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PBS, SAPP and LDP back NGO
Published on: Thursday, August 15, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Three Sabah opposition parties, namely LDP, PBS and SAPP regret that the Education Ministry’s insistence to introduce “non-academic” courses have caused political and ethnic tensions that are not conducive to nation-building. 

In particular, they defended the stand taken by Dong Zong and Jiao Zong in voicing concern over the decision to introduce Khat or Jawi calligraphy in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus in Primary Four in schools next year, though optional in Chinese and Tamil schools.

Parti Bersatu Sabah Deputy President, Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai, said it was a very dark, and tragic, day for the country when Dr Mahathir described Dong Zong as racist.

He said it merely articulated the unacceptability of teaching Khat. 

“In fact it is very unbecoming for the government to respond, as racist, to this very legitimate view of the Chinese community. 

“If this government is serious in improving the education system, then our students must be imparted with knowledge that would make them more competitive in the region, and globally,” he said in a statement. 

“Yes, we would like our children to learn as many languages as possible, such as Jawi, Latin, French, and Spanish etc.

But in reality, no one would deny that the existing school time table of our students are already overloaded.”

 

He said proficiency in Khat will not make students more competitive in the job market. 

Unless, of course, the government has a different objective in wanting students to learn Khat. 

“It is very sad, and disappointing, that Chinese representatives in the present government are also forcing the issue of Khat onto the unwilling Chinese community. 

“This is a betrayal of the mandate, entrusted on those Chinese YBs to look after the interest of the very community who have elected them into the government in the first instance,” he said. 

He said the government should respect the constitutional rights of everyone. This includes having a different view on Khat. 

SAPP Deputy President Datuk Richard Yong We Kong said education policy should not be abused as a tool for political power wrestle. 

He said these non-academic “courses” have spawned a crisis of ethnic tension, and even DongZong, a non-government education organization, has been dragged into the whirlpool.

Yong said parents are sending their children to school with a sole purpose to learn something useful lifelong, so that the younger generation can earn a living and have better life in the future.

He said in Sabah, various ethnic communities live in harmony. The federal government shall not use the Malaya issue to incite the mood of Sabahans, for their political gain.

“In the long run, to protect Sabah from the conflict in Malaya, Sabah should have autonomy to manage its own resources, without interference from the central government.

“With autonomy, Sabah can manage and formulate an education policy that can keep pace with the global advancement,” he said. 

Liberal Democratic Party said the United Chinese School Committees Association’s (Dong Zong) stand on the not racist and that its view should be respected. 

LDP vice President Yew Chau Khiong stressed that Dong Zong had always strived to safeguard Chinese education, while at the same time promote the diverse cultures in the country. 

He was extremely disappointed that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had labelled Dong Zong as “racist” for not agreeing with national education policies, including the setting up of Vision School (Sekolah Wawasan), as well as talks about banning the educationist group. 

Yew, who also heads the Social Issues Action Bureau of LDP, said: “The introduction of khat has already inflicted so much anxiety on the Chinese community. 

“We can’t help but worry that religious agenda has to do with adding khat into the BM syllabus, rather than purely for education purposes.”

“His (Mahathir’s) comment did not help to alleviate the worry of the Chinese community at all. 

He pointed out that Dong Zong had been doing a excellent job in preserving mother tongue education far better than any Chinese political party. 

“For the past two centuries, Chinese community, business folks and association have exerted great effort in developing Chinese schools and education to what they are today. 

“The Chinese schools in Malaysia are the symbol of our cultural fortress, a result of the strong, unwavering political will of our predecessors.”

He said the Chinese education system in our country, which was managed by a single race, could hardly be found anywhere else in the world and that the Chinese have contributed wholeheartedly to safeguarding their mother tongue education and culture. 

“Both Dong Zong and Jiao Zong have been playing an instrumental role in the development of Chinese education in Malaysia. 

“Hence, their concerns about khat, which also felt by other Chinese associations, is not unfounded. 

“Their government should not just dismiss their concerns.”

Yew added that Malaysia was a secular country and each citizen had equal rights to education as stipulated in the Federal Constitution. 

He said Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution states that the national language shall be the Malay language, and Article 152(1)(a) and (b) respectively stipulates that no personal shall be prohibited from learning other language and nothing in the clause shall prejudice the right of the Federal Government or State Government to preserve and sustain the use and study of the language of any other community. 

Regrettably, he said, the Education Act 1966 does not provide legal protection on Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools in the country. 

“Mother tongue education in Malaysia has still not received its rightful legal protection since Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over Putrajaya last year.”

Yew said the training of teachers, salaries and promotion of staff in national-type schools have remained under the purview of the Federal Education Ministry, whereas the power of the board of governors of Chinese schools was only limited to physical infrastructure of the institutions. 

Every year, he said the school board members had to raise funds from Chinese business community and associations for the expansion and maintenance of Chinese schools. 

Despite their best efforts, he said Chinese schools were constantly overcrowded, short of teachers and in need of more allocation. 

He said the PH government’s has yet to resolve Chinese school issues such as allocation and shortage of teachers, as well as to honour its promise of recognizing the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC). 

“The introduction of Jawi calligraphy on Chinese vernacular schools, threat to ban Dong Zong for its alleged racism, is that what the majority of the Chinese community who voted for PH get in return?”

“When the newly-formed PH government struggled with the staggering amount of national debt, the Chinese community have generously contributed over hundreds of millions of ringgit to Tabung Harapan. 

“The PH government seems to have forgotten what the Chinese community have done for them.”

He said LDP would continue to fight against unfair and unjust policies in safeguarding the rights of the Chinese community as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. 



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