Side Views

After Najib’s ice-breaker — Lim Sue Goan

FEB 18 — The presence of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at a Chinese New Year celebration organised by the United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) is regarded as an ice-breaking move.

The fly in the ointment, however, was the prime minister did not announce the recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) as expected.

Most people said that the greater the hope, the greater the disappointment. From a positive point of view, however, it is the start of interaction between the government and Dong Zong.

The prime minister has taken the initiative to arrange a meeting to discuss the issues of Chinese education. Therefore, we hope that the next meeting will relieve the plight of Chinese education.

Dong Zong has taken a pressuring strategy over the past year, including organising five peaceful assemblies to clearly convey the aspirations of the Chinese community. And now, in conjunction with the Chinese New Year, it invited the prime minister to attend the celebration, showing the flexibility of Dong Zong leaders in tactics. It is meant to both pressure and communicate.

It is the first time for the Malaysian political arena to have the ruling and alternative coalitions of equal strength and, thus, Dong Zong must use the opportunity well.

The Pakatan Rakyat has promised to recognise the UEC once it takes over the office and it is indeed a pressure for the BN in fighting for Chinese votes. Therefore, it is a sign of possible change when Najib broke the “political taboo” and became the first prime minister to attend a Chinese New Year celebration organised by Dong Zong.

If Dong Zong just blindly pressures without giving Umno leaders room to manoeuvre, it might miss the opportunity to seek favourable policies for Chinese education, or even be used by Umno extreme right to stir up sentiments.

We still have some time before the next general election. Although Najib did not bring good news at the Chinese New Year celebration, there is still room to fight for it.

As Dong Zong deputy chairman Chow Siew Hon said, “We received no gift today, but it does not mean that there will be no gift in the future”. More importantly, Dong Zong should take the opportunity to break the plight which has entangled Chinese education for over 50 years.

Since the invitation did not bring immediate results, many people have attacked it. However, it is a strategy and Dong Zong should not soften its stand. Judging from this point, it seems like many people have forgotten the truth that being excessive might spoil everything.

Various issues triggered during the Chinese New Year have shown that many people are too impatient and became aggressive and offensive, reflecting that being excessive cannot help in achieving anything.

For example, to fight for votes, BN leaders have put on Tang suits for the first time and appeared on Chinese New Year advertisements. However, supporters of the Pakatan Rakyat tried everything to denigrate BN leaders out of the worry that they might spoil the alternative coalition’s plan to seize Putrajaya.

The performance of South Korean star Psy at BN’s Chinese New Year open house in Penang has also been filled with wars of words. There are other extreme examples, such as undergraduates being threatened in Pekan and the Australian independent senator who was denied entry into Malaysia.

The anxiety and radical approach of Pakatan Rakyat members or supporters might cause negative effects. Some people, who originally intended to vote for the Pakatan Rakyat, might now think twice. Overdoing and overreacting might spoil the Pakatan Rakyat’s plan.

In fact, the current situation is favourable to the Pakatan Rakyat. It is because the two-party system has brought non-Malays many unprecedented gifts. The Chinese see further and, thus, they are aware of the benefits of the two-party system. Therefore, there is no need for supporters of the Pakatan Rakyat to be so radical. Instead, they should react rationally to keep basic support while fighting for more swing votes.

Radical approach provokes emotions and hatred, which could hinder the establishment of a healthy and rational political culture.

Dong Zong has made a good demonstration this time and it can help its future struggle. Regardless of who is going to win the election, only education and the people’s interests are eternal. —

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.


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