(Ipoh, Saturday): I have come to Perak to give support to the “Save Damansara School” mass signature campaign launched by Perak DAP in the state three days ago.
In the past seven weeks, the hitherto unknown and unheard SJK © Damansara suddenly shot to national and international prominence because of the valiant struggle of the Damansara new villagers to preserve and re-open the 70-year-old Chinese primary school as a model community school for the students in the vicinity and adjacent areas in Petaling Jaya.
The campaign to save the Damansara school is not a campaign to oppose the construction of another new Chinese primary school in Tropicana, Petaling Jaya - and in fact the DAP will be reminding the Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Hon Choon Kim both inside Parliament and outside to honour his pledge that the new Tropicana school would be completed in eight months by October - but to demand that the original 25-classroom Damansara school should continue to be used as a school as it is still in very good condition and to become a model community Chinese primary school with about 600 students.
I am very intrigued by the statement by the MCA Central Education Bureau chief, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh that “the announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that the Cabinet would speedily honour general election promises and directed the Education Ministry to implement as soon as possible the 1999 general election pledge to build new Chinese primary schools and relocate Chinese primary schools, and agreed to the building of more Chinese primary schools according to need” (Nanyang Siang Pao and all Chinese press) had three far-reaching implications.
I am surprised that a former Cabinet Minister could issue such an erroneous statement of such colossal magnitude. We need not concern ourselves about Ting’s “three far-reaching implications”, as Ting’s whole assumption that the Prime Minister had made such an announcement after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday was completely baseless.
Was Ting himself misled by the MCA propagandists that Mahathir had made such an announcement after the Cabinet, or is his statement part of the MCA propaganda ploy to mislead the Chinese community and the Malaysian public that Mahathir had made such an announcement?
Neither Mahathir nor the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad had made any such announcement after the Cabinet meeting. The “news” was leaked by a faceless and nameless MCA Minister and it became the front-page headline news in all the Chinese newspapers the next day - but to up now, there has been no confirmation from one of two persons really qualified and authorised to do so - the Prime Minister or the Education Minister!
Nobody knows whether to believe the Chinese press report about the Cabinet
meeting on Wednesday, because it raises two questions:
The four MCA Ministers should prove that there is a new policy to build Chinese primary schools according to need by supporting the retention of the original Damansara school in addition to building the new Chinese primary school in Tropicana, PJ - for if the “needs” of the Damansara new villagers who want to retain the original school are scorned and spurned, what do the MCA Ministers mean by “building new Chinese primary schools according to need”?
In his “colossally erroneous” statement, Ting said that as result of Mahathir’s announcement (which was never made), which he described as “breakthrough” for the future of Chinese education, MCA would collect data to “systematically” strive for the building of new Chinese primary schools.
Never mind about Ting’s various errors and baseless claims here, but the least the MCA Central Education Bureau should do now is to ask the four MCA Ministers to “systematically” support the cause of Chinese primary schools by asking the Cabinet to reverse its decision and allow the retention of the original Damansara school.
The MCA Ministers should not expect their unofficial claim that the government has now a new policy to build new Chinese primary schools according to need to be believed unless they could announce the specific number of new Chinese primary schools to be built under the 8th Malaysia Plan.
This is why the DAP is also launching a nation-wide campaign for a New
Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan to build 250
new Chinese primary schools and to set aside a special allocation of
RM1 billion for the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and the 1,284
Chinese primary schools in the next five years.
I call on the people of Perak to be in the forefront of the dual national campaign to save Damansara school and for a New Deal for Mother-tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan to build 250 new Chinese primary schools in the next five years, provide a RM1 billion special allocation for the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and accord official recognition to the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) of the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools.