• Congress marks the coming of age of the DAP

    The recently concluded 16th DAP Congress held at the Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa) was my first as a DAP member. It was also my first time seeing a DAP national election up close. The following are some of my observations which may not have received the necessary attention in the media, whether mainstream or online.

    DAP as a national party

    With 2,576 delegates (an increase from 948 in 2008), 150,000 members (from 84,000) and 1,128 branches (from 311) and with representatives from all 13 states in Malaysia, this congress represented the coming of age of the DAP by firmly cementing its status as a national party and a significant political player on the national stage.

    dap national congress 151212The 29 parliamentarians and 82 state representatives from 10 states and the Federal Territories makes DAP the 2nd largest political party in the country in terms of elected representatives. The capacity crowd at the congress venue, which included 700 observers, was the largest in party history.

    With greater political influence comes greater scrutiny, which is probably why this congress was covered by approximately 100 members of the press core. And with this scrutiny, also came more discussion and headlines, including critiques against the DAP’s election system and the subsequent results.

    In a sense, this kind of spotlight and scrutiny should be welcomed since it means that the party matters in the public’s eye and is an important part of the larger political landscape.

    DAP’s election system

    DAP uses an election system which differs from that of other political parties in Malaysia. Rather than featuring direct contests for the top posts in the party, the 20 top vote getting candidates are elected into the Central Executive Committee (CEC), with up to 10 additional members who can be co-opted.

    dap national congress 161212 new cec line upAfter being voted in, the 20 top vote getting candidates will then allocate among themselves the various posts such as the national chairperson, the secretary-general, the national treasurer, the national organising secretary, the national publicity secretary, the international secretary, up to five national vice-chairpersons, and various deputy positions.

    This system has been criticised as not being democratic since there are no direct contests whereby delegates can decide who specifically they want to lead the party. While this can theoretically happen, for example, the 20th vote getter being appointed as chairperson or secretary-general, this has, as far as I know, not happened before.

    Furthermore, this ignores the many positive aspects of this election system, advantages which may escape the attention of the casual observer.

    Firstly, it avoids the destructive internal struggles of direct contests. Battles for top positions in a political party are often winner-take-all affairs since there is usually just one winner. These contests often feature two candidates which usually translate into a party being split along two ‘camps’.

    Mud-slinging and poison pen letters are part and parcel of such campaigns. It can even lead to a party fracturing as was experienced by Umno in the fight between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in the 1987 party elections.

    Such contests may be necessary when a party needs to select its candidate for a presidential elections or when the head of the party will hold the position of the prime minister. But in the context of the DAP, where the head of the party is not automatically entitled to any elected position, the need for such a contest is much less urgent.

    Since there are 20 positions to fill, national elections do not have the typically ‘dog-eat-dog’ flavour that is more common in winner-take-all party elections. It is not so easy for someone to ‘kill off’ their political rivals since delegates can choose candidates from various rival ‘camps’.

    dap congress 161212 teng chang kimFor example, the more ‘independent’ minded and outspoken DAP leader who is also the Selangor speaker, Teng Chang Kim (right), regularly receives support from a majority of delegates including many whom also support the top party leaders.

    Indeed, this election system actually encourages more interaction and ‘horse-trading’ between leaders and delegates in the various states. In straight fights, leaders and the members whom they ‘control’ usually have to choose one side or the other, but when there are 20 seats to fill, it is possible to field requests for support from different leaders within a party.

    Secondly, this election system is actually friendlier towards minority groups compared to straight fights. States with a smaller number of delegates may not be able to have leaders from their states elected into national offices if it was a straight contest since representatives from states with larger delegations would have the natural advantage.

    The non-Chinese, who are in the minority in the DAP, may not have such an easy time to win positions at the national level in direct contests. Under this election system, delegates would usually reserve at least one of their votes for a candidate from East Malaysia (and increasingly, one for Sarawak and one for Sabah) as well as at least one vote for a Malay candidate (although this was not the case for all delegates this time round). This system increases the chances for minority candidates to gain representation into the top leadership of the party.

    In the 2009 party elections, for example, four Indian and one Malay candidate as well as one Sarawak candidate were among the top 20 vote getters.

    Thirdly, this system builds consensus within the leadership since they have to come together to decide and allocate the various assigned posts. While there may be a minority who are not fully satisfied with their positions, there is usually consensus among the majority.

    While this system is not perfect – no electoral system is – there is much to be said about its positive characteristics which may be lost amidst the current focus on who was and who was not among the top 20 vote getters in the recently concluded election.

    Interpreting the results

    dap congress 161212 ahmad tonThe immediate reaction to the party election results has focused on the lack of Malay candidates among the top 20 vote getters. The highest Malay vote getter was Senator Ariffin Omar who placed in 37th position out of 63 candidates with 348, votes followed by Ahmad Ton (left) who came in 38th with 347 votes (Ahmad Ton came in 12th in the previous party election in 2008).

    Only three Indian candidates made it to the top 20 (the casualty was Professor P Ramasamy). While it is somewhat regrettable that an insufficient number of delegates had the political maturity to vote in the long term strategic interest of the party, what has been ignored is the fact that delegates are ‘spoilt for choice’ in terms of the leaders to choose from.

    The last elections were held in August 2008, just five months after the historic March 2008 general election. The newly elected representatives in the party had not had time to establish themselves yet.

    In the more four years since that election, many of these newly elected representatives (as well as some of the more seasoned hands) have had many more opportunities to serve the party at the local and state levels and also to raise their profile nationally.

    The result is that the leaders who have served the party at three levels – raising important issues in parliament and/or at the state legislature, speaking at and organising fund raising dinners to bolster party funds, and working hard during the by-elections especially the Sibu by-election as well as the Sarawak state elections – have seen their support increase within the party.

    For example, Anthony Loke, who raised important issues in parliament and was part of the Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reform and who also oversaw a successful transition in the Dapsy (DAP Youth) leadership, increased his position from 11th place to 4th.

    dap national congress 161212 tony pua teresa kok anthony lokeTony Pua (standing, left in photo), who has featured prominently at the national stage in terms of issues raised, and who has also worked the ceramah circuit tirelessly around the country and during the by-elections, went from 13th position to 8th. Teng Chang Kim established himself as a firm and even handed speaker of the Selangor state assembly as well as the chairperson of the Selcat, as well as a regular on the ceramah circuit.

    Similarly, Liew Chin Tong and Teo Nie Ching, both first-time elected members of the new CEC, have had active records in parliament and played key roles in the 2011 Sarawak state elections in the Sibu and Sarikei areas respectively. The ever popular Nga Kor Ming, who draws thousands to his ceramahs, also saw his position rise from 16th to 11th.

    Most of this takes place away from the public view but is common knowledge among DAP leaders as well as most of the delegates. This is perhaps one of the reasons why many of the delegates felt compelled to vote for the candidates who have done this sort of ground work rather than to cast their votes in a more ‘traditional’ sense in favor of minority candidates especially those whom they may not be familiar with.

    Over time, with the right opportunities to raise their national profiles, it is very likely that candidates such as Senator Ariffin and Zairil Khir Johari would find themselves being voted into the top 20 in the next party elections (Both of them have been co-opted into the CEC).

    This is not to say that there were no internal party ‘fights’ which caused some candidates to lose support. It is possible that the ‘godfather’ and ‘warlords’ tussle in Penang may have cost Professor Ramasamy some votes, causing him to fall out of the top 20. But there are multiple other reasons besides inter party rivalry which explain changes in the support levels of various candidates.

    Teresa Kok, for example, who fell from 6th to 18th, used to occupy the unenviable position of national organising secretary who is responsible for matters such as the formation and organisation of branches as well as membership issues. Those leaders who experience problems in setting up new or reviving old branches will inevitably blame the national organising secretary, rightly or wrongly, which meant that Teresa took most of the flak for this unhappiness.

    The overall results only saw three threecomers into the top 20 – Vincent Wu, Liew Chin Tong and Teo Nie Ching – but they were already CEC appointees after the 2008 party elections. Of the three who fell out of the CEC – Ahmad Ton, Prof Ramasamy and Tan Seng Giaw – two, Prof Rama and Tan Seng Giaw, were appointed into the new CEC.

    Joining Prof Rama, Seng Giaw, Senator Ariffin and Zairil are Jimmy Wong and Edwin Bosi, both from Sabah, John Brian Anthony, who is from Sarawak and is the head of the Dayak Consultative Council (DCC),  Leong Ngah Ngah from Pahang, V Sikakumar, the former Perak speaker, and Thomas Su, also from Perak.

    The 30-person CEC line-up has representatives from all the major communities in the country – Malay, Chinese, Indian, Dayak and Kadazan – representing the party’s aspiration to represent all communities in Malaysia. Although the ‘ideal’ mix of leaders (as well as members) is still far from being representative of the country, this lineup makes the party leadership one of the most representative in the country (the other being PKR).


    The road towards remaking DAP into a more inclusive party needs to continue with the fielding of winnable and winning non-Chinese candidates including and especially Malay, Dayak and Kadazan candidates. Once these candidates have been elected into office, they would be in a better position to attract more non-Chinese members to join the party.

    Baby steps were already taken when DAP fielded its first Dayak candidate in the 2011 Sarawak state elections. But major strides are expected and needed in the next general election.

    ONG KIAN MING is DAP’s election strategist.

    This article was published by Malaysiakini.

  • The International Mathematics & Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 proved beyond doubt that the Barisan Nasional Government has completely destroyed our education system, causing Malaysia to suffer the biggest drop in results among all tested countries in the world for both subjects

    The 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) which was released on the 11th of December showed a worrying and unacceptable fall in Malaysia’s ranking and average scores in Math and Science.

    Malaysia’s ranking in Math fell from 20th in 2007 to 26th in 2011 while its ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 21st in 2007 to 32nd in 2011. Our average Math score fell from 474 in 2007 to 440 and our average Science score fell by an even greater degree from 471 in 2007 to 426 in 2011. The results are summarized in Table 1a and 1b below.

    Table 1a: Fall in Malaysia’s TIMMs ranking in Science and Math, 2007 to 2011
















    Table 1b: Fall in Malaysia’s TIMMs average score in Science and Math, 2007 to 2011

    Average Score


















    When we compare the results across all the countries, we suffer the ignominy of being the only country other than Jordan which suffered declines in scores in all content and cognitive domains for Mathematics (Content Domains – Number, Algebra, Geometry, Data & Chance; Cognitive Domains – Knowledge, Application, Reasoning) and Science (Content Domains – Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences; Cognitive Domains – Knowledge, Application, Reasoning) from 2007 to 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.

    For Mathematics, our score dropped by 79 points, compared to the next worst country, Thailand, by 40 points. For Science, our score dropped by 66 points, compared to Macedonia, which fell by 51 points.

    The poor achievement of Malaysians students in Math and Science is clearly seen in the % of students scoring full credit for what should be basic Math and Science questions.

    For example, for the simple algebra question of “What does xy +1 mean” (The answer is “multiply x by y, then add 1”), only 43% of Malaysian students answered this question correctly, ranking us 37 out of 42 countries (See Appendix 1 below).

    In comparison, 94% of students in Hong Kong answered this question correctly. For a relatively simple Chemistry question, “What is the chemical formula for Carbon Dixoide” (The answer is “CO2), only 67% of Malaysian students answered this question correctly, ranking us 43out of 45 countries. (See Appendix 2 below) In comparison 99% of Japanese students answered this question correctly.

    Given the above, it is no wonder that many parents are voting with their feet and their wallets by enrolling in private primary and secondary schools at an alarmingly increasing rate.

    The drop in our Math and Science scores as measured by TIMSS an unmitigated disaster our national education system which has been destroyed by the Barisan Nasional education policies. In the context of the extent of our failing education system, the National Education Blueprint (Peliminary report) is clearly half-hearted in its attempted to reverse the decline and it has failed to address the primary issues of the severe in standards.

    The Ministers of Education for Malaysia over this period, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad (1999-2004), Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein (2004-2009) and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (since 2009) must bear full responsibility for failing Malaysia’s young and the future of this country.

    Joint statement by Members of the Pakatan Rakyat Education Taskforce (PET):

    Tony Pua, MP Petaling Jaya
    Nurul Izzah Anwar, MP Lembah Pantai
    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    Appendix 1: Percent Answering “What does xy+1 mean” correctly

    Appendix 2: Percent Answering “What is the Chemical Formula for Carbon Dioxide” Correctly

  • The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study has proven that the Ministry of Education has deliberately dumbed down our education syllabus and lowered our examination standards in order to produce more student passes and distinctions

    Joint Media Statement by Tony Pua, DAP National Publicity Secretary and Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara and Dr Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 14 December 2012

    In the recently released 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), Malaysia’s 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.

    In terms of marks scored, Malaysia was the worst performing nation of the 59 countries survey by showing the biggest decline since the study was first conducted in 1999. Malaysia’s average score for mathematics fell 79 points from 519 in 1999 to 440 in 2011.  By comparison, the next worst country Thailand posted an average score decrease of 40 points for mathematics.  Similarly, Malaysia’s average score for science meanwhile dropped 66 points from 492 in 1999 to 426 in 2011.  This decrease is higher than the next worst country, Macedonia whose average score for science fell 51 points.

    However, while the disastrous TIMSS results proved the failure of our education system, surprisingly our students continue to score better results annually for their Mathematics and Science examinations for the PMR and SPM papers.

    For example, the PMR results over the years, as measured by the Average National Grade (or GPN) has been steadily improving from 2.83 in 2008 to 2.78 in 2009 to 2.74 in 2010 and mostly recently to 2.71 in 2011 (the lower the grade, the better the score).  More specifically, those obtaining As in Mathematics increased from 26.7% in 2010 to 28.9% in 2011 and those obtaining As in Science increased from 18.5% in 2010 to 21.7% in 2011.

    At the same time, our SPM results in 2011 was reported to have been the best recorded in five years with the overall National Average Grade improving from 5.19 in 2010 to 5.04 in 2011 (the lower the grade, the better the score).

    In addition, the pass rate for Math and Science at the SPM level have also steadily increased since 2007 as indicated in Table 1 below.  For example, the pass rate for Math for those in the rural areas increased from 70% in 2007 to 77.5% in 2010 and the pass rate for Science for those in the urban areas increased from 85.9% in 2007 to 91% in 2010.

    Table 1: Pass rate for Math & Science SPM
    for those in the rural and urban areas (2007 to 2010)

    Subject / Area

























    Source: Ministry of Education

    The steep fall in our TIMSS 2011 scores which are measured objectively across 59 countries clearly contradicts the astounding achievements by the same students in our PMR and SPM examinations.

    One cannot help but to conclude that firstly, the Ministry of Education has been deliberately manipulating the Math and Sciences standards for the PMR and SPM examinations to artificially increase the pass rate.  Secondly, it also raises the obvious question that our education syllabus has been “dumbed down” so that more students will be able to do better for their examinations.

    In fact, this deliberate attempt to dumb down our syllabus and lowering the passing marks for the examination subjects is a key reason for the declining standard of our education system.  The Ministry of Education has over the years simplified the syllabus and lowered passing marks in order to give the perception of improving performance, which is measured by the number of passes and “A”s achieved in these examinations.

    The obvious outcome to such a skewed education policy is that our Malaysian young will learn less in school, while needing to know and understand even less to secure a pass or obtain an “A” in the examinations.  This saddening outcome is now proven by the TIMSS,  which showed how Malaysia is the country where its students suffer from the fastest declining standards for both Mathematics and Science.

    The New Education Blueprint (NEB) must openly admit and aggressively address the deliberate “dumbing down” of our education system.  The Preliminary NEB report has not only completely neglected the above, it has to the contrary, sung praises for our students’ academic achievements in the PMR and SPM examinations.  If the Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin fails to reverse the dumbing down process and start increasing standards in our examinations and syllabus, then he can be assured that not only the NEB will fail miserably, Malaysia will continue to drop down the TIMSS scores and ranking in the future.

    Tony Pua
    Ong Kian Ming

  • Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin digesa perjelas kemerosotan berterusan Malaysia dalam kajian TIMMS 2011 dan jurang ketara antara markah purata pelajar lelaki dan perempuan bagi subjek Matematik dan Sains

    Pada 2007, Malaysia telah mengalami kemerosotan purata pencapaian dalam dua subjek teras iaitu – Sains dan Matematik (pelajar Gred 8 atau Tingkatan 2) dalam kajian oleh Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2007) membabitkan 59 negara.

    Hasil kajian 2007 menunjukkan skor purata pencapaian pelajar Malaysia dalam Matematik dan Sains merosot dengan ketara. Skor Matematik 2007 merosot kepada 474 mata berbanding 508 mata pada 2003 dan 519 bagi 1999, iaitu penurunan sebanyak 34 mata.

    Skor Sains pula merosot kepada 471 mata pada 2007 daripada 510 pada 2003 dan 492 bagi kohort 1999. Ini mencatatkan penurunan 40 mata antara 2007 dan 2003.

    Di kalangan 59 negara yang mengambil bahagian dalam kajian TIMSS 2007, yang dilaksanakan Sekolah Pendidikan Lynch, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Amerika Syarikat itu, kemerosotan skor purata pencapaian pelajar Malaysia sebanyak 34 mata bagi Matematik dan 40 mata bagi Sains adalah terbesar sekali di kalangan 59 negara.

    Terbaru, kita dikejutkan lagi dengan laporan “Trends in International Math and Science Study” (TIMSS) 2011 yang diterbitkan pada 11hb Disember lalu bukan sahaja menunjukkan Malaysia telah turun beberapa anak tangga dalam kedudukan dan markah purata bagi Matematik dan Sains – satu pencapaian yang tidak boleh diterima – malah menonjolkan satu aspek yang lebih membimbangkan iaitu wujudnya jurang yang amat besar di antara pelajar lelaki dan perempuan di Malaysia dari sudut Markah Purata Matematik dan Sains.

    Markah purata Matematik bagi Malaysia, iaitu 440, boleh dibahagikan dengan lebih tepat kepada pelajar perempuan (449) dan pelajar lelaki (430), menunjukkan jurang gender, ataupun gender gap, sebanyak 19 markah, meletakkan Malaysia di anak tangga ke-37 dari 42 negara. Sebagai perbandingan, Finland mempunyai jurang gender sebanyak 4 markah – 516 bagi pelajar perempuan dan 512 bagi pelajar lelaki. (Lampiran 1). Jurang gender ini adalah lima kali ganda dengan negara teratas.

    Markah purata Sains bagi Malaysia pula adalah 426, dan boleh dibahagikan kepada markah purata pelajar perempuan (434) dan lelaki (419), menunjukkan jurang gender sebanyak 15 markah, yang meletakkan kita di anak tangga ke-24 dari 45 buah negara. Sebagai perbandingan, Kazakhstan hanya mempunyai jurang gender sebanyak 4 markah – 492 bagi pelajar perempuan dan 488 bagi pelajar lelaki. (Lampiran 2)

    Jurang di antara pelajar perempuan dan lelaki ini menampakkan satu masalah yang lebih besar dalam sistem pendidikan kita: pencapaian rendah pelajar lelaki yang sistematik dalam sistem pendidikan, yang jelas dilihat dari kadar keciciran pelajar lelaki di sekolah-sekolah menengah dan jurang yang makin lebar antara pelajar perempuan dan lelaki dalam sistem pengajian tinggi, terutamanya di IPTA.

    Kami menggesa Menteri Pendidikan, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, untuk memberikan penjelasan yang menyeluruh tentang mengapa kejadian jurang gender ini berlaku serta meyakinkan rakyat Malaysia bahawa beliau akan mengatur langkah-langkah yang khusus bagi menangani masalah ini. Walaupun laporan awal Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia ada membangkitkan isu ini, namun tiada apa-apa langkah yang khusus dan terperinci yang telah dinyatakan untuk mengatasi masalah tersebut secara menyeluruh.

    Kenyataan bersama oleh Ahli-ahli Pasukan Petugas Pendidikan Pakatan Rakyat (PET):

    Tony Pua, Ahli Parlimen PJ Utara
    Nurul Izzah Anwar, Ahli Parlimen Lembah Pantai
    Dr Ong Kian Ming, Strategis Pilihanraya DAP

    Lampiran 1: Markah Matematik Purata Mengikut Jantina

    Lampiran 2: Markah Sains Purata Mengikut Jantina

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