KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — MCA today revealed bold requests of RM1 billion for Chinese education and more new Chinese schools under the 10th Malaysia Plan, as part of efforts to recapture significantly waning support from the community.
The new amount for the development of Chinese schools is over three times more than the RM320 million under the current Ninth Malaysia Plan. The MCA is also seeking 10 new schools and the relocation of a further 15.
“Today, I decided that we should share with the community what we have asked for from the government in the 10th Malaysia Plan,” party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek told a joint press interview at Wisma MCA here this afternoon.
He said that he had presented Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak with a 100-page memorandum comprising requests covering issues of economic liberalisation; education and human capital development; how to achieve 1 Malaysia through inclusive policies; environmental issues and the quality of life; and political sustainability including democratisation.
“The prime minister was very good in allowing us to sit down together for a dialogue, and we met for over an hour and a half,” Dr Chua said before revealing the requests made to Najib.
He said education was a major request, noting that constructing 10 new Chinese schools and relocating 15 more would only require a budget of RM125 million, at RM5 million for each new construction.
“About 20 per cent of the total student population in this country is from the Chinese community but yet, we only receive less than four per cent of the total development allocation for schools.
“This has been exploited by the opposition. This time, I told the prime minister that the government needs to give more. All this ‘mi segera (instant noodle)’ type allocations will not do — they are counter-productive,” he said.
He said efforts should also be taken remove the distinction between government and government-aided schools.
“Our belief is that the government should pay for all basic amenities like water and electricity and water-treatment bills. It is small money to the government to do this,” he said.
Dr Chua said the time had come for the government to start allocating funds for Chinese independent schools as a bid to recognise its contribution to education in the country.
“These schools produce between 6,000 to 7,000 high school graduates annually and they are usually good in maths and science. We should try to retain them,” he said.
He suggested an allocation of RM15 million a year for the graduates and an additional RM15 million for development of the schools.
“We have also suggested a formula for the government whereby in every Chinese densely populated area of about 3,000 home units, at least one piece of land should be reserved for the construction of one Chinese school. This should be made into a new policy for development,” he said.
Another request the MCA has made in its proposal for the 10MP is for the government to form a unified body to handle all licensing in the various sectors where proper guidelines are set in place for government officials to follow.
“We are talking about the 30 per cent bumiputra requirement here. Our biggest problem is that this is entrenched in the civil servants so although the Prime Minister has liberalised the various sectors, when it comes to permits or licences, there is nothing to stop the government servants from saying – here is the condition, there must be a 30 per cent bumiputra control.
“There should be one body to coordinate all departments handling licencing matters where these guidelines are prepared so that people have no choice but to follow them,” he said.
Dr Chua also called for an open tender system to all local SMEs for all government procurements in order to promote transparency.
“We want to establish a more business-friendly environment. Maybe the government can consider giving a preference to bumiputras so they can have some small margin of preference but at the same time, it should be open to all.
“One example is the Class F contractors. There are too many of them here... over 30,000, the most in the world. But it is presently all for bumiputras. It should be reserved 70 per cent for open tenders among the bumiputras and the remaining 30 per cent should be for all Malaysians,” he said.
Dr Chua also said that government-linked companies should be subjected to fair market competition in order to scrap the perception that they were only promoting the interests of one particular race.
“The agenda of the GLCs should be to promote national interest and not just one group. If GLCs are given preference, the impression is that the government is competing with the private sector and even the bumiputras are not happy with this,” he said.
The MCA is also seeking for the gradual reduction in subsidies, to be replaced with direct welfare payments, and proper media management to ensure the people understood its measures.
“The savings from this reduction should be given out to the poor in the form of direct government grants of between RM5,000 and RM8,000 per year, per family,” said Dr Chua.
He also called on the government to conduct a study on the sectorial requirement for foreign manpower in order to properly regulate the intake of foreign labour in the country.
Dr Chua said the MCA had taken full stock of the reasons behind the fleeing Chinese support, and had incorporated the community’s needs and requests in the party’s proposal for the plan.
He pointed out that the reasons behind the failing support were due to poor implementation of government policies and a lack of government allocation for the community’s needs.
“Often it is at the implementation level that there is red tape, bureaucracy, abuse of power, delay and corruption. Sometimes, (government) officers have too much power vested in them, too much discretionary power.
“This is why the Chinese often feel they are treated like second-class citizens. It is not the policies per se because we have plenty of that but it is the problem of implementation,” Dr Chua said.
The president also said that, traditionally, the MCA never revealed the contents of its proposal to the government when making its requests for allocations under the development plans.
“Only the requests we succeeded in obtaining are revealed to the Chinese community.
“The end result is that people think that MCA dare not ask. Or worse, they think we have lost touch with the Chinese community.
In its proposal, the MCA is also seeking a RM30 million allocation for the construction of non-Islamic religious prayer grounds, a change in the history syllabus in schools and institutions of higher learning to be more Malaysian-centric instead of Malay-centric, an avenue for university students to get involved in politics without holding political office and for a solution to religious conversion cases.