Opinion: Closing Down Vernacular Schools is the Wrong Policy

Almost all Malay politicians will campaign for the protection of Malay rights especially during the general election or even during a by-election to win more votes.

Almost every other week, we also read wannabe politicians from UMNO, PAS and even some Pakatan Malay parties, looking for publicity and popularity, call for the closing down of vernacular or mother-tongue schools, especially SRJK Cina, as part of their Malay rights campaign.

The latest, but not last, attack against these schools – treated by policymakers as stepchildren of the national educational system – now comes from Muslimat PAS, the women’s wing of the party. At the party’s 65th muktamar, the vice-chief, Salamiah Md Nor called for an end to vernacular schools. “Dewan Muslimat has one hope – we are unwilling for Mandarin to become a second language. We want the second language to be that of the Quran and Sunnah which have been neglected for generations, causing some Muslims to become ignorant about the Quran.”

While vernacular school bashing has been par for the course for Malay aspiring political leaders, it should be pointed out that sekolah kebangsaan (SK) have also come for their share of criticism as breeding grounds of racial intolerance.

Are vernacular schools a source of national disunity?

Although Chinese- and Tamil-medium schools are protected by the Constitution, one of the favourite tactics of these politicians is to claim that vernacular schools are one of the main sources – if not the main source – of national disunity. This is a ridiculous claim with no evidence provided to back it!

In fact, these Malay politicians are doing the Malay electorate a great disservice in two ways.

One is that they are successfully distracting the Malay public from focusing on the real educational problems of the Malay school children, as pointed out by Dr Lim Teck Ghee in his recent article, Schools a Source of Disunity in The Sun.

The other is that they are ignoring the importance of Mandarin in today’s world where China is rapidly becoming the engine of global economic growth.

Important to trade with China

Allow me to remind you of the importance of Mandarin. Many in this country may not be aware that China has the second biggest GDP in the world, next to the United States. In fact, China’s GDP is expected to exceed that of the United States in the next few years.

China is also our largest trading partner. Without investments from China and exports to China, our economy will fall into recession and unemployment will rise.

All Malaysians, especially Malays, should learn Mandarin so that they can help the country gain entry to the huge Chinese market, as well as help themselves. Some fluency in Mandarin will go a long way to improving the career and income prospects of any Malaysian. This is a no brainer which no Malay politician seems to want to acknowledge.

I strongly believe if we trade more with China, we can achieve Tun Dr Mahathir’s vision 2020. Our neighbour Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea have already become developed nations. They do not even have timber to build their houses; whilst we were once the biggest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil in the world should become a developed nation. Moreover, we have petroleum, yet we are not classified as a developed nation. Why?

Mandarin is one of the six languages recognised by the UN

The importance of Mandarin has been recognised by the United Nations where it is one of the six official languages since the establishment of the organisation. I predict that in the near future that there will really be two dominant global languages – English and Mandarin.

Koon Yew Yin

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button