Monday, May 18, 2009

Satu Sekolah Demi Semua

Here we go again. Yet another campaign to try to pin all of Malaysia's racial problems on vernacular schools. Someone called 'Blog Demi Negara' has started an online petition entitled 'Satu Sekolah Demi Semua'. I'll paste the contents of the petition below and then comment on it.

Sekolah Vernakular (SJKC dan SJKT) adalah punca utama ketidakserasian dan ketegangan kaum di negara kita tercinta.

Fenomena ini adalah unik di dunia ini dan telah menjadi suatu barah yang kian menular dalam kancah kerapuhan masyarakat Malaysia. Jika gejala Sekolah Vernakular ini tidak dibendung, negara kita akan terus bergerak ke ambang kehancuran.

Pengkajian semula sistem pelajaran negara ini haruslah dilakukan memandangkan fenomena perpecahan kaum yang semakin meruncing di masa kini. Gejala ini amatlah jelas sekali di alam siber dimana segelintir masyarakat kini mempamirkan sikap anti-negara yang semakin ketara dan berleluasa. Jelas sekali, anasir-anasir ini tidak menghormati asas dan prinsip perlembagaan negara Malaysia, tiada rasa cinta kepada tanah air dan juga menonjolkan penulisan hasutan yang mencetuskan sentimen perkauman yang begitu ketara sekali.

Secara lantangnya, puak ini mempertikaikan segala unsur yang melambangkan kedaulatan dan intipati negara kita tercinta.

Kami menyeru agar gejala Sekolah Vernakular ini di hapuskan secara total.

Komuniti Demi Negara


Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua (SSS) is a grassroot movement to reset one of the key foundations of our nationhood and create the essence of a united and cohesive Malaysia. There is no other way to forge national integration, national unity and to instill a sense of shared destiny except to vigorously push for a streamlined, singular School System for ALL Malaysians.

Every single one of us, of all origin and ethnicity, must speak in one tongue and undergo the same educational journey as Warganegaras of this land. No single Anak Bangsa Malaysia should be allowed to fall into the communal trap laid by selfish, irrational chauvinists and denied the same opportunity as Mainstream Malaysiana. Support SSS for our nation's future. Do sign the petition. Get your family and friends to sign as well. Lets collectively make SSS a reality for the future of our Tanah Air Tercinta.

While I think that we can have a legitimate discussion on the pros and cons of having vernacular schools, I personally think that it is ludicrous to imply that just by getting rid of vernacular schools, we would be able to achieve national unity ala Indonesia or even Singapore, which Rocky seems to imply here.

Having a single language of instruction has not decreased the level of ethnic and religious tension in Indonesia. Nor has it torn down racial barriers sufficiently in the US. Having different languages has not torn apart India as a country.

For sure, having different types of schools with different languages of instruction makes building a strong and cohesive national unity more difficult but it does not make it impossible. Furthermore, it needs to be emphasized again that getting rid of vernacular education is not a panacea towards solving all our racial problems. Indeed, if it is not done alongside other measures which imply racial differences in this country such as the policies associated with the NEP and so on, it will most likely INCREASE racial tensions and unhappiness.

Taking cheap shots at vernacular education in Malaysia is always the easy option out. It's far easier to identify such 'bogeymen' than to do the harder work of improving the state of education in our schools, regardless of the medium of instruction. For example, how do we improve the quality and skill levels of our teachers? How do we try to narrow the urban-rural divide in our education system? How do we improve the level of spoken and written English across all schools, both vernacular as well as sekolah kebangsaan? These are tough challenges and ones which are not easily solved by simplistic petitions and rabble rousing attempts.

Let's have a discussion on these issues instead of making vernacular schools the target.


Shawn Tan said...

Yup. Agree that this is not the entire solution to our problems. However, it is a step in the right direction. As you said, it needs to be part of a larger 'package' of change. On its own, it will have achieved little to nothing.

The original petition does not seem to address the issue of languages. I think that it would be better to mandate a tri-lingual or quad-lingual system. For one, I would love to be able to communicate with all my friends in our 'rojak' language instead of having to switch to English as the lingua franca.

I would like to add one thing here - be the change that you want to see. Change should start with ourselves. If we call for unity, while sending our kids to vernacular schools - that's just being hypocritical.

Keith said...

I disagree.

I think having 2 school systems actually work against national integration.

We should have just one single (tax-payer funded) schooling system in this country.

Of course, it doesn't just imply the integration of vernacular schools but the integration of MARA and MRSMs and the removal of Matrikulasi for university entry.

All our children regardless of race and gender should be subjected to the same rules and benchmarks.

While removing vernacular schools will not guanratee national integration, I believe it's a step in the right direction.

Schools should have a multi-racial composition. Vernacular schools and MRSMs are pre-dominantly one race making it difficult to foster racial integration, when a person of a difference race looks more like an anomaly, rather than minority.

Coltz said...

Cheap shots indeed - the notion that "a uniform language of instruction across all schools is needed for unity" crumbles in the shining example of Switzerland. People keep forgetting that diversity can very well be a strength rather than a weakness, if handled well.

Problem is, of course, as KM pointed out our politicians and hotheaded vocals will rather point to the easy bogeyman of vernacular education than addressing the real economic and policy problems that cause the tensions. In fact, an even more obvious target for such attacks should be the religious (read: Islamic) schools, breeding grounds for students appallingly ignorant of the culture of their neighbors. Some spine these "educational unity" advocates have, huh?

For many Chinese, vernacular education is the last bastion of defense against these injustices - it's less of a problem for Singaporean Chinese because the majority there never felt an existential threat in the first place.

End the continual, vicious attacks on vernacular education, and see how it plays out in thirty years. If vernacular education is indeed so inferior in value in every way, it will get outcompeted and cease to exist. You'll be surprised how market-driven the Chinese turn out to me once they don't feel threated anymore. Of course, the scenario is still based on the assumption that vernacular education is indeed objectively inferior, to which I disagree.

Zainal A. Kasim said...

Although it is yet to be proven, but we should start some where. I believe this is a first step towards achieving a unite Malaysia. Many more need to be done....

But, as usual, when come to races issue, many will chicken out....

... and we will remain the same forever.

Hazrul Nizam said...

Agree with Shawn Tan and Keith.

If you care to look beyond the people behind the campaign (hard I know), the proposal actually has its merits. The proposal obviously is not the ONLY solution to the racial polarization problem among Malaysians but it is a good start. To improve our education system, we must move beyond knee-jerk reactions every time the subject of vernacular school is breached. We must allow healthy debate on this issue as well as the issue of language of instruction, university admissions, scholarship and so on. If we continue to jump out everytime someone mentions vernacular schools or scholarship issues, that makes us no different from people like Ibrahim Ali.

Coltz said...

Hazrul: I would not debate the efficiency/merit/non-merits of "vernacular schools" since it warrants its own topic, but realize that stripping a very emotionally-attached (not to mention efficient) entity off a race is never a good place to start for any "unity" effort. Imagine some non-Malay overlord swoop in and carpet bomb all the mosques in Malaysia in the name of "religious unity". Horrific, isn't it? The "vernacular schools" (known as "soul of our heritage" in some, ahem, circles that you do not frequent) is not that distant in terms of emotional attachment. Strip that forcefully and voila, you just vanquished all hopes of whatever unity you want to achieve for the next 40 years.

Zainal: There should be a policy preventing dubious network marketers from gaining access to the internet. Yes, I mean you.

Hazrul Nizam said...

Coltz: It's getting personal now eh, Coltz? Last time I check, every Malaysian citizen is constitutionally entitled to practise his religion. So the question of carpet bombing all the mosques (or churches, temples and whatnot)does not arise, except for, ahem, some bigots who have their own agenda. Maybe by continuing to hide inside your "soul of our heritage" circle can contribute significantly to nation-building. Or maybe we should put this subject under the expanding not-to-be-discussed-at-any-cost sensitive issues. That way we can continue to pretend everything is well and good. Right, Coltz?

Anonymous said...

Hazrul Nizam: Anything started by a known bigot MUST be looked at with microscope.

KM is a known bigot & this is not like killing the messenger! These bigots have their own agenda, masquerade under the name of Satu Bangsa.

The last I checked, mother tongue is ALSO constitutionally guarantee. NO?


Coltz said...

Hazrul: I'm merely pointing out how much emotional weight was attached to the issue, and hence the absurdity of the "unity-building" that is supposed to result from your suggested action; nothing to do with the legal validity whatsoever. I'm not suggesting that we "pretend everything is well and good". Instead, I'm pointing out the absurdity of achieving "unity" through an action perceived by most in the opposite camp as oppression. You might not think it is oppression, and you are free to think that way, but isn't your ultimate agenda "unity"? Thus, presumably if there's something that will WORSEN unity in this country, will you do it? Now, I'm telling you that eliminating vernacular schools, whether you like it or not, will be viewed as oppression, and hence WORSEN unity. Will you do it?

(Note how you feel offended by the mere thought of religious-targeted bombing*. Also note that millions of Malaysians feel the same way towards their heritage. Think about it, in their eyes, who are the bigots? I'm not pulling out the constitution and debating from a legal standpoint, just asking you to empathize. Put yourself in others' shoes. Think, and you'll realize how absurd it is to achieve "unity" while high-handedly disregard what a significant portion of the population thinks.)

It's also interesting that you claim that I (presumably with your also-assumed millions of "bigots") "hide inside our soul of heritage" circle. To which I must explain, I'm not stopping you from discussing. Discussion should be encouraged under *almost* all circumstances. The problem arises when the party in power actually tries to push their agenda through without understanding and empathizing with what the other side thinks, and claim that whoever that disagrees are "anti-progress". Last time I checked, in China that led to the Cultural Revolution, in US that led to McCarthyism, in Europe that led to gross antisemitism, in the middle east that led to the rampage of Zionists, in USSR that led to the reign of Stalin. None of which turned out to be "unity building". Empathy, don't disregard it.

*I apologize if my analogy offended you personally; but in disrupting your emotions I think I made my point. Same thing happens the other way around.

Anon above me: Arbitrarily calling someone a bigot does not help your case. Extrapolate your point please.

satD said...

Folks read here.....and open your eyes .....

Zainal A. Kasim said...


I think your mind is full with assumption....

Hazrul Nizam said...

Coltz: First of all, everyone is entitled to his own view.

Second, I'll be the first in line to object if the government in power steamrolls this proposal upon Malaysians. All I am saying is this proposal has its merit and we should be allowed to talk about it (as opposed to being forced to AGREE with it). If in the end people think it brings more harm than good, well scrap it. Some people scream murder whenever NEP is questioned. I trust you are intelligent enough not to agree to this line of thinking.

As for your analogy, well most people (especially children) don't spend 6 or 7 hours a day sitting in a mosque. I doubt spending a bit of time to pray in a mosque would have any notable effect on national unity. I have yet to see any facebook group made up by people who go to the same mosque. So yes I'm offended by its irrelevance. This is a discussion on our school system and whether it has negatively affected national unity. Please take race and religion out of this.

A better analogy would be the inclusion of religion (Islam / Moral)in school syllabus, which abolishment I support. I don't look at it as an Islamic / Muslim issue rather as an education issue. But that is a different issue altogether.

In any education issues, politics should be taken out of discussion. That's why WE (the people) must talk about and debate this issue. The reason this is a nervy subject is because we know some idiots will politicize the whole thing. If this is a political agenda to oppress certain races, well I am not interested to be part of it.

mymoksha said...

isnt it so typical that when we talk about one school... the Islam religion always comes under attack... this is a valid point for discussion... not imposition... discussion.... and already (some) are refusing... huh

Coltz said...

Hazrul: Glad to hear that we agree on something - protection of minority and freedom of debate. Wish there are more intelligent people like you out there on either side. (Just listen to those "the traitor Chinese should go back to Tionghua" or "lazy useless Malays" gang... sigh)

Well, not arguing that mosques undermine national unity. I'm just arbitrarily picking something that will surely disturb you when steamrolled over by the opposite side, and pointing that the issue of "vernacular education" among many Chinese carry about the same weight. We now understand that we're both against majority abuse, so again this analogy, as you said, becomes irrelevant. By the way, I do not see a way to take race out of the discussion, since support for the "vernacular" system is for the most part divided along racial lines, for some very racially related reasons.

Again, kudos for being understanding: In fact, had it not for the attempts to steamroll Chinese education started by the Razak Report and exacerbated by implementation of the Rahman Talib Report, the national education might have already merged in a funny way. It might not be really Malay or Chinese or English, but a decentralized mess of rojak in which people can have freedom to access whatever school or courses in whatever mixing style or language they like.

Of course, those are purely imaginary because in reality the two reports (and their implementations) happened, the Chinese felt the existential threat, and the rest was history. Political agendas and the resulting feeling of alarm are both so sad, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

I already put my name in, and has been supportive of one school system. I will also campaign very-very hard so that people will sign up for this project.

Anonymous said...

Kian Ming the elite, John boy and Oxbrain Pua,

Go and read the comments in Demi Negara and you know why we must insist to preserve vernacular school. If the SRJK and CIS gone, the balance factor will be no more in exist. You think you can still read and write in English? Look at Thailand and Indonesia.

Hope our boy did grow up.


saracenjedi said...

Having a 1 school system is to have vernacular studies as a compulsory subject in the education system. It doesn't mean that vernacular studies are to be abolished. Pls dont get the whole concept wrong. By having this in our system, it would then be wonderful to have ppl from all other races to be able to converse in 3 different languages. This is when we can really say "Malaysia Truly Asia" my friend. I have 3 nephews & and all of em are in chinese school despite them being malays. And I was supposed to be studying in Lai Meng (jalan ampang-KL) last time but my application was rejectd coz its already full, hence i join SJI.

Besides polarization caused by schools there is also polarization caused by our urban settings or town planning. Noticed that there are areas which are predominantly malay or chinese or indian? How will the interaction or muhibbah btwn races to be improved by this? Education is key & it should be from the root all the way up. This battle is no longer for us but its for our future & next generation!

Every malaysian should grasp 3 languages! And i mean every RACE!

Japheth Lim Gene-Harn said...

I did not read most of the comments above, but my say is that, at first sight, this is ridiculous! because in city like PJ, residents are mostly chinese, and when you say everyone is ought to learn malay language and take it as the only one compulsory language. I am afraid that will revive 13 may incident again!

Cut this suggestion out, do not talk about education until politics is done. It's good for planning and suggestions. BUT as long stuffs mentioned earlier like the UPSR new scheme thing and language to be teached in science subjects have not settled, why so rush for this?

IN THE END WE FALL APART. wouldn't we?

mantra-indeeptots said...

Tonite from 10 till 12, open forum on SATU SEKOLAH UNTUK SEMUA in my Facebook...

Esteemed bloggers will join to ans your questions... Dare to speak out loud and stop bickering behind the curtains... All are welcome to participate...

Malaysian Heart said...

While the SSUS memorandum claims to promote unity & integration, it does more than just propose a single school stream. It contains some very disturbing premises & key elements, just 2 of which are:

a) that it seeks to institutionalize intolerance against the so-called "foreign" cultures & languages of some Malaysians, by proposing that these be ghettoized, i.e. set apart from & denied its role in the public life of Malaysia, and
b) that it espouses assimilation rather than integration.

Neither of the 2 elements above is in any way necessary for true integration & unity. On the contrary, they will work against "comradeship and goodwill for us tiny rakyat". Elements like these (as well as the intolerant language used in the memorandum) hardly make for a "struggle of all Malaysians irrespective of their colour, origin, creed or breed".

Added to that is the attitude of some promoters of SSUS. While they are quite happy to repeat over and over again the professed objectives of the project and the fact that 1 school for all will promote integration, they seem to want to ignore the fact that Malaysians have concerns & reservations over some elements & aspects of the SSUS. There seems to be an effort to deem people with such concerns as unpatriotic or even racist; and to paint anyone who tries to delve below the surface of SSUS & its promoters (& tries to share it with others), as, in your words, a "provocateur with malice and hidden vicious agenda”. Why this unwillingness to address those concerns? Why this hurry to railroad the SSUS without due diligence & deliberation? If this idea is as good as you say it is, won't it sail through scrutiny & criticism with colours flying?

The originators & promoters of SSUS seem to have been inspired by an old Thai policy of forced assimilation called "Ratthaniyom". Read more here

Anonymous said...

One school for all is the way to go for this country to progress!

Malaysian Heat said...

Malaysian Heart, wow you did it again!

Whenever the sexy stud Kijangmas of the deminegara blog gets mentioned, YOU will make your cameo appearance.

I thought you've been served a cease and desist order by the PDRM and LAPD to stop stalking signor KM?

Why you so thick face one ah?

I'm compiling ALL your attacks on KM/DN and you will be hearing from us.

Have a nice day.

Msian Heat

Anonymous said...

Japheth said-
'....... this is ridiculous! because in city like PJ, residents are mostly chinese, and when you say everyone is ought to learn malay language and take it as the only one compulsory language. I am afraid that will revive 13 may incident again!'

- You Malaysian or Chinese by nationality?

- What is the sole national language of Malaysia?

- You are an example of the alienized SJKC product that this SSuS campaign is addressing.

- You want to start another may 13th? Ok, go get on a truck and show your tiny penis to the Malays and see what happens ........ again!

- Obviously, a racist retard like you has not read the memo since you are so full of hate. If you have the brains to read and understand the memo, it states that OTHER languages shall be taught to those in need. So what's your case again?

- You better make a choice: Malaysian or Chinese?

Choon Peng
- A Malaysian

moo_t said...

Oh my.

Look at some of the comment, I tell myself, after 50+ years of independent, Malaysia education are totally failure on creating civil society.

Malaysia post-colonisation education is like a sheep farm. Putting a fence, you can easily lead a herd to the destination, whether to the yarn or the butcher house. And the sheep don't even think jump over the fence.

First, what the the PURPOSE of this "One school" things?

integration under one language ? Unity under one ideology?

Oh my goodness. If you still holding those "nationalist" ideology, then there is no chances Malaysia become more competitive in future. After 60 year of WWII, we see EU. EU is an integrate entity that UNDERSTAND the DIFFERENT. What make EU is the UNIVERSAL understanding of common HUMAN VALUE.

The "one" school system is nothing but a repackage colonisation. I bet nobody go UK, Malaysia previous colonisation master and compare their education system with the LEFTOVER they put here.

You will notice the huge different in the conducting method. Colonisation education are mean to train a group of people to SERVE to the master. Forget about the THINKING, colonial master DON'T NEED thinking colony.

Just look at Malaysia education system, from Primary to Secondary, even up to the local University, the method of conduct is nothing more than memorize, practice. Even the R&D thinking part has put us on shame when compare to tiny country like Singapore.

The vernacular school are not much better than the national school system in method of conduct.

HOWEVER, because of the alternate language, we have group of people with DIFFERENT language viewpoint that is NECESSARY in the age of globalisation.

While Malaysia rural people limit by the regionalism view due to government controlled media, those who learn different language SEE MORE through another language view.

Take mandarin as example, even the local mandarin newspaper limited view, the mandarin reader also better view from material from mandarin world such as Taiwan, China ROC, Hong Kong, mandarin writer around the world. It is a emerge country experience.

While for English reader, they are NOT limited to local English media. And this is true that Indian people can always assess what happen in India view angle.

And back to the "one school" Malay
medium of conduct and colonisation method of conduct. Honestly, in my opinion, the global view material in Malay language are pretty limited. Unless Malays people willing to abolish the invisible fence enacted by UMNO, Malay cannot go far without enrichment from Bahasa Indonesia, an culture with at 200 millions population.

Sometimes I feel bad for REAL Malay scholar like Azly Rahman, Farish Noor. They have been demonised by feudalism Malays as betrayal because of their liberate view, that will shaken feudalism Malays interest when more Malay awaken/liberate from the master-slave colonisation mindet.

IMHO, the one school system idea is rubbish. Malaysia imminent education problem is NOT about language of conduct. When the substances of one school system are re-enact COLONISATION method of teaching, it will NEVER help the national integration.

And my conclusion :
STOP F*CKING Malaysia education with OBSOLETED method. Liberate the education, let REAL educationist rather than political-education worker control Malaysia education.

If Malaysia REFUSE to fix the system in next 10 years. After 20 years, Malaysia will follow the current Philippines foot step.

You are moot said...


Oh my, your English is ATROCIOUS, really bad. What did they teach you at the SJKC?

You wasted all those bandwidth with weird ideas in bad English just to wiggle your way out of integrating with the other 77% of the population.

My advise: drop your Mandarin comics and go easy on the Mandarin TV shows and music and concentrate on the global language, English. As for Malay, naah, too late .... you will remain a BM retard in the land of your citizenship forever.

But pls don't complain of marginalisation, ok? YOU chose not to speak and understand proper Malay; don't be angry if others view and call you a foreigner, just like an American or Brit or Aussie would regard a subpar English speaker a foreigner as well.

Malaysian Heart said...

Are Vernacular Schools the Obstacle to a United Bangsa Malaysia?

Why did blogger Kijangmas and his friends submit a memorandum to the Malaysian Minister for Education, asking that vernacular schools be totally eliminated from Malaysia?

They claim to believe that "...a strongly united Bangsa Malaysia will never be achieved as long as the menace of Vernacular Schools (National Type Schools or SJK) exists on Malaysian soil," (my translation from the original in BM). They also claim that vernacular schools (in their words a "divisive social cancer") are the reason why some Malaysians are "unpatriotic", harbour "anti-Malaysian" attitudes, "subversive" and "traitorous".

What heinous crimes would you have to commit, to be branded as "unpatriotic", "anti-Malaysian", etc. in their memorandum? Not very much, it would seem. Amongst other things, you could qualify by:

1. promoting Mandarin and Tamil (which they refer to as "foreign languages") in Malaysia. They believe doing this is against our Federal Constitution
2. "over-exaggerating" the contributions of immigrants in the formation & development of Malaysia

In the same memorandum, Kijangmas and friends also state their belief that the languages & cultures of Malaysian minorities must be removed from all national and public roles and confined to private community matters only, because, as they claim, that is what our Federal Constitution requires.

How did they arrive at their opinion of Malaysians who were educated at vernacular schools? Reading their blog, their beliefs seem to be based not on objective data, but on anecdotes, racial prejudice and stereotypes. One such stereotype that Kijangmas employs is this:

"These functional illiterates end up as a cheap source of semi-indentured labour in the motor workshops, auto accessory shops, in the building trades, sleazy unisex salons, become cetak rompak aficionados, stalk shopping malls to harass shoppers with a myriad of worthless gizmos and, in the case of many if not most Tamil-educated Indians, become low wage general workers, lorry drivers and assorted hired hands for the towkays."

(continued below)

Malaysian Heart said...

(Continued from above)

So, are Malaysians educated in vernacular schools really unpatriotic and anti-Malaysian, as Kijangmas would have us believe? Let's look at some data. Recently, the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research conducted an opinion poll, the National Youth Survey 2008. In it, a total of 2,518 randomly selected Malaysian youth between the ages of 20 and 35 were interviewed by telephone about their perceptions of lifestyle, current issues, values, politics, and their own levels of civic and social involvement. The report of the poll results can be downloaded from their website. Here, I would like to highlight just one interesting finding from that poll.

As part of of the questions used to gauge the respondents' social values, they were asked to complete following question:

If you can only choose one identity, would you say that you are...?

The results were that 43% of those polled chose to identify themselves as Malaysians first. This is not surprising; as I have written about here, we Malaysians are not amongst the most patriotic people in the world.

What is interesting, however, is when those results were further analysed by looking at which type of school respondents had been educated at. 52% of respondents who had been to a Chinese school chose Malaysian as their first identity. In contrast, 39% & 37% of those who had been to National & Tamil schools respectively, identified themselves as Malaysians first.

So, what are the obstacles to a united Bangsa Malaysia? Clearly, not vernacular schools per se. To answer that question truthfully will take lots of soul-searching, reflection & honest conversation among Malaysians. However, I'm willing to say that intolerance, racism & chauvinism will feature prominently on that list. I'm also willing to say that it is those same three attributes that drive Kijangmas & his friends.

The next time Kijangmas comes across someone in the "building trades" or a "low wage general worker", perhaps he should pause & think hard before calling them unpatriotic & anti-Malaysian; for all he knows, in that person could beat the heart of a Malaysian truer than he.

Merdeka Center's National Youth Survey 2008 report available here.
Kijangmas memorandum to Education Minister available here.