In May 2018, the ASEAN region was riveted by the election results in Malaysia, where the Barisan Nasional coalition which had ruled Malaysia for over six decades was toppled in a stunning upset by Pakatan Harapan. If you are a Singaporean student, you should clue yourself in to the politics of our nearest neighbour. Besides the fact that their politics affects us, there is also always a fascinating comparison between Singapore and Malaysia: socially, politically, economically, food, there are so many parallels between the two countries. Same same, but different as they say. I think of Singapore and Malaysia as distorted mirror images of each other.
Even if you are not Singaporean, the politics of Malaysia holds some interesting and important lessons for you.
Below is a commentary written by my friend Maa Zhi Hong. He is a remarkable young Singaporean. At the age of only 21, and never having attended junior college or taken the subject of General Paper (he is a polytechnic grad), his knowledge and understanding of world affairs equals or surpasses even the best of the GP students I taught over 14 years. He needed no one to tell him to read newspapers, websites or books. He devours them with an appetite that I think I myself was able to match only as a 10 year old bookworm.
I can say without hesitation that his grasp of world affairs and ability to tie together disparate elements of society, economics, politics, history and more into a coherent analysis exceeds 90 percent or more of the university graduates I know. And he has not stepped into either junior college or university. Nor does he intend to. His plan is to invest his time and money into learning from what he calls the University of Life (“you never graduate from that,” he says), chalking up real world experience and accomplishments in areas such as writing, speaking and business. At the tender age of 21, he has already been engaged by the prestigious Asia Times as a contributor and had seven articles published in less than a month.
Knowing him has been a humbling experience for me, and I trust reading his work and knowing about him will be for many of you JC students and uni grads out there as well. Much to ponder and reflect on, and we can only grow stronger and more vibrant if we set aside our ego to learn from anyone regardless of their background.
By Maa Zhi Hong, Asia Times
May 6, 2019
On the night of May 9, 2018, Malaysians of all political affiliations could not believe their eyes as they processed the election results coming in after polling had ended. After all, Prime Minister Najib Razak had done his best to stack the deck in his favor; he gerrymandered the electoral system to give heavier weight to rural Malaysia, which had backed his coalition in the 2013 general election.
In the end, all of this came to naught.
One by one, many senior Barisan Nasional (BN) ministers lost their seats to the opposition.
Website owner Steven Ooi, a First Class Honours grad from the National University of Singapore, retired from a distinguished 14-year career as a GP and English tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to General Paper and student life.
To view tutors recommended by him, click here.
GP model essays here.