(Penang, Sunday): The MIC President, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has again shown that he is quicker, far more responsive and agile than his counterpart, the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik.
Two days after my statement on March 1, 2001 that the DAP will be hosting a roundtable conference on Tamil mother-tongue education in Ipoh on 18th March as contribution to the national consensus on the New Deal for Mother-tongue Education in the Eight Malaysia Plan, Samy Vellu came out with the statement that the government has approved a sum of RM13.9 million to build 13 new Tamil primary schools throughout the country.
He said construction of 10 of the schools will start very soon while the other three new Tamil primary schools in Ladang Ayer Hitam in Jempol, Kinrara in Puchong and Ladang Palaniappa in Muar are under construction.
It is most unfortunate that Liong Sik could not be as responsive and agile as Samy Vellu, for it is now ten days since I announced on February 22 of the invitation to the MCA President to a conference to reach a consensus on a New Deal for Mother-tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan with respect to Chinese education to be held at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, but there has been no response whatsoever from Liong Sik.
All that the MCA Ministers could advert to is the 1999 Barisan Nasional general election promise to build four new Chinese primary schools and relocate 13 Chinese primary schools, which is even less than what Samy Vellu has got for Tamil primary schools - 13 new Tamil primary schools and renovation of ten Tamil schools. Samy Vellu also said that 43 schools had been rebuilt through the MIC’s efforts.
This does not mean that Tamil primary school and mother-tongue education is not undergoing a prolonged and acute crisis and an invitation would be extended to Samy Vellu for the roundtable conference in Ipoh on 18th March on Tamil mother-tongue education and the New Deal for Mother-tongue Education in the Eight Malaysia Plan.
Samy Vellu said the MIC is preparing a report on the status of Tamil schools in the country in the next 25 years for submission to the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad.
The Ipoh round-table would be a good forum for Samy Vellu to share his vision of Tamil education for the next 25 years as well as spelling out what he had done for mother-tongue education for the over two decades he had been Cabinet Minister - and most important of all, what could be incorporated into the Eighth Malaysia Plan from 2001-2005.
It is sad that unlike Samy Vellu, Liong Sik has no vision for Chinese education for the next 25 years - as his most pressing concern at the moment is to ensure that the MCA Ministers do not “lose face” and that the original Damansara Chinese primary school is closed for good although the 70-year-old 25-classroom school is in very good condition and there is not a single MCA Minister who could give a convincing or acceptable reason why the original Damansara school could not be retained as a community school for the pupils in the vicinity in addition to the building of a new Chinese primary school in Tropicana, Petaling.
In fact, the MCA Ministers are now solely responsible for the stubborn Cabinet decision not to re-open the original Damansara school. There would be no problem in getting support from Samy Vellu for a change of such a Cabinet decision if not for the fact that he does not want to be seen to be stepping on the toes of the MCA Ministers.
The Gerakan leaders have been giving the impression that the Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik is prepared to support a change of Cabinet decision to allow the re-opening of the original Damansara school in addition to the building of the new Chinese primary school and that the sole obstacles are the MCA Ministers.
Even the UMNO Ministers should not be a problem, for it is inconceivable that the UMNO Ministers would object when all the MCA Ministers as well as those from other component parties of the Barisan Nasional support the re-opening of the original Damansara school.
Liong Sik and the MCA Ministers should explain why they are so dead-set against the re-opening of the original Damansara Chinese primary school - when even PAS can support its re-opening.
It is a sad day for the MCA, which claims to represent the five million Malaysian Chinese, when PAS could support the cause for mother-tongue education and the re-opening of the original Damansara Chinese primary school but the MCA cannot.
I believe this is a position which runs against the most deep-seated wishes of the one million members MCA claims to have.
Liong Sik should conduct a referendum among the one million MCA
members to allow them to decide whether the MCA should support the re-opening
of the original Damansara Chinese primary school in the Cabinet.
If the majority of the one million MCA members support the re-opening of the original Damansara Chinese primary school, Liong Sik and the other three MCA Ministers should change their position and comply with the wishes of the MCA members or resign from their Cabinet and party posts.