KUALA LUMPUR – Deputy education minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said during an interview with Sin Chew Daily that many young Chinese Malaysians today are not emotionally attached to Chinese education, unlike their fathers.

“They emphasize that their children be given the best education. They have plenty of choices, such as international or private schools. They are not obliged to send their children to Chinese primary schools.”

Chong said if the education issue is made into a racial issue, there would be endless of problems.

“When the education ministry handles the education issue, it does so from the perspectives of education, not as a problem involving racial sentiments,” he asserted.

He felt that things might not be as serious as many would have believed, that education ministry officials and Malay principals are all out to get rid of the Chinese language, adding that such issues would be blown out of proportion after they are carried in the media.

“It is a serious thing to accuse a Malay principal of trying to prevent Chinese students from taking the Chinese language paper in exam. This will only aggravate the resentment of the Malays towards the Chinese community.”

Not targeting Chinese schools

Chong said Chinese language education was perceived as synonymous with communism during the early years of independence, and that explained why local Chinese schools in Singapore were closed down.

“Learning the Chinese language was a form of ideology back in those years, but now the language carries remarkable commercial value and many parents regardless of race are sending their children to Chinese primary schools.”

He was of the opinion that for Chinese language education to thrive in this country, it has to start from rational deliberations within the education ministry itself.

He insisted that all of the government’s education polices have been drawn for all language streams and not specifically targeting Chinese schools as many would want to believe.

“The Chinese community will tend to think that all the policies are meant to bring down the Chinese education. Consequently the Chinese community will never feel contented.”

Chong admitted the fact that majority of education ministry officials are Malays could be the reason why they don’t understand the needs of the Chinese community.

“If you ask me to handle Tamil school affairs, for example, all that I may do is to handle them according to the ministry’s standard procedures.

“But, there might be something which we are not able to understand. We need specific people to help manage such issues, so we now have an Indian deputy education minister, too.”