KAJANG, March 25 — Datuk Wee Ka Siong was chased away and narrowly escaped being punched by an attendee after a rally protesting the lack of Chinese school teachers turned angry.
The MCA Youth chief said he was “shocked” and “saddened” by the jeers, scuffles and alleged attempted punch from frustrated rally-goers who made up part of over 5,000 who had gathered here.
After the rally organised by the United Chinese School Committees Association (Dong Zong) ended, an angry swarm of people chanted for him to resign and it was alleged someone attempted to land a punch on his body but was prevented by a large security detail.
“I can’t say I felt threatened but it was a rude shock to me,” the deputy education minister said in a press conference at a nearby hotel half a kilometre away from the hostile crowd.
“Suddenly people come and point at you and want to punch you. I am saddened. We are not hooligans. We are a civilised society.”
The deputy minister from MCA also suggested that the crowd was instigated by unidentified parties.
“I am saddened by manipulation by certain quarters,” he said.
Wee said that it was alright for people to express their dissatisfaction in a democratic society but it should be “based on facts”.
Wee acknowledged that the shortage of teachers was a problem and said that the government was giving it immediate attention.
“Of course we know this needs immediate attention, that’s why the cabinet formed a committee (to look into it)”, he said.
“We will study each of their resolutions and demands and consider it. We have come up with strategies.”
He urged patience as the solution needed to be a holistic one.
“We need to identify the root of the problem. If we don’t know the root, how are we going to solve it? We cannot concentrate on one side and ignore the other side.”
Although Wee announced on Wednesday eight long- and short-term plans by the education ministry to resolve the issue, Dong Zong said the next day the government has not kept its promises in the past and “this hasty announcement is an attempt to offset the 325 rally.”
In supporting the rally at Dong Zong’s headquarters here, United Chinese School Teachers’ Association of Malaysia (Jiao Zong) president Ong Kow Yee had also said on Thursday they wrote numerous times to the government but the matter remains unresolved.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had also announced on Thursday more Mandarin-speaking teachers will be trained to solve the shortage.
He said the government was committed to resolving the problem and had appointed Wee to speak to Chinese educationist groups to come up with a solution.
It was also reported that the Education Ministry had placed 1,482 temporary teachers in Chinese schools nationwide since January to address the shortage.
Wee had said there were only 392 vacancies left and headmasters needed to appoint temporary teachers according to their requirements.