Chinese educationist groups Dong Jiao Zong and Jiao Zong were scheduled to submit a memorandum to the Ministry of Education today, but they were made to wait for more than an hour until a ministry’s officer turned up.
According to Dong Zong chairperson, Tan Tai Kim, the memorandum wanted Chinese school boards to be allowed to decide on teaching Jawi lessons in primary schools.
The group had made an appointment with the private secretary of Education Minister Mazlee Malik, and would arrive at the ministry at 3pm today. They also hoped to meet the minister as well.
However, the ministry’s representative did not show up until around 3:50pm. The Dong Jiao Zong leaders ran out of patience and wanted to leave the memorandum at the counter since they felt the ministry had no time and respect for their concerns.
Jiao Zong chairperson, Ong Chiow Chuen, criticised the ministry for its neglect and not being punctual, which made them feel disrespected.
“New government, new style, let you wait an hour,” he said.
Finally, Dong Jiao Zong leaders went back to the waiting room when the counter staff informed them that the officers will show up immediately.
Security guards at the waiting room
It is believed that the Dong Jiao Zong leaders were brought to a waiting room after they arrived at the building and there were two security guards at the door.
About 4:38pm, an officer from the ministry appeared to receive the memo, but she refused to speak to the media except saying she did not know whether the group had made an appointment with the ministry.
In a media briefing later, Ong reiterated his disappointment and regret for the ministry’s unpunctual attitude, and described it as “disrespectful to the Chinese community” as well.
“We wait for an hour and a half before an officer received the memo. Today, the Education Ministry was disrespectful to Dong Jiao Zong,” said Ong, adding that the ministry should list Chinese school boards as decision-makers on the Jawi lessons issue.
The school boards included parents, alumni and trustees, and they helped in fundraising and school management, he said.
According to Tan, the Education Act 1996 states that the school boards have the sovereignty to manage the school, and the right of making decisions in teaching Jawi lessons should be preserved.
One country, two system
In August, the government drew flak for announcing the introduction of khat (Jawi calligraphy) for Year 4 vernacular school pupils next year.
Later, the government decided to decrease the Jawi script lesson from six pages to three pages and announced that it would only be implemented with the agreement of parent-teacher associations (PTA)and other parents.
However, the educationist group was not happy that the school boards were not listed as decision-makers as well in the implementation of teaching Jawi lessons. In Sabah and Sarawak, some of the schools do not have PTAs. They also expressed their opinion to Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching, in a dialogue held in August.
According to the Oriental Daily, Teo released a statement on Monday, stating that for those schools without PTAs, the cabinet had agreed to allow their school boards to decide on teaching Jawi lessons.
But Tan disagreed to this solution. He hoped that all Chinese schools in Malaysia would be allowed to adopt the same system, and not “one country with two different systems”.