Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Pecah Lobang" Documentary

A friend of mine, Poh Si, who is also the founder of is launching her documentary about Muslim transsexual sex workers in Kuala Lumpur.

For the Facebook group, go to here


“Pecah Lobang,” which means “busted,” explores what it’s like to be a Muslim transsexual sex worker in Malaysia.

Shot in the Chow Kit red light district, the documentary revolves around Natasha, a Muslim Mak Nyah, who refuses to live life as a man. Unable to secure employment because of discrimination, Natasha turns to sex work and lives in constant fear of the police and religious authorities.

Crossdressing is a crime under Syariah law for Muslims and the penalties are severe. But it wasn’t always so. How did Malaysia become so heavy-handed on the transsexual community?

A religious scholar, a physician who conducted sex change surgeries, a sociologist, three attorneys and an outreach worker explain how it all came to be.

The documentary, "Pecah Lobang," will be screened at the Malaysian Freedom Film Fest next month.

There will be a panel discussion after each screening.More about the film

Look forward to seeing you.

Schedule:Kuala Lumpur (6 Sept. 2008) - 8:30 p.m.The Annexe Gallery Studio Theatre

Johor Bahru (13 Sept. 2008) - 8:30 p.m.Tropical Inn Johor Bahru

Kuching (20 Sept. 2008) - 8:30 p.m.Old Court HouseJalan Tun Abang Haji Openg

Penang (27 Sept. 2008) - 8:30 p.m.Wawasan Open University (WOU)
Click here to read more of Chen Chow's posts

Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!

CPPS Statement on the 2009 Budget

Below are the analysis from Center of Public Policy Studies (CPPS) on Malaysia Budget 2009.

CPPS Mailing List - CPPS Statement on the 2009 Budget

CPPS Statement on the 2009 Budget


CPPS' Statement on the 2009 Budget

1. Increase in Budget Allocation

This is a record expansionary budget of RM207.9 billion, a further increase of 5% from the RM177 billion budget allocated in 2008, with the express objective of countering the problem of stagflation and overall economic slowdown indicated by the expected 5.4% growth rate for 2009. The fiscal deficit is also expected to increase from 3.7% in 2007 to 4.8% in 2008. Whilst this is acceptable because generating growth is a priority during such economically challenging times, this has to be carefully guarded for the future, as a large fiscal deficit is not sustainable in the long run and should be monitored quarterly. Operational expenditure has increased to RM154.2 billion, from RM128.8 billion in 2008, an alarming increase of almost 20%. This is close to a 200% increase from the operating expenditure in 2000, which was only RM53.35 billion. The government's commitment in reducing the fiscal deficit as promised must be closely monitored. Secondly, there are no measures mentioned explicitly in tackling rising inflation.

2. Policies should be Equitably Implemented

There seems to be a shift in strategy, in that there are no explicit references to closing interethnic inequalities within each of its policies on poverty eradication, urban transportation, health services, public amenities and so on. This is a positive move away from race-based policies. However, the CPPS cautions that these policies be implemented equitably regardless of race, failing which they would fall into the trap of naturally executing incumbent policies favouring one ethnic community over the other.

3. Reducing Regional Imbalances

The government has responded to the criticisms of many that its economic budgetary policy has given insufficient attention to Sabah and Sarawak, now evidenced by its allocation of RM580 million and RM420 million, respectively. The entrenched systems of corruption must nevertheless be checked so that the money is rightly channeled, lest they are wasted in the form of massive leakages in both states.

4. People-Oriented Budget

The budget puts less focus on mega projects and gives attention to lower income groups. Whilst the budget focuses on addressing rural poverty, very few measures besides increased allocations for public transport are directly related to addressing urban poverty. In a situation of rapid urbanization, with 71% of Malaysia projected to be urban by 2015, urgent measures are needed to alleviate the predicaments of the urban poor.

In light of rising food prices and the increased burden this places on low-income groups, the government has reduced import duties on various consumer durables and full import duty exemption from selected food items. The CPPS however recommends that all food items should be exempt from import duty, since food price increases are affecting low to middle income groups greatly.

5. Stimulating Investment

The announced measures for stimulating private investment are welcome, but are also lacking. It is recommended that the Foreign Investment Committee guidelines for equity ownership should be loosened to encourage domestic and foreign investment, which will give our economy a much-needed boost, stimulating production. Strict equity restrictions are what turn away foreign investors from Malaysia. Further, these restrictions for approved investments are carriers to investment and do not materially assist Bumiputera growth. Burdensome regulations pertaining to licensing, permits and quotas should also be addressed. Cutting the proliferation of red tape here will only serve consumers by lowering prices and the cost of doing business, which is Malaysia is slipping in.

6. Strengthening Institutions

Finally, the Centre believes that it is primarily due to the weakened institutions that implementation of sound policies have failed. The delivery system of the government has to be improved if we are to compete with first world countries. The government must ensure value for people's tax money and reduce wasteful government spending, which has only grown courtesy of corruption fueled by opaque government policies and practices. As such, greater funds should be allocated to the Judiciary, which presently fails to adapt to private sector needs for commercial dispute resolution, amongst dealing with other legal procedures necessary for efficient operations within both the private and public sectors. The trend of greater independence and funds for the Anti-Corruption Agency should continue to check wastage and leakage in the public and private sectors. Such funds would build capacity and ensure independence and autonomy from the executive, thereby guaranteeing further checks and balances in our system of governance – and ensure that the hefty amounts of funds allocated for the country's growth do not go to waste.

Tan Sri Ramon V. Navaratnam, Chairman

Tricia Yeoh, Director

Centre for Public Policy Studies

Kuala Lumpur

29th August 2008

For more enquiries, please contact:

Tricia Yeoh:

Tel: +603-20932820/20934209

Fax: +603-20933078

Friday, August 29, 2008

Malaysia Budget 2009

Malaysia Budget 2009 fully quoted from

Enhancing Health Services

* Excise duty specific on cigarettes increased by three sen from 15
sen per stick to 18 sen per stick. With this, the duty for a 20-stick
pack of cigarettes is now increased by 60 sen.

Social Safety Net

* Eligibility criteria for welfare assistance under the Welfare
Department, increased from a monthly household income of RM400 to
RM720 for Peninsular Malaysia, RM830 for Sarawak and RM960 for Sabah.

* Government pensioners who had served at least 25 years upon
retirement, will receive a pension of not less than RM720 per month,
effective Jan 1 2009.

* The Government will now also set up a Special fund of RM25mil set up
to channel financial assistance to victims of calamities such as
floods and fire.

Eradicating Poverty

* Programmes to enhance income, as well as provide skills and career
development training under the Skim Pembangunan Kesejahteraan Rakyat
to be continued. In addition, Program Lonjakan Mega Luar Bandar is
being implemented in Pulau Banggi, Sabah and Tanjung Gahai, in Kuala
Lipis, Pahang.

* In 2009, RM50mil is allocated to build 1,400 new houses and repair
1,000 houses under the Housing Assistance Programme. Priority will be
given to senior citizens, the disabled and single parents with many
dependents as well as victims of natural disasters.

* RM580mil and RM420mil allocated for Sabah and Sarawak respectively
to increase income and enhance quality of life of Malaysians there by
improving basic amenities, such as electricity, water and rural roads.

* Households which incur monthly electricity bills of RM20 or less,
will not have to pay for electricity, for the period from 1 October
2008 to end of 2009.

* The current tax rebate of RM350 per person be increased to RM400 for
those with taxable income of RM35,000 and below.

* All interest income from savings for individuals be tax exempt.

* Reduce import duties on various consumer durables from between 10%
and 60% to between 5% and 30%. These include blender, rice cooker,
microwave oven and electric kettle.

Full import duty exemption on several food items, which currently
attract import duties of between 2% and 20%. These include vermicelli,
biscuits, fruit juices and canned sweet corn.

* Reduce the road tax on private passenger vehicles with diesel
engines to be the same as those with petrol engines, effective 1
September 2008.

Enhancing The Welfare Of Employees

* Travel allowance for commuting to work provided by employers be
given full tax deduction, while the employees receiving such an
allowance be given tax exemption of up to RM2,400 per year.

* Tax exemption be given to employees on:

- Interest subsidies on housing, motor vehicles and education loans.
The tax exemption will be limited to total loans up to RM300,000;

- Mobile phones, as well as telephone and internet bills paid by the employer;

- Staff discounts of up to RM1,000 a year on company traded goods;

- Staff discounts on services rendered by the company, such as private
schools providing free education to children of their employees; and

- Childcare allowance of up to RM2,400 per year.

* Tax exemption on medical benefits provided by employers to include
expenses on maternity and traditional medicine, namely acupuncture and

* Effective Jan 1 2009, civil servants with a monthly household income
of RM3,000 eligible for a subsidy of RM180 per month.

Improving Public Transportation

* A sum of RM35bil will be expended during the period 2009 to 2014 to
improve public transportation.

* The existing LRT system in the Klang Valley will be extended by
30km, that is 15km respectively, for Kelana Jaya and Ampang lines.
Upon completion in 2011, the extensions are expected to benefit 2.6
million residents in the Subang Jaya-USJ and Kinrara-Puchong areas,
compared with 1.9 million currently.

* A new LRT line will be built along a 42km route from Kota Damansara
to Cheras; to be completed in 2014.

* The commuter rail services of Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB)
will be upgraded. Rehabilitation works are being undertaken on the
existing 20 Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) and are expected to be
completed in 2009. An additional 13 new units of EMUs will be acquired
and be operational by 2011.

* To reduce the operating costs of public transport operators:

- government will provide a soft loan facility of RM3bil under the
Public Transportation Fund, administered by Bank Pembangunan Malaysia
Berhad (BPMB), to finance the acquisition of buses and rail assets;

- reduce toll charges by 50% for all buses, except at border entry
points, namely Johor Causeway, Second Link and Bukit Kayu Hitam, for a
period of two years, effective Sept 15 2008.

* Road tax will also be reduce to RM20 a year for all bus, taxi, car
rental and limousine operators.

Food Security

* Sum of RM5.6bil is provided under the National Food Security Policy,
for the period 2008 to 2010. This allocation is to provide incentives
to agriculture entrepreneurs to reduce production costs and encourage
higher agriculture output.

* RM300mil allocated to increase fish landings. Of this, RM180mil is
in the form of cost of living allowance to fishermen and fishing boat
owners, as well as RM120mil as incentive for fish landings.

* RM1bil allocation as incentives for 220,000 padi farmers throughout
the country to increase padi production.

Generating Income Through Micro Credit

* RM160mil allocated to provide better education opportunities as well
as improve health and basic amenities for the Orang Asli.

* A monthly allowance of RM150 to disabled who are unable to work. In
addition, the monthly allowance for disabled students in special
education schools, will also be increased from RM50 to RM150, while
teaching assistants in these schools will be provided incentive
payments of RM200 per month.

* In 2009, an allocation of RM330mil is provided to Jabatan Perumahan
Negara to complete 4,400 units of Program Perumahan Rakyat (PPR)
Disewa, 1,500 units of PPR Bersepadu and 600 units of PPR Dimiliki. In
addition, Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad will build 33,000 low cost

* For civil servants, tenure of new housing loans extended from 25
years to 30 years. They will also be provided housing loan facility
for renovation works on houses not purchased through Government
housing loan.

* For medium cost houses of up to RM250,000, a 50% stamp duty
exemption is extended to the loan agreement on top of the 50% stamp
duty exemption on the instrument of transfer.

* For companies contributing to charitable institutions, the limit of
tax deduction be increased from 7% to 10% of aggregate income.

Improving Public Amenities

* Allocation of RM3bil to intensify efforts to further develop Sabah
and Sarawak for infrastructure projects, including 266 km of federal
and rural roads, benefiting more than 550,000 residents.

* An allocation of RM3.3bil is provided for Sarawak to implement
various projects, including the construction of 230 km of federal and
rural roads, benefiting more than 350,000 residents.

Second Strategy: Developing Quality Human Capital

* A sum of RM70mil is allocated in 2009 to train 5,600 nurses in
training colleges under the Ministry of Health, with 2,000 in
recognised private training colleges.

* To meet the need for new schools and replace dilapidated schools,
110 primary and 181 secondary schools will be built. In addition, to
ensure that existing schools are well maintained, an allocation of
RM615mil is provided.

* RM14.1bil to improve quality of learning at institutions of higher
learning. Of this, RM8bil is for Operating Expenditure for public
institutions of higher learning, RM627mil for polytechnics and
community colleges as well as RM37mil for the Malaysian Qualification

Culture of Excellence

* The highest marginal tax rate for individuals be reduced from 28% to
27%, effective the year of assessment 2009. In addition, the marginal
tax rate of 13% will also be reduced to 12%, which will benefit the
middle income group.

* Recruitment costs, such as payments to employment agencies and
participation in job fairs, be tax deductible.

Third Strategy: Strengthening The Nation's Resilience

* To encourage private sector activities, tax treatment on group
relief be enhanced by allowing losses for the purpose of offsetting be
increased from 50% to 70%.

* An additional RM300mil under the Strategic Investment Fund to
further strengthen private investment in Iskandar Malaysia.

Promoting Tourism

* New investments by 4-star and 5-star hotel operators in Sabah and
Sarawak be given Pioneer Status with 100% income tax exemption or
Investment Tax Allowance of 100% for 5 years.

* RM50mil for conservation works of heritage sites in Malacca and
Penang to support activities undertaken by non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) and private sector.

Promoting Venture Capital Companies

* Venture capital companies that invest at least 30% of their funds in
start-up, early stage financing or seed capital be eligible for a
5-year tax exemption.

Promoting Small and Medium Enterprises

* All SME assets in the form of plant and machinery acquired in the
years of assessment 2009 and 2010 be given Accelerated Capital
Allowance to be claimed within one year. In addition, SMEs are allowed
to claim full Capital Allowance on all small value assets within one

National Energy Plan

* Exemption of import duty and sales tax on solar photovoltaic system
equipment, import duty and sales tax on intermediate goods such as
High Efficiency Motors and insulation materials; sales tax on locally
manufactured solar heating system equipment; sales tax on locally
manufactured energy efficient consumers goods such as refrigerators,
air-conditioners, lightings, fans and televisions; and 100% import
duty and 50% excise duty on new hybrid CBU cars, with engine capacity
below 2,000 cc, be given to franchise importers. This exemption is
given for a period of two years to prepare for the local assembly of
such cars.

Towards A Vibrant Capital Market

* Tax exemption be given on fees received by domestic intermediaries,
which successfully list foreign companies and foreign investment
products in Bursa Malaysia. This measure will also enable domestic
investors to acquire shares of foreign companies listed in the local

* Current tax rate on dividends received by foreign institutional
investors from Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) be reduced from
20% to 10%. Recognising that REITs is an attractive investment product
for individuals as well, the Government also proposes a reduction in
tax rate from 15% to 10%.

Ensuring Public Safety

* RM5.4bil is allocated in the 2009 Budget to enhance the capacity of
the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM). Of this, RM4.8bil is for Operating
Expenditure and RM600mil for Development Expenditure.

* RM220mil is allocated in 2009 for the construction of police
headquarters and stations nationwide.

* For the period 2008 to 2010, a total of 22,800 constables and 3,000
inspectors will be recruited. In addition, the special incentive
allowance for PDRM personnel will be increased from RM100 to RM200
monthly, effective Jan 1 2009.

* All business premises installed with security control equipment be
given Accelerated Capital Allowance, which is fully claimable within
one year.

Civil Service

* A bonus of one-month salary, subject to a minimum of RM1,000 for
2008. The bonus will be paid in two instalments, namely in September
and December 2008.

Interesting Newsletter

Found this newsletter that I think is good.

Hi! And how are you all? Like most of you, I spent the last three
weeks 'parked' in front of my television, watching in awe at the
sporting spectacle that took place at the Beijing Olympics. As I was
watching these world class athletes perform, I could not help but come
to the conclusion that what we saw was just the tip of the iceberg
i.e. we saw the performance but not the grueling training regime that
each and every one of them must have undergone to ensure that they
were in peak condition during the Olympics. All of these dedicated
athletes had to make a lot of sacrifices in terms of time, their
social life, effort etc in their single-mindedness to take part in
this glorious once in four year sporting event.

Among this elite crowd, the one individual who stood head over
shoulders above the rest was Michael Phelps. At 23, Michael Phelps
has become an international sporting sensation by winning eight gold
medals and smashing seven world records in the process. He is also the
first athlete ever to secure first place so many times at a single

The path to success for Michael Phelps was however not a smooth one.

• At the age of seven Michael was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder. This is a childhood condition characterized by
constant activity, impulsive behavior and the inability to focus one's
attention on anything for a short span of time. To help release his
pent-up energy, Phelps took up swimming.

• At the age of nine, Michael's parents divorced. His mother brought
up all three children (two sisters) single-handedly, encouraging them
to follow their dreams at all costs.

• In 2004, Phelps, then 19, was arrested for driving under the
influence of alcohol. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months
probation, saying in court, "I recognize the seriousness of this
mistake and will continue learning from this mistake for the rest of
my life."

The reason I am telling you all this instead of glorifying his
achievements, is to state that success was not handed on a silver
platter to Michael. He like the rest of us has had his share of
setbacks in life. In spite of all these however, he went on to become
the supreme champion that he is currently. I believe there is much
that we can learn from the success of Michael Phelps. Some of them

Setbacks are part of life and winners get on with it. In spite of the
many setbacks early in his life, Michael bounced back every time and
used these setbacks as building blocks to achieving more success. He
never ever allowed these setbacks to become obstacles or excuses in
his quest for swimming success. Like him, we must realize that
setbacks are part of nature's way of making us all stronger. Using an
analogy, we are all like a flame in the wind; some people use the wind
to make their flame get bigger, whilst others blame the wind for
blowing out their flame. Winners like Michael, always choose the

Dream big! Don't let anyone tell you your goal is impossible. Imagine
if Michael had told people a few years ago that he wanted to win eight
gold medals at the Olympics. What do you think would have been their
reaction! Yes, I am sure skepticism! If he had listened to these
cynics, we would have been deprived of seeing his world class
performances. He not only had big goals; he was totally focused and
committed to it. In management we must all learn to shoot for the
stars and maybe we will at least hit the moon! Never ever listen to
the cynics. It is always in their interest not to see other people

Use failures and cynics to motivate you. At the Athens Olympics in
2004, Phelps was beaten by teammate Ian Crocker in the 100m butterfly.
Instead of allowing this event to demoralize him, he used it as a
source of inspiration to become even better. He put up a poster of
Crocker winning the event in his bedroom to constantly motivate him to
train even harder in the event. Another thing that motivated Michael
was Ian Thorpe's (the great Australian swimmer who won five gold
medals at the Athens Olympics) statement that he thought winning eight
gold medals was 'unattainable'. Michael stuck a note with Thorpe's
statement on his locker to be used as a constant source of motivation.
We all need to be motivated. What better way than to prove the cynics
wrong or else to use our past failures to drive us to future success!!

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I do hope that I have in
a way motivated you to go out there to achieve your life's goals. Take
decisive action now!!! And have a great month ahead!

If you like this and think your friends will like it too, please feel
free to forward this and they can subscribe by emailing to

1. To read management articles by Heera
2. To see photos of training carried out by Heera
This newsletter goes to approximately 9,000 subscribers in over 15
countries in the world.
To unsubscribe: Send us an empty email at:

Heera Singh
Principal Consultant
HEERA Training and Management Consultancy
HP 0126083708

Sunday, August 24, 2008’s net profit rises 25% to RM 9.1 million in Q2, 2008

The company that I am working at -- continued its stellar performance and is definitely a great investment choice. Despite the high inflation economy, continuted to produce fantastic financial results, where its revenue grew by 35% and its net profit grew by 25%. That is definitely an amazing results!

JobStreet Corporation Berhad (Main Board: "JOBST") posted its 2nd Quarter results for the period ended 30 June 2008 with a 35% growth in revenue to a total of RM27.2 million. This increase is translated to a 25% increase in net profit to RM9.1 million compared to the RM7.3 million achieved in the corresponding quarter in the preceding financial year.

The growth in’s revenue during the 2nd quarter of this year was mainly attributed to the strong 43.6% quarter on quarter growth in the demand for the Group’s core online job posting product.

The Group’s profit after taxation and minority interest of RM9.1 million is achieved after incurring a one-off loss on the disposal of an associate company in Hong Kong amounting to RM1.3 million. Excluding the impact of this loss, the Group’s net profit would have grown by 42.7% compared with the corresponding quarter in 2007, on a more comparable basis.

A quarter on quarter comparison, followed by a year-on-year comparison:-

Revenue grew from RM20.235 Million for Q2 2007 to RM27.248 Million for Q2 2008. That is a 35% growth rate.

Profit before taxation grew from RM8.358 Million for Q2 2007 to RM10.806 Million for Q2 2008. That translates to a 29% growth rate.

Whereas, Profit after taxation and minority interests grew from RM7.265 Million for Q2 2007 to RM9.055 Million for Q2 2008. That's a 25% growth rate.

For the 6-month period ended on 30th June 2008, revenue grew to RM52.507 Million from RM38.143 Million, which is a 38% growth rate.

Profit before taxation grew 49% from RM15.502 Million for H1 2007 to RM23.111 Million for H1 2008.

For profit after taxation and minority interests, it grew 48% from RM13.224 Million for H1 2007 to RM19.509 Million for H1 2008.

As an indication of its continued success, recently emerged 4th in the overall standings of the KPMG/The Edge Shareholder Value Awards 2007.

Mark Chang, CEO of JobStreet Corporation Berhad says “Given that we are in the midst of global financial uncertainties and economic slowdown, our first half results are encouraging. However, depending on the length and depth of the slowdown, it’s uncertain how much our results will be impacted going forward.”

He added that as part of’s strategy to expand its service of online recruitment in the region, it has entered into partnership with Sanook Online Ltd to establish JobStreet (Thailand) Co., Ltd. He said, “We intend to use our experience from our operations in our other offices in the region to replicate’s success in Thailand. With a strong online partner like Sanook, we are confident in meeting our objectives.”

JobStreet operates the ( online recruitment websites presently covering the employment markets in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Japan and Thailand. The Group currently services over 50,000 corporate customers and over 5 million jobseekers. JobStreet is listed on Main Board of Bursa Malaysia Securities (JOBST).

Click here to read more of Chen Chow's posts

Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Petrol Price drops

Thanks, Yang Li for the news!

Petrol RON 97 drops from RM2.70 to RM2.55
Petrol RON 92 drops from RM2.62 to RM2.40
Diesel drops from RM2.58 to RM2.50

Effective midnight tonight.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Internet Time column

Article by Oon Yeoh


My latest three articles on tech, published in The Edge

Mobility Tour '08

I recently completed what I call my "Mobility Tour" which saw me
travel to four states across two weekends and ask people for their
feedback on a new category of computers called Netbooks.

Will Powerset give Microsoft the edge?

When I wrote about an interesting new "natural-language" search engine
called Powerset in May, I ended my article by saying, "Perhaps, Google
should just buy it up. Perhaps, that's just what Powerset wants."

A new mindset for the conceptual age

The first time I met Jason Lo, several years ago, he was a musician
and I was a journalist. Today, somehow, we've ended up in the telco
industry. He's the CEO of Tune Talk and I'm a senior research
scientist at Telenor.

Wikimedia column

Articles by Oon Yeoh
My latest three articles on media, published in The Star

The Nut Graph to explain it all

With one news portal having more or less cornered the breaking news
market, and another not far behind, the latest, launching tomorrow, is
looking to differentiate itself.

Project Malaysia joins the pack

I'VE written about new entrants to the online news scene, Malaysian
Insider and MalaysiaVotes (renamed The Nut Graph and ready to launch
any day now). Just when you thought the online news space is
overcrowded already, yet another one is set to join the scene.
Should newspapers build community?

NEXT to Web 2.0, probably the next most commonly tossed-about buzzword
among New Media types is "online community."

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

Thanks to my fellow RJC senior, Jolene Tan for sharing this article.

You can have the link at

Full quotation below.

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education
Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to
make minds, not careers

By William Deresiewicz

It didn't dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education
until I was about 35. I'd just bought a house, the pipes needed
fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a
short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston
accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn't have the slightest idea
what to say to someone like him. So alien was his experience to me, so
unguessable his values, so mysterious his very language, that I
couldn't succeed in engaging him in a few minutes of small talk before
he got down to work. Fourteen years of higher education and a handful
of Ivy League degrees, and there I was, stiff and stupid, struck dumb
by my own dumbness. "Ivy retardation," a friend of mine calls this. I
could carry on conversations with people from other countries, in
other languages, but I couldn't talk to the man who was standing in my
own house.

It's not surprising that it took me so long to discover the extent of
my miseducation, because the last thing an elite education will teach
you is its own inadequacy. As two dozen years at Yale and Columbia
have shown me, elite colleges relentlessly encourage their students to
flatter themselves for being there, and for what being there can do
for them. The advantages of an elite education are indeed undeniable.
You learn to think, at least in certain ways, and you make the
contacts needed to launch yourself into a life rich in all of
society's most cherished rewards. To consider that while some
opportunities are being created, others are being cancelled and that
while some abilities are being developed, others are being crippled
is, within this context, not only outrageous, but inconceivable.

I'm not talking about curricula or the culture wars, the closing or
opening of the American mind, political correctness, canon formation,
or what have you. I'm talking about the whole system in which these
skirmishes play out. Not just the Ivy League and its peer
institutions, but also the mechanisms that get you there in the first
place: the private and affluent public "feeder" schools, the
ever-growing parastructure of tutors and test-prep courses and
enrichment programs, the whole admissions frenzy and everything that
leads up to and away from it. The message, as always, is the medium.
Before, after, and around the elite college classroom, a constellation
of values is ceaselessly inculcated. As globalization sharpens
economic insecurity, we are increasingly committing ourselves—as
students, as parents, as a society—to a vast apparatus of educational
advantage. With so many resources devoted to the business of elite
academics and so many people scrambling for the limited space at the
top of the ladder, it is worth asking what exactly it is you get in
the end—what it is we all get, because the elite students of today, as
their institutions never tire of reminding them, are the leaders of

The first disadvantage of an elite education, as I learned in my
kitchen that day, is that it makes you incapable of talking to people
who aren't like you. Elite schools pride themselves on their
diversity, but that diversity is almost entirely a matter of ethnicity
and race. With respect to class, these schools are largely—indeed
increasingly—homogeneous. Visit any elite campus in our great nation
and you can thrill to the heartwarming spectacle of the children of
white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside
the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and
professionals. At the same time, because these schools tend to
cultivate liberal attitudes, they leave their students in the
paradoxical position of wanting to advocate on behalf of the working
class while being unable to hold a simple conversation with anyone in
it. Witness the last two Democratic presidential nominees, Al Gore and
John Kerry: one each from Harvard and Yale, both earnest, decent,
intelligent men, both utterly incapable of communicating with the
larger electorate.

But it isn't just a matter of class. My education taught me to believe
that people who didn't go to an Ivy League or equivalent school
weren't worth talking to, regardless of their class. I was given the
unmistakable message that such people were beneath me. We were "the
best and the brightest," as these places love to say, and everyone
else was, well, something else: less good, less bright. I learned to
give that little nod of understanding, that slightly sympathetic "Oh,"
when people told me they went to a less prestigious college. (If I'd
gone to Harvard, I would have learned to say "in Boston" when I was
asked where I went to school—the Cambridge version of noblesse
oblige.) I never learned that there are smart people who don't go to
elite colleges, often precisely for reasons of class. I never learned
that there are smart people who don't go to college at all.

I also never learned that there are smart people who aren't "smart."
The existence of multiple forms of intelligence has become a
commonplace, but however much elite universities like to sprinkle
their incoming classes with a few actors or violinists, they select
for and develop one form of intelligence: the analytic. While this is
broadly true of all universities, elite schools, precisely because
their students (and faculty, and administrators) possess this one form
of intelligence to such a high degree, are more apt to ignore the
value of others. One naturally prizes what one most possesses and what
most makes for one's advantages. But social intelligence and emotional
intelligence and creative ability, to name just three other forms, are
not distributed preferentially among the educational elite. The "best"
are the brightest only in one narrow sense. One needs to wander away
from the educational elite to begin to discover this.

What about people who aren't bright in any sense? I have a friend who
went to an Ivy League college after graduating from a typically
mediocre public high school. One of the values of going to such a
school, she once said, is that it teaches you to relate to stupid
people. Some people are smart in the elite-college way, some are smart
in other ways, and some aren't smart at all. It should be embarrassing
not to know how to talk to any of them, if only because talking to
people is the only real way of knowing them. Elite institutions are
supposed to provide a humanistic education, but the first principle of
humanism is Terence's: "nothing human is alien to me." The first
disadvantage of an elite education is how very much of the human it
alienates you from.

The second disadvantage, implicit in what I've been saying, is that an
elite education inculcates a false sense of self-worth. Getting to an
elite college, being at an elite college, and going on from an elite
college—all involve numerical rankings: SAT, GPA, GRE. You learn to
think of yourself in terms of those numbers. They come to signify not
only your fate, but your identity; not only your identity, but your
value. It's been said that what those tests really measure is your
ability to take tests, but even if they measure something real, it is
only a small slice of the real. The problem begins when students are
encouraged to forget this truth, when academic excellence becomes
excellence in some absolute sense, when "better at X" becomes simply

There is nothing wrong with taking pride in one's intellect or
knowledge. There is something wrong with the smugness and
self-congratulation that elite schools connive at from the moment the
fat envelopes come in the mail. From orientation to graduation, the
message is implicit in every tone of voice and tilt of the head, every
old-school tradition, every article in the student paper, every speech
from the dean. The message is: You have arrived. Welcome to the club.
And the corollary is equally clear: You deserve everything your
presence here is going to enable you to get. When people say that
students at elite schools have a strong sense of entitlement, they
mean that those students think they deserve more than other people
because their sat scores are higher.

At Yale, and no doubt at other places, the message is reinforced in
embarrassingly literal terms. The physical form of the university—its
quads and residential colleges, with their Gothic stone façades and
wrought-iron portals—is constituted by the locked gate set into the
encircling wall. Everyone carries around an ID card that determines
which gates they can enter. The gate, in other words, is a kind of
governing metaphor—because the social form of the university, as is
true of every elite school, is constituted the same way. Elite
colleges are walled domains guarded by locked gates, with admission
granted only to the elect. The aptitude with which students absorb
this lesson is demonstrated by the avidity with which they erect still
more gates within those gates, special realms of ever-greater
exclusivity—at Yale, the famous secret societies, or as they should
probably be called, the open-secret societies, since true secrecy
would defeat their purpose. There's no point in excluding people
unless they know they've been excluded.

One of the great errors of an elite education, then, is that it
teaches you to think that measures of intelligence and academic
achievement are measures of value in some moral or metaphysical sense.
But they're not. Graduates of elite schools are not more valuable than
stupid people, or talentless people, or even lazy people. Their pain
does not hurt more. Their souls do not weigh more. If I were
religious, I would say, God does not love them more. The political
implications should be clear. As John Ruskin told an older elite,
grabbing what you can get isn't any less wicked when you grab it with
the power of your brains than with the power of your fists. "Work must
always be," Ruskin says, "and captains of work must always be....[But]
there is a wide difference between being captains...of work, and
taking the profits of it."

The political implications don't stop there. An elite education not
only ushers you into the upper classes; it trains you for the life you
will lead once you get there. I didn't understand this until I began
comparing my experience, and even more, my students' experience, with
the experience of a friend of mine who went to Cleveland State. There
are due dates and attendance requirements at places like Yale, but no
one takes them very seriously. Extensions are available for the
asking; threats to deduct credit for missed classes are rarely, if
ever, carried out. In other words, students at places like Yale get an
endless string of second chances. Not so at places like Cleveland
State. My friend once got a D in a class in which she'd been running
an A because she was coming off a waitressing shift and had to hand in
her term paper an hour late.

That may be an extreme example, but it is unthinkable at an elite
school. Just as unthinkably, she had no one to appeal to. Students at
places like Cleveland State, unlike those at places like Yale, don't
have a platoon of advisers and tutors and deans to write out excuses
for late work, give them extra help when they need it, pick them up
when they fall down. They get their education wholesale, from an
indifferent bureaucracy; it's not handed to them in individually
wrapped packages by smiling clerks. There are few, if any,
opportunities for the kind of contacts I saw my students get
routinely—classes with visiting power brokers, dinners with foreign
dignitaries. There are also few, if any, of the kind of special funds
that, at places like Yale, are available in profusion: travel
stipends, research fellowships, performance grants. Each year, my
department at Yale awards dozens of cash prizes for everything from
freshman essays to senior projects. This year, those awards came to
more than $90,000—in just one department.

Students at places like Cleveland State also don't get A-'s just for
doing the work. There's been a lot of handwringing lately over grade
inflation, and it is a scandal, but the most scandalous thing about it
is how uneven it's been. Forty years ago, the average GPA at both
public and private universities was about 2.6, still close to the
traditional B-/C+ curve. Since then, it's gone up everywhere, but not
by anything like the same amount. The average gpa at public
universities is now about 3.0, a B; at private universities it's about
3.3, just short of a B+. And at most Ivy League schools, it's closer
to 3.4. But there are always students who don't do the work, or who
are taking a class far outside their field (for fun or to fulfill a
requirement), or who aren't up to standard to begin with (athletes,
legacies). At a school like Yale, students who come to class and work
hard expect nothing less than an A-. And most of the time, they get

In short, the way students are treated in college trains them for the
social position they will occupy once they get out. At schools like
Cleveland State, they're being trained for positions somewhere in the
middle of the class system, in the depths of one bureaucracy or
another. They're being conditioned for lives with few second chances,
no extensions, little support, narrow opportunity—lives of
subordination, supervision, and control, lives of deadlines, not
guidelines. At places like Yale, of course, it's the reverse. The
elite like to think of themselves as belonging to a meritocracy, but
that's true only up to a point. Getting through the gate is very
difficult, but once you're in, there's almost nothing you can do to
get kicked out. Not the most abject academic failure, not the most
heinous act of plagiarism, not even threatening a fellow student with
bodily harm—I've heard of all three—will get you expelled. The feeling
is that, by gosh, it just wouldn't be fair—in other words, the
self-protectiveness of the old-boy network, even if it now includes
girls. Elite schools nurture excellence, but they also nurture what a
former Yale graduate student I know calls "entitled mediocrity." A is
the mark of excellence; A- is the mark of entitled mediocrity. It's
another one of those metaphors, not so much a grade as a promise. It
means, don't worry, we'll take care of you. You may not be all that
good, but you're good enough.

Here, too, college reflects the way things work in the adult world
(unless it's the other way around). For the elite, there's always
another extension—a bailout, a pardon, a stint in rehab—always plenty
of contacts and special stipends—the country club, the conference, the
year-end bonus, the dividend. If Al Gore and John Kerry represent one
of the characteristic products of an elite education, George W. Bush
represents another. It's no coincidence that our current president,
the apotheosis of entitled mediocrity, went to Yale. Entitled
mediocrity is indeed the operating principle of his administration,
but as Enron and WorldCom and the other scandals of the dot-com
meltdown demonstrated, it's also the operating principle of corporate
America. The fat salaries paid to underperforming CEOs are an adult
version of the A-. Anyone who remembers the injured sanctimony with
which Kenneth Lay greeted the notion that he should be held
accountable for his actions will understand the mentality in
question—the belief that once you're in the club, you've got a
God-given right to stay in the club. But you don't need to remember
Ken Lay, because the whole dynamic played out again last year in the
case of Scooter Libby, another Yale man.

If one of the disadvantages of an elite education is the temptation it
offers to mediocrity, another is the temptation it offers to security.
When parents explain why they work so hard to give their children the
best possible education, they invariably say it is because of the
opportunities it opens up. But what of the opportunities it shuts
down? An elite education gives you the chance to be rich—which is,
after all, what we're talking about—but it takes away the chance not
to be. Yet the opportunity not to be rich is one of the greatest
opportunities with which young Americans have been blessed. We live in
a society that is itself so wealthy that it can afford to provide a
decent living to whole classes of people who in other countries exist
(or in earlier times existed) on the brink of poverty or, at least, of
indignity. You can live comfortably in the United States as a
schoolteacher, or a community organizer, or a civil rights lawyer, or
an artist—that is, by any reasonable definition of comfort. You have
to live in an ordinary house instead of an apartment in Manhattan or a
mansion in L.A.; you have to drive a Honda instead of a BMW or a
Hummer; you have to vacation in Florida instead of Barbados or Paris,
but what are such losses when set against the opportunity to do work
you believe in, work you're suited for, work you love, every day of
your life?

Yet it is precisely that opportunity that an elite education takes
away. How can I be a schoolteacher—wouldn't that be a waste of my
expensive education? Wouldn't I be squandering the opportunities my
parents worked so hard to provide? What will my friends think? How
will I face my classmates at our 20th reunion, when they're all rich
lawyers or important people in New York? And the question that lies
behind all these: Isn't it beneath me? So a whole universe of
possibility closes, and you miss your true calling.

This is not to say that students from elite colleges never pursue a
riskier or less lucrative course after graduation, but even when they
do, they tend to give up more quickly than others. (Let's not even
talk about the possibility of kids from privileged backgrounds not
going to college at all, or delaying matriculation for several years,
because however appropriate such choices might sometimes be, our rigid
educational mentality places them outside the universe of
possibility—the reason so many kids go sleepwalking off to college
with no idea what they're doing there.) This doesn't seem to make
sense, especially since students from elite schools tend to graduate
with less debt and are more likely to be able to float by on family
money for a while. I wasn't aware of the phenomenon myself until I
heard about it from a couple of graduate students in my department,
one from Yale, one from Harvard. They were talking about trying to
write poetry, how friends of theirs from college called it quits
within a year or two while people they know from less prestigious
schools are still at it. Why should this be? Because students from
elite schools expect success, and expect it now. They have, by
definition, never experienced anything else, and their sense of self
has been built around their ability to succeed. The idea of not being
successful terrifies them, disorients them, defeats them. They've been
driven their whole lives by a fear of failure—often, in the first
instance, by their parents' fear of failure. The first time I blew a
test, I walked out of the room feeling like I no longer knew who I
was. The second time, it was easier; I had started to learn that
failure isn't the end of the world.

But if you're afraid to fail, you're afraid to take risks, which
begins to explain the final and most damning disadvantage of an elite
education: that it is profoundly anti-intellectual. This will seem
counterintuitive. Aren't kids at elite schools the smartest ones
around, at least in the narrow academic sense? Don't they work harder
than anyone else—indeed, harder than any previous generation? They
are. They do. But being an intellectual is not the same as being
smart. Being an intellectual means more than doing your homework.

If so few kids come to college understanding this, it is no wonder.
They are products of a system that rarely asked them to think about
something bigger than the next assignment. The system forgot to teach
them, along the way to the prestige admissions and the lucrative jobs,
that the most important achievements can't be measured by a letter or
a number or a name. It forgot that the true purpose of education is to
make minds, not careers.

Being an intellectual means, first of all, being passionate about
ideas—and not just for the duration of a semester, for the sake of
pleasing the teacher, or for getting a good grade. A friend who
teaches at the University of Connecticut once complained to me that
his students don't think for themselves. Well, I said, Yale students
think for themselves, but only because they know we want them to. I've
had many wonderful students at Yale and Columbia, bright, thoughtful,
creative kids whom it's been a pleasure to talk with and learn from.
But most of them have seemed content to color within the lines that
their education had marked out for them. Only a small minority have
seen their education as part of a larger intellectual journey, have
approached the work of the mind with a pilgrim soul. These few have
tended to feel like freaks, not least because they get so little
support from the university itself. Places like Yale, as one of them
put it to me, are not conducive to searchers.

Places like Yale are simply not set up to help students ask the big
questions. I don't think there ever was a golden age of
intellectualism in the American university, but in the 19th century
students might at least have had a chance to hear such questions
raised in chapel or in the literary societies and debating clubs that
flourished on campus. Throughout much of the 20th century, with the
growth of the humanistic ideal in American colleges, students might
have encountered the big questions in the classrooms of professors
possessed of a strong sense of pedagogic mission. Teachers like that
still exist in this country, but the increasingly dire exigencies of
academic professionalization have made them all but extinct at elite
universities. Professors at top research institutions are valued
exclusively for the quality of their scholarly work; time spent on
teaching is time lost. If students want a conversion experience,
they're better off at a liberal arts college.

When elite universities boast that they teach their students how to
think, they mean that they teach them the analytic and rhetorical
skills necessary for success in law or medicine or science or
business. But a humanistic education is supposed to mean something
more than that, as universities still dimly feel. So when students get
to college, they hear a couple of speeches telling them to ask the big
questions, and when they graduate, they hear a couple more speeches
telling them to ask the big questions. And in between, they spend four
years taking courses that train them to ask the little
questions—specialized courses, taught by specialized professors, aimed
at specialized students. Although the notion of breadth is implicit in
the very idea of a liberal arts education, the admissions process
increasingly selects for kids who have already begun to think of
themselves in specialized terms—the junior journalist, the budding
astronomer, the language prodigy. We are slouching, even at elite
schools, toward a glorified form of vocational training.

Indeed, that seems to be exactly what those schools want. There's a
reason elite schools speak of training leaders, not thinkers—holders
of power, not its critics. An independent mind is independent of all
allegiances, and elite schools, which get a large percentage of their
budget from alumni giving, are strongly invested in fostering
institutional loyalty. As another friend, a third-generation Yalie,
says, the purpose of Yale College is to manufacture Yale alumni. Of
course, for the system to work, those alumni need money. At Yale, the
long-term drift of students away from majors in the humanities and
basic sciences toward more practical ones like computer science and
economics has been abetted by administrative indifference. The college
career office has little to say to students not interested in law,
medicine, or business, and elite universities are not going to do
anything to discourage the large percentage of their graduates who
take their degrees to Wall Street. In fact, they're showing them the
way. The liberal arts university is becoming the corporate university,
its center of gravity shifting to technical fields where scholarly
expertise can be parlayed into lucrative business opportunities.

It's no wonder that the few students who are passionate about ideas
find themselves feeling isolated and confused. I was talking with one
of them last year about his interest in the German Romantic idea of
bildung, the upbuilding of the soul. But, he said—he was a senior at
the time—it's hard to build your soul when everyone around you is
trying to sell theirs.

Yet there is a dimension of the intellectual life that lies above the
passion for ideas, though so thoroughly has our culture been sanitized
of it that it is hardly surprising if it was beyond the reach of even
my most alert students. Since the idea of the intellectual emerged in
the 18th century, it has had, at its core, a commitment to social
transformation. Being an intellectual means thinking your way toward a
vision of the good society and then trying to realize that vision by
speaking truth to power. It means going into spiritual exile. It means
foreswearing your allegiance, in lonely freedom, to God, to country,
and to Yale. It takes more than just intellect; it takes imagination
and courage. "I am not afraid to make a mistake," Stephen Dedalus
says, "even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake, and perhaps as long
as eternity, too."

Being an intellectual begins with thinking your way outside of your
assumptions and the system that enforces them. But students who get
into elite schools are precisely the ones who have best learned to
work within the system, so it's almost impossible for them to see
outside it, to see that it's even there. Long before they got to
college, they turned themselves into world-class hoop-jumpers and
teacher-pleasers, getting A's in every class no matter how boring they
found the teacher or how pointless the subject, racking up eight or 10
extracurricular activities no matter what else they wanted to do with
their time. Paradoxically, the situation may be better at second-tier
schools and, in particular, again, at liberal arts colleges than at
the most prestigious universities. Some students end up at second-tier
schools because they're exactly like students at Harvard or Yale, only
less gifted or driven. But others end up there because they have a
more independent spirit. They didn't get straight A's because they
couldn't be bothered to give everything in every class. They
concentrated on the ones that meant the most to them or on a single
strong extracurricular passion or on projects that had nothing to do
with school or even with looking good on a college application. Maybe
they just sat in their room, reading a lot and writing in their
journal. These are the kinds of kids who are likely, once they get to
college, to be more interested in the human spirit than in school
spirit, and to think about leaving college bearing questions, not

I've been struck, during my time at Yale, by how similar everyone
looks. You hardly see any hippies or punks or art-school types, and at
a college that was known in the '80s as the Gay Ivy, few out lesbians
and no gender queers. The geeks don't look all that geeky; the
fashionable kids go in for understated elegance. Thirty-two flavors,
all of them vanilla. The most elite schools have become places of a
narrow and suffocating normalcy. Everyone feels pressure to maintain
the kind of appearance—and affect—that go with achievement. (Dress for
success, medicate for success.) I know from long experience as an
adviser that not every Yale student is appropriate and well-adjusted,
which is exactly why it worries me that so many of them act that way.
The tyranny of the normal must be very heavy in their lives. One
consequence is that those who can't get with the program (and they
tend to be students from poorer backgrounds) often polarize in the
opposite direction, flying off into extremes of disaffection and
self-destruction. But another consequence has to do with the large
majority who can get with the program.

I taught a class several years ago on the literature of friendship.
One day we were discussing Virginia Woolf's novel The Waves, which
follows a group of friends from childhood to middle age. In high
school, one of them falls in love with another boy. He thinks, "To
whom can I expose the urgency of my own passion?...There is
nobody—here among these grey arches, and moaning pigeons, and cheerful
games and tradition and emulation, all so skilfully organised to
prevent feeling alone." A pretty good description of an elite college
campus, including the part about never being allowed to feel alone.
What did my students think of this, I wanted to know? What does it
mean to go to school at a place where you're never alone? Well, one of
them said, I do feel uncomfortable sitting in my room by myself. Even
when I have to write a paper, I do it at a friend's. That same day, as
it happened, another student gave a presentation on Emerson's essay on
friendship. Emerson says, he reported, that one of the purposes of
friendship is to equip you for solitude. As I was asking my students
what they thought that meant, one of them interrupted to say, wait a
second, why do you need solitude in the first place? What can you do
by yourself that you can't do with a friend?

So there they were: one young person who had lost the capacity for
solitude and another who couldn't see the point of it. There's been
much talk of late about the loss of privacy, but equally calamitous is
its corollary, the loss of solitude. It used to be that you couldn't
always get together with your friends even when you wanted to. Now
that students are in constant electronic contact, they never have
trouble finding each other. But it's not as if their compulsive
sociability is enabling them to develop deep friendships. "To whom can
I expose the urgency of my own passion?": my student was in her
friend's room writing a paper, not having a heart-to-heart. She
probably didn't have the time; indeed, other students told me they
found their peers too busy for intimacy.

What happens when busyness and sociability leave no room for solitude?
The ability to engage in introspection, I put it to my students that
day, is the essential precondition for living an intellectual life,
and the essential precondition for introspection is solitude. They
took this in for a second, and then one of them said, with a dawning
sense of self-awareness, "So are you saying that we're all just, like,
really excellent sheep?" Well, I don't know. But I do know that the
life of the mind is lived one mind at a time: one solitary, skeptical,
resistant mind at a time. The best place to cultivate it is not within
an educational system whose real purpose is to reproduce the class

The world that produced John Kerry and George Bush is indeed giving us
our next generation of leaders. The kid who's loading up on AP courses
junior year or editing three campus publications while
double-majoring, the kid whom everyone wants at their college or law
school but no one wants in their classroom, the kid who doesn't have a
minute to breathe, let alone think, will soon be running a corporation
or an institution or a government. She will have many achievements but
little experience, great success but no vision. The disadvantage of an
elite education is that it's given us the elite we have, and the elite
we're going to have.


William Deresiewicz taught English at Yale University from 1998 to 2008.

Letter to the editor: UiTM issue

Sharing an article by Oon Yeoh


This is my letter to the editor about the UiTM issue published in
Malaysiakini on Aug 19, 2008

Why do we go to university?
By Oon Yeoh

University life seems like an eternity ago and I barely remember any
of my professors or the subjects they taught me. There was, however,
one memorable lesson given by a guest lecturer whose name I cannot
recall but whose message still resonates with me until today.

In light of the controversy that followed Selangor MB Khalid Ibrahim's
suggestion that UiTM open itself to some non-Malays, I would like to
share what I learned from that guest lecturer who was invited to give
a talk in the sports journalism class I was taking.

He was a baseball expert but when he took to the podium, he told us
that he was not going to talk about America's favourite pastime.

Instead, he had a question for all of us: "Why are you all in college?"

That seemed like an easy enough question to answer. Several students
quickly put up their hands.

"So we can get a good job one day and make lots of money!" said one
student, to loud laughter.

The lecturer smiled and said, "Come on, we all know that there are
many people who never went to college and are rich beyond

"To get an education," said another student.

"You don't necessarily have to go to college to do that," the lecturer
said. "Many people get their education through the school of hard

Another student said, "To get a degree. You can't get that unless you
go to university."

To that, the lecturer replied, "That's not true. You can take
correspondence courses."

At that point, everybody seemed stumped so the lecturer finally said,
"The main reason you go to college is to learn to socialise" and he
proceeded to elaborate.

When you graduate and enter the work force, you will be surrounded by
generally like-minded people with roughly the same educational
background and social status.

If you are in banking, the people around you would have probably
studied finance. If you are in the medical field, the people you
mingle with will be fellow doctors and nurses. And if you are in
architecture, your network of friends and associates will inevitably
be those in the building and construction industry.

Unless you happen to have a very unique job that requires you to
mingle with a broad range of people, the harsh reality is that your
world will be constrained by your career choices.

College is the only time in your life when you are exposed to all
kinds of people from all walks of life and from very different
backgrounds – unless of course you go to UiTM.

While preparing to do a podcast on the controversy surrounding
Khalid's comments, my podcasting partner, Ong Kian Ming, said
something remarkably similar to what the guest lecturer had said. "The
whole idea of a university is for different people to get together and

He's spot on, just as the guest lecturer was. If you don't learn how
to deal with a myriad of people and expose yourself to different
worldviews when you are in the spring time of your life – when you are
young and carefree – how will you ever be able to do so when you enter
the "real world" and have to cope with the challenges and insecurities
of carving out a career and struggling to make ends meet every month?

As mentioned earlier, your world will naturally be constrained by the
career track that you choose. But if you've had exposure to diversity
early on, you would have a better chance of broadening your network
beyond what would normally be the case – because you learned how to do
so when you were young.

I was very lucky to have attended a cosmopolitan American university
which had students from all over the US and indeed, the world. I had
classmates from every continent. Some were rich, some poor; some were
from developed countries, some from the third world. But in college,
all of us were equals - we attended class together, we did assignments
together, we played together.

Not to denigrate the value of academic lessons – they are important,
of course – but my experiences in dealing with and socialising with
classmates who were very different from me played a bigger role in my
personal growth and development than any specific subjects I learned.

Granted, there are no universities in Malaysia that can offer the
diversity you could find in popular American universities, which make
it a point to take in students from all over the world.

But Malaysia does have a pretty diverse population. Even without the
benefit of foreign students, there's a lot that our young people can
learn from schoolmates of different ethnicity, religions and
backgrounds. What a shame if we don't give them a chance to do that.

In our most recent podcast article, Kian Ming and I asked: "Can UiTM
really aspire to be a world-class university if all the students there
are of one particular race?" The people who are protesting Khalid's
suggestion would do well to ponder upon this rhetorical question.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Free Engineering Education

Thanks Mark Lee for highlighting the following.

Hi Chenchow

Had just read about this school, Olin College of Engineering, which
provides free engineering education (albeit for a limited number of
engineering specialties). However, it does not include room & board,
which comes to about US$17K -
Scholarship Policy:Every admitted student receives a four-year, full
tuition scholarship valued at approximately $130,000

All the best,

Monday, August 18, 2008

Undergrad education in the US - hear from current students and alumni!

Hope to see many are interested to attend. If you need direction, just
let me know.
Hello friends,

Everyone I'm sending this email to has something in common. We're all
planning to attend, are already attending, or have attended an
American university. We've had the benefit of an educational
philosophy that emphasises more than professional training - an
education system that avoids the mass production of cookie-cutter
citizens, unlike the universities many other countries. We've enjoyed
incredible opportunities to grow as individuals, and often at the
expense of the very institutions we attend. But for every one of us,
there are many who could have had the same experience, yet for some
reason simply ended up elsewhere.

Some of you might remember this letter I wrote to a local media outlet
some months back, which highlighted the incredible dearth of
information about the opportunities America offers:

This Saturday the 23rd we're doing our little bit to change this sad
situation. At the Descartes Education Counselling Centre in Damansara
Utama, a group of us - current students and alumni from various
American universities and liberal arts colleges - will be speaking on
the hows, the whys, the whats of applying to American institutions of
higher education. I hope you'll join us.

But more than that, I hope you'll help us spread the word. There are
many bright students out there who do not realise the scope of
financial aid available, or the life-changing possibilities of a
liberal arts education. If you have any friends who are interested in
learning more, please, invite them and bring them along. If you have
contacts at local colleges or secondary schools, please let them know
about this upcoming talk. Even passing this email along is enough. And
if you run a blog or website, please help us get the word out.

I'm attaching a map to the venue, and a poster for the event. If
you're interested in helping distribute the poster, please get in
touch with me and we can talk about reimbursement for photocopying
costs, etc. And if you're just skimming this longish email, here's a

What: Panel on American undergraduate/liberal arts education
Where: The DECC office, 55-1 Jalan SS21/1A, Damansara Utama, 47400
Petaling Jaya.
When: Saturday 23 August, 2pm to 5pm
Why: To learn about the opportunities of an American education, and
how to get there. And, of course, to meet some incredible people
(namely yourselves)
How: Show up and bring your fabulous personalities along

Thanks so much, and I'll see you there this Saturday. :)


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mavin Khoo - Devi: In Absolution; In Aid of Pusaka...

Received this in the mailing list.


Friends of Pusaka...I am pleased to announce that my brother, *Mavin
Khoo*will be debuting his newest work
*Devi - In Absolution *in Kuala Lumpur on 23 & 24 August 2008.
Proceeds for the performance will go towards sustaining Pusaka's continued
efforts at researching and revitalizing traditional Malay performing arts.
This new work will feature, on vocals, the renowned Indian classical
vocalist *O.S Arun *and the evening's performance is under the patronage of
HRH Raja Muda Perak Darul Ridzuan, Raja Dr Nazrin Sultan Azlan Shah.

Details of peformance are:

*Dates: 23 & 24 August 2008*
*Venue: Civic Centre Petaling Jaya*
*Time: 8.30pm*
*Tickets: RM100, RM50, RM30 (Invitation Tickets in the form of donations to
Pusaka are also available). *
*Information for purchase: 012-207 2402; 012-636 0232; 019-241 9000*
Please see *attached flyer* for further details of programme.
I would greatly appreciate it if you could forward this information to
friends or on your own mailing lists.
Look forward to seeing you at the performance.
And many thanks for your continued support of Pusaka's efforts.

deepest regards ~ eddin


Share your beautiful moments with Photo Gallery. Windows Live Photo

This is a personal address. Kindly refrain from appending it to group lists
of any form or persuasion. Thank You - Eddin Khoo.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Looking for Indonesian Female Host

Posting this for a friend - Shu Jia. If you are interested, contact them directly.

Looking for Indonesian Female Host
We are a TV production house looking for Indonesian females in Malaysia age 18-35 to audition as a TV host for a Chinese satellite TV channel. Our criteria:
1. Photogenic
2. Preferably Looks Chinese
3. Warm and Friendly
4. Good speaking voice
5. Fluent in Bahasa Indonesia

Also, looking for Male Voice-Over talent in Bahasa Indonesia.

Posted By : i like entertainment

Tel: +603-78830896

Fax : +603-78830532
Email :

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Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!

Malaysia Olympic Games Updates - 12th August 2008

Some latest updates of Olympics...

- Badminton
We only left Lee Chong Wei, Wong Mew Choo and Tan Boon Heong/Koo Kien Keat only.

Lee Chong Wei started our day well by beating Navickas Kestutis 21-5 21-7.
Then, Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong continued our good record by beating Ikeda Shintaro and Sakamota Shuichi 21-12 21-16, and hence avenge their loss to them previously.

Then, Wong Choong Hann showed his inconsistency. After beating Taufik Hidayat yesterday, today, he lost to Hsieh Yu-Hsing 21-14 17-21 18-21 from Chinese Taipei.

And then Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah further added our nation's misery by losing to Lee Jaejin and Hwang Jiman 22-20 13-21 16-21

- For Sailing, Kevin Lim got disqualified in 1st Race for Laser, and in 2nd race, he was ranked 24th out of about 45 sailors. He was initially ranked around 10th by 1st Mark, but slowly dropped back as race progressed. Hope Kevin can bounce back for remaining races.

Lets hope that the remaining group of our contingent would perform well.

Click here to read more of Chen Chow's posts

Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy International Youth Day - 12th August

Notice from Asian Youth Council


12th of August is an International Youth Day. Please click here to read
the UN Secretary General's message for the IYD:

Please forward this message to your friends and let's celebrate the IYD

Norizan Bin Sharif
Executive Secretary
Asian Youth Council

Lee Chong Wei in Quarter Final

Latest Update:-

Lee Chong Wei beat Navickas Kastutis from Lithuania in Round 16 21-5
21-7. This would bring him to Quarter Final, potentially setting up a
match with Sony Dwi Koncoro.

Talk by Oon Yeoh

Thanks to Oon Yeoh for the invite!


The Political Training Bureau of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia

would like to invite you to our

Gerakan White Coffee Talk


Oon Yeoh


"The Permanent Political Paradigm Shift in Malaysia"


Level 9, Wisma BU8,

Friday, 22 Aug, 2008 at 7.30 p.m.

[Light refreshments will be served]

This talk is


See you there!

For more information:

Tel: 03 9287 6868 Fax: 03 9287 8866

AYA Dream Malaysia Awards

Thanks to my blog reader on this AYA Award. Another article on this.

Quoted from

The Olympics has its gold, silver and bronze medals, the Oscars the
golden statues, and MTV the golden popcorn. But a durian-shaped pewter
award? That's Malaysia's Asian Youth Ambassadors' Dream Malaysia
Awards, writes DAVID YEOW

THE Dream Malaysia Awards is an annual project by the Asian Youth
Ambassadors (AYA), a youth development non-governmental organisation
that seeks to honour ordinary Malaysian youths who possess an
extraordinary spirit by rewarding them with the title of "Most
Outstanding Youth of the Year".

The fourth year into its running, the awards is the brainchild of AYA
director Kenneth Chin, the son of late show business impresario Mike
Bernie Chin.

"In a way, durians are a lot like our young unsung heroes," mused Chin
over the rationale behind the durian-shaped award. Life gives them a
thorny outer shell to struggle with. It may be hard to break it open
but when they do, the fragrance is impossible to ignore.

"We need to reward people who the world doesn't see. It's easy to
recognise the celebrities, but who honours youths who overcome great
odds and achieve great feats through sheer determination and
extraordinary character?"

However, just because it focuses on the spirit of young unsung heroes,
the AYA Dream Malaysia Awards is in no way a consolation prize as
previous recipients will tell you.

Last year's winner, Dr Kenny Lee, was awarded for his work as a
medical doctor with the indigenous people of Long Lama, Sarawak. This
he did by turning down opportunities to become a high-flying medical

The winner for 2006, Sia Ling Ling, is stricken with muscular
dystrophy, an incurable disease that causes her legs to collapse if
she stands for more than 10 minutes. The 28-year-old, whose fingers
are also bent to a perpetual claw, was honoured for her will to keep
fighting and her dedication towards helping other disabled people
despite her condition.

And in 2005, Yvonne Foong was recognised for her fight against a rare
genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 2, which caused tumours
to grow randomly in her body -- including a brain tumour that affected
her hearing and several along her spine that weakened her limbs.

Despite the trials and tribulations, the former ballet dancer, figure
skater and soprano singer fought on and has to date written an
autobiography, designed her own T-shirt to raise funds for her
operations and become one of Malaysia's more prominent young bloggers.

The youths aren't the only ones the award seeks to honour.

The AYA Dream Malaysia Awards has a second category called
"Youth-Friendly Company", which acknowledges corporate entities that
have invested in the development of youths,"

Previous winners include Groove Syndicate which emphasises a "clean
clubbing concept" at its club "Glow" in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur,
and IDP Education, which provides free study counselling and
applications for tertiary programmes in Australia.

Last year's winner in this category was, an NGO
striving to inspire and empower young people.

One of's contributions is the "Empowering Youth
Entrepreneurs" project, which aims to help 100 potential young
entrepreneurs turn their business ideas into reality.

The Dream Malaysia Awards started off as Chin's dream to tell the
Malaysian story. Realising that there was something special about the
Malaysian spirit, he set out in search of stories of ordinary young
Malaysians who overcame great odds.

"I believe some of the most inspirational stories and lives can be
found in Malaysia. The awards are merely a means to highlight these
lives and tell the true Malaysian story.

"I merely want to inspire and transform the future of Malaysia through
the stories of these young people.

"And I pray that theses stories will one day touch the people of other nations."

Nominations for the awards open today until Aug 31.

AYA Awards 2008

Thanks a lot to my loyal blog reader for sharing this.


Any individual, association or institution can nominate any number of nominees.

The requirements for the nominees for the Most Outstanding Youth of
the Year are:

* Aged between 18 and 33 years old (as at 1st January 2008).
* Must be a Malaysian citizen.
* The nomination forms can be obtained in New Sunday Times or here

The requirements for the nominees for Youth Friendly Company of the Year are:

* All nominated companies must be incorporated in Malaysia
* The nomination forms can be obtained in New Sunday Times or here

All nominations must be submitted before or by 31 August.

Click here to find out more.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

7th Biennial PACA Conference 2009

Thanks Yunn Jiuan for sharing this with me.


7th Biennial PACA Conference 2009

'Communication Encounters Across Cultures'

The Department of Communications, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Serdang, Selangor, will be organizing an International Conference entitled 'Communication Encounters Across Cultures'.

This conference is organized by UPM in association with the Pacific and Asian Communications Association (PACA).

The conference will be held :

Date : 10-12 January 2009,

Venue : Universiti Putra Malaysia,
Serdang, (23km from Kuala Lumpur)
Selangor, Malaysia.

Conference Objectives:

The theme of the 2009 Pacific Asian Communication Association (PACA) conference is 'Communication Across Cultures' and is aimed at achieving the following objectives :

i. Providing the platform for academicians, communications associations, government agencies, non governmental organizations, media institutions, students and the general public to discuss and exchange ideas on issues relating to communication across cultures.
ii. To establish networking at the national levels, among delegations attending the conference.
iii. To discuss important issues in the field of communications which needed attention from policy makers in re-evaluating the effectiveness in the implementation of communications-related policies in Malaysia and in countries across the region.

Correspondence Address :

International Conference of Pacific and Asian Communication Association
Department of Communication
Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication
Universiti Putra Malaysia
43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor.

For Information, visit our website,
Or email or contact 603-8946 8790 (Dr. Mohd Nizam Osman) or 603-8946 8777 (Dr. Siti Zobidah Omar) or 603-8946 8764 (Dr. Muhamad Sham Shahkat Ali), fax no. 603-8948 5950.

Friday, August 08, 2008 Expert Series for August 2008

This is the monthly Expert Series organized by .

The link is here

You are invited to's monthly Expert Series. Our focus this time is on Marketing.If you are involved in Marketing Communications, A&P or simply have an interest to know more, this talk is one you won’t want to miss.

The topic we are presenting is:
Maximizing Marketing Strategies in a slowing economy – a showcase of some successful marketing campaigns

Our speaker for this event is Mr Roger Kerk, Managing Director of Armstrong Integrated Marketing Sdn Bhd.Having run his own agency for more than eight years, he provides marketing consultation services and has executed numerous successful marketing campaigns for a variety of clients and industries.This will be a great opportunity for marketers like you to come and share on the latest trends and best practices of the marketing industry, as well as network with like-minded people.

Speaker Mr Roger Kerk,Managing Director
Armstrong Integrated Marketing Sdn Bhd
Own an agency for more than 8 years, provides marketing consultation services and executed numerous successful marketing campaigns for a variety of clients and industries, including HSBC, Redbull, Jobstreet, Clarins, Fonterra, Citibank, Resorts World, Guinness, ICI, Nestle and the list goes on.

Certified Professional Trainer and Coach with International Professional Managers Association (IPMA) of UK. A regular marketing lecturer and trainer since 1999.

Topic Maximizing Marketing Strategies in a Slowing Economy – A showcase of some successful marketing campaigns


Date 14 August 2008 (Thursday)
Time 7.00pm - 9.30pm
Venue Wisma
No. 27, Lorong Medan Tuanku 1
(Off Jalan Sultan Ismail)
50300 Kuala Lumpur.

Contact Person Tan Hong Sun ( 016-333 0603 )
Raymond ( 012-298 5852)


7.00pm - 7.30pm Registration and light refreshment
7.30pm – 8.30pm Mr Roger Kerk - Armstrong Integrated Marketing

8.30pm – 8.45pm Refreshment

8.45pm – 9.00pm Q & A

9.15pm – 9.30pm Networking Session

Light snacks and refreshment will be served.
Don't forget to bring your business cards for networking!

Please invite along a friend from the same industry and
confirm your attendance by 12 August 2008.
Reservation is on first-come-first-serve basis.
As this is a learning and networking event, we discourage any soliciting.

See you soon!

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Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

17th International Youth Leadership Conference

This is one of the conference that I had attended during my student
days. Highly recommended to anyone interested. Do hope to see some
Malaysians attending it too!


17th International Youth Leadership Conference

January 4th – 9th, 2009

Prague, Czech Republic

Join prominent university students from 40 different countries for an
experience of a lifetime!

The theme of the conference is "a cross-cultural exchange of ideas
concerning the future of world leadership" and the main objective of
the IYLC is to blend educational activities and social interaction
using a number of inter-related events, such as:
Simulation of the United Nations Security Council Emergency Meeting
International Criminal Court Mock Pre-Trial
Model European Parliament Proceedings
Visits to foreign embassies, Senate of the Czech Republic, European
Commission, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Group debates and panel discussions on international security,
environmental sustainability, rule of law, responsible leadership and
mass media
Meetings and banquet dinners with leading experts, diplomats,
politicians and businessmen

For more information and application, please visit

Apply early to take advantage of the Early Bird discounts:

20% until August 25th, 10% until September 20th, 5% until October 10th

The Big Winner

Technorati highlighted to me of a blog which cited one of my earlier posts.

Not too long ago, I wrote about a book that I read by former President of Coca-Cola, and I blogged it here , and this blog The Big Winner cited it.

The Big Winner is a fantastic blog that is a great learning source! I would strongly recommend everyone to read through it!

Click here to read more of Chen Chow's posts

Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!

Annual Southeast Asian Studies Graduate Conference

Annual Southeast Asian Studies Graduate Conference at Cornell

Dear Grad Student Colleague: I thought you might like to see this
announcement. Cheers, Don (for SEAF)

Call for Papers

The Cornell Southeast Asia Program invites submissions for its 11th
Annual Southeast Asian Studies Graduate Conference. This year this
annual event will be held at the Kahin Center for Advanced Research
on Southeast Asia at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York on
October 24-26, 2008. We welcome submissions from graduate students at
any stage engaged in original research related to Southeast Asia.
Graduate students working in the following disciplines as well as
other related fields that contribute to the understanding of
Southeast Asia are encouraged to apply: history, literature, art
history, sociology, musicology, religion, anthropology, archeology,
architectural history, gender studies, political science, economics,
linguistics and literature.

This year we are honored to announce that our keynote speaker will be
Professor Benedict Anderson (Aaron L. Bienkorb Professor Emeritus of
International Studies, Government and Asian Studies, Cornell
University), the author of Imagined Communities: Reflections on the
Origin and Spread of Nationalism ([1983], rev. ed. 1991), The Spectre
of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia, and the World (1998),
and Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination
(2007). Papers related to Professor Anderson's interests are
strongly encouraged.

We ask that prospective presenters submit a one-page abstract and
curriculum vitae by September 1, 2008 to:

Final papers will be due by October 10, 2008. Papers should be in
English with a reading time of no more than 20 minutes (plus 10
minutes of discussion).

Please see
for details on abstract format and submission, as well as further
information and future updates

A limited number of modest travel grants are available. Please
indicate in your email when you submit the abstract if you would like
to apply for a travel grant.

Rose Metro and Trais Pearson
SEAP Student Committee Co-Chairs