Zainudin Maidin is not fit or qualified to lecture about good citizenry unless he sets a model example of a good citizen who is imbued with the qualities of justice, fair play, responsibility and love for truth
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The newly-promoted Deputy Information Minister, Datuk Zainudin Maidin gave a most interesting interview which appeared in yesterday’s Star under the report titled “National schools produce good citizens”.
In the report, Zainudin said Malays should choose national schools for the religious education of their children to prevent the new generation of Malays from being isolated from the national mainstream of education and development.
He said public religious schools did not provide suitable social and educational foundation needed in a multi-racial society but only led them to be isolated with an inferiority complex.
He said these religious schools had been coloured by politics and had the potential to create narrow-minded jingoism, creating a “backward class” of anti-establishment people “not fit to be useful Malaysian citizens”.
He said: “This type of people will only be able to propagate Islam in an old fashioned manner using cruel terrorist tactics, labelling others as non-believers, and in the process frighten not only the non-Muslims but Muslims as well”.
I do not know enough about the People’s Religious Schools (SAR – sekolah agama rakyat) which have become the target of government attacks and the recent decision of the the 88th meeting of Mentri Besar/Chief Ministers (with Kelantan and Terengganu excluded) in Putrajaya last Tuesday (3.12.02) to support the Federal Government decision to end government support for the SAR and absorb its 126,000 pupils into the national school stream to make an informed judgment on the allegations.
However, if Zainuddin is right that the SARs breed terrorists to use “cruel terrorist tactics”, then they should be closed down – but Zainuddin and the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai should make out a public case for their closure on national security grounds in a responsible, accountable and transparent manner and not by smear tactics and a campaign of falsehoods.
Nonetheless, Zainudin’s comments are a matter of grave general concern to all Malaysians not related to the SAR issue alone for two reasons:
Firstly, Zainudin seems to belong to the increasing numbers in UMNO and among establishment educationists, including former top Education Ministry officials, who regard all other school systems apart from national schools like religious, Chinese and Tamil primary schools, as seed-beds of unMalaysian and unpatriotic sentiments not conducive to the production of “good Malaysian citizens”, leading to the pressure for a “single-stream school system” in the country; and
Secondly, what is Zainuddin’s right or qualification to lecture about good citizenry when he has failed to set a model example of a good citizen who is imbued with the qualities of justice, fair play, responsibility and love for truth ever since his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to the Information Ministry in January last year?
Yesterday, PAS leaders had condemned the latest RTM propaganda feature entitled “Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan”, depicting the sufferings of the rural poor in Sik, Kedah - deliberately parodying the title of the internationally-famous novel of the national laureate Shanon Ahmad, now PAS MP for Sik.
In their joint press statement, Shanon and the two PAS Assemblymen in the constituency, Mohd Isa Shafie (Belantik) and Yahya Abdullah (Jeneri) deplored the dishonest clippings, as those interviewed were Umno members and not from PAS as claimed in the documentary.
The trio said Sik had been backward since Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Othman, the Prime Minister’s “spiritual advisor”, led the constituency before the last general election. Hamid was defeated by Shanon and failed to retain the Sik parliamentary seat in 1999.
DAP is still waiting close to a month for a proper and satisfactory accounting from Zainudin for his gross abuse of power and public breach of trust in the holy month of Ramadan for the biased, tendentious and malicious propaganda feature attack on DAP and Dong Jiao Zong in the documentary “Bahaya Cauvinisme” camouflaged as prime-time news for three consecutive nights over public television falsely painting them as anti-national, unpatriotic and anti-Malay.
There are no signs that Zainudin Maidin is prepared to be a good citizen who cherishes justice, fair play, responsibility and love for truth, as to give the DAP and Dong Jiao Zong the right to reply on television to the unfair, tendentious and malicious attacks or even to correct the multitude of factual inaccuracies and misleading statements in the feature.
For instance, the second segment of the three-part “Bahaya Cauvinisme” carried an excerpt of the Prime Minister’s speech at the National Patriotism Congress where he said there was no assimilation in Malaysia, unlike the United States and Western countries which he said practised assimilation where “Sekurang kurang nya, your home language must be that language”.
This is inaccurate and untrue. According to the 1990 US Bureau of Census, about one in seven people in the United States spoke a language other than English at home. The major non-English mother tongues spoken in the American homes in the 1990 US Census were:
Ever since the 1990 US Census 12 years ago, the proportion of immigrants in the US population has grown further with a higher percentage of Americans who do not speak English at home.
Is Zainudin prepared to correct on public television such false and misleading statements in the RTM propaganda features?
Zainudin is not fit or qualified to lecture about good citizenry unless he sets a model example of a good citizen who is imbued with the qualities of justice, fair play, responsibility and love for truth.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman