Kayveas should have called for betterment of Tamil primary schools

Press Statement
by John Chung

(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): People's Progressive Party President Datuk M. Kayveas should have called for the betterment of Tamil primary schools instead of suggesting that they be closed down as reported in Sin Chew Jit Poh.

While the DAP acknowledges the many problems faced by Tamil primary schools which warrant urgent attention, this however does not warrant the closure of Tamil schools.

Kayveas now insist that he never said that Tamil schools should be closed down following criticisms from various parties. But would Sin Chew Jit Poh have quoted Kayveas as such if he really did not make that statement?

Recognising the difficulties faced by Tamil primary schools and their needs is only a first step. This must be followed up with constructive ways to improve the conditions of the schools. The government must provide adequate financial allocation to ensure that basic facilities are in place and teachers are well-trained.

We must be careful to distinguish between the right to learn one's mother tongue and the right to mother tongue education. The loss of the right to mother tongue education, i.e. learning various subjects in one's mother tongue, can never be compensated by merely learning the language itself.

Simply for all the races to study together under one school system is not a guaranteed receipt for unity. Even with different schooling systems, we can still foster unity as long as we believe in the concept of unity in diversity.

Hence, all parties concerned for Tamil mother tongue education should dialogue and work together to find ways to alleviate the present condition of Tamil primary schools to ensure that the fundamental right to such education in one's mother tongue is preserved.


* John Chung, DAP National Publicity Bureau Assistant Secretary