MCA’s record on education: Shameful and pathetic — Koon Yew Yin
AUG 21 — Various thoughts come to my mind on reading the report that the Selangor MCA will build more Chinese schools if Barisan Nasional regains the state at the coming election. According to the Selangor MCA chairman, Donald Lim Siang Chai the MCA “will help the state government approve more land for Chinese schools, particularly in predominantly Chinese areas in Selangor”.
One is of disbelief that the MCA leaders can stoop so low in their attempt to win a few seats in the coming elections. But perhaps we should not be surprised that the MCA is scrapping the bottom of the barrel in terms of political integrity. Learning from the senior partner, Umno, electoral bribery appears to be the main item in the standard operating procedure manual of MCA for the coming election, so desperate is the BN to remain in power.
The second is to question why this proposal to build more Chinese schools has come now. After all, before Pakatan took over in 2008, the MCA was part of the Selangor state government for 50 years. During the past decade the demand for Chinese schools in the state (and in other urban areas of the country) has especially grown tremendously. However, this demand was ignored by the MCA leaders.
Why state land was not delineated for Chinese schools
Why was this community and national need been pushed aside? The reason is that the MCA leaders were more engrossed in getting contracts for themselves and their cronies and in making hay while the sun was shining on the notorious Toyo administration.
The reason why state land was not approved for Chinese schools in the years leading to the 2008 elections is that the MCA leaders were busy requesting land for their cronies and business partners. This is the only conclusion any ordinary person can come to.
If Donald Lim would like to dispute and take me up on this, I will be happy up take up his challenge. It can be easily shown who is correct by opening up the state government’s records on land alienation during the period of the Toyo administration and to compare the approvals granted to cronies versus the Chinese community.
National education: Bigger MCA failing
Not only has MCA failed Chinese education dismally it has also been a leading partner in the decline of our national school system. Today our national schools are characterised by regressive language and religious dogmas, dismal performance, low standards and unemployable products. No middle or upper middle class parent — whether Chinese, Malay, Indian or from any community – would want to have their young children schooled in the sekolah rendah kebangsaan and sekolah menegah if they can help it. In fact, frankly, most Malaysian parents if they can help it avoid the national schooling system like the plague.
This national disgrace has one of its leading stake players the MCA which has held the Deputy Minister of Education portfolio for umpteen years. Can the MCA point to any educational innovation that it has introduced? Can the MCA point to any educational policy of merit, fairness, and tolerance that it has been responsible for since independence?
Let’s take the system of government scholarships. During the last 40 years of the NEP, tens if not hundreds of thousands of parents of non-Bumiputera students with excellent SPM results have complained of discrimination when their children have been rejected in their applications for government scholarships. Only after the scholarship results are announced and there a public outcry do we see MCA politicians try to do damage control by jumping into the fray and go with a begging bowl to the PSD and other scholarship award authorities.
The Chinese deputy minister of education may be good at giving speeches to Chinese schools but when it comes to helping determine the course of national educational policy in key areas, his position is more like that of the office boy. I am writing about this from personal experience. I have given scholarships to more than 100 poor students. Some of them are really brilliant but they could not get government scholarships. For example, Wan Pui Yee with 12 As in her SPM could not get a government scholarship.
Let’s take another sore point in education. The establishment of the matriculation college system has discriminated against the deserving non-Bumiputeras. Malaysian public universities offer a one-year matriculation programme. These courses have largely catered to the Bumiputera population and are deemed as having a much lower standard, qualifying criteria and final examination requirement for entry into university. This situation is in contrast to that which non-Bumiputera students face as they are required to sit for the much tougher two-year STPM in Form 6. Thus there exist two parallel tracks for students wishing to enter local universities, one with an easier syllabus and lower entry requirement, the other requiring a higher level of achievement. Now how did this system come about if the MCA has not been a willing accessory to the educational crime!
The unwritten rule that the Bumiputera should be given opportunities at the expense of the non-Bumiputera destroys social cohesion and quality human resource development. It is an inferior and morally unacceptable form of educational investment which the MCA has been a party to.
A fair national policy: What has MCA done?
Many Malaysians, including myself, fully support the policy that attention should be given to the educational needs of the underprivileged in society, with appropriate consideration and greater weight to those in the poorer rural-based Bumiputera (Malays and non-Malay Bumiputera) community. However, the needs of deserving non-Malays should also be treated fairly and equally.
The policy, which I practise in my charitable work, is that scholarships should be awarded to the deserving from all communities. Information on awards should be publicly disclosed and widely disseminated. In contrast the government’s scholarship policy tacitly endorsed by the MCA has been indiscriminately applied to favour one community. Without proper checks and balances, it has had and continues to have a crippling effect on Malaysian parents and their children. But I suspect MCA leaders whose children are not in the national system are immune to this and other flaws in our education system.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.