Pakatan Harapan is prepared to recognize the UEC, which is indeed a positive development.
The same carries a different significance when uttered from the mouth of Tun Mahathir.
Mahathir, in the eyes of many, is never friendly to Chinese language education. When he was in power, Chinese education was struggling.
So, has he changed his attitude towards Chinese education, or is he rather changed by the political reality?
The answer no longer matters now.
Once PH has made its stand clear, we will now see how BN is going to act.
Even if a person not known to be a friend of Chinese education is now willing to support UEC (with the condition of at least a credit in SPM Bahasa Malaysia), Najib, who is widely seen as being friendly to Chinese education, shouldn’t see it as a burden now to do likewise.
Even if a Malay-first PPBM can accept UEC, so should a similarly Malay-first Umno!
UEC and the Chinese education in general will only be able to develop healthily if they are no longer exploited as a political tool and are not disrupted by the negative racist sentiment.
This reminds me of a controversial video on the social media last week.
In his first video, young professional Zee How Tai highlighted the government’s support of Chinese education in this country.
He said there were no government Chinese schools in Singapore with a much higher percentage of Chinese population, nor in Indonesia with a larger overall Chinese population, adding that the Malaysian government not only allowed Chinese schools, but also paid out RM1.4 billion for the salaries of SJKC teachers alone.
Citing his own experience, Tai argued that Mainland Chinese were shocked to find so many Chinese schools when they came to Malaysia, thinking that they were set up or funded by the Chinese government!
After his first video went viral, Tai came under widespread assault by netizens who called him a traitor. They rebutted him not by the numbers or sound reasoning, but their sheer frustration.
This shows that when it comes to Chinese education, the local Chinese community is often more emotional than rational. Such a negative sentiment will not help us see the real situation of Chinese education in this country nor explore the solutions to address the issue.
Tai published a second video several days later.
This time, he brought along a Chinese educated Malay friend to expound in fluent Mandarin how he had seen his competency improved with his proficiency in the Chinese language since he was young, while his identity as a devout Muslim and patriotic Malaysian remained unaffected.
The video was trying to convey the message that SJKCs belong to all Malaysians and are a common asset for this country. They will benefit anyone irrespective of race or religion.
These two videos are telling the mainstream Malay society that SJKCs are part and parcel of the country’s education system and that they will not convert Malay children. Mutual understanding and national integration could be enhanced if more Malay parents send their children to Chinese schools.
Up till this point we should see clearly that Tai’s intention was not to defend the government’s education policy but to defuse the misunderstanding among non-Chinese communities.
You may not agree with Tai, but there is no necessity to question his intention. As a new generation Chinese Malaysian, he cares for the Chinese education not in a confrontational way but a more forward-looking one.
For the future of Chinese education in this country, we should walk out of our excessively protective approach to really step into the Malaysian society and become a part of our diverse system.
Chinese education will no longer be hijacked by racial politics once Malaysians look at SJKCs and Chinese education with a more positive attitude.