MCA leadership showing its classic
"last to know, last to be conscious; unknowing and unconscious" mind-set
over the second Mahathir education review committee
by Lim Kit Siang
Yesterday, I said that the statement by the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa
Mohamad that the government does not discount the possibility that
vernacular schools will be affected by the current review of the education
system spearheaded by the Prime Minister is a most honest, important and
This is because Musa's statement is as good as saying that in a revamp of
the entire national education system to ensure that all Malaysian students,
regardless of race or religion, would be attracted to attend the national
schools, there is no way that the position, development and future of
Chinese and Tamil primary schools would not be affected.
Today, I wish to say that the statement by the Deputy Education Minister,
Datuk Hon Choon Kam on the second Mahathir education review committee in Sin
Chew Daily is also honest, important but most upsetting.
Since the announcement of the establishment of the second Mahathir education
review committee after the UMNO Supreme Council meeting on November 29, the
past three weeks have shown that the MCA, the second biggest party in the
Barisan Nasional coalition government with four Cabinet Ministers, is even
more in the dark than the DAP, an opposition party, about the far-reaching
implications of the most important and high-powered education review
committee in the 45-year history of the nation.
Hon's statement is an honest admission that the MCA Ministers and leaders
were never consulted and knew nothing about the second Mahathir education
review committee, although the MCA is "very concerned" about the education
review and that if it affects Chinese primary schools, MCA would definitely
present its views and stand.
Hon should realize that as the second largest party in the Barisan Nasional
coalition, MCA's responsibility is not a passive one just to express concern
about the second Mahathir education review committee but a pro-active one to
fully participate in the entire process of decision-making to formulate its
terms of reference, composition as well as to influence the outcome of the
educational review every step of the way.
It is also shocking that the MCA Ministers and leaders seem to have
self-limited their role in government on education to matters where Chinese
primary schools could be affected but otherwise to abdicate their
responsibility over the whole spectrum of educational issues, whether about
primary, secondary or tertiary education, or issues about access, equity,
quality of education and effective education management.
MCA leaders should clarify whether they are part of the entire Barisan
Nasional government or have become so marignlinalised that they have been
reduced to be merely part of a fragment of the Barisan Nasional government
in the various Ministries not headed by MCA Ministers - as for instance in
the Education Ministry, not part of the whole education portfolio but only
where Chinese primary schools might be affected!
Hon's statement is another classic example of the MCA's "last to know, last
to be conscious; unknowing and unconscious" mindset in government when with
four Cabinet Ministers, it should be "first to know, first to be conscious"
about policy trends and developments in the country.
Hon has admitted that the second Mahathir education review committee is not
a Cabinet Committee. Everybody knows that it was never set up by the Cabinet
but only by the UMNO Supreme Council.
The question is why in the two Cabinet meetings after the UMNO Supreme
Council meeting on November 29, no Cabinet Minister from the other Barisan
Nasional component parties had raised the issue in Cabinet to point out the
impropriety and irregularity of the UMNO Supreme Council setting up the
second Mahathir education review committee operating from the Prime
Minister's Office in Putrajaya and to propose that this should be
regularized with a formal Cabinet decision on its establishment, terms of
reference, composition and modus operandi.
Or have the Cabinet Ministers from the other Barisan Nasional component
parties become so marginalized that no one dare to raise such a normal and
legitimate question for rectification in the Cabinet?
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National