Press Statement (2) by Charles Santiago in Klang on
Tuesday, 2nd December 2008:
Promote not attack vernacular
education to secure UMNO Youth votes
I vehemently denounce Mukhriz Mahathir's
call to abolish vernacular schools in the country. It shows a total lack
of sensitivity to the non-Malays in Malaysia. His proposal to streamline
Chinese and Tamil schools into one Malaysian education system to promote
national unity is nonsensical.
Vernacular schools do not prevent racial unity in the country. In fact,
it is race-based policies in civil service employment, awarding of
contracts and discrimination against minority communities and
marginalisation of the poor that hampers national unity.
Mukhriz must also stop reinforcing the off-limits policies which centre
around Ketuanan Melayu or Malay supremacy and special privileges for the
Malays which are designed to further alienate the non-Malays, another
source of disunity in the country.
Let us look at the federal allocation for schools - the government
disbursed RM1.48 million to 248 Chinese primary schools while it dished
out RM709 million to build 15 new Mara Junior Science Colleges.
The number of Tamil primary schools dipped from 526 in 2001 to 523 in
2006 despite a 12.7% increase in enrolment. The new intake in 2001
numbered 88,810 students and rose to 100,142 students in 2006.
At present there are about 50,000 Malay students enrolled in vernacular
Mukhriz's argument is irrational.
It is clear that his statement is aimed at securing support among UMNO
Youth members, an act which could land him the top job as youth chief at
the party's election scheduled for March 2009.
Mukhriz should be deeply ashamed for politicizing mother-tongue
education to further his career in ruling UMNO.
Mukhriz must also immediately retract his statement and instead
encourage the government to provide the necessary funds to vernacular
schools to upgrade its existing infrastructure and build new facilities.
* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang