DAP proposes a
roundtable conference of all political parties plus Dong Jiao Zong to
re-open the original SJK© Damansara premises under whatever name to serve
the dual purpose as a community school for the immediate vicinity as well as
to help relieve the acute shortage of Chinese primary school places in PJ
Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The explanations given by the MCA President and Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting on the four-year-old closure of the original SJK© Damansara in response to the remark by the outgoing president of Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Ting Chee Seng, that “If a minister cannot serve the people, then he should go back and sell potato” is totally unsatisfactory and unacceptable.
In fact, they are no explanations at all but just lame excuses for the MCA Ministerial failure to give the Cabinet the true and correct picture of the SJK© Damansara saga and to re-open the original school.
How can Ka Ting honestly argue that on the one hand, the stand of the former Prime Minister and former Education Minister on the issue was correct while on the other hand those who wanted the original school premises to be re-opened were also right – and that there was a third “right”, the failure of the four MCA Ministers in Cabinet to do anything in the past four years to resolve the issue! If we accept Ka Ting’s explanations, then there is no right and wrong in this world or at least in Malaysia!
I do not propose to pinpoint wrongs or failures in the great injustice of the closure of the original SKJ© Damansara. As there is now a new Prime Minister and a new Education Minister after the Barisan Nasional had won an unprecedented landslide general election victory following the pledge of a people-oriented government prepared to listen to the aspirations of the people, the time has come for a new effort to resolve and re-open the original SKJ© Damansara, under whatever name.
DAP proposes the immediate convening of a roundtable conference of all political parties plus Dong Jiao Zong to re-open the original SJK© Damansara premises under whatever name to serve the dual purpose as a community school for the pupils in the immediate vicinity as well as to help relieve the acute shortage of Chinese primary school places in Petaling Jaya.
Under the original Petaling Master Plan 1987-2010, 35 new primary schools would be built but they are all national primary schools without a single Chinese primary school - which is grossly unfair and totally unacceptable.
The non-Chinese political parties, whether in government or opposition, should also be involved in the roundtable conference as Chinese primary schooling in the 21st century is no more a Chinese issue or one concerned solely the Chinese community in Malaysia, as testified by the increasing number of Malay and Indian pupils enrolled in the Chinese primary schools.
The former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had paid tribute to Chinese primary schools when he said that this phenomenon of more and more Malay and Indian parents sending their children to Chinese primary schools was because the teachers and students in these schools are more dedicated and committed.
The root problem of the Damansara school controversy is the failure of the government to build enough Chinese primary schools to meet ever-increasing demand for Chinese primary school places not only by Chinese pupils, but also by non-Chinese pupils with some 70,000 Malay and Indian students in the Chinese primary schools in the country.
In the past 46 years since Merdeka, there is the ridiculous situation where the school enrolment for Chinese primary schools have doubled but the number of Chinese primary schools in the country have decreased.
The government should be building at least 50 Chinese primary schools a year under the Eighth Malaysia Plan 2001-2005, but no MCA, Gerakan or SUPP Minister dared to adopt and pursue this objective in the Cabinet, Parliament or government.
The problem the country faces, particularly in fast-growing population centres like the Klang Valley, is not over-supply of Chinese primary schools but inadequate number of Chinese primary schools, with pupils packed like sardines with as many as 55 pupils per class when the ideal class size is 25 to 30 pupils!
Under these circumstances, it is the height of irresponsibility to close down the 25-classroom SJRK © Damansara which is in very good condition and which can play a very important role not only as a community school for the pupils in the vicinity but to help relieve the acute shortage of Chinese school places in Petaling Jaya.
Dong Jiao Zong would be the ideal convenor of such a round-table conference of all political parties to re-open the original SJK© Damansara premises under whatever name to serve the dual purpose as a community school for the immediate vicinity as well as to help relieve the acute shortage of Chinese primary school places in Petaling Jaya.
If the MCA objects to Dong Jiao Zong convening the roundtable conference, and is prepared to take the initiative of convening it to bring together all political parties plus Dong Jiao Zong, DAP is prepared to attend and fully participate in its proceedings to resolve the four-year-old SJK© Damansara educational crisis and scandal.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman