Lets have referendum on Chinese schools

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Accusations have been made against the MCA's request to the government to provide allocation under the 9th Malaysia Plan to build more Chinese schools in densely-populated areas.

As nine out of 10 Chinese Malaysian children attend the national-type Chinese schools, it appears that the MCA request was made out of the community's growing need to place their children in Chinese-medium schools. Demand for mother-tongue education is acute, especially in urban cities.

However, Umno Youth head and Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein argued that the memorandum submitted by MCA is not representative of the Chinese community's views but an issue drawn up by associations and organisations looking for popular issues.

To be sure, I urge the minister to conduct a referendum with the Chinese community to ascertain whether this request beholds a political motive or truly represents the need of the community. This referendum should be conducted within the spirit of maintaining or enhancing the well- being of the Chinese Malaysian community - consistent with the minister's heartfelt concern for the community.

Someone said that if more Chinese schools are to be built in areas densely-populated by Chinese, the Indian community will make a similar request which will lead to disunity. There are two parts to this claim which require serious assessment.

First, the Chinese and Indian communities form a significant component of the large and diverse Malaysian society. As stakeholders and taxpayers, why can't they make reasonable requests to the government to undertake concrete action to meet the education needs of their respective community?

And if the existence of more national-type vernacular schools is the cause of disunity, will Umno then agree to the abolishment and readjustment of all types of schools and institutions of higher learning which are either race or religious-centric?

There should be viable and pragmatic reasons why Chinese or Indian parents are not sending their children to the national schools. These reasons should be addressed whether they stem from perception or other cultural reasons. Following this, a proper strategy should be adopted to address the concerns.

Instead of succumbing to reactionary responses and baseless accusations, all parties and individuals who are interested to see the national education system reach greater heights should approach this issue without their political or personal interests.

The government should make the purpose of achieving educational excellence a key pillar of the 9th Malaysia Plan and its broader socio-economic development agenda.

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