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Yoursay: Dog-whistle politics – LTTE, Chin Peng and now, vernacular schools

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YOURSAY | ‘Having a national language doesn’t mean that one cannot speak or study other languages.’

Haniff Khatri appointed lead counsel in renewed vernacular schools challenge

Wira: The police and attorney-general should refer to the court verdicts of Melan Abdullah & Anor v Public Prosecutor (1971) when Utusan Malaysia was found guilty of sedition for its editorial, ‘Hapuskan sekolah beraliran Tamil atau Cina di-negeri ini’ (Abolish Tamil and Chinese stream schools in this country), and Mark Koding v Public Prosecutor, where the then Sabah MP was found guilty of sedition when he spoke in Parliament in October 1978 calling for the closure of Chinese and Tamil primary schools.

It is clear that calling for the closure of vernacular schools in this country is seditious and there are precedent judgments in our courts on this.

PH Goh: The decision by Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS) and Majlis Pembangunan Pendidikan Islam Malaysia (Mappim) to mount a renewed challenge against the legality of vernacular schools is to nourish a sense of grievance among Malays.

It was the same tactic with the issue of the former Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) leader Chin Peng's ashes.

Certain parties would do anything to show Malays that they are being disrespected in their own country. Unfortunately, it is a strategy that works every time.

My Understanding: First it was the LTTE-linked arrests, then Chin Peng’s ashes, TAR UC (Tunku Abdul Rahman University College) funding and now Dong Zong and legality of vernacular schools.

New problems keep cropping up for the minorities in this country.

Vgeorgemy: Why do these NGOs want to go to the court to declare vernacular schools illegal if their real intention is to maintain the language domination of the country’s majority race?

Bahasa Malaysia is already recognised as the official language in the country. Nobody is disputing this.

Give the minorities the chance to learn in their own mother tongue. The federal constitution never mandated the language of instruction in all schools to be Bahasa Malaysia.

The Malay language is the national language, but other languages should be maintained as medium of communication in schools.

Steven Ong: Yes, the federal constitution defines Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.

While some countries with no official languages or multi-ethnic countries with multiple languages are focusing on self-improvement, invention, developing their countries and helping others prosper, these NGOs in Malaysia are utilising the national language to “downgrade” other languages apparently to gain dignity and feel proud as a race.

Having a national language does not mean that one cannot speak or study in other languages, just as having an official religion does not mean that one must submit to it as superior to others.

Hanafiah Puteh: The elite Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) schools have created two types of Malays in the country - the haves and the have-nots.

MRSM students are allowed to learn in English and sit for O-Level examinations but the poor kampung folks are encouraged to continue in national schools by prioritising Bahasa Malaysia and sit for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations.

If they are really sincere about creating one education system for all Malaysians, the NGOs need to get rid of MRSM too.

Giant Pygmy: I consider it a good move by the two NGOs to appoint the experienced senior lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla as their lead counsel for the legal suit.

Any decision by the courts on the legality of vernacular schools will also affect the existing tahfiz (religious) and Arabic schools in the country. The court decision will also affect all the local international schools as its main medium for lessons is English.

Right and Wrong: How can Malaysia become a fully developed country when it is constantly faced with challenges that threaten its harmony?

It seems like there are still people who are intent on causing disunity and split in Malaysia’s multi-ethnic society. It is a shame that these people do not understand what we are made of. Some people will continue to create hatred among the simple peace-loving Malaysians.

Why are they not focusing on more important problems such as corruption, drug-related issues and moral values which are affecting our country?

Salvage Malaysia: I was not a student of vernacular school but a product of our sekolah kebangsaan (national school) when the quality of our education system was still good.

Before even considering to abolish vernacular schools by proving it to be illegal according to the constitution, there is an urgent need to first raise the overall quality of education provided in national schools.

Our sekolah kebangsaan will need to be able to give their vernacular counterparts a run for their money. Presently, there is a large number of graduates churned out by the national school system that are unemployable.

Instead of arguing over the existence of vernacular schools, it would be better for the two NGOs to study the trend of more Muslim parents sending their children to study at such schools because the education quality and discipline are much better than public schools.

They can also study Singapore’s model of public education whereby their students are good enough for exchange programmes with overseas schools in developed countries.

And I respect those Muslim students who can today speak excellent Mandarin, BM and English and are likely to succeed in life and become our future leaders.

Mee Hoon Kuay: Vernacular schools will not be popular if the national schools are not sub-standard.

Since the authorities are incapable of improving the quality of national schools, some people are taking the easy way out by trying to remove the generally successful vernacular schools.

Tok Jangut: Are English vernacular schools also affected by the legal suit? Will international schools throughout Malaysia be closed down if such schools are found to be illegal under the constitution?

Sarawak 4 Malaysian: While other countries are moving ahead in terms of tolerance and progress, Malaysia seems to be going in reverse gear.

Incisive: Prior to 1970, Malaysia was so much better off in all fields compared to now, when there were English-medium schools.

At present, the Malay, Chinese and Tamil medium schools all have their own respective main language for teaching. Why did the need arise only now to question the existence of the vernacular schools?

Emotionalism is not nationalism.


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These comments are compiled to reflect the views of Malaysiakini subscribers on matters of public interest. Malaysiakini does not intend to represent these views as fact.

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