Ten Questions on Damansara School and Chinese education for MCA Deputy
Education Minister Hon Choon Kim to answer in Penang tomorrow
SMedia Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Monday): MCA Deputy Education
Minister, Datuk Hon Choon Kim has a special assignment in Penang tomorrow,
to “beat” the DAP ceramah on the Damansara school controversy at the Penang
Chinese Town Hall on March 8, 2001 to give his version of the
Damansara School controversy to the headmasters, board of governors and
parent-teachers’ associations of the state’s Chinese primary schools.
In the past eight 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
Hon should explain why he and the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr.
Ling Liong Sik are the two leading opponents to the “Save Damansara
School” campaign and the greatest obstacle to the “Win-Win” formula of
retaining the original Damansara school as a community school in addition
to the building of the new Chinese primary school in Tropicana, Petaling
Only two days ago, at the briefing on education for MCA’s elected government
representatives in Kuala Lumpur, Ling reiterated the MCA stand for
the closure of the original 70-year 25-classroom Damansara school
- which runs counter to the wishes and aspirations of the overwhelming
majority of the MCA members.
I want in particular to commend former MCA leaders like former deputy
president Tan Sri Lee Kim Sai, former vice president Datuk Wong Seng Chow
and former secretary-general Datuk Dr. Tan Tiong Hong who were able to
put community and national interests above party interests to sign and
endorse the SJK© Damansara’s Save Our School (SOS) mass signature
campaign at the 52nd MCA anniversary celebrations in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
As one of the two principal opponents to the preservation and
re-opening of the original Damansara school, Hon should answer the following
ten questions on the Damansara School controversy and the future
of mother-tongue education, in particular Chinese education, when
he comes to Penang tomorrow:
Does Hon agree that the root problem of the Damansara school controversy
is the long-standing refusal of the Barisan Nasional government to build
new and adequate Chinese primary schools to meet increasing demands for
Chinese primary school places not only by Chinese students, but also by
Malay, Indian, Kadazan and Iban students. In the Petaling district
in Selangor, there are 24,518 Chinese primary school students in 14 Chinese
primary schools when there should be some 40 Chinese primary schools.
If so, can Hon explain why the MCA is so deadly opposed to the preservation
and re-opening of the original Damansara school?
Does Hon agree that the original 70-year-old 25-classroom Damansara school
is in a better condition, both in terms of infrastructure and facilities,
than many schools and would be ideal for a model community school not for
1,400 students but for 500 students in the vicinity and adjacent areas
in Petaling Jaya. If so, why the MCA leaders are not prepared to support
its preservation and re-opening, as has openly been done by Penang Gerakan
State Exco Member, Dr. Toh Kin Win, signing and endorsing not only
the Damansara School “SOS” mass signature campaign, but also endorsing
the “I Support SJKC Damansara” mailing list of the DAP Malaysia website
declaring his “full and whole-hearted support to the campaign to retain
SJK© Damansara and to build another new Chinese primary school in
Tropicana” in his email dated 15th February 2001.
Does Hon agree that the principle of “the minority following
the decision of the majority” does not apply in the Damansara school
controversy, especially as Damansara school started 70 years ago
as a community school for the new village and had done a great service
to the whole Petaling Jaya area in the past 40 years in providing Chinese
primary school places when the government refused to build new and adequate
Chinese primary schools to meet increasing needs - and why the MCA is opposed
to a “win-win” solution where parents who want their children to continue
studying in SJK © Damansara can do so, while parents who want their
children to study in a new Chinese primary school nearer where they stay
can also have their wish fulfilled.
Almost all the Chinese newspapers on Thursday gave front-page
headline treatment to the news from an unnamed MCA Minister
that the Cabinet meeting a day earlier had made a “historic breakthrough
for the future of Chinese education” (Dr. Ting Chew Peh’s statement)
where the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad directed the
Education Ministry to implement as soon possible the 1999 general election
promise to build four new Chinese primary schools and relocate 13 Chinese
primary schools, and that the Prime Minister had agreed that the government
should build more Chinese primary schools according to need under the Eighth
Malaysia Plan. Can he confirm that the Cabinet had indeed decided
on a “historic breakthrough for the future of Chinese education”.
If the answer is “yes” to Question 4, can Hon explain why such an important
policy was not announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir
Mohamad or the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad but had to be leaked
to the Chinese media (but blacked out in the Malay and English-language
media) by a faceless, nameless “phantom” MCA Minister?
The Barisan Nasional made the promise in 1999 general elections
to build four new Chinese primary schools and relocate 13 Chinese primary
schools. For the year 2000, the government budget provided for the
building of 371 new schools and extensions to 462 existing
schools. If the government could build the new Chinese primary school
in Tropicana, Petaling in eight months, why couldn’t the government build
the four new Chinese primary schools and relocate 13 Chinese primary schools
it promised in the 1999 general elections in the year 2000 alone?
Would the MCA agree to regard this as a Seventh Malaysia Plan shortfall
which the government must make up urgently and treated separately from
the Eighth Malaysia Plan?
Hon should be categorical and not equivocate to confirm whether the Cabinet
last Wednesday had made a decision which marked a "historic breakthrough
for the future of Chinese education in Malaysia" that new Chinese primary
schools under the Eighth Malaysia Plan would be built according to need
- which is more important than the 1999 election promise of building
four new Chinese primary schools and relocation of 13 Chinese primary schools.
Hon should confirm that the Cabinet decision meant that new
Chinese primary schools would be built according to need under the Eighth
Malaysia Plan - and that if the need for 250 new Chinese primary
schools in the next five years can be established because of the increasing
demand for Chinese primary education not only among the Chinese, but also
the Malay, Indian, Kadazan and Iban children, then 250 new Chinese primary
schools will be built from now till 2005!
With such a “historic breakthrough for the future of Chinese education”,
is MCA prepared to accept the invitation of the DAP to sit down with all
parties in the Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative to reach a national
consensus on a New Deal For Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia
Plan which could incorporate the following objectives for Chinese
If so, will the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik accept
the DAP’s invitation to the first of a series of nation-wide conferences
on New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan to
be held in Kuala Lumpur on March 6, 2001. Invitations are also extended
to the Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik and the SUPP Deputy
President Datuk Law Hieng Ding in their capacity as the three
most senior Cabinet Ministers of their parties who should ensure the incorporation
of the New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
Is Hon prepared to accept an invitation to be a speaker at the DAP public
meeting on “Damansara School dilemma” to be held at the Penang Chinese
Town Hall on Thursday March 8, 2001 either to convince the DAP and the
public to abandon the “Save Damansara School” campaign or to be converted
to the view that Hon and the MCA Ministers should support the “Win-Win”
formula to retain and reopen the original Damansara school in addition
to building a new Chinese primary school in Tropicana, Petaling in eight
Build 250 new Chinese primary schools, or 50 new schools a year, under
the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
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.
Allow building of new or re-establishment of previous Chinese Independent
Government recognition of Unified Examinations Certificate (UEC)
of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools.
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman