Single race parties and
divide and rule policies are real disuniting factors, not SJKCs
by Ronnie Liu
Malaysians were disappointed with the comments made by the Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday, when he says that building more
Chinese primary schools would jeopardize the unity among the different
races in this country.
Such shocking, biased and baseless
comments coming from none other than the No.1 leader of the country have
hurt the feelings of the Chinese community, which in general are ardent
supporters of SJKCs. At this point of time, 9 out of 10 Chinese parents
prefer to send their children to SJKCs. Currently, there are about 65,000
Non-Malays students studying in the SJKCs. I guess their parents too may not
find the PM’s statement acceptable.
SJK stands for Sekolah Jenis
Kebangsaana (national-type); Abdullah has made a big mistake when he
describes the SJKCs as bukan kebangsaan( non-national). Both the SKs
and SJKs share the same curriculum; the only difference lies in the medium
of language. It’s therefore also wrong for him to claim that there are two
different types of primary education system. It’s unforgivable for a
former Minister of Education to make such a glaring mistake.
It appears to us that the Prime
Minister has not only forgotten about his 2004 general election pledges (Barisan
Nasional put up full page full colours advertisements in various newspapers,
making many promises on the development of SJKCs and mother tongue
education), he has also ignored the human rights of the Malaysian Chinese,
for receiving mother tongue education is a fundamental right enshrined in
our Federal Constitution and the UN Human Rights Declarations.
His statement has also crushed the
hopes of many parents living in urban areas such as Johor Bahru, Cheras,
Puchong, Subang Jaya and Petaling Jaya. The acute shortage of SJKCs in their
areas had cost them many sleepless nights and great inconveniences. Many of
them have to sacrifice valuable sleeps to send their kids to schools far way
We support his call to strengthen
sekolah kebangsaan. Many Malaysian parents including senior Cabinet
ministers have lost confidence in sekolah kebangsaan. They prefer to
send their kids to international schools or the private ones such as Sri
Inai and Sri Cempaka. Some of them even prefer to send their kids to
boarding schools in UK and the United States.
But the strengthening of sekolah
kebangsaan must not sacrifice the development of the sekolah jenis
kebangsaan including Chinese primary schools.
If the PM really wants to listen to
the truth, I would not hesitate to tell him that single race parties which
practice divide and rule techniques and racial policies were the biggest
disuniting factor in this country. It’s the sense of injustices and
unhappiness arising from preferential treatments and inequalities that
preventing us from emerging as a truly united nation after years of gaining
independence from the British.
I would like to give just one example
to illustrate my point of view. While we understand the need of affirmative
actions under the NEP, one cannot expect a student who passed their STPM or
SPM with flying colours to feel happy and good when he or she was rejected
by the local universities purely because of his or her skin colour.
Many have given their valuable views
on the subject of national unity over the live Debat Perdana over TV1
beginning from this year. It looks like the debate has very little or no
impact in correcting the views and understandings of our political leaders.
On the surface of it, putting our
young children of different ethnic backgrounds together with an intention to
encourage intermingling and cross-culture understanding can be a good idea.
But good intention alone is not good enough to foster racial relations. Our
young children in the schools and universities are not living in a vacuum.
The moment our young children sense that there are so much of inequalities
and injustices in our socio-economic and educational systems, they will
begin to ask those questions which are very difficult for their parents to
answer. That largely explains why polarization has reached such a shameful
height in some local universities.
At the end of the day, it’s justice,
freedom, equality and democracy that make peace, harmony and goodwill a
reality among the people.
Stop pointing your finger else where,
my dear honorable Prime Minister.
* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew,
DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief