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Not agreeing or rejecting - Maszlee clarifies remarks on single-stream schools

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Maszlee Malik has explained his statement of "looking into" a proposal regarding single-stream schools after MCA censured him for not defending the nation's multi-stream system.

The education minister said his remark does not indicate agreement or rejection.

The issue started with a proposal from Bersatu supreme council member Tariq Ismail last week for the establishment of a "single schooling system" which would raise the quality of national schools above that of vernacular schools.

When reporters asked Maszle about this yesterday, he replied: "I have not looked into the suggestion yet. I need to look into the suggestion. I will look into the suggestion first."

In his Facebook post this afternoon, Maszlee said it was in line with the spirit of new Malaysia to listen to suggestions.

"But hearing (the suggestions) does not mean rejecting or accepting (the suggestions)," he said, adding that all were free to offer their views in a responsible manner.

The minister, who is no stranger to controversy, hoped that his remarks would not be misconstrued of viewed in a negative light.

Maszlee's Facebook post was made some 30 minutes after MCA vice-president Tan Teik Cheng issued a strongly-worded Chinese-language statement criticising the education minister.

"What a bitter disappointment Maszlee is as the education minister. He did not defend the country's multi-stream education system but instead claimed he would study the single-stream suggestion.

"This is blatantly ignoring the existence of Chinese and Tamil schools... He is simply the worst education minister ever. Is he so stupid that he doesn't know the constitutional right for mother-tongue education?” he said.

The issue of single-stream schools resurfaced amid tensions following the introduction of Jawi khat (calligraphy) in the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus for vernacular schools.

Guan Eng warns of sedition

Meanwhile, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng also issued a Chinese-language statement on the matter.

He said replacing the current multi-stream system with single-stream schools is not the Pakatan Harapan government's policy.

Lim, who is also finance minister, said the multi-stream system has “extra protection” where proposals to replace it are considered seditious.

"Even an MP won't be immune and will be convicted in court if such remarks are made in Parliament.

"This seditious attack against multi-stream schools is obviously against the spirit of Merdeka, which is the basis for drafting the Federal Constitution," he added.

Lim stressed that DAP and its allies would defend both Bahasa Malaysia as the national language and the right for vernacular schools to exist.

Proponents of single stream-schools have argued that the system would enhance racial integration and unity in Malaysia.

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