New Way of Saying

20 04 2010

Note: This SSS site promotes the use of Bahasa Malaysia. It is in line with our mission and with Article 152 on its role as the National Language of the country. But articles may appear in the English language so that as many people as possible understand them. However, SSS Admin replies are always in the language in which the comments are made.


The Kempen SSS manner of saying things will be changed slightly from now on. The academic and serious articles will be interspersed with lighter ones and we will try to bring out as many posts or articles as possible.

We plan to vary the subjects slightly in order to cater to a wider range of readers. Subjects that have any bearing on unity, racial polarisation and the the forging of a united and cohesive Bangsa Malaysia will be discussed. These are the declared objective of the single-stream education or Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua (SSS).

The articles need not be very long. We hope to cover more on current subjects. Any comments on the presentation and on the articles we put out are welcome. And the comments can be as short or as long as you wish.

This time we publish an article on what is claimed to be “the influx to Chinese schools”. It is based on numbers obtained from an ex-Chairman of the Parent Teachers Association of one school and in a predominantly Chinese electorate. See if you agree or disagree with the views given.



Why the influx to Chinese schools?


By Lee Yew Meng

I WAS registered with St Xavier’s Institution for Year One in 1961. My father, who was Chinese-educated but speaks English, reasoned that only those who studied in English schools could get office jobs and four-figure salaries. A chief clerk was a very serious appointment in the 1950s and 1960s.

There were Malay schools, English schools, Chinese schools and Tamil schools. I can now vividly recall that we used to sneer at Chinese school students because of their pronunciation. They invariably allowed us to get away with these juvenile insults.

Those were the times when being educated meant being able to speak and write in English.

Now, some 50 years on, I live in a constituency with an 86.7 per cent (2008 Election Commission figures) Chinese electorate and we have one primary and two secondary schools in the taman.

My second child was enrolled in Year One in 1998. The racial mix of the pupils then was representative of the constituency, albeit with a few more non-Chinese.

By 2007, when my next child started school, I saw a stark difference. I scrutinised the student register and found that fewer than 30 per cent of the students were Chinese. Three years later when she was in Year Four, there were only nine Chinese students in a class of 44. In the entire Year Four class of 129, only 18 or 14 per cent were Chinese.

Early this year, my fourth child was enrolled, and this time it was like I had moved to another place. I could hardly spot a Chinese face. In a class of 42, there were only four Chinese students.

There are 89 students in Year One with eight Chinese, or nine per cent. The total school population is 550, with 11 per cent Chinese. These figures were provided by the parent-teacher association’s ex-chairman.

Many of us would have heard of the large influx of parents registering their children in Chinese schools in the past 10 years. I thought the percentages quoted were a gross exaggeration, but I have now experienced first-hand that it is true.

Schools are built in housing estates for the convenience of parents. Then, why is it that so many parents prefer to spend up to two or three hours each day sending and picking their children up from Chinese vernacular schools?

(It is more dramatic when we consider parents in south Johor sending their children to schools in Singapore.) All the bigger Chinese schools are oversubscribed and many parents have been turned away.

I have heard of those arming themselves with various letters of recommendation from an assortment of personalities as “insurance” against rejection. Can we assume that the Education Ministry has done sufficient studies followed by serious brainstorming on what’s the attraction of these Chinese schools?

Is the class environment, library, sports facilities, toilets and the canteen food so much better? Are the teachers better trained and more motivated? Don’t they all have the same salary scheme?

Or are parents concerned about or opposed to what they believe are misguided notions of nationalism in national schools? Perhaps a combination of all these?

There was a time in the 1980s when sekolah jenis kebangsaan (Cina) were just doing okay and the independent secondary Chinese schools were suffering from low intake. This year, even the independent schools had to turn away students.

As the Constitution allows it, there’s nothing wrong with parents preferring their children to be imbued with Confucian-inspired values. And perhaps to also have formal instruction with Chinese culture. But if enrolling at SJK (C) schools means being enrolled “in better schools with better education instruction”, then we have a situation, Putrajaya.

The predicament is getting serious. The plain fact is that it is wrong that national schools are increasingly being shunned by the Chinese and by more and more Malays and Indians, while SJK (C) schools are horrendously oversubscribed. Classroom populations of 50 to 52 at SJK (C) schools are the norm.

I hope our national schools have not given up. In any marketplace with more than one player, we have to be as good or better as the other to stay in business, and in this case — relevant.

If good Chinese language instruction is needed, provide it. Like we should for good English, Tamil, Science or Mathematics. Or how much has it got to do with this remark made by a Malay parent and endorsed by another that, “I would have sent my child to a sekolah agama rakyat if that was my intention”, at a focus group in reference to attitudes of some school authorities?

The mission is an uncomplicated and unadulterated quest to provide a strong foundation for our young minds through well thought-out and tested syllabi.

I am now reminded that although SXI was a true-blue Christian missionary school, non-Christians were never compelled to convert or made to feel different. The Brothers, bless their souls, just concentrated on their mission. We used to sing Malaysia, Kita Sudah Berjaya with gusto; but was that another Malaysia?

The writer, a social observer, has been a marketing practitioner for over three decades




10 responses

20 04 2010

in my opinion, your writing is very good and very useful

21 04 2010
SSS Admin


Thank you for your kind words. We try the best we can to set things right in this country. The vernacular shools system has not been right for so long. What was allowed since independence 53 years ago needs not all be right. The use of the vernacular languages as the medium of instruction in schools simply cannot be right when Article 152 of the Constitution says Bahasa Malaysia is the National Language.

The problem is with a small number of Malaysians who adamantly want to alienate themselves and cling to Mandarin and Tamil as the medium of instruction, thus creating three systems of education viz SK, SJKC and SJKT. The problem is also with the politicians who have not been brave enough to face the electorate and seek a mandate of having only one system of education by, say, having a referendum to determine whether the rakyat wants the the single-stream education or Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua (SSS). It has been raised and discussed in Parliament and we continue to urge the authorities to take measures aimed at dignifying BM having SSS.

21 04 2010

Who says influx to Chinese schools. To one or two schools overflowing maybe. That also in areas of Chinese concentration. In any case, the info was from an ex-Chairman of the parent teachers association.

21 04 2010
SSS Admin


We agree with you. The validity of the information obtained by the writer and the opinion he forms appears questionable. If indeed there is an influx on a wide scale and happening all over the country, there would have been a hue and cry from the public for the Government to study the reasons why and take corrective measures. Such an influx cannot be encouraged, nay, allowed, because it makes a mockery of national schools and Chinese schools using Mandarin as the medium of instruction are running contrary to the Constitution.

21 04 2010

Maybe more Chinese going for Chinese education because China now becoming strong economically. They want to benefit from it, maybe business, maybe jobs. They don’t want to be left out. After all they say kiasu means not wanting to be left out.

So long as they don’t forget Bahasa Malaysia the national language of he country. But if Chinese schools become important and 2-3 system of education how t0 get national unity and 1Malaysia?

21 04 2010
SSS Admin


They cannot forget Bahasa Malaysia as the National Language of the country and must respect it being so. The Government has instituted measures to encourage and respect the use of Bahasa Malaysia by, for example, making a BM pass mandatory in SPM.

But now the promoters of Chinese schools want the Government to recognise passes at Chinese secondary schools for entrance to public universities in the country. If that is allowed, it means the Government has allowed them to use the back door. The Government must not allow that as it is demeaning to Article 152 on the position of Bahasa Malaysia as Bahasa Kebangsaan.

Language has been the unifying factor of various nationalities the world over. Schools using vernacular languages are attended primarily, and in many cases, entirely of one race. Hence children of such schools do not mix with those of other races and do not develop common values, hopes and aspirations so important in bringing about national unity.

21 04 2010


How do one (A) manage a large fleet of car-rental (say the cars totalled in thousands) compare to another one (B) who manages a small fleet of car-rental (say the cars total not reaching 100). For discussion sake, both have enough, comfortable car-rental market.

When you rent a car from either one, what do you think it will look like? More specialized service, spic and span but more expensive if rented from ‘B’? Generally acceptable but at good rates from ‘A’?

I think, both ‘A’ and ‘B’ can harmoniouly co-exist as long as both DO NOT violate the fundamental of the business. Example, rental MUST be made by VALID MALAYSIAN DRIVING LICENSE.

Let’s bring the above analogy to schools.

I think there is nothing wrong for the PRIVATE SCHOOLS to exist together with THE NATIONAL SCHOOLS. They can exist harmonously together too. But what make it not harmony to a nation to the extent of COMPRISING the nation and her people is that, ALLOWING people to rent a car using CHINESE, INDIA license and doing away with MALAYSIAN license.

So SRJK(C) and SRJK (T) can exist harmoniously by different names (no longer SRJK) as long as the school system is a MALAYSIAN system (not others, example, the bahasa pengantar is Bahasa Kebangsaan and variations of chinese and indian languages be taught as elective subjects).

This will cater some of the very discern parent when itcomes to their children education and when they can afford that kind of cost of education.

The schools are not wrong, but the ALIEN system put in the schools are treacherous to the nation.

22 04 2010
SSS Admin


True, the schools are not wrong, it is only the system that is. They cannot have Manadarin and Tamil as the medium of instruction as they make three systems of education with the national schools (Bahasa Malaysia) system. This situation hampers national unity; children do not have sufficient chances of mixing with other races to develop a sense of togetherness, common hopes and values so necessary for fostering harmony and unity.

The vernacular schools can in fact be integrated with the national schools system quite easily as and when a decision to do so is made. The school buildings and educational facilities can be left intact, the teaching staff can continue perhaps undergoing refresher courses and minor transfers to accomodate a new medium of instruction, curriculum and syllabus, and the support staff can remain. The matter of property ownership and compensation can be discussed with the Government just as the existing school Board of Governors can continue serving with minor transfers to suit the situation. No one has to lose anything with the change from vernacular to national schools system.

21 04 2010

How do we tell whether what the writer says is true or not? The drop in Chinese pupils enrolment in the national school of a predominantly Chinese area needs not be proof of “an influx” of pupils in the Chinese schools of the area. The population of any area is never static. Increase in children of school-going age needs to be taken into account. Movement to and from other areas may also play a part.

The writer merely spoke of generalities, assumptions and what was “heard” –

“Many of us would have heard of the large influx of parents registering their children in Chinese schools in the past 10 years.” He talks about “first-hand experience” but does not give figures. He assumes that since “so many parents prefer to spend up to two or three hours each day sending and picking their children up from Chinese vernacular schools”, therefore there must have been dramatic outflow of children from national schools to Chinese schools.

Similarly, he assumes that “parents in south Johor sending their children to schools in Singapore” is due to a preference for Chinese schools and he has not provided names and particulars of “All the bigger Chinese schools are oversubscribed and many parents have been turned away” for verification.

If what he says are true, then certainly the Education Ministry has to study the reasons for the “influx” of Chinese schools. Until we hear of reliable and verifiable figures, or statements from the Education Ministry, what the writer says remains as propaganda for Chinese schools or, at best, an undue exitement on the part of the writer.

22 04 2010
SSS Admin


The Government really should do a study on vernacular schools. In this instance, at least determine whether the claims of “influx” to Chinese schools is true, to what extent it is going on, whether it occurs nation-wide and whether it is mere propaganda on the part of those who want to promote Chinese schools. If it is true to a considerable extent, it may be a poor reflection of Government national schools, although one concedes that the rise of mainland China as an ecnomic power in the last ten years or so may have prompted the Chinese in Malaysia to not want “to be left out” – to use the words in one comment above – and try to get their children get Mandarin education. Even so, the Government has to come out with a statement on the justifiability of letting Chinese schools with Mandarin as the medium of instruction being adored and adulated in the face of Bahasa Malaysia being the National Language as provided under Constitution.

This is one of the very reasons why we at SSS have proposed that an in-depth study be done to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the existing education system(s) so that policies can be drawn up to strengthen the strong points and rectify the weak ones. Because the problem has been existing for over 50 years now, it takes a strong political will to make such changes but then the Government can do it in a safe and democratic manner – by a referendum to determine whether the rakyat wants it or not. In any case, the study itself, recommended to be a non-partisan and independent team of professionals qualified and experienced in the relevant fields, is expected to take 2 years to complete from the word go. With a referendum, the whole exercise may take a total of 3 years to be completed. We can therefore see just the completion of the study alone by the time the General Elections have taken place. Should the Study show a need for vernacular schools be integrated into the national education system, the implementation of policies to that effect can be done yet later, say 4-5 years from the decision to undertake the study.

The Government in power can therefore consider giving the go-ahead to doing the in-depth study now without affecting its popularity in the coming general elections which require to be held no longer than 3 years from now.

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