(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The announcement by the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad that the SJK © Damansara must remain at its temporary premises in SJK © Puay Chai II until the new school in Tropicana is completed in two years, and that the original school premises at Section 17 would remain closed, is proof that Musa’s word is not his bond and a victory of MCA’s stubborn refusal to accept the "3-Win" formula to resolve the controversy.
Musa is one of the biggest casualties of the Damansara school controversy,
as he has shown that he has become a "full-blooded" politician and
no more an educationist in his entire conduct in the dispute.
Ten days earlier, when Musa issued an one-week ultimatum that the 1,400 pupils relocated to Puay Chay II would have to revert back to the old school premises if the school board could not get unanimous agreement among the parents to shift, the Education Minister was most high-handed and unreasonable, and I agree with "concerned parents" who took out newspaper advertisements that "It is illogical for the Education Ministry to tell us that without 100% support of the parents, we would have to shift back to the old SJK (C)Damansara and that the proposed school premises in Tropicana will be cancelled".
Two important principles are involved here, firstly that the minority does not impose its views on the majority, and this is why the first objective of the "3-win" formula to resolve the Damansara school dispute is to respect the wishes of parents who want their children to remain in SJK © Puay Chai II until construction of the new school at Tropicana within two years.
However, the second principle that the majority does not trample on the rights of the minority is equally important, and this is the reason for the second objective of the "3-Win" formula to respect the wishes of parents who want their children to stay put at the original school premises in Section 17 on grounds of accessibility and community schooling.
The "3-Win" formula would have achieved the third objective of building an additional Chinese primary school in Petaling Jaya to meet increased demand from pupils of all races as part of the national campaign for the construction of more Chinese primary schools.
The only rational and acceptable reason for the rejection of the "3-Win" formula is that the old Damansara school premises at Section 17 is unsuitable to continue to be used as a school - which was completely shot down by the Education Minister himself in his one-week ultimatum which was based on the concession that the old school premises are suitable to continue to be used, although the majority of the parents want a new school building for their children - which is completely different from claiming that the school is no more suitable and should be condemned, closed and even demolished.
Up to now, the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik is the only political leader to declare that the old SJK © Damansara school is no more suitable to be used as a school and must be closed down - without ever visiting the school site, despite repeated invitations by the parents in the school? May be Liong Sik should be "congratulated" for being the first MCA President to succeed in closing down a Chinese primary school premises which could continue to serve as a school for decades, although with a much smaller student population.
Liong Sik cited the Sprint Highway and pollution as among the reasons why the old Damansara school is no more suitable to continue to be used as a school.
Apart from the fact that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report before the approval of the Sprint Highway project had claimed that there would be no adverse environmental impact on the Damansara school, and the Selangor Education Department, the Education Ministry and the MCA had never lodged environmental objections to the construction of the Sprint Highway, Liong Sik’s reasoning is very dangerous and subversive as it would mean that many Chinese primary schools in the Klang Valley and in Kuala Lumpur in particular would have to be closed down, as they do not have as good an environment as the original Damansara school in Section 17.
The Education Ministry’s refusal to heed public opinion to accept the "3-Win" formula and its decision on the closure of the original Damansara school is most regrettable, especially when UMNO’s political pressures are allowed to override the decision of the Education Department to close the science matriculation centre of the University of Malaya.
Can MCA Ministers and leaders explain why they could not keep the original Damansara school open as proposed in the "3-Win" Formula when UMNO Ministers and leaders can keep the University of Malaya’s science matriculation centre open despite the earlier closure decision by the Education Department and the Cabinet?
As UMNO Ministers can keep Universiti Malaya science matriculation centre open despite earlier closure decision by Cabinet, MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers should ask Cabinet its first post-Chinese New Year meeting on Wednesday to keep the original Damansara school open as well in the spirit of the "3-Win" formula?