This should be good news except for the following five considerations:
Firstly, can Hon be trusted or could the Cabinet decision on Wednesday be overturned like the Cabinet decision of February 21, 2001 that new Chinese primary schools would be built according to “need” under the Eighth Malaysia Plan which led the former MCA Minister and now MCA Secretary-General and Central Education Bureau chief, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh to publicly hail it as a "historic breakthrough for the future of Chinese education" in Malaysia! Hon should clarify as to when and why the Cabinet revoked the February 21 decision to build new Chinese primary schools according to need under the Eighth Malaysia Plan - and why there were no objections from MCA Ministers.
Secondly, did the MCA Ministers raise in Cabinet on Wednesday the proposal to delete the reference to Vision School Concept in the Eighth Malaysia Plan (Para 4.102 - page 122) until there is full consultation and agreement of all communities by way of a formal amendment of the document in Parliament?
Thirdly, did the MCA Ministers secure Cabinet agreement that out of the 200 single-session new schools to be built under the RM3 billion economic stimulus package announced by the Prime Minister on March 27, at least ten per cent or 20 of them will be new Chinese primary schools?
Fourthly, did the MCA Ministers raise in Cabinet the New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education under the Eighth Malaysia Plan with the target to build 250 new Chinese primary schools for the next five years to meet increasing demand for Chinese primary school places by all Malaysians regardless of race - as there are now 70,000 non-Chinese pupils studying in Chinese primary schools in the country.
Fifthly, will MCA Ministers ask the Cabinet next week to cancel the Vision School concept for Subang Jaya and build instead a new Chinese primary school in Subang Jaya?
The root cause of the Damansara school controversy is the long-standing unfair policy of the Barisan Nasional government which refused to give fair treatment to mother-tongue education as its refusal to build new and adequate Chinese primary schools to meet ever-increasing demands not only from Chinese pupils, but also from Malay, Indian, Kadazan and Iban students.
There are some 70,000 non-Chinese students in the Chinese primary schools in the country, which should have meant the building of some 120 new Chinese primary schools just to cater to this demand - but Chinese primary school enrolment have doubled from 310,000 students in 1957 to over 620,000 students in 2,000, yet the number of Chinese primary schools in the past 43 years has seen a decline of 49 schools!
All political parties, whether government or opposition, mother-tongue educational bodies and concerned Malaysians should come together to develop a national consensus for a New Deal for Mother-tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
In the fifth decade of Malaysian nationhood, all Malaysians regardless of race have accepted Bahasa Malaysia as the national and official language as the common unifying bond. There is need, however, to strengthen mother-tongue education, which will be in the spirit of the Constitutional guarantee in Article 152 which stipulates that “ (a) no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using (otherwise than for official purposes), or from teaching or learning, any other language; and (b) nothing in this Clause shall prejudice the right of the Federal Government or any State Government to preserve and sustain the use and study of the language of any other community in the Federation”.
The fundamental right to mother-tongue to education has been given international recognition in the United Nations Mother-Tongue Declaration 1992 where the United Nations General Assembly declared that the promotion and protection of mother tongues of minorities “contribute to the political and social stability of States in which they live” and reaffirmed “the constant promotion and realization of mother-tongue rights as an integral part of the development of society as a whole and within a democratic framework based on the rule of law”.
This is why the DAP has called for a New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan, as the claims for mother-tongue education status by all ethnic communites and groups symbolise Malaysia’s ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity which is the country’s greatest heritage and resources for the nation’s future in the era of IT and globalisation.
The DAP has made six proposals for the New Deal for Chinese Mother-Tongue
Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan (2001-2005), namely:
This injustice and neglect of the Chinese and primary schools for over four decades in development allocations should be rectified, and for the Eighth Malaysia Plan the development allocations to the different medium primary schools should be made on the enrolment, i.e. 75% to national primary schools, 21% to Chinese primary schools and 3.6% to Tamil primary schools.
As the total development allocation for primary schools for the next five years under the Eighth Malaysia Plan is RM2.75 billion, an equitable distribution of the allocation would mean the national primary schools would get RM2.1 billion or 75%, Chinese primary schools RM577 million or 21% and Tamil primary schools RM99 million or 3.6%.
The MCA Ministers should ask the Cabinet next Wednesday to agree that the distribution of the Eighth Malaysia Plan primary school development allocation of RM2.7 billion would be based on the percentage of student enrolment for the three types of primary schools in the country, i.e. RM2.1 billion for national primary schools, RM577 million for Chinese primary schools and RM99 million for Tamil primary schools.