Speech at the “March Towards Putra Jaya” Dinner in Bercham, Ipoh on Sunday, October 31, 2010
Bercham has over a population of 100,000 people and over 90% are Chinese.
Over 60 years ago when Bercham was just a village, SJK (C) Bercham was built.
Today the school has 38 class rooms and over 3000 pupils. The school has almost all its class rooms crammed with a student population of over 50 students per class room.
Internationally, the recommended student population per class room is 25.
Numerous times the Barisan Nasional government has been saying in Parliament that the long term objective of the Education Ministry is to achieve the ideal ratio of 25 students per class.
Over the years, the SJK (C) Bercham has seen an increase in the enrollment of students and now the average number of students per class room is 50.
The school has also to turn away many students as the school has been just too over crowded.
Presently the school has two sessions.
Last week it was announced that the Federal Government has set aside an allocation of Rm3million for the upgrading and building of 33 new class rooms.
With the building of the new class rooms for the first time the school will be run in a single session.
We welcome this announcement with reservations because all extra classes will be squeezed into the already overcrowded school size of 2.4 hectares
As the school ground will be taken up for building the new class rooms, this will result in lack of place for sports facilities.
In fact, the proposed increase of class rooms is contrary to the guide lines issued by the Education Ministry.
In December 2007, MCA former Bercham Assemblyman Gooi Seng Teck said a new Chinese school could not be built in Bercham as there was
no available place for the construction of Chinese school unless a private land owner donated a piece of land for this purpose.
I immediately issued a public challenge to him and MCA to look at a piece of land which had been reserved for the building of a school in the Bercham area.
Just about 3km away from the present school compound, there is a parcel of land measuring over 5 acres which has been reserved for a school.
DAP has over the years consistently stated our stand that this land should be utilized for the building of a new Chinese primary school.
I had even said then that if the Government gave the approval, I would be making the necessary fund raising arrangement for the building of the new school.
My challenge was however not taken up.
Our fear is that as the land has been idle for over 10 years, it may one day be gazatted or alienated for some other purpose than the building of a school.
When I recently raised this issue in Parliament, the Deputy Minister of Education Wee Ka Siong said the present SJK(C) Bercham could accommodate the increase of students.
Now with the allocation of RM3 million announcements meant for the building of additional classrooms, it has proven that Wee’s earlier assertion has been wrong and misleading.
It baffles me why cannot the piece of land already reserved for the building of a school be the new site of a new Chinese primary school to cater to the needs of the Bercham people?
Often times MCA has cited the lack of land as one of the reasons why new Chinese primary schools cannot be built. So what is going on here seems so perplexing!
Is there a hidden agenda?
The Education Ministry must explain why it has refused to do what is logical, that is, to erect a new school on the reserved land?
If BN fails to build a new Chinese school in Bercham PR will do so when we take over Putra Jaya