Open letter to Khairy Jamaluddin – Single Stream Educational System – Is it a wish too far?

The BN had instituted unfair educational policies long before you were born and I was the victim and so were all the non-Malays then. And now it is my son’s and daughters’ turn to bear the brunt of these unfair policies.

By Choo Sing Chye

Your debate with Rafizi Ramli organised by UKEC (United Kingdom EIRE Council of Malaysian Students) was commendable because it had created a less cloudier insight into the young minds of both the opposition and the ruling party.

Apparently, the pain and sufferings of the non-Malays parents who had sent their children to National Schools (Sekolah Kebangsaan) were not attached to your main arguments. One fact is clear, National Schools will form the backbone of a Single-Stream Educational System if it is to be implemented. As a result of this deficiency, your arguments fell into the trappings of a typical ancient Sophist (1) or should I make it more clearer by using Mahatma Gandhi’s term, ‘clever’ arguments but not necessary wise or true.

From this debate, I wish to offer another side of the Single-Stream Educational System argument and later in another letter, the Shadow Cabinet.

To you and advocates of Single-Stream Educational System. 

I had invested in your idea 18 years ago when I sent my son and daughters to a National School (Sekolah Kebangsaan) in Ipoh.  

I do not want my son or daughters to be a handicap when mixing with the Malays and the Indians. We have to face the hard fact of life, when my son and daughters go into our society as an adult, breaking away from our protective yolk, he/she must be by then able to mix around comfortably with the Malays and the Indians. Most important of all, he/she must know how to treat Malays, Indians and others as brothers and sisters and not just friends.

To begin this letter, my son speaks good Malay and on the first day of school my son was mixing around with the Malays and one Malay boy even had his hand around his shoulder, a sign of close friendship yet to come. By the second week, he was alone. I asked him where his Malay friends were, with much hesitation, he pointed his finger to a group of Malay boys playing near the school canteen. The group was exclusively Malays. I didn’t pursue the matter further.

Two months later, he was playing with a group of Indians and it carried on for quite some time before he ended up alone again. The next time I saw him, he was with another few Chinese boys. I saw their friendship lasted through the whole of his primary school days. I was disappointed but this did not end here.

The second disappointment came when he was in Standard Three. I saw him lagging in his studies and I asked him why? He said that some of his teachers often skipped classes. I admonished him angrily not to use this aged-old excuse for not doing well in school.

I wanted to know the truth, I leafed through all his exercise books, to my horror most of his books remained unmarked and it had already pass the half mark of the year. I crossed checked with another Malay parent and he confirmed what my son was saying. He even quipped that some of the teachers disappeared from school during the UMNO conventions. This, I did not share his joke.

Instead of complaining, my wife and I took over his education and my two daughters. From that day onwards his studies showed improvements and in the end he scored straight A’s in his UPSR. 

My youngest daughter too is having the same problem. One morning, while I was  passing her Standard One class, I was dumbfounded to hear her teacher teaching with a kampong slang and not standard Malay. From her slang, I know she is from Southern Perak (Parit area). Honestly Khairy, how many Indian and Chinese girls at their first day in school understand this non standard Malay spoken by the teacher?

Anyway, I just smiled at the teacher when she saw me, but in my heart, I couldn’t blame her, I blame the training she had which is being UMNOised rather than Malaysianised.

Now fast forward to the present, my eldest daughter is in Upper 6, an unadulterated National School product. She scored straight A’s in her UPSR, PMR exams and scored 9 A’s in her SPM. All these results got her nowhere.

My son is now in Form 5, he scored straight A’s in his UPSR and PMR. He will be taking his SPM this year.

For my youngest daughter, she will be doing her first major exam – UPSR.

At this tender age, needless to say that they are faced with the reality of the discriminatory policies of the BN government which I believe you and Rafizi didn’t articulate well enough. I will not speculate on why both of you didn’t speak well on this matter.

In my younger days, I too had this bad experience, I remembered very clearly while I was attending Kesusasteraan Melayu class, the Malay teacher referred us, the non-Malays as ‘kawan’ and  Malays as ‘saudara’. Khairy, don’t you think this guy was promoting Ibrahim Ali’s or Hasan Ali’s brand of Malay brotherhood as opposed to Malaysian brotherhood in a Kebangsaan School?

The BN had instituted unfair educational policies long before you were born and I was the victim and so were all the non-Malays then. And now it is my son’s and daughters’ turn to bear the brunt of these unfair policies.  

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