1BEstariNet Contracts and Political Weaponizing of Education itself.
Written by- Mariam Sadaf Imam
Former Education Minister of Malaysia, Maszlee Malik, recently released a new book titled, “Memori Bukan Memoir”.
The book has reignited the discussion on the controversial 1BestariNet contracts and its cancellation. In his book, Maszlee discussed his resignation from the post of Education Minister in January, 2020 and alleged that he was fired not due to a serious offense like incompetence or inability to fulfill his role as the Education Minister, but rather due to a dispute involving a ‘mega contract’.
The contract in question is the 1BestariNet that was devised and applied by former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in his days as the Education Minister.
The 1BestariNet series of contracts that were drawn up with the intent of providing internet connectivity and a single learning platform for teachers, students, and parents.
Maszlee’s decision to terminate the contract that has had billions of taxpayers’ money invested in was criticized by many due to multiple reasons, the most obvious one being that the cancellation reflected wastage of time, effort, and money. While Maszlee has claimed that the termination was strictly a professional decision aided by relevant independent studies, it does not seem as such.
When asked for a statement on the matter, Myocho Kan, who is the founder of myKITA, did not waste time or breath to let his opinions known.
“Education should be strictly education. When politicians start to mix race, religion and politics in education to satisfy political motives, race card included, the whole country will become futile.”
Kan enunciated and substantiated his statement with a list of long outstanding controversies that have plagued the Malaysian education system.
Maszlee was the Education Minister for a year and a half. While it was not a very long time, it was a valuable short period that should have focused on critical issues that have been the brunt of the education system failure for a long time. As a leader, he should have spent time on priority areas and tackled the fundamental shortcomings of the Malaysian education system during his tenure.
He went on to explain how the fact that emphasis was being put on everything but the standard of education was one of the leading causes of the country’s suffering and deprivation of a world class education. His opined that education policies should not be politically weaponized for it is damaging Malaysia’s future generation.
The abrupt termination of the 1BetsariNet contracts was controversial to say the least. As a leader, Maszlee should have looked at the overall integrity of the project and improved it to make it more efficient and economically viable instead of completely shutting down the project. The billions of ringgits and time invested in the project would be completely lost if it was cancelled. He should have addressed the drawbacks and limitations of the project and aimed to improve it. It may seem like a case of easier said than done, but it was not impossible. Myocho Kan did something similar in the case of MMC-Gamuda MRT 2 when the project was slated for termination. The project was eventually rationalized and improvements were made after much public pressure, including Kan’s intervention on 10 October 2018.
“These improvements managed to even reduce the cost of the entire project”, he added.
Myocho was staunchly against the termination of the MMC-Gamuda MRT 2 project because it was an irresponsible decision on the government’s behalf considering the macro effect on the economy, the opportunity cost of lost economic activities and future investor’s confidence. Similarly, he opposed the shutdown of the 1BetsariNet project on such insight. Myocho believes that the project needs to be rationalized and viewed for its potential.
Myocho has always opposed the muddling of education. The introduction of and continuing interference of matters such as race, religion, ethnicity, and most importantly politics, has led to the decline of Malaysian education over the decades in relative comparison to other Asian counterparts. He believes that education and policies related to it should focus on providing the best for the people of Malaysia rather than satisfying the stakeholders with personalized gain and intent.
“Stop voting politicians, start voting Professionals.”
Perhaps this quote by Kan best summarizes the need of the hour. This is where myKITA makes a difference. Due to it being ingrained in the notion of a genuine Third Force, myKITA does not focus on the policymaker’s political affiliation, but rather on how the policy can enhance and further the betterment of the country. myKITA is driven by integrity and professional governance in hopes of achieving advancement. The motto “Bridging Aspirations, Building Nation” and “Malaysia Empowered” best encapsulate the very essence of the organization. myKITA does not believe in electing politicians who have ulterior motives as their primary objective and country’s well-being as their secondary pursuit. Instead, myKITA believes in the need to start electing professionals with proven success and achievements in their respective industries and areas of expertise. who’ve entered politics not for personal gain, but to serve their country and serve her well.