The first is that Malaysia has been downgraded by the United States for human rights abuses, namely in the trafficking of people.
From the Guardian:
The US has downgraded Malaysia to the lowest ranking in its annual human trafficking report, relegating the southeast Asian nation to the same category as Zimbabwe, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. The move could result in economic sanctions and loss of development aid.
Malaysia's relegation to tier 3 in the US state department's Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report – published on Friday – indicates that the country has categorically failed to comply with the most basic international requirements to prevent trafficking and protect victims within its borders.
Human rights activists in Malaysia and abroad welcomed the downgrade as proof of the government's lax law enforcement, and lack of political will, in the face of continued NGO and media reports on trafficking and slavery.
"Malaysia is not serious about curbing human trafficking at all," said Aegile Fernandez, director of Tenaganita, a local charity that works directly with trafficking victims.
"The order of the day is profits and corruption. Malaysia protects businesses, employers and agents [not victims] – it is easier to arrest, detain, charge and deport the migrant workers so that you protect employers and businesses."
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't give two shits about what the US govt thinks or does not think of Malaysia. The US has Guantanamo Bay, privatised prisons for which there is a must-fill quota; conveniently resolved by the arrest and incarceration of ethnic minorities over minor offenses. They are in no position to moralise.
However, what rankles is that in this instance, they are right in putting Malaysia in the same category as .... Zimbabwe, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. Yuck.
What's the deal with Malaysia then?
"When you Google 'Malaysia', it's among the five worst countries for refugees," said Lia Syed, executive director of the Malaysia Social Research Insitute, which supports refugees.
"There is no policy for refugees in Malaysia at all. They are not recognised, they do not have legal status, they are just considered illegal migrants.
It doesn't matter what country they come from, what their story is, they do not get any support officially from the government."
It looks like we're a country deeply lacking in compassion. Ironically, do you know what's happened? The government has become the Malaysian version of America's GOP or better known as the Republicans whose main aim in life is to figure out new ways to line their pockets at the expense of everyone else.
Number one on the GOP agenda is THEMSELVES. Malaysia is turning into them. No thought could be more revolting than that, in my honest opinion.
And then, the second bit of news is that we have been demoted in university ranks. According to the Times Higher Education rankings, we don't even make it to Asia's top 100!
What?! Where are we going??
That is disheartening, since I am a proud graduate of one of Malaysia's once esteemed universities.
I am not even going to dwell on Singapore's placings (which used to be part of Malaysia) but even territorially unrested Iran's Sharif University has made it to rank number 37, so we should thoroughly be ashamed of ourselves!
Rip Van Winkle has a point: the value of Malaysian education is questionable.
Our education is going down the drain and it is no wonder that parents are sending their children to private institutions/academies.
Perhaps instead of doing that, we should be more firm with our government?
It is after all, their role to keep the standard up if not to improve it.