Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why, as a non-Malay, I agree with Mukhriz?

-A commentary-

Malaysiakini reported that Jerlun member of parliament Mukhriz Mahathir had called on the government to abolish vernacular schools into a single national school system to enhance racial unity and help non-Malays to better understand the concept of 'ketuanan Melayu'. [1/12/08]

As a non-Malay Malaysian, I agree with Mukhriz Mahathir but only to a certain extent, in which the Jerlun MP said that by unifying the school systems, it would assist non-Malays like me to better comprehend the 'ketuanan Melayu'. In my opinion, vernacular schools that have been established in Malaysia for over a hundred years are NOT to be solely blamed for racial polarization in this country but there is no denial that having different school systems is one of the many lines that divides the multicultural Malaysian society.

That being said, I agree with Mukhriz that all school systems in this country should eventually be unified under a single approach - the Malaysian system. But to say that by doing so, it would help non-Malays to better understand the concept of 'ketuanan Melayu' was out of the question.

Why? That's simply because the 'ketuanan Melayu' is an unconstitutional term and have been UMNO's propaganda taylored to gain Malay support. Mind you, Article 153 in the Constitution protects the special positions of the Malays and the indigenous people but there is no such mention of any 'ketuanan' for any ethnic group in the country. There is a clear difference between the meaning of 'special position' and 'ketuanan Melayu'.

In other words, I believe Mukhriz is wrong to imply that the lack of understanding by the non-Malays on the whole idea of 'ketuanan Melayu' is the core reason for racial polarization in Malaysia. Now, before I am judged as an anti-vernacular school, I must also stress that I am not proposing that vernacular schools are the prime reason for all the racial bickering we are having today. No. They are, I believe, only a hindrance towards the effort to depolarize our society - like a thorn in one heel's, unless he pulls it out, he would never to be able to run.

Despite strong opposition from the predominantly Chinese DAP and Chinese-based MCA on the matter of combining vernacular schools into a Malaysian system, if we could look at whole idea of unifying the vernacular schools, it does not sound a bad idea after all! Of course, that depends on how badly you want to see a united Malaysia by the time you die.

I know that the Constitution allows Malaysians to choose the type of schools we want our children to be in. But for a moment, just think outside the box and consider the implications of having a divided community would have on our children in the future.

One must first understand how far this whole talk of streamlining school systems into a single entity is going to take us into realizing the concept of Bangsa Malaysia. The vision of a Malaysian school system is that students of all races and backgrounds study in a single system with Bahasa Melayu as the language of instruction with exception to science and mathematics which should be taught in English. At the same time, Mandarin and Tamil language classes are also made available to students - again, students of all races. This would provide an excellent opportunity for students to pick up languages not of their own community. Would it not sound right for a member of a multicultural society to be able to speak and write in a language other than his or her own?

I believe there is no place more suitable than a truly Malaysian school that is able to provide a condusive environment for students to interact with Malaysians of other ethnic groups. Vernacular schools are usually dominated by a single race and it would prove a challenge for students to learn what it means to be Malaysian if they are placed in a mono-cultural setting. Therefore, it is imperative that the values of a tolerance and mutual respect for other ethnic groups be cultivated among Malaysians at a tender age.

So, this is my take. Politicians from both sides should not over-react with the idea of unifying vernacular schools into a single system. Likewise, the issue should not be politicize and be blown out of context let alone being turned into a racial dispute. To conclude, while vernacular schools are not the sole cause of racial polarization, unifying the school systems and allowing Malaysians of all races to study in a truly Malaysian environment is definitely a good way to improve race relations among younger Malaysians. I'd say, why reject a possible solution to a problem?


  1. Priscilla said...

    I so agree. One of the things of features of Malaysians that foreigners are so impressed by is our versatality in language and I believe a single education system will help support and encourage Malaysians to be multi-lingual.

  2. telur dua said...

    Mukhriz had his two seconds of fame. No further need to comment. Move along, there's nothing to see either.