(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The statement of the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad yesterday on the SJK © Damansara relocation dispute is very unfortunate, as it confirmed the worst conjectures that he was conducting himself more as a politician rather than as an educationist to resolve the issue.
According to the New Straits Times today, Musa "urged the majority who had not opposed the relocation to voice their views".
He said: "What we hear are the views of the minority, not the majority. So, it seems like the majority are opposing the move. We want the majority to express their views so that the minority will realise the effect of their actions."
DAP had always been consistent that the stand of parents who want the new school at Tropicana to be built and until then for their children to remain at the temporarily relocated Puay Chai II should be respected, just as the position of parents who want their children to remain at the original site at Section 17 should be respected.
This is why the DAP had advocated a "win-win" formula of "one school, two premises" or just simply two schools to end the controversy - especially as the country is facing not a surfeit of Chinese primary schools but an acute and long-standing shortage Chinese primary school places as a result of demand from pupils of all races!
However, Musa’s statement yesterday asking the "majority" to make their voice heard after his ultimatum last Tuesday giving one week to the school board to ensure that all students moved to SJK © Puay Chai II or lose the new school near Tropicana is not only a form of incitement, but makes the Education Minister appear inconsistent, insincere and even opportunistic.
Musa’s one-week ultimatum is highly objectionable and most unworthy
of an Education Minister who had been brought in from the academia to reduce
politicking in addressing educational problems for at least four important
The parents of the 1,400 Damansara pupils should not fall into the trap
of being divided into so-called "majority" and "minority"
groups, but remain united with the unanimous stand on two issues:
In this connection, the latest stand of the SJK © Damansara board of governors that in principle the 70-year-old school should be maintained and that it would be asking for two school grounds is most commendable, creating the opportunity for all the parents to take an unanimous stand instead of being divided among themselves.
The board of governors should consider getting a joint petition signed by all parents addressed to the Education Minister stating the unanimous stand of all parents for a "win-win" solution to the Damansara school controversy - by retaining the school at its original site to serve as a community school for the new village and adjacent areas, and secondly, building a new primary school in Tropicana in less than two years for pupils temporarily relocated to Puay Chay II to meet the demands for places in Chinese primary schools for Petaling Jaya and even the Klang Valley.
The time has come for MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders to put aside all politicking and take a public stand to resolve the Damansara school controversy with a "win-win" formula of "one-school two-premises" or just simply two Chinese primary schools. This would be more constructive than wasting time and resources thinking up the political ploy of the one-week ultimatum for the Education Minister.
Can the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, explain why MCA and Gerakan cannot support such a "win-win" formula to resolve the Damansara school issue or will there have to be a by-election somewhere in the country before there could be a breakthrough in this controversy?
The Damansara school issue has now become a test-case for Musa, as to whether he is prepared to stop playing "political games", withdraw the one-week ultimatum and adopt a "win-win" formula, as well as for MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders as to why they could not use their influence (Liong Sik and Keng Yaik have both been in Cabinet for 15 years) to resolve what is basically a very simple issue - retain the original school in Damansara and proceed with the plan to build a new one in Tropicana.