Building More Chinese And Tamil Primary Schools Based On Education Needs Must Be A Continuous Effort Not Only To Protect, Preserve And Promote The Mother-Tongue Education Rights Of The Non-Malays But To Assist Malaysia’s Competitive Advantage In The Two Largest Growing Markets Of China And India.
by Lim Guan Eng
This Parliamentary Round Table is an unique initiative by our Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang to focus on the future of of mother-tongue education that is threatened by the reluctance of the BN government to build more Chinese and Tamil primary schools. The announcement by Deputy Education Minister Datuk Noh Omar in response to DAP MP for Ipoh Barat M. Kulasegaran on 20 September 2006 in Parliament that not a single Chinese and Tamil primary school will be built under the Ninth Malaysian Plan has exposed the government’s discriminatory policies towards mother-tongue education.
We have learnt bitter political lessons that only by promoting our rights can we effectively protect it. To give expression to Article 152 of our Federal Constitution allowing the non-Malay community to learn and use their mother-tongue can only be effectively protected if mother-tongue education is promoted by the government’s commitment of building more Chinese and Tamil primary schools based on education needs.
Following DAP MPs and Kula’s success in forcing Noh Omar to admit when replying on behalf of the Education Ministry in Parliament that no Tamil and Chinese primary schools will be built, MCA, Gerakan and MIC were subjected to severe attacks by the non-Malay community. BNs inability to respond especially Deputy Education Minister Datuk Hon Choon Khim has an important beneficial effect of forcing Education Minister Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn to try to save MCA and Gerakan politically by announcing the building of two new Chinese primary schools.
Hishamuddin’s announcement on 25.9.2006 barely 5 days after Noh Omar, of two new Chinese primary schools is also dishonest and incorrect. The two new Chinese primary schools is actually probably one new school as Kulai SJK© II is a relocated schools whilst the Tun Tan Siew Sin SJK© in Putra Heights, Subang is a Wawasan school.
DAP MPs and Kulasegaran Has Succeeded In Using Parliament To Force The Government To Change Its Policy Of No New Chinese Primary Schools Within 5 Days.
However, DAP’s ability to force Hishamuddin to announce at least one new Chinese primary school by pressing for accountability in Parliament five days after Noh Omar said there was none shows the importance of the non-Malay community to unite and be steadfast in promoting mother-tongue education. Hishamuddin may claim that Noh Omar was not informed on the new Chinese primary schools as this was his sole power and authority. But how can two new Chinese primary schools suddenly appear within 5 days after Noh Omar’s announcement of zero schools.
Noh Omar was replying on behalf of the Education Ministry and he was not punished for making this mistake of misleading Parliament and the people of the government’s policy of not building any Chinese and Tamil primary schools. Can there be a policy change within 5 days that can result in one new Chinese primary schools? For this reason the non-Malay community can not adopt the attitude of resigning oneself to facing adversity (ni lai shun shou) as in the past but must promote these rights(ni shui xin zhou, bu jin zhe dui).
Dong Jiao Zong has estimated that 134 new Chinese primary schools and 836 acres of land are required in Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru. Approving new schools by the Ministry is difficult but more difficult is getting new land approved by the state governments to build these schools. The Chinese community should not be satisfied with only one new Chinese primary school but must continue to press for 134 new ones based on education needs.
Similarly the Indian community must also demand that there are new Tamil primary schools and not allow MIC President Datuk S. Samy Vellu to deceive them that repairs to existing schools are considered as new schools. To accept Samy’s logic is to accept BN’s “beggar politics” of throwing us one school to mollify us politically but without addressing the fundamental problems of shortage of schools and funding.
We are not beggars. If MCA, MIC and Gerakan wants to be beggars they can go ahead. As a citizenry with political rights we should demand fair treatment and equal opportunities for mother-tongue education by institutionalizing educational funds and building of new schools based on needs.
There are rational and compelling economic reasons to promote mother-tongue education especially gaining a competitive advantage in the growing markets of China and India, the two fastest growing economies in the world. Both China and India have been highlighted internationally as respectively the manufacturing and IT software outsourcing centre of the world. If Malaysia does not wake up and take advantages of the opportunities offered, then Malaysia would not only lose out in terms of increasing our exports but also foreign investment.
Having a command of language to better communicate with these two largest markets is an indispendable advantage. The government should invest in the future by building more Chinese and Tamil primary schools based on education needs, which must be a continuous effort not only to protect, preserve and promote the mother-tongue education rights of the non-Malays but to assist Malaysia’s competitive advantage in the two largest growing markets of China and India.
* Lim Guan
Secretary-General of DAP