Malay groups clamour for end to Chinese, Tamil vernacular schools


(Malay Mail Online) – A massive Malay rights convention proposed today for vernacular education to be abolished, even as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said such calls would cause Umno to forfeit the support of the ethnic Chinese.

According to the so-called National Unity Convention, the existence of vernacular primary and secondary schools opposed the goal of the Education Act 1961 and is an obstacle towards achieving national unity among the young generation.

“It is time for the Malaysian government to abolished a three-stream education system. Specifically, it is time for the Malaysian government to abolish the Chinese and Tamil primary and secondary system.

“It should implement only the national school system for the primary and secondary stages, for every citizens, regardless of race,” said a memorandum drafted during the convention here.

The convention today was organised by a coalition of 58 Malay NGOs, and was attended by over 300 groups, to debate and pass a National Unity Memorandum draft to be delivered to Putrajaya and the Malay rulers, among others.

The memorandum also contained the allegation that the vernacular system has polarised Malaysians according to race, religion and culture.

“The Malaysian government must be strict and not compromise with anybody in implementing this. This strictness is needed because the current system is not conducive towards the effort of nourishing and strengthening national unity in Malaysia,” it said.

Several delegates who debated the memorandum had also echoed the sentiment, with a Federation of Peninsula Malay Students (GPMS) representative urging for vernacular schools to be phased out by 2020.

Chinese vernacular schools will be among the topics discussed during next week’s Umno General Assembly, after party vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein announced that the subject was included in the agenda.

Controversy over vernacular schools was triggered again when Petaling Jaya Utara Umno deputy division chief Mohamad Azli Mohamed proposed to discuss abolishing Chinese-medium schools at the party’s general assembly later this month, claiming the schools to be hotbeds for racism and anti-establishment sentiments.

The statement sparked a flurry of angry responses from Chinese leaders, with MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai demanding a police investigation to determine whether or not Mohamad Azli’s statement was seditious.

Noting that Chinese support is gradually improving, Umno president Najib said in an interview with Malay daily Mingguan Malaysia today that such calls were undermining the endeavours to regain the backing of the group that is vital to the party’s electoral performance.