(Mentakab, Saturday): Before the 1999 general election, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and UMNO leaders praised Chinese education and Chinese educationists for their great contribution to nation-building and manpower education, and veteran Chinese educationist Sim Moh Yee was even honoured by the Yang di Pertuan Agong for his contribution to education and nation building.
However, after the general election, the Chinese education movement led by Dong Jiao Zong is being accused of being "anti-national" and "unpatriotic" for opposing the Vision Schools proposal.
This is a replay of the Suqiu fiasco. Before the general election, MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers publicly declared their support for Suqiu and the MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik even announced that the Cabinet had accepted Suqiu in principle. However, after the general election, Mahathir said in his 43rd Merdeka Day Message that the Suqiu supporters were akin to communists, terrorists and communalists.
It is precisely because solemn declarations and pledges of the Barisan Nasional government and leaders could be reneged without compunction that there is deep-seated reservations about Vision Schools as to whether they are the thin end of the wedge to eventually change the character of Chinese primary schools and mother-tongue education in Malaysia.
Chinese primary schools and Chinese education had been neglected by the government for over four decades since Independence, and if the government is serious and sincere that it had no ulterior motive to change the character of Chinese primary schools and Chinese education in Malaysia, it should allay these legitimate reservations by putting the Vision Schools proposal aside until the implementation of a RM1 billion fair deal for Chinese Education under the Eighth Malaysia Plan 2001-2005.
During the parliamentary debate on the 2000 Budget on November 1, 1999, I had proposed that the Government make a RM1 billion special allocation for the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and the 1,200 Chinese primary schools to be paid out in the next five years in recognition of their contribution to nation-building.
Each of the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary School should be allocated RM1 million a year and each Chinese primary school allocated RM100,000 from this special allocation, over and above their usual allocations.
The Eighth Malaysia Plan should also have specific programmes to resolve once and for all the acute problem of shortage of trained teachers for Chinese primary schools as well as the building of new Chinese primary schools in the country based on demand.
There should similarly be a special programmes for the upliftment of
Tamil primary schools under the Eighth Malaysia Plan.