the high cost of this program. RM22.9m for 1000 students translates into RM22,900 for every “diploma” earned. This is more than 4 times what it costs to obtain a “Diploma in Pengajian Sukan” from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), which costs about RM5709 for 6 semesters.

The awarding of this contract is yet another example of the BN’s “Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin” where the Prime Minister preaches transparency on the one hand while members of his cabinet does the complete opposite by awarding contracts to cronies at vastly inflated prices. Is this the price the Malaysian taxpayer has to pay so that our Minister of Education can obtain an honorary doctorate? Did Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s honorary doctorate cost the Malaysian taxpayer RM23m?

Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s shattering silence on the disastrous TIMSS 2011 results will soon earn him the ignominy of becoming the worst Education Minister ever

Media statement by Tony Pua Kiam Wee and Dr Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 16th January 2013 

It has been 30 days since the results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2011 was released which showed shockingly poor performance by Malaysian students.

Malaysia’s ranking in Math fell from 10th in 2003 to 26th in 2011 while its ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 20th in 2003 to 32nd in 2011. 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.

The number of students who scored “Below Low” for Mathematics increased from only 7% in 1999 to an incredible 35% in 2011. For Science, the percentage rocketed up from 13 to 38. If the students who scored “Low” were taken into consideration, 64% and 66% of Malaysian students scored “Low” and “Below Low” in Mathematics and Science respectively.

If there ever was a yardstick of a non-physical national disaster, this is it. At least two generations of young Malaysians will fail to achieve their potentials as a result of rapidly declining education standards.

However, despite the scale of the crisis, the Minister of Education has to date, has remained stoically silent on the entire issue, as if it will blow away just as long as he does not comment on it.

The irony of it all is that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has flown to the United States to receive an honorary doctorate from “United States Sports Academy” on the 17th of January for his ‘Satu Murid, Satu Sukan’ initiative to ‘enhance physical education to help in the building of a nation’. While Tan Sri Muyhiddin is being ‘honoured’ with a doctorate for this supposed ‘achievements’ in developing sports in schools, our students continue to be ‘dishonoured’ by a Minister of Education who has failed them miserably in the academic arena.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s only “achievement” to date has been the controversial decisions to enforce “History” as a compulsory examination subject for SPM level to “inculcate nationalism and patriotism” and to scrap national examinations at PMR and UPSR levels. The preliminary education blueprint which has been launch to date fails to aggressively address the drastic decline in our standards. Neither of these will serve to improve the standards of education in Malaysia, while it may arguably make our students worse off than their current deteriorating predicament.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin must immediately take the position to recognise the complete failings of our national education system and announce the willingness to leave no stone unturned and slaughter the sacred cows of our education system to put an immediate halt to the decline to ensure that our young Malaysians today will remain competitive globally tomorrow.

Tony Pua Kiam Wee, DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara
Dr Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist