MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers and leaders should declare whether they agree with UMNO that any opposition and criticism of the “2:4:3 formula” for using English to teach mathematics and science in Std. One in Chinese primary schools is anti-national, unpatriotic and the government should invoke the Sedition Act and ISA against them
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Wednesday): Although the ferocious attack by Barisan Nasional leaders whether UMNO, MCA or Gerakan on Dong Jiao Zong for its stand on the “2:4:3 formula” to use English to teach mathematics and science from Std. One is not unexpected, it does not make it any less deplorable or reprehensible for their high-handed and undemocratic attempt to suppress legitimate dissent on an important subject affecting the welfare of the next generation as well as the future prosperity of the country.
Among the epithets hurled against Dong Jiao Zong for its stand on the “2:4:3” formula yesterday were “chauvinistic”, “unpatriotic”, “dangerous” and “seditious”.
UMNO vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin described Dong Jiao Zong as “a group of chauvinistic and unpatriotic people who do not respect or understand national policy”.
UMNO vice president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Dong Jiao Zong’s action was “dangerous and can tantamount to sedition”.
Tan Sri Muhammad Muhamad Taib, the other UMNO vice president, said Dong Jiao Zong were attempting to impose the views of a minority on the majority.
UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, outdid the three UMNO vice presidents when he issued “a stern warning” to Dong Jiao Zong not to “play with the fire of communalism”, branding them as “narrow-minded extremists” and called on the government not to hesitate to take severe action against the two organizations if they continue to “incite” the Chinese community on an educational issue “which had been agreed to by all parties”.
Today’s Utusan Malaysia editorial “menyedarkan Puak Pelampau Cina” was equally incendiary, calling for the invocation of both the Sedition Act and the Internal Security Act against Dong Jiao Zong leaders when it said:
MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers and leaders should declare whether they agree with these UMNO leaders that any opposition and criticism of the “2:4:3 formula” for using English to teach mathematics and science in Std. One in Chinese primary schools is anti-national, unpatriotic and that the government should invoke the Sedition Act and the ISA against them.
This is particularly important as from the reactions of MCA and Gerakan leaders to the Dong Jiao Zong stand, it would appear that they would not mind if the Sedition Act and the Internal Security Act are used to stifle all legitimate dissent on the issue.
For instance, MCA vice president Datuk Fong Chan Onn said that the Barisan Nasional had resolved the matter and there was no need for Dong Jiao Zong to debate it.
Gerakan Secretary-General Chia Kwang Chye said the all parties concerned, whether from the Government or Opposition, should let the matter rest and allow the teaching of the two subjects in English to continue for the sake of their children’s future.
MCA Wanita chief Datuk Dr. Ng Yen Yen regretted the negative stand of Dong Jiao Zong, declaring that the Barisan Nasional had taken a wise decision after much consultation and consensus.
It is obvious that underlying all the these reactions, whether UMNO, MCA or Gerakan leaders, is the common fear that the “2:4:3 formula” cannot withstand an open debate, discussion and scrutiny as to whether it is the best educational solution to achieve the three objectives of “Formula 1-2-3”, viz. to enhance English proficiency, maintain traditional high standards in mathematics and science and to preserve mother-tongue proficiency.
There is unanimous agreement on the need for Malaysians to master English to ensure the nation’s international competitiveness in the era of globalization, liberalization and information and communications technology – but there are very strong and powerful grounds that the “2:4:3” proposal decided by the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council and the Cabinet is not educationally sound or in the best interests of the students and the country.
Some Barisan Nasional leaders are claiming that there are enough debate on the use of English in Chinese schools, which is most nonsensical as no such public debate had been allowed with the Chinese newspapers in particular tightly censored from giving space for diverse views on this important subject in the past few months.
UMNO leaders should not doubt or question the loyalty, patriotism or bona fides of Dong Jiao Zong or any Malaysian who question the educational merits of the “2:4:3” formula as to whether it is in the best interest of the students and the country, and MCA, Gerakan and SUPP leaders must publicly dissociate themselves from such extremist views and seek to alter such biased and narrow-minded perceptions if they do not privately and silently support them.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman