Yesterday, while speaking at a forum on national unity, the former Director General of Education, Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Arshad, called for the closing of Chinese and Tamil schools as a measure to foster racial unity.
He claimed that mother tongue education hinders national unity. By closingthese schools, all children are then compelled to go to national schools, a move, he said, would integrate the various races in the country.
Abdul Rahman’s views were widely reported in the main Tamil papers.
|Speaking to reporters|
|Inside the police station|
Mother tongue education is recognized as a right under the constitution. Studies show that a child learns better and does well in studies if the child studies in his or her mother tongue.
Presently, there are 1291 Chinese schools with an enrolment of over 600,000, and 523 Tamil schools, with a pupil population of nearly 110,000.
Many parents send their children to Chinese or Tamil schools for cultural and religious reasons, though the commercial relevance of mother tongue education is also a factor.
Presently, over 50,000 bumiputra students pursue their primary education in Chinese schools. The main reason for this is that the commercial world now requires one to be proficient in Mandarin.
Malaysia is a multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-lingual country. We need to harness this diversity as a resource.
In 1978, Mark Koding, a Sabah MP, called for the closure of Chinese and Tamil schools while speaking in Parliament. He was charged under the Sedition Act, found guilty and was disqualified as an MP.
In light of that incident and the restiveness it had caused, a similar call by a former DG of Education is shocking. While Koding was a rabble rouser, Abdul Rahman Arshad hardly qualifies in that category.
That makes his call so dangerous. We condemn it and urge the police to take the necessary action, especially under the Sedition Act.