Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has urged vernacular school advocates to focus on education as a basic human right in fighting their cause.
This, he said, is because using racial elements would be a losing battle.
“When (we) talk about race, people will play the number games (racial quota).
“I don't think this is the country we envision,” he said when attending the handover of RM12 million in educational allocation to 62 Chinese independent high schools and New Era University College.
"If we want a bright future for our education, especially Chinese education, (but) you emphasise on race and the rights of ethnicity, then you will be a loser," he said.
"We should emphasise fundamental rights," he said, adding this is a universal discourse that will resonate well with all quarters.
“If you feel that Malaysia belongs to all of us, then we should prioritise Malaysia instead of our races. (Only) then, our future generation will be better guaranteed," he said, urging Chinese vernacular advocators to be a pioneer in championing this cause.
Lim, however, noted the Chinese educational group will need time to move away from using racial elements.
The United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) chairperson Tan Tai Kim, who attended the ceremony, concurred with Lim.
He said Dong Zong takes a multi-pronged approach and is more open in its struggle.
"While we continue to fight for Chinese education, we will also care for the interest of all races.
"We have set up a multiracial committee to deal with matters arising in Unified Examination Certification (UEC), to prevent misunderstanding (between) Malays (community and us)," he said.