(Kuala Lumpur, Saturday): The three top MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Cabinet Ministers, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik and Datuk Law Hieng Ding will be invited to the first conference on New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan to be held in Kuala Lumpur on March 6, 2001.
The multi-pronged “Save Damansara School” campaign, whether through mass-signatures, ceramahs, walkathons or visits to the Damansara school, is gathering national momentum because it is a just cause for mother-tongue education to demand that the 70-year-old 25-classroom original Damansara school should be re-opened to be a model community Chinese primary school for students in the vicinity and adjacent areas in Petaling 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 every-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!
The “Save Damansara school” controversy and campaign have acted as a catalyst to arouse greater nation-wide consciousness of the unfairness of such mother-tongue education policy and this is why apart from the “Save Damansara School” campaign, there is an imperative need for an accompanying campaign for a New Deal for Mother-tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan 2001-2005 to be adopted by Parliament in April.
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.
This is why the DAP is organising the first conference on New Deal for Mother-tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan in Kuala Lumpur on March 6, 2001 focussing on Chinese education and among those who will be invited will be the three top MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Cabinet Ministers because of their role to ensure that the Eighth Malaysia Plan incorporates such a New Deal before it is presented to Parliament for debate and adoption.
All political parties and mother-tongue educational bodies should organise conferences on the New Deal for Mother-tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan to contribute to a national consensus on its contents and the DAP is prepared to participate in all such conferences, even those organised by MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC.
It should be up to the nation-wide series of conferences and seminars
on the “New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan”
to finalise its detailed content with regard to Chinese education
and Tamil education. As far as Chinese education is concerned, it could
incorporate four important features, viz:
The MCA Ministers have done a grave disservice to the Chinese community which they claim to represent and the Malaysian nation in opposing the re-opening of the original Damansara school.
MCA leaders, like the former MCA Minister and now MCA Central Education Bureau chief, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh have also been most dishonest in trying to mislead the people, as for instance in Ting’s statement yesterday 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” when Mahathir had never made any such 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!
Can the “phantom” MCA Cabinet Minister who leaked this news to the Chinese press come forward to reveal his identity and confirm the truth of his leak?
If there is now a new policy to build new Chinese primary
schools according to need, why are the MCA Ministers and the Education
Ministry refusing to respect the “need” of the local community to
preserve the original SJK © Damansara in addition to the
building of a new school in Tropicana, Petaling Jaya.?
The 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
It may be asked whether it is too unreasonable to ask for the building of 250 new Chinese primary schools in the New Deal for Mother-tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
During Independence in 1957, there were 1,333 Chinese primary schools
with a total enrolment of 310,000 students. Forty-three years later
in 2000, Chinese primary school enrolment has doubled to over 620,000,
but there had been no
matching doubling of the number of Chinese primary schools in the past four decades, but a reduction of 49 schools instead to 1,284 schools.
In 1968, there were 2,770 national primary schools with a total enrolment of 666,389 students. In the 32 years from 1968 to 2000, total enrolment in national primary schools reached 2,218,747 (an increase of 1,552,358) while the number of national primary schools increased by 2,637 new schools to reach a total of 5,407 schools. This works out to an average of an increase of 588 students for a new national primary school.
If this principle of a new primary school for every increase of 588 students is applied to Chinese primary schools, there should be an increase of 527 new schools in the 43 years from Independence in 1957 to 2,000 for the doubling of the Chinese primary school enrolment from 310,000 to 620,000. As in the past 43 years, there had been a reduction of 49 Chinese primary schools, this would put the shortfall of Chinese primary schools to 527 + 49 = 576.
Asking for the building of 250 new Chinese primary schools from 2001
to 2005 when there should have been 576 new Chinese primary schools built
by 2000 is not being excessive, unreasonable or “extremist”, and
I hope that the MCA,
Gerakan, SUPP and MIC national leaders will be prepared, together with other Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative parties, to sit down to agree on a New Deal for Mother-tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan.