Think tank slams calls for abolishment of vernacular schools as ‘racist’

14 May

By Emily Ding
Ramon Navaratnam condems that such unfair and irresponsible remarks are unnecessary and uncalled for. - File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — The Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) has condemned calls by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) pro-chancellor Tan Sri Dr Abdul Rahman Arshad for the abolishment of vernacular schools as “irresponsible” and “racist”.

Last Sunday, the former director-general of education had reportedly said that vernacular Chinese and Tamil schools was a barrier to the country’s unity, and that the 13th general election showed the worsening racial divide in the country.

“CPPS Chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam condems that such unfair and irresponsible remarks are unnecessary and uncalled for, especially when our Prime Minister Najib is urging all levels of our society to work together towards national reconciliation,” the think tank said in a statement today.

Navaratnam also said that Abdul Rahman’s calls for getting rid of vernacular schools are not in line with Najib’s 1 Malaysia ideal that he had so strongly promoted.

“It would be best that we have a single stream using Malay language in order to improve unity,” Abdul Rahman was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini at a forum titled “GE13 post-mortem: Muslim leadership and survival”, adding that students could still learn other vernacular languages in these schools.

The existence of vernacular schools and education in the mother tongue is protected by the force of law, under Article 152(1)(a) and (b) of the Federal Constitution, Navaratnam said.

CPPS Director Ms Ng Yeen Seen also said that making vernacular education the scapegoat for undermining racial unity could become a self-fulfilling prophecy by triggering the very problem it purports to want to prevent.

Such remarks undermine the intellectual capacity of Malaysians and would incite resentment among different communities, she added.

Navaratnam also backed National Unity and Integration Department (NUID) Director-General Datuk Azman Amin Hassan’s appeal to all leaders to refrain from making inflammatory remarks that can stir racial animosity.

Since the May 5 elections, Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have sparked controversy by attributing the election results wholly to a “Chinese tsunami” against the coalition in the same breath as Najib’s promise for “national reconciliation”.

The Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia, which is known to represent the right-wing forces aligned largely with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, also published a number of stories blaming the Chinese for dividing Malaysia.

Vernacular Chinese and Tamil schools only exist at primary level and are part of the national education system.

While Mandarin and Tamil are respectively used as the medium of instruction, the syllabus used is that of the national education system and is identical to that of national schools using Bahasa Malaysia.

However, there are also 60 private institutions known as Chinese independent schools, where Mandarin and English are used as a medium of instruction. which are not recognised by the government.



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