Chinese language advantage and education in M’sia; Don’t turn it into a political tool!

Chinese vernacular schools

It is bewildering that vernacular schools should be made the scapegoat for race relation issues in this country when our greatest asset is our multi-racial society, which puts us above our Asean neighbours in competing for the economic pie.

MY father sent me and my two elder brothers to study at the St Xavier’s Institution in Penang because he felt we all needed a good education in an English-medium school.

My eldest brother studied at a Chinese school and did not fare well. It was enough for my dad to be convinced that we should all be in a missionary school.

My father Wong Soon Cheong spoke fluent Malay with a thick northern accent and had taught himself to read and write English while he improved his command of Chinese.

Like many Chinese in his time, and even now, they knew that the key to success was education, and the best education facilities were found in the English-medium schools.

When I entered Year 1 in 1968, England was still the economic powerhouse of Europe, and mastering the Queen’s English would be the passport to a brighter future.

Fast forward to 2014 – the economic balance has shifted. China has become a superpower and besides being the biggest producer of just about anything, it is also the biggest market for anyone from anywhere wanting to sell anything.

My biggest regret now is that because I am a product of the English-medium system, I am unable to speak or write in Chinese. The dialects I am able to use, the smattering of Hokkien and Cantonese, is of little value in mainland China.

Anyone who wants to do business in China needs to speak Mandarin. It’s as simple as that, and this writer will be shoved out of the door if he cannot go beyond the initial greetings.

Even in Kuala Lumpur, I would never be employed in any company that has business dealings with China. This is not discrimination as, in the business world, my linguistic handicap cannot be ignored.

By the time my daughter had to be enrolled in a primary school, the scenario had changed. There were no more English-medium schools and the national schools were no longer the first choice for many Chinese parents. They were not only concerned about the quality of education but everyone also knew by then – that was in 1998 – that China would be the country to watch.

This, of course, led to many households being rather mixed up as the English-speaking parents had to grapple with their children being schooled in Chinese.

But it was a simple economic decision, nothing more than that. Most of us had no relatives in China and certainly no political sentiments whatsoever towards China.

As someone who spent all his years in the then English-medium school, I had no affiliation for many things Chinese. I am what many would call a “yellow banana” – a yellow-skinned Chinese but one who is white-hearted. But the global future of China was there for all to see.

When my daughter went to England to do her A-Levels, her school had a full class of students from different nationalities wanting to sit for the Chinese language examination. The school appointed the best teacher to teach the class. Such was the importance it placed on its students acquiring the language skills.

My daughter left for England before the SPM but she returned to Kuala Lumpur to sit for the examination. We wanted to make sure that she cleared this examination and also get a credit in Bahasa Malaysia, which is necessary if she wants to be a lawyer in Malaysia.

Her school in the United Kingdom frowned on her taking leave of absence to take the SPM. After all, how she fared in the BM paper (she got a distinction) would have no bearing on her ongoing studies for the A-Levels.

The Chinese can be described as being very practical people, and we needed to cover all our bases.

The fact is that 90% of Chinese parents today send their children to Chinese primary schools in Malaysia, and that 15% of students studying at the nearly 1,300 Chinese primary schools in the country are non-Chinese.

Even my personal driver, an Indian, sent his daughter to a Chinese primary school. It must have been tough for the parents but she speaks Mandarin fluently, besides Bahasa Malaysia, English and Tamil. It will certainly benefit her in the long run.

Schools in the UK, the bastion of Anglo-Saxon culture, know the global economic value of Chinese. They are making plans to ensure that their children study Chinese so that they won’t be left out.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has been quoted as saying that all students in the UK should study Chinese.

Johnson, who is studying Chinese himself, reportedly suggested that Britons should be learning as much as possible about China, as the East Asian giant continues to expand its global influence.

He said the children would grow up naturally knowing about China’s importance. When quizzed on whether they should also learn Chinese as a standard subject in schools, he told the Press Association: “Why not? Absolutely. My kids are learning it, so why not? Definitely, definitely.”

The mayor told the press he was learning Chinese “from the beginning” as he showed the journalists a folder on which he had written the words “Middle Kingdom” or “China” in the language. He told university students in Beijing that his 16-year-old daughter was learning Chinese and was due to visit China.

Singapore is often used as an example of a nation, despite its Chinese majority population, not having Chinese primary schools. The fact is that every Singaporean has to be schooled in English, and then it is compulsory for them to be schooled in their mother tongue. With special permission, they can also take up an extra subject in one another’s mother tongue languages.

Chinese is therefore a compulsory subject for Chinese students in Singapore while the non-Chinese can choose Malay or Tamil as options. English is a compulsory subject to pass over there.

Now we come to the point I am leading to – why is there a need for anyone to suggest that Chinese and Tamil schools be closed down, supposedly because they are the source of disunity in this country?

It is bewildering that vernacular schools should be made the scapegoat for race relation issues in this country.

I do not think anyone would be so naïve and simplistic, especially politicians, as to actually believe that by abolishing these schools, all the problems will disappear.

Many mono-ethnic countries are highly divisive even though they have the same language, religion or culture, particularly in Eastern Europe and parts of Africa.

Our biggest problem is not whether we are using Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, English or Tamil to teach – we should be worried over the falling quality of education in our schools and in universities.

We should be losing sleep that 70% of our teachers teaching English actually failed in the competency tests.

And why isn’t anyone worried that our public universities have still not made it into the top-ranked universities in the world?

Or why our students, despite their string of distinctions, are now not getting into Ivy League universities in the United States.

Mandarin, in fact, isn’t enough. We should all be able to speak Arabic because the richest countries are in the Middle East. With so many Arab tourists visiting Malaysia, are there enough Arab-speaking tour guides?

Malaysia’s greatest asset is its multi-racial society, which puts us above our Asean neighbours in competing for the economic pie.

The Mandarin speakers can penetrate markets in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the Malay speakers can look after Indonesia, the biggest market in the Asean region, and the Malaysian Indians can make their mark in India. When we work together, we can become very powerful. We should make full use of our combined strength.

Languages are assets, not liabilities. I understand that there are those who believe that only a single-stream school system would unite our young.

Those who called for the closure of Chinese schools should talk to the parents of non-Malay students who study in such schools. Can our politicians just listen and not talk for just a moment, so perhaps they can learn something?

Walk around these schools, see the facilities, check out how discipline is instilled or why parents are called up by the school authorities when their children do not do well.

Certainly, the history of Communist China is not taught there. Neither is anyone brainwashed into voting for the DAP if that’s what the suspicions are all about. The national schools in predominantly Malay Kelantan and Terengganu are the same elsewhere and yet, many of the parents and school leavers have always voted strongly for PAS. Would these schools be regarded as a source of disunity and anti-establishment?

The English-medium schools in my time were regarded as neutral ground, where children of all races came together. But that’s history and our country’s standard of English has taken a free fall since then.

And for the record, before I am accused of being a racist, I wish to emphasise that I voluntarily studied Malay Literature and Islamic History in Sixth Form. When I went to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, I signed up for courses at the Malay Letters Department.

The Islamic Civilization course at UKM is compulsory and I have written many times that fears expressed by some non-Muslim politicians about this course, which they wrongly claimed as a religious indoctrination course, are unwarranted and silly.

We must never be afraid of quality education and the study of multiple languages. How many of our elite politicians send their children to private or international schools in Malaysia or even to the UK or Australia? Some even pack them off to study at the secondary school level overseas, despite telling ordinary Malaysians to study in our schools.

This debate on vernacular schools should not go any further. We have bigger problems ahead to worry about, like the cost of living, the inflationary hike and the weak market sentiments. We are all in the same boat together.

By Wong Chun Wai on the beat The Star/Asia News Network

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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MCA Youth chief laments missed scholarship

KUALA LUMPUR: In an emotional personal account, MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon (pic) shared how he was denied a scholarship despite getting all A’s in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), but he did not give up.

He said he joined MCA and Bari­san Nasional, which he believed defended the rights of all races.

Chong, who was born in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, told delegates at the 50th MCA Youth annual general assembly that he had many Malay and Indian friends at school and they would skip classes and go to the waterfall together.

However, despite getting straight A’s in the SPM, Chong said he was not given any scholarship and had to pursue Form 6 studies.

“There was no other choice since I didn’t come from a rich family.

MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon<< MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon

“When I discovered my Malay friends received Mara scholarships or places at matriculation programmes due to the quota system at that time, my life changed.

“Am I not a Malaysian too? I, too, studied hard. But I didn’t give up and went to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia to study economics.

“I joined the MCA as I believe in the Barisan formula, which is to defend all communities in Malay­sia. This is a party that cares for all,” he said to applause from the audience.

Chong, a senator, received a standing ovation from delegates for his impassioned speech which touched on matters such as vernacular schools, race relations and the spirit of the Barisan coalition.

He stressed that the existence of Chinese and Tamil schools was not an obstacle to national unity.

“Nobody should challenge the rights of the Chinese and Indian communities to learn their mother tongue at vernacular schools.

“If we view the matter objectively, Chinese education is no longer solely about the Chinese community alone. Non-Chinese students studying in SJK (C) schools nationwide now comprise 12% of the total number of students,” he said.

Chong also called for Barisan to return to its founding principles, which was nationalism for all races.

“When MCA founder Tun Tan Cheng Lock talked about nationalism, it was for a Malayan nationalism; not for a Chinese type of nationalism. It was never about nationalism for one race. I believe that if Barisan goes back to the foundation laid by our founders, the rakyat will return to support us,” he said.

Chong also thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for allocating RM50mil for Chinese primary schools and RM25mil for conforming schools in the Budget 2015.

“When we sang the Barisan Nasional party song earlier in the assembly, a line in the lyrics says Barisan is for all races and that touched me,” he said.

He lamented that every now and then, there seemed to be comments made by others that hurt the feelings of the Chinese and Indians by labelling them as pendatang (foreigners), penumpang (passengers) and even kaum penceroboh (trespassers).

“Wasn’t independence achieved 57 years ago as a result of all the main races in the country?

“Wasn’t the first thing that Tunku Abdul Rahman did upon returning to the country after dealing with the British was to meet with MCA president Tun Tan Cheng Lock?

“Didn’t MCA give its support to the Government in cracking down on the communists who disturbed the country’s peace in the 1960s?” Chong asked.

– The Star/Asia News Network

 Umno logoUmno’s Mohamad Azli cautioned over statement

PETALING JAYA: An MCA leader has cautioned a divisional Umno official against “crossing the line” in suggesting that next month’s Umno annual general assembly should discuss ending the Chinese vernacular school system.

MCA religious harmony bureau chief Datuk Ti Lian Ker said that Petaling Jaya Utara Umno division deputy chief Mohamad Azli Mohemed Saad should accept with an open heart the reminder that he gave him as it was in good faith.

“It is in my interest to caution politicians like Azli who are out to score political brownie points by picking on Chinese education, Chinese culture and who want to use the community as a ‘punching bag’,” he said.

“I did not overreact or become too emotional and I had merely cautioned a fellow comrade in Barisan Nasional not to cross the line,” Ti said, referring to a statement by Azli yesterday in which he denied that his suggestion was seditious.

Azli had said Ti lacked an understanding of Article 152 of the Federal Constitution on the position of the Malay language as well as other vernacular languages.

He said Ti and his colleagues should confront Pakatan Rakyat which had abused vernacular schools by using it as a political platform to brainwash the young to hate the Government.

Ti said that Azli could have expressed his misgivings in a constructive manner.

“The way he chose to react is not going to take the nation anywhere but is going to destroy the very foundation of our religious and racial harmony.”

“Our forefathers have already established the foundation of religious and cultural harmony in Malaysia and there are certain lines that we should not cross,” he said.

Ti said Azli had also wrongly accused him of lodging a police report on the matter.

It was MCA Youth, said Ti, that had lodged a report because they felt that Azli’s comment had breached Section 505 of the Penal Code which criminalises statements inciting communal ill-will.

Ti said Azli should stop being a “loose cannon” and urged him to focus on bigger issues that required their joint effort and attention. – The Star/Asia News Network

Umno’s Mohamad Azli cautioned over statement

PETALING JAYA: An MCA leader has cautioned a divisional Umno official against “crossing the line” in suggesting that next month’s Umno annual general assembly should discuss ending the Chinese vernacular school system.

MCA religious harmony bureau chief Datuk Ti Lian Ker said that Petaling Jaya Utara Umno division deputy chief Mohamad Azli Mohemed Saad should accept with an open heart the reminder that he gave him as it was in good faith.

“It is in my interest to caution politicians like Azli who are out to score political brownie points by picking on Chinese education, Chinese culture and who want to use the community as a ‘punching bag’,” he said.

“I did not overreact or become too emotional and I had merely cautioned a fellow comrade in Barisan Nasional not to cross the line,” Ti said, referring to a statement by Azli yesterday in which he denied that his suggestion was seditious.

Azli had said Ti lacked an understanding of Article 152 of the Federal Constitution on the position of the Malay language as well as other vernacular languages.

He said Ti and his colleagues should confront Pakatan Rakyat which had abused vernacular schools by using it as a political platform to brainwash the young to hate the Government.

Ti said that Azli could have expressed his misgivings in a constructive manner.

“The way he chose to react is not going to take the nation anywhere but is going to destroy the very foundation of our religious and racial harmony.”

“Our forefathers have already established the foundation of religious and cultural harmony in Malaysia and there are certain lines that we should not cross,” he said.

Ti said Azli had also wrongly accused him of lodging a police report on the matter.

It was MCA Youth, said Ti, that had lodged a report because they felt that Azli’s comment had breached Section 505 of the Penal Code which criminalises statements inciting communal ill-will.

Ti said Azli should stop being a “loose cannon” and urged him to focus on bigger issues that required their joint effort and attention. – The Star/Asia News Network

HOW ELSE CAN UMNO SURIVIVE? Don’t turn Chinese schools into political tool !

Umno logo

Umno Petaling Jaya Utara division deputy head Mohamad Azli Mohemed Saad accused Chinese primary schools of becoming hotbed for the opposition to spread racial and anti-government sentiments and thus, suggested that the Umno general assembly next month should discuss closing down Chinese primary schools.

Cheras Umno division chief Datuk Seri Syed Ali Al Habshee reiterated the call to abolish Chinese vernacular schools, claiming that the multi-stream education system was a breeding ground for racial discord.

Although the remarks are absurd, they are still supported by the Peninsular Malay Students Federation (GPMS) and Malay rights group Perkasa, reflecting the arrogant attitude and narrow thinking of some Umno members.

It is not uncommon to see politicians manipulate Chinese education issues to gain political capital.

However, remarks unfavourable to Chinese education have become increasingly intense in recent years.

From former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah’s suggestion of including Chinese education into the national school curriculum which teaches all languages to Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Razali Ibrahim’s remarks calling for no more request to build Chinese primary schools and now, Azli’s remarks to abolish Chinese primary schools. Apparently, they are not isolated cases.

Singularism has been lingering in Umno and it is harmful to Umno, as well as Barisan Nasional.

It could even destroy national unity. Worse, advanced and more competitive countries have encouraged their people to master multiple languages in this era of globalisation, but our politicians are still embracing extreme singularism.

It is worrisome whether Malaysia can really turn into a developed country.

Chinese primary schools are an important part of the national education system.

Their teachers, syllabuses and teaching materials are all in line with the Education Ministry’s curriculum. Just like national primary schools, the syllabuses of Chinese primary schools promote racial harmony and instilling loyalty, as well as patriotism.

It is shameful for politicians to make accusations out of nothing and frame Chinese primary schools as a hotbed of anti-government sentiments, just to gain political capital.

Article 152(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution clearly stated that ‘”no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using (otherwise than for official purposes), or from teaching or learning, any other language”.

Moreover, among the current 600,000 Chinese primary school pupils, 15%, or 80,000 are non-Chinese.

The figure shows that Chinese primary schools are not a stumbling block to national unity, but schools cultivating national talents and attracting pupils of various races.

It is always the time for raising sensitive issues before the annual Umno general assembly is convened.

Some people try to act like a hero while some people make trouble, with different intentions.

But the acts of stirring racial issues have always gotten on the nerves of Chinese community. This time, its grassroots leaders made Chinese primary schools their target.

Apparently, there are other motives behind it, reflecting the internal power struggles in Umno and the approaching storm.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad criticised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in his blog not long ago, declaring withdrawal of his support to Najib.

The move was like sending a clear message to Umno grassroots that they may openly challenge Najib during the general assembly in November.

Although he has stepped down, Dr Mahathir remains influential. The intention of pressuring Najib is obvious when his minions raise the “abolish Chinese primary schools” issue now.

The remarks made by Umno grassroots leaders, of course, cannot represent the government’s stand.
However, the “abolish Chinese primary schools” issue has touched on the sensitivities of the Chinese community, triggering resentment and indignation.

Najib and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also education minister, must not remain silent.

Instead, they should defend the status of Chinese primary schools to prevent the issue from getting out of hand. In addition, the authorities should also charge Azli and others who make such remarks with sedition, to set an example and eliminate extremist racial remarks.


Would DAP join BN to ensure Chinese representation in the Malaysian government?

The DAP is open to suggestions on the need for Chinese representation in the government and will respond to them later, advisor Lim Kit Siang said here Thursday.DAP_Lims_Karpal

“There seems to be a lot of suggestions and proposals. We (will) give them time to come out with suggestions. We will wait and see,” Lim told a press conference when asked to comment on calls for the DAP to join Barisan Nasional (BN) to ensure Chinese representation in the government.

Former information minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin yesterday said this would obviously be difficult for DAP and BN and their supporters, but needs to be done in the interest of harmony and political stability in the country.

MCA central executive committee member Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan in an interview with Sin Chew Daily yesterday said the DAP can represent the Chinese community’s interest at federal government level.

In 13th general election (GE13), BN won 133 parliamentary seats out of the 222 at stake to again form the government with a simple majority, while Pakatan Rakyat took 89 seats.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who took his oath of office as Prime Minister before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Monday is short of Chinese candidates for his new Cabinet.

This is because BN component the MCA, which only won seven of the 37 parliamentary seats contested has decided to forgo Cabinet representation.

Meanwhile, Gerakan deputy president Datuk Chang Ko Youn said the party will not follow the MCA by rejecting all government posts.

Gerakan won only one parliamentary seat and three state seats. It had contested in 11 parliamentary and 31 state seats nationwide.


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The Chinese in Malaysia want an honest relationship, a genuine partnership

The impact of the Chinese tsunami’ means that there has to be genuine reconciliation with the community and that Barisan Nasional has to rethink its concept.

Lim Guan Eng  Could Lim Guan Eng ever become Prime Minister of Malaysia? (Photo by Hussein Shaharuddin/The Mole)

THE Chinese voters, who are about 30% of the electorate, had fervently believed that Malay voters would also reciprocate and ubah (change) the Barisan Nasional government. However, this did not happen.

In their zeal for change, which was encapsulated in the election slogan Ini Kali Lah!, they voted out not only the MCA but also devastated Gerakan and the Sarawak-based Chinese party SUPP, giving their votes solely to the DAP.

The DAP improved on its 2008 performance, winning 38 parliamentary seats this time.

They also made significant contributions to the success of PKR, which won 30 seats, and even to PAS, which took 21.

In all, Pakatan Rakyat won 89 seats.

Barisan Nasional managed to retain power, winning 133 seats on the back of increased Malay support.
Umno candidates defeated big PAS names such as deputy president Mohamad Sabu in Pendang, deputy PAS spiritual head Datuk Harun Din in Arau and PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub in Pulai.

The Malays stayed with the tried and tested Umno.

In Sabah and Sarawak, although PKR and DAP made inroads into Kadazandusun and Chinese majority areas, the bulk of the east Malaysian seats stayed with Barisan.

The Chinese voters, who were largely out to punish Umno, were hoping that the Malays would also follow suit but they ended up punishing the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP.

In a roundabout way, one can even say that the Chinese voters also punished themselves with their decision to vote for the Opposition by taking themselves out of the Government.

Understandably, they were taken up by the excitement of the many ceramah conducted to full houses.

The MCA won only seven seats, fewer than the 15 it had when the race started. Gerakan and SUPP have been virtually wiped out.

The significance of this outcome on race relations and for Chinese political participation in the Government is staggering, to say the least.

As a multi-ethnic country it is not advisable for one community, especially the economically vibrant Chinese, to be out of the Government and sit in the Opposition bench.

While the Malays and east Malaysians, not to mention the MIC as well, have every right to demand for greater representation in the Government because of their victory in the elections, the Chinese community unfortunately cannot do so because they have voted themselves out of the Government.

The MCA had passed a resolution during its EGM before the polls that it would not accept any government position if it received fewer than the 15 seats it won in 2008. Now, its position in the Government has been rendered untenable.

It’s obvious in elections that winners go on to form the Government and losers stay out. That’s exactly what the MCA is proposing following GE13’s outcome to stay out.

Barisan chief Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was visibly upset over the way his Government has been rejected by the Chinese voters.

It’s not that they rejected him or his Government per se but they rejected all the other baggage that came with it. There was the perception that he has been winning Malay support by raising Malay fears.

They (the Chinese) want an honest relationship like the way the Pakatan state governments have been doing in engaging them.

They believe that the DAP government in Penang and the PKR-run government in Selangor are examples of what they want in a Government and if Najib could emulate these, he would, no doubt, get their support.

Najib has promised national reconciliation as part of the new Government’s efforts to heal the wounds of GE13.

While sharing power with losers would be difficult, Najib would have to find other ways to work with and accommodate the Chinese community. The best way to do this is to engage the Opposition parties.

The Opposition parties, for good or worse, now represent the Chinese community.

Now that he has his own mandate, Najib will have to look at the very concept of Barisan itself – because it is clearly not working.

Barisan should either think of reconstituting itself as one big multi-racial party, as was talked about post-2008, or form alliances even with the Opposition parties for the good of the people.

The era of one party representing one race is long over the MCA, MIC and even Umno should consider opening up.

What the Chinese also desire is genuine partnership.

These are long-term goals. For now, Najib has to find a formula which includes Chinese representation in the Government, not by making losers into senators and then ministers, but by genuine reconciliation with the community and on its terms.


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Malaysian Chinese tsunami !

Barisan Nasional keeps its hold on power thanks to the Malay breakwater that held back a Chinese wave that swept over the country. 

A CHINESE tsunami swept over the country last night. It ripped through all the seats that had a significant Chinese electorate and devastated Gerakan and MCA in the peninsula and SUPP in Sarawak.

The tsunami was basically about the Chinese electorate going for change. The result was that the DAP emerged the big winner, making new gains everywhere, including in Johor.

But it was evident that the Pakatan Rakyat slogan of “ABU, or Asalkan Bukan Umno (Anything But Umno)” had also resonated with the urban populace in general because Pakatan regained Selangor with a two-thirds majority.

The Chinese tsunami also helped to carry many of the PKR candidates in many of the mixed seats.

However, the tsunami could not quite make it to Putrajaya.

At about 1am, a solemn-looking Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that Barisan Nasional had a simple majority to form the government.

At press time, Barisan had attained 133 seats, still short of the 138-seat majority won by his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Najib was clearly disappointed but he spoke in a calm and steady voice as he urged everyone to accept the election result as part of the democratic process.

The Malay electorate, especially those in the rural states, continued to back Barisan. It is a small consolation to Najib that the Malays have returned to Umno in a significant way.

The Malay wall held back the Chinese tsunami and Barisan won back Kedah. It also held on to Perak, which was a subject of speculation until close to midnight.

At press time, Barisan won Perak with 31 state seats against 28 by Pakatan. But Pakatan continued to dominate in Penang with an increased majority.

PAS managed to hold on to Kelantan with a much reduced majority, which showed that Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat‘s appeal as a religious figure still commands support in the state.

As predicted, PAS won the least seats among the Pakatan parties and DAP is now the dominant party in Pakatan with the most number of seats. It can also lay claim to having defeated a top Umno leader, namely former Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Ghani Othman in Gelang Patah.

The Pakatan wins also mean that Johor and Sarawak are no longer the fixed-deposit states for Barisan.

The zero sum game of politics means that DAP’s gain is MCA’s loss because both parties contested in Chinese-majority seats. MCA won only seven parliamentary seats, far short of the 15 that it won in 2008.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek tweeted late last night that the party would not be accepting any government posts.

This was in keeping with the pledge made that the party would not accept posts in the Government if it did not do better this time.

A big question mark hangs over the future of MCA as well as Gerakan and SUPP and they will have to do much soul-searching after this.

The Chinese rejection of Barisan is a big blow to Najib, who went out of his way to persuade them to come along on his economic and political transformation journey.

The Chinese have rejected a moderate and inclusive leader, who has made more overtures to the Chinese than any other Prime Minister before him, and Najib and his coalition will have to reassess all this in the months to come.

There will also be soul-searching on the part of PAS, given its loss in Kedah and the defeat of several of its top leaders, including its deputy president Mohamed Sabu in Kedah and vice-president Salahuddin Ayub in Johor. Another vice-president, Datuk Husam Musa, lost in Putrajaya.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the election result is that the ruling coalition is dominated by Umno and the Malays while the opposition Pakatan is dominated by the Chinese-based DAP.

The impact of this will become clearer as the dust settles over the most closely-fought election ever.

By Joceline Tan

The Star/Asia News Network

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60% of Malaysian accountants from Ktar?

KUALA LUMPUR: Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman (Ktar) has produced 60% of accountants from Malaysia, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

The college, he added, was also a recipient of the Platinum Status Award by the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

One of the criteria to qualify for the prestigious award is that students must consistently achieve pass rates that exceed the rest of the world in the ACCA examination.

While Ktar would be elevated to a unversity college next year, Dr Chua gave his assurance that its School of Business Studies would continue to flourish.

Nevertheless, he said there would be some changes like consolidating its 130 programmes, continuing only selected diploma programmes and introducing university programmes.

Dr Chua said deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has been given a month to come up with recommendations on the changes.

The changes would also make sure that Ktar and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) would complement each other and develop together, instead of competing against each other, he said in an interview at his office here.

Dr Chua noted that the two institutions were set up and run by MCA to provide quality and affordable education to Malaysians and contribute to the country’s development.

Both had produced some 200,000 graduates who found jobs within six months upon graduation, he added.

Dr Chua said the college was proposed by then MCA president Tun Tan Siew Sin at the party’s annual general assembly in July 1968.

Ktar, which took in its first batch of 320 students in February 1969, now has a total enrolment of 25,000 at its main campus here and branch campuses in Penang, Perak, Johor, Pahang and Sabah.

It had undergone rapid expansion at its main campus and set up branch campuses under then MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik in the 1990s, he added.

Dr Chua said the Government’s ringgit-to-ringgit annual allocation for Ktar’s development and administration costs since 1972 would continue, adding that RM56mil had been allocated for the purpose next year.

The allocation was needed to keep its fees affordable, he said, adding that the fees were between RM9,000 and RM10,000.

Fees at other established private colleges ranged from RM20,000 to RM40,000.

Plans were afoot to expand the main campus here to include a faculty building, students’ centre and hall and vocational training building.

He said the development on Ktar’s 21ha plot could proceed after the relocation of about 500 squatter families.

Dr Chua said Ktar principal Dr Tan Chik Heok has been given six months, beginning last month, to resolve the squatter issue.

Dr Tan heads a committee of academic staff which is working with Kuala Lumpur City Hall on the relocation, he added.


Gender segregation slammed!

MCA slams cinema ruling

SHAH ALAM: A controversial ruling by a district council in Selangor banning unmarried Muslim couples from sitting together in a cinema has been shelved, with the MCA slamming the use of religion in politics.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said he was shocked that Islamic values were imposed by the council.

He cautioned that friction among the people could happen in a multi-racial country like Malaysia should religion be used in politics.

Separately, the Kuala Selangor district council (MDKS) had been directed to put the ruling on hold immediately.

It is learnt that the decision was made by the MDKS full board council meeting in May.

MDKS councillor P. Thirumoorthy said the ruling was proposed by a councillor from PAS last year.

State executive councillor Ronnie Liu said the state government was not consulted before the decision was implemented recently.

“I only found out from the press. In other local councils, there is no such ruling. So I will ask the MDKS president to delay the ruling and bring it to the full board for further discussion,” he told a press conference yesterday.

A Chinese daily reported yesterday that the only cinema in Kuala Selangor had recently put up notices reminding patrons of the new ruling.

It is believed that cinema operators who did not abide by the ruling were informed that their licences would not be renewed.

A source from the Lotus Five Star cinema described the ruling as “unbecoming and unfair”.

“This has caused fear among Muslims and deterred them from coming to our place,” he said.

In Petaling Jaya, Selangor MCA Youth chairman Dr Kow Cheong Wei said the DAP kept emphasising the equal status of all parties in Pakatan, claiming that for a policy to be implemented, there had to be consensus by all three parties in Pakatan Rakyat.

“If this is truly the case, then why has this cinema gender separation proposal become law? Is this an act by a unified administration by Pakatan?” he said in a statement.

– The Star/Asia News Network

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Learn anything new from MCA Chua Vs DAP Lim Debate?

It’s debatable who triumphed

The second debate between MCA and DAP leadership was less about convincing the audience about whose policies had better served the people than two fierce Chinese leaders slugging it out for the Chinese vote.

THERE was much less hype in the run-up to the second debate between the two leading figures in Chinese politics.

The novelty of the DAP and MCA leadership going head-to-head in a public debate had passed.

Both MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had proven after the first debate that they are more than capable of taking on each other before a live audience.

As in the first debate, Lim had the advantage of being the top dog because he is the Chief Minister of Penang, an MP and an assemblyman.

Dr Chua, on the other hand, has only his party post to ride on and his party is struggling to regain the confidence of Chinese Malaysians.

Given that Lim is in charge of one of the most developed states in the country, he would have more bragging rights as regards the topic of the debate – “Whose policies benefit the country most?”

But not long after the opening remarks by both speakers, Lim went off the debate path and ventured into ceramah mode and after a while, Dr Chua felt compelled to address him on at that level.

Both launched into attack mode, with neither really answering the questions raised.

They were both more interested in scoring points with accusations rather than giving good, convincing answers on issues.

As Fui Soong, the CEO of the CENSE think-tank, said in her forthright way: “It was like cock-fighting. Lots of posturing and both men going at each other, back and forth. There was not enough intellectual content.”

In fact, the whole thing became rather childish at times, an example being when Dr Chua poked holes at Pakatan Rakyat’s Buku Jingga.

Lim, instead of defending the allegations, said that Dr Chua must have read the wrong Buku Jingga.

That is the sort of answer one would give at a ceramah and not at a national debate.

And no one could quite figure out why Lim was pushing for a debate between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

He did that right at the start and again towards the end.

By the time the moderator called for a five-minute break, the two debaters had gone well off-topic and were instead taking well-aimed shots at each other.

Dr Chua had accused DAP of being a chauvinist party that is more interested in the “politics of hate and blame” rather than nation-building while Lim declared Barisan Nasional as corrupt and bashed Umno left, right and centre.

Lim is not exactly the best orator on the political ceramah circuit but he is a seasoned speaker and his ceramah style was in full display for much of the two hour-long session.

He had a lot of punchy and pithy lines.

But the thing about the ceramah mode of speaking is that it leans towards drama and exaggeration which is entertaining, but less suited for a debate audience.

Lim was in his street-fighter element when running down Barisan and mocking Umno.

This forum, which comes more than four years into his Penang tenure, would have been the ideal platform for Lim to showcase his achievements as the chief administrator.

But through much of the debate, he was far more successful in rubbishing Umno than convincing the audience that his government and his policies had benefited the people more than the policies of Barisan.

Dr Chua does not have the ceramah flamboyance of his rival.

But he has shown in both debates that his forte lies in being factual and analytical and he thinks quite well on his feet.

He is no drama king and he does not embellish the facts to entertain the people although he can be quite caustic in his rebuttals.

But as many who watched the debate would agree, it is evident that Dr Chua understands policies, is good at facts and figures and his experience in the Government comes across quite clearly.

For instance, when Lim tried to politicise the privatisation of the Penang port, Dr Chua argued the rationale of the move with statistics.

His other advantage was that he could sell the “Najib brand name” whereas Lim was rather reticent about the “Anwar brand” even while endorsing him as the prime minister candidate.

Dr Chua came across as rather staid and serious compared to Lim’s more showy style.

But Lim might want to moderate his ceramah style when speaking before a thinking audience.

He has what the Malays term a senyum kambing side about him when running down his opponents and while that goes down well with his supporters, those less acquainted with his style may find it sarcastic or even arrogant.

A little humility would have served him better.

He is the Chief Minister of a key state and he should try not to sound like an Opposition leader.

Both men started well but as the debate progressed, Lim’s ceramah style put him ahead.

However, Dr Chua made a much more sensible summing up while Lim went over the top with a rousing speech rather than a conclusion.

Said Fui: “I feel kind of cheated. I had expected more but I feel like I didn’t learn anything new.”


Chua vs Lim debate: DAP & MCA: Whose Policies Benefit the Country More?

Photo Gallery : Debate 2.0KUALA LUMPUR: MCA’s Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP’s Lim Guan Eng took to the podium together for a second time in months on Sunday as both leaders took each other on over whose policies had better served the rakyat.

They engaged in a fiery two-hour debate themed DAP & MCA: Whose Policies Benefit The Country More at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre here yesterday, organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli).

In his opening remarks, the MCA president highlighted the policies and programmes put in place by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak after he took over the nation’s helm.

Lim, who is Penang Chief Minister, spoke about the island state being the “most liveable city in the country” while attacking MCA ministers with a string of allegations.

At one point, Dr Chua, who spoke off the cuff, took a swipe at his debate adversary, chiding him for reading from a prepared text and turning the debate into a political ceramah.

Dr Chua noted that with the government’s policies in place, Malaysia’s share market continued to rise as proof of the local and foreign investors rejecting DAP’s theory of gloom and doom of the Malaysia economy.

He hit out at Pakatan Rakyat, saying that its ultimate aim was to grab power in the coming general election “at all costs”.

Likening Pakatan’s battle cry, Ubah (change) to “Power First, and Chaos thereafter”, Dr Chua said Pakatan was only good at instigating the people to hate the Government, demonising the country’s institutions and causing friction among the various races in the country.

He also pointed out that the coalition was known to be good at making promises to the people when more than 95% of their promises had yet to be fulfilled.

Lim spoke about the various improvements in Penang including poverty reduction, adding it was the first state to provide free WiFi access in public places.

He attacked MCA ministers – Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen over the ministry’s alleged RM1.8mil to maintain a Facebook page, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha for paying more attention to the tender for car number plates, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung for opposing local government elections and Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai for allowing middlemen to be involved in the purchase of drugs.

The debate started with Lim’s opening remarks.

Guan Eng at the debate

Lim: “MCA is not qualified to talk about politics here, as it is not MCA who decides – it is Umno who decides.

“The MCA speaks only for the Chinese, and those from the Peninsula – not Sabah or Sarawak.

“It is different for DAP – we want to speak for all Malaysians. Malay, Chinese, Indians, Iban, Kadazan.

“We are all Malaysians. Look at the NFC scandal,” he said.

“Who gains? The cronies. The losers are the citizens of Malaysia.

“For last 50 years, consumed by race and religion. For the next 50 years, let us be consumed with the tasks of economic wellbeing.

“BN has never spoken truthfully to the people. Let Pakatan Rakyat speak truthfully to you.

Dr Chua stressing a point during the debate with Lim listening intently

“DAP believes a clean government can always perform better than a corrupt government.

“If Penang dares to review the assets of the CM, why is the PM afraid of reviewing his assets and those of his ministers?” he said.

Dr Chua: “Just now YAB asked why the PM didn’t want to debate with Anwar. I want to say here, it hasn’t happened because he is the prime minister. He is busy with the transformation policies, to improve the country. “From 2008 to 2011, the ease of doing business improved compared from 2003 to 2008. Malaysia is the fifth most favoured FDI nation in Asia.

“They haven’t been empty promises like those from Pakatan Rakyat. The promises were fulfilled. These three years, the rakyat has gotten what was promised under the leadership of Najib.”

“Anwar is full of rhetoric, no specifics, short on delivery. He has to convince us to translate this rhetoric into what we call delivery.


“MCA has been involved in nation building from day one. We were the one involved in the fight against the communist insurgency, the resettlement of the Chinese in new villages, the fight for independence, the rights of citizenship after independence. That’s why citizens like Guan Eng are citizens of the country.

“We laid down the foundations. We have progressed, advocated integration not assimilation. That’s why Guan Eng is not called Sukarno Lim.

“This is all history. All part of nation building. DAP has no role to play.”

“What has PR done for us? No clear direction.

“Look at the four PR states, 95% of the promises are janji janji kosong.

A section of the crowd enjoying the debate

“Everyday tell the whole world you give hundred dollars to the old people.

“Two hundred to the newborn and they must be voters. We give RM200 to our newborn babies.

“State government giving RM100, RM200 all populist policies. Does not address fundamental problem of country.”

“DAP has only one thing to show. They collect a lot of money from the rakyat. Despite calls of accountability, transparency – nothing to show. Transparency, Accountability, where are they? Where has the money collected gone to?

Question: Mr President… Many urban voters perceive MCA has not done enough. The perception is that many urban voters are not supporting MCA. What would you do to try regain more support for MCA?

Dr Chua: We accept the fact this is a multiracial country and the policy of BN is the policy of balancing. DAP likes to tell the Chinese they are marginalised. The poverty rate of the Chinese is still lowest among three major races. Employment rates the highest. Property ownership largest. Cannot deny in the implementaion process there are people who benefit more than others, this is the bone of contention, causes a lot of Chinese to be angry with the government and MCA bears the burden of this.

“DAP tries to portray itself as a multiracial party, but only dares to contest in Chinese constituencies.

“Why don’t you contest in multiracial constituencies? We are a mono-ethnic party, but our aims are clear.

“In this country we have to balance the needs and sensitivities of all countries. No particular race will feel happy.

The crowd at the Debate 2.0

“In the same way we sometimes feel government giving too much to bumiputra. But some bumiputras not happy with government.”

Question: Many people still see DAP as Chinese-based party. Are you a Chinese party or multi-racial party, how would you try to win more support among other races if you are multiracial.

Lim: From the very start we are a multiracial party. Our chairman is Indian, we have Indian MPs, have Malay MPs and state assemblymen in the past. We are fair to all regardless of race and religion. Would like the MCA president know that not every Chinese rich as the MCA leaders.

Not every Chinese can apply for PR in Australia.

Don’t forget that the Chinese community pays the most taxes in Malaysia.

At the same time we want to see justice and see our Malay brothers and sisters are assisted.

Why is it poor Chinese can’t get scholarships but rich bumiputras can?

Don’t go and talk about DAP forming a kindergarten. We are a political party to determine the future of Malaysia.

TAR College is clearest example of failure of MCA. Why was it established? Because of unfair quota policies where qualified students cannot enter public universities. so you formed TAR College. Shame on you MCA.

Don’t say we haven’t built low cost housing. We have built. Don’t lie.

Question:Is MCA scared of Umno, that they don’t dare to question corruption claims? Is there equal partnership in BN?

Dr Chua: I take objection to that question to say MCA is sacared of Umno. Not a fair question. If I say – and I’ve always said – if the state Cabinet, state exco and federal Cabinet, all the discussions are taped. The government should declassify the tapes and then they understand better the role of MCA in a multiracial country.

Why is DAP so quiet about Anwar’s alleged account of RM3bil, this from a statutory declaration?

This is equal partnership, let me tell you PR claims equal partnership but until today PAS have never openly endorsed Anwar as prime minister.

You can’t even agree on a party common symbol and logo and register the party.

Question: I’ve read your Buku Jingga, stated among other things that if party win GE, forms central government they are going to abolish all road tolls, PTPTN and give income to houses that make less than RM4,000 to make up that amount. Lots of other goodies. How are you going to implement these policies bearing in mind annual revenue does not exceed RM200bil.

Lim: This the first time I’m hearing from a minister admitting corruption cost us RM26bil. Question is, what you doing about it? Are you accepting the fact that BN permits corruption? That’s why I say shame on you again.

Don’t talk about collections from public. When DAP organises dinners, we don’t give free dinners like MCA or Umno. We charge because we rely on public funds to survive. We don’t steal the government’s money. That is the difference between BN and PR, the difference between MCA and DAP.

I think you need to read the right Buku Jingga, I think you read the wrong one. Abolish tolls, estimate of RM35mil. If you don’t believe can be done, vote us into power and we show you can be done.

Question: On Chinese independent schools.

Dr Chua: I only wish DAP is more specific. Why is it not written more clearly they will build more Chinese schools? Independent schools? Recognise UEC?

I openly asked Anwar, are you going to build more Chinese schools? More independent schools?

Because if it is from DAP, I dont trust it. Why? Cos DAP will say this is not common policy framework.

Lim:We are not like MCA leaders who go to jail for cheating rakyat of its money.

When you talk about building of schools, judge by the deeds of the PR government in Selangor and Penang. We have given land, we have given funding, we have given funding every year. If PR can give to all these schools, independent, Indian, Chinese, every year funding, why BN cannot do so?

Don’t question our openess to allow independent Chinese schools.

When you talk about Anwar if PR wins power he will be Prime Minister.

Question: What national education policy should there be to generate competent citizens?

Lim:We cannot ignore the fact that human talent will be the future of our country.

Not a question of building human talent but retaining human talent.

Since Merdeka two million Malaysians left the country because they see no future for themselves or Malaysia.

They see they don’t have freedom, integrity or justice. That’s why we are fighting for freedom, democracy, integrity, justice. To fight corruption is not hard, only depends on whether you got political will. No laws (to combat corruption) in Penang but we have wiped out corruption in Penang, I am proud to say.

If we win power in Malaysia, we will do the same in Malaysia. That is why so many people are afraid.

Dr Chua: When people are educated or talented, they have economic independence and social mobility. Almost all developing countries face brain drain.

This no justification. That’s why when I say we trained 200,000 talented people, the Penang Chief Cminister says shame on us.

Look at our meritocracy policy, number of non-Malays in tertiary gone up. Last year, JPA gave more scholarships to all races, 20% to needy, disadvantaged in Sabah and Sarawak.

Talent Corp is another good example of reaching out. When we train talent they say shame on you. If you can’t do it, admit you can’t. No country in the world can meet needs of education for all citizens.

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