Status of Chinese schools no longer an issue, say Malaysian leaders

KUALA LUMPUR - Any attempt to question the status of Chinese schools in the country must stop now that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has given his reassurance of its place in the country's education system, said leaders.

United Chinese School Teachers' Association of Malaysia (Jiao Zong) president Ong Chiow Chuen said Najib's reassurance, which was made during his speech at the 61st MCA assembly, proved that vernacular schools had its place in the education system.

"With this assurance, the community does not have to worry about this anymore," he said.

Condemning those who had made use of the issue to stir up racial sentiment for their own political gain, Ong urged Najib to take stern action against them.

Najib's reassurance had come in the wake of a call by Petaling Jaya Utara Umno deputy chief Mohamad Azli Mohemed Saad for his party's coming general assembly to discuss the possibility of abolishing Chinese primary schools.

MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said Najib had in his speech endorsed Chinese education in the country.

"If the Barisan Nasional chairman (Najib) has endorsed this, it is a non-issue," he said.

Najib's call for MCA to close its ranks, he said, was also "wise and timely", adding that people were "fed up" with internal conflict.

"A united MCA will not only benefit the party but subsequently improve the general election results," said Dr Wee, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.

A central delegate from Subang, Low Seow Hwee, warned those threatening to close Chinese primary schools not to test MCA's patience.

"We (MCA) also have feelings. Do not push beyond our limit. If you want to close Chinese schools, you have to close MCA first," said Low when delivering his motion of thanks on the party president's speech.

MCA central committee member Datuk Ti Lian Ker said he took his hat off to Najib for taking a strong stance on Chinese education.

"He also encouraged the Chinese to be fluent in Bahasa Malaysia, which is welcomed," he said.

Welcoming Najib's statement, Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong said it "confirmed the position of Chinese and Tamil schools as part of the Malaysian education system".

He said the call for MCA to "move towards the right direction" also served as a reminder to other Barisan component parties, including Gera­kan, to do the same.