(Petaling Jaya, Monday): MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik’s announcement in Kluang yesterday that “henceforth government will not easily approve relocation of Chinese primary schools” (Sin Chew Jit Poh) is most unfortunate and an abdication of MCA responsibility when it claims to represent the interests of the Chinese community.
It would have been understandable although still deplorable if such a demand had been made by UMNO Youth, which two days ago, submitted a memorandum to the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad putting pressure on the government not to allow the retention and re-opening of the original Damansara Chinese primary school.
In this connection, it is most unfortunate that Musa had chosen to “play politics” with this issue by agreeing to receive the UMNO Youth memorandum when he refused to meet the parents of Damansara school who wanted the original school to be re-opened as a community school for the best educational interests of their children.
Again, it might be understandable but still unacceptable if the statement that “henceforth the government would not easily approve the relocation of Chinese primary schools” had been made by the Education Minister - but for the MCA President on behalf of the Barisan Nasional government to make such a statement is most unthinkable, giving the best example of Liong Sik’s favourite description that “the fish rots from the head”!
Liong Sik’s announcement in Kluang is nothing less than a threat that henceforth the government and MCA Ministers would not so easily agree to the relocation of Chinese primary schools - all because the MCA Ministers had mishandled the Damansara Chinese primary school issue and more and more Malaysians, including Malays and Indians, are coming forward to support the cause for its retention and re-opening.
Instead of making the threat that “henceforth the government would not so easily approve relocation of Chinese primary schools”, Liong Sik should have been humble enough to admit that MCA Ministers had made a great blunder in their handling of the issue and be democratic enough to listen to the popular wishes of the people for the retention and re-opening of the original school in addition to the building of a new primary school in Tropicana, Petaling.
Liong Sik should withdraw and apologise for his announcement-cum-threat that “henceforth government will not easily approve relocation of Chinese primary schools” as he and the other MCA Ministers should not only ensure that in the Eighth Malaysia Plan, it would be easier for Chinese primary schools to relocate according to need, the government would build 250 new Chinese primary schools in the next five years according to need as reflected in the increasing enrolment in the Chinese primary schools not only because of demand from Chinese pupils, but also Malay, Indian, Iban and Kadazan children as well.
In his Kluang statement to the reporters, Liong Sik said MCA leaders would ensure that the 1999 general election pledge to build 16 Chinese primary schools would be honoured. This is the first time anyone has heard about the election pledge to build 16 new Chinese primary schools.
In the Sin Chew of 28th February, 2001, MCA Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Hon Choon Kim said the election pledge referred to the building of four Chinese primary schools and the relocation of 10 Chinese primary schools and two national-type secondary schools.
After the Cabinet meeting of 21st February 2001, almost all the Chinese newspapers gave front-page headline treatment the next day to the news from an unnamed MCA Minister that the Cabinet had made a “historic breakthrough for the future of Chinese education” (Dr. Ting Chew Peh’s later 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.
So, now there are at least three different versions about the 1999 election promise, Liong Sik’s 16 new primary schools announced in Kluang yesterday, Hon’s four new Chinese primary schools and relocation of 10 Chinese primary schools and two national-type secondary schools and the “historic breakthrough” of four new Chinese primary schools and relocation of 13 Chinese primary schools. Which is which?
If MCA leaders are so confused on such a basic and elementary issue as to what was promised in the 1999 election pledge, is this further proof of the advanced stage of the “rotten fish head’ phenomenon in the MCA?