Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A guide to wasting time at work

There is a new organisational structure in my company after series of retrenchment. I have a new designation and set of responsibilities. New immediate boss (he is a Malaysian born professional with 25 years of living in the UAE) and a brand new office. It is my fifth designation in the same company (different subsidiaries) and my 8th office relocation since 2002. That could be my lucky number.

Change is always welcome. I love new challenges and environments. Alhamdulillah, for the rezeki and am still being employed during the current downturn, i.e is a bonus (mana ada bonus...in terms of monatery lah). As recent as yesterday, retrenchment exercise is still on going.

I am looking forward for my new role in design and development (utility & infrastructure). It is beyond my wildest expectation, with basic IT background to morph and expand into civil/ mechanical/ water / electrical engineering fields.

I have involved in town planning, design utility networks, design review, constructions of bridges, roads, utility networks, villas, buildings, two major shopping complexes, smart city, as well as IT & Telecom project management since I landed in Dubai. Not to mention satellite communication, teleport, 24-hours business centre, business strategy and corporate planning.

And of course my two years stint with Yusuf Islam, from managing his business ventures, house, dakwah activities, TV/radio programmes, live shows, press conferences, education and charity works to close personal friendship.

These out-of-the-world experiences would not happen if I was not sacked 24 hours a decade ago. Rezeki dari Allah. That's the blessing. Be positive about life.

The office is buzzing with more gossips while putting our stationery, files, CDs etc into those boxes.

Well...something to ponder from another blog.

According to a survey, employees admit to “wasting” approximately 2.09 hours of each work day. How do they waste the time? Surfing the Net, chatting with co-workers, making personal phone calls, and running personal errands.

Here’s how the time wasting break down:

  1. Surfing the Internet — 44.7 percent
  2. Socializing with co-workers — 23.4 percent
  3. Conducting personal business — 6.8 percent [Bowers' note: I'm not sure if this means calling your hairstylist to schedule an appointment or running a dry-cleaning business out of your cube.]
  4. Spacing out — 3.9 percent [Bowers' note: How, exactly, would you measure that?]
  5. Running errands off-premise — 3.1 percent
  6. Making personal phone calls — 2.3 percent
  7. Applying for other jobs — 1.3 percent
  8. Planning personal events — 1.0 percent
  9. Arriving late/leaving early — 1.0 percent
  10. Other — 12.5 percent [Bowers' note: Other? What's left, dare I ask?]

Also according to the survey, the way in which time is wasted also varies by age:

  • 58-77 years old: 0.50 hours per day
  • 48-57 years old: 0.68 hours per day
  • 38-47 years old: 1.19 hours per day
  • 28-37 years old: 1.61 hours per day
  • 22-27 years old: 1.95 hours per day

(Wonder how much time is “wasted” in meetings or poor communication between departments?) Do you think these numbers are about right? How do you “waste” time?

Is KJ Arrogant? KJ describes the real KJ as dot dot dot

He told Malaysiakini in a 90-minute interview last week that only time can rehabilitate his image.

khairy jamaluddin interview 230209 16"I'm a realist; I'll have to wait for that," he said. "If I win this contest (Umno Youth chief), then maybe the resuscitation may happen quicker because I have a platform.

"But if I don't, I'll just have to wait until somebody knocks on my door and says, ‘Hey, you're still around'."

In this second of a five-part series, Khairy, 32, described himself as a product of his generation - one which is not completely divorced from historical baggage and where ethnical identity is still important.

Some excerpts from the interview...the rest of it, please subscribe to Malaysiakini lah!

In your own words, who is Khairy?

Maybe you should interview my wife and ask her.

You could been seen as the most misunderstood man, so explain yourself. Who is the real Khairy?

I was about to say I don't know... I think, I'm a product of my generation, and this generation is a very complex generation. It's not completely divorce from historical baggage, and it's not completely above the, or gone pass ... not looking at things in a way that the last few generations have.

If somebody asks what that the youth of today wants, they still want this plural identity, you know, what it is we call Malaysian. You want your Chinese identity, or Indian identity or Malay identity, with that come certain things, not baggage but certain idiosyncrasy.

For example Malays, as much as you want to talk about being liberal and you still see things as opportunities for Malays (as important), and Chinese will still talk about Chinese education, Indian will still talk about marginalization of the Indian community.

So, that's still there and you can't completely divorce yourself from this ethnic question, but at the same time you have to move on and say that at some point of time in the future, we all have to come to terms that for Malaysia to move forward we have to be judge on the reach of our ability and the content of character, rather than what we are.

If one of us fall then we must pick that person up and move along, but to get there is going to be very difficult. I don't want to sound philosophical about it, maybe in me you'll see all these different contradictions pulling this generation of mine.

I don't think it's confusion; I just think that it's a lot of things happening to this generation and to this country at this point of time, which nobody can put their finger on the pulse of this nation. Because it's just become so desperate, people think so many different things. Maybe it's something that we have to go through.

You've been accused of being arrogant. Are you arrogant?

Am I?

Continue reading in Malaysiakini...subscribe lah!

PPSMI - A Flawed and dishonest Policy

Hishamuddin Ingkar Arahan Pak Lah

Tiga hari lalu saya berbual lama dalam telefon (26 minit) dengan seorang senator, yang saya kenal sejak di universiti. Beliau menelefon saya sebab beliau meminta saya menyenaraikan soalan-soalan yang beliau dapat kemukakan di Dewan Negara bagi pihak para pejuang bahasa Melayu.

Dalam perbualan itu beliau memberitahu saya bahawa baru-baru ini beliau menghadiri majlis di kediaman Pak Lah. Disebabkan beliau dan Pak Lah adalah kenalan lama, lalu beliau mengambil kesempatan bercakap dari hati ke hati, dan mencadangkan kepada Pak Lah supaya PPSMI dimansuhkan, memandangkan isu PPSMI telah menyebabkan banyak kesan negatif kepada UMNO.

Menurut apa yang dikatakan oleh YB Senator itu, Pak Lah sudah menulis surat mengarahkan Hishamuddin Hussein Onn supaya memansuhkan PPSMI, tetapi arahan Perdana Menteri itu sampai hari ini belum dijalankan oleh menteri pelajaran itu.


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Nota Kuliah:

Puan Ainon Mohd.'s avatar

Puan Ainon Mohd
Presiden,

Scaling the language barrier
4 Mar 09 : 11.00AM

By Wong Chin Huat

THE English language is now promoting interethnic unity in Malaysia, albeit unintentionally. Malay, Chinese and Tamil educationists who were once natural enemies have now joined forces to oppose the English for Teaching Mathematics and Science (ETeMS) policy.

Politically, leaders in the Barisan Nasional (BN) are divided on whether to continue the policy, while the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is solidly behind the call to scrap it. However, it can't be ruled out that a new consensus may emerge after the Umno party elections.


Some of the members of Gerakan Mansuhkan PPSMI, which was launched on 31 Jan 2009 and comprises
50 organisations opposing the teaching of maths and science in English

The standard of English has deteriorated in Malaysia, over the past decade, while the English language is enjoying increasing importance in a globalising world. Taking both these factors into consideration, isn't the call to abolish ETeMS and reinstate the old status quo irrational and irresponsible? I don't think so.

A flawed policy

While the policy's opponents have not been able to offer superior alternatives to convince a divided public, ETeMS is essentially flawed and must go.

The main argument justifying ETeMS is that since the bulk of knowledge in science and mathematics is produced in English, learning these subjects in English would allow students to acquire knowledge directly without depending on translations.

Why is this argument flawed? Well, not every student intends to become a mathematician or scientist, so not everyone needs to comprehend mathematics and science publications in English.

The policy would be fine if it did not entail any costs, e.g. if switching the teaching of these subjects to English did not affect the ability of weaker or non-English-speaking students in mastering these subjects.

This, however, is clearly not true. It is self-evident that one's ability to learn depends on one's ability to understand what is being taught. This is the argument for mother-tongue education, in a nutshell.

But teaching science and mathematics in English to all students of varying abilities has inevitably entailed a sacrifice of the general standard of these two subjects. Does this benefit the country in the long run? Criticisms that the standard of these two subjects has been artificially lowered speak volumes of the magnitude of this problem. So, why don't we have different policies catered for students of different aptitudes and endowments?

There is another argument, even more flawed, that justifies ETeMS: the more students are exposed to the English language, the more their mastery of the language will improve.


(Pic by skol22 / sxc.hu)
Let's take this argument to its logical conclusion. Let's look at arts and commerce students — these kids do not need to study science and mathematics beyond a certain level. Science-stream students, however, are normally required to take some humanities subjects even at university level.

So, if students need to be "exposed" more to the English language, ETeMS should really be redirected to focus on history, geography and religious or moral education subjects. Why force the right medicine down the throat of the wrong patient?

A dishonest policy

An honest analysis will show that the policy prescription should never have been about teaching mathematics and science in English for all education streams. The arguments supporting ETeMS have not developed into logical, systematic implementation. In fact, the two arguments used to justify ETeMS are mutually contradictory.

For example, following the argument that science and mathematics literature is mostly in English, science-stream education should have logically been fully converted to English with the status quo retained for all other streams.

But following the argument that students should be more "exposed" to ideas in English, it is the medium of instruction of the humanities subjects that should have been switched to English.

These policy options are actually quite logical. But they have been taken out of the public debate because they are not politically viable. This in turn suggests the two arguments are actually spurious.

For example, if we had converted science-stream education to English in toto, we would eventually be creating a linguistically defined class division in society.

Not unlike colonial times, command of English would determine one's opportunity to be a doctor, an engineer, an architect, a computer programmer, or an IT tycoon. Eventually, it would determine one's acceptance into the economic and sociopolitical elite. Clearly, this position is political suicide for politicians, especially the Malay nationalists from Umno.

On the other hand, if we had instead switched the language of instruction of the humanities subjects to English, we would have had to face two difficult scenarios. Firstly, would improvement of students' command of English have been achieved at the expense of a general deterioration of academic standards in the humanities? If yes, would the policy have been worth it?

Secondly, and more importantly, no matter how important English has become globally, would we need the entire nation to be conversant in English, even at the price of academic regression?


Students in school. What are the costs of having English as the main language of instruction?
(© Lexa_Lotus; source: Flickr)

Why this dishonesty?

The policy question before us is actually very simple. There are three factors to take into account.

Firstly, we need to improve the general standard of English for all students, and produce some students with an excellent command of English.

Secondly, any policy should not cause academic standards to decline, especially among students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged; for instance, those from poorer backgrounds and rural schools.

Thirdly, any policy should not marginalise the national language and other mother-tongue languages such that Malaysia loses its national character and multilingual advantage.

What's the solution? Revive English-medium schools, alongside the existing Malay, Chinese and Tamil-language streams. Parents who want their children to learn all non-language subjects in English can then have a choice, instead of turning to the mushrooming private and international schools.

Why then has this simple and straightforward solution not been pursued?

First, it would mean that the decision to convert English-medium schools into Malay-medium schools beginning in 1975 was wrong. Incidentally, it was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad who was education minister when this language-switch policy sentenced English-medium education to death. Nearly three decades later, it was Mahathir again who wanted to switch back to English-language education for science and mathematics.


(© Stillfx / Dreamstime)

Secondly, and more importantly, if English schools are revived, they would likely attract students from stronger socioeconomic backgrounds. Malay-, Tamil- and to a lesser extent, Chinese-medium schools might eventually be reduced to inferior education providers, inviting the wrath of ethno-nationalists from every community.

By sacrificing academic standards across the board, ETeMS avoids such political embarrassment and covers up the real need to beef up English-language education for the weaker students in all streams.

In a nutshell, this policy is political expediency at its worst.

The main casualties are now weaker students from poorer families and rural schools. Most of them will learn little in mathematics and sciences with minimal, if any, improvement in their command of English. These underperforming students are likely to fill up the lowest paid jobs in future, hence frustrating upward social mobility.

However, students from more advantaged backgrounds suffer, too. They learn less mathematics and science than they otherwise would because the current standard for the two subjects needs to be lowered to produce evidence of success. They also cannot learn other non-language subjects in English if they want to.

The win-win solution

The ETeMS debate, now framed as a "yes" or "no" dichotomy, is effectively a tug of war between the pro-English elites and other Malaysians.

The policy must go if we do not want continued injustice towards more students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Reverting to the old status quo is however not tenable. It would deny both the nation's developmental needs and the preference of pro-English parents and students.

But we need not be caught between two false choices.

Reviving English schools will not only meet the need of improving the standard of English in a purely utilitarian sense. It also fits the argument for upholding mother-tongue education — English is, after all, increasingly the mother tongue of Malaysians of all ethnic backgrounds, whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Dayak, Kadazandusun, or Eurasian.

What about national unity? This is a question that may be asked by supporters of ETeMS as a gradualist method to eliminate multi-stream education.

The answer is again straightforward. Firstly, a single-stream education system could not possibly maximise the use of the English language for every single student anyway. One must thus choose between better, albeit varying, standards of English for everyone or the homogenisation of the education system.

Secondly, blaming communal division mainly on the education system is intellectually lazy and unreflective. Intercommunal solidarity is built not through homogenisation, but through cleavages that cut across communal lines. How the ill-thought promotion of English has unintentionally unified the Malay, Chinese and Tamil educationists is a case in point.


A political scientist by training and a journalism lecturer by trade, Wong Chin Huat uses the Federal Constitution as his "bible" to fend off the increasingly intolerable evil called "state".

Constitution becomes a dead piece of paper

It is not funny. P. Ramlee's movies come to reality.
The best is still a babak of illiterate guys trying to outdo each other in "Pendekar Bujang Lapok".
"Alif mim nun wau - sarkis"

And P. Ramlee had envisioned that sarkis thingies years ago....reflecting the current situations in black and white!
Salute to Seniman Agung Negara!

Stop wrecking the nation, says Ku Li
Mar 4, 09 12:03pm

Those who blithely ignore the constitution for political ends are wrecking the foundations of this country to further their own interests. And this must stop, said veteran Umno leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

MCPX

ku li tengku razaleigh interview 241106 significantResponding to the Perak crisis, which witnessed more bizarre twists yesterday, including a state assembly sitting being convened under a tree, he lamented that "one of our most prosperous states has been reduced to a failed state."

He said Barisan Nasional's takeover of Perak has set off a chain-reaction of illegality which has left the state quite possibly without a legitimate government.

"One lie leads to many lies. Each bad action leads to a cascade of follies. Particularly when the lie or violation concerns something very basic.

"This is a principle we teach our children. It is a simple but universal truth now being demonstrated in Perak," he said.

Constitution becomes a dead piece of paper

Tengku Razaleigh said with each violation, the sense of decency and restraint and the habits that bind us to the constitution are loosened.

The confidence in the rule of law that makes civilized life possible is diminished, he pointed out.

"Laws are invisible things. They are exist only when they are understood and observed.

"When the government of the day ignores foundational principles such as the separation of powers, the constitution becomes a dead piece of paper," he said.

"But the constitution is not just any law. It is the set of laws that founds our nation, defines its basic principles, guarantees our individual rights and prescribes the structures, duties, and powers which make a national community possible.

"It is the foundation and source of the legal authority underlying the existence of Malaysia," added the former finance minister.

Bahasa Melayu untuk Sains, Matematik tetap realistik

Adalah satu 'anggapan palsu' (fallacy) bahawa kecekapan dalam bahasa Inggeris itu menjadi prasyarat penting untuk membolehkan pelajar meneruskan pelajaran tinggi dalam bidang sains, teknologi dan profesional. Yang sebenarnya adalah sebaliknya. Pengetahuan yang kukuh dalam Matematik dan Sains pada peringkat rendah dan menengah menjadi prasyarat pengajian tinggi dalam pelbagai bidang sains dan teknologi, bukan bahasa Inggeris.

Bahasa Melayu untuk Sains, Matematik tetap realistik

Dr Isahak Haron

Kajian TIMSS 2007 mendedahkan kemerosotan prestasi pelajar Malaysia dalam dua subjek teras lebih ketara

WALAUPUN Kementerian Pelajaran menerima pelbagai maklum balas mengenai pelaksanaan Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris (PPSMI), kerajaan masih menangguhkan keputusan sama ada mengekal atau kembalikan mengguna bahasa Malaysia.

Isu ini perlu dilihat secara menyeluruh. Apakah hasil kajian antarabangsa mengenai prestasi pelajar Malaysia dalam Matematik dan Sains? Pada 2007, kajian penting antarabangsa mengenai pencapaian Matematik dan Sains (pelajar Gred 8 atau Tingkatan 2) dilaksanakan membabitkan 59 negara oleh Trends in Internationhal Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2007).

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, ada negara yang skor purata pencapaian pelajarnya meningkat sedikit atau menurun sedikit.

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