KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek blasted today his Umno political ally Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz for supporting the demands of Chinese-language educationists without understanding fully the real issues that has seen the Chinese party at loggerheads with vocal vernacular education lobby groups.
“Minister in the Prime Minister’s department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz seems to have said that the demands of Dong Zong is fair and let us hope that he will not sing a different tune in Cabinet.
“Nazri is forever playing to the gallery and is fond of commenting without understanding the real issue contained in the memorandum,” Dr Chua (picture) said in a scathingly-worded media statement.
Yesterday, 500 members of the United Chinese School Committees Association — better known by its Chinese name Dong Zong — had demonstrated outside Parliament while it was in session to push for eight demands it said must be met to resolve the long-standing state of vernacular Chinese education in the country.
Nazri, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, had met with the group and accepted their memorandum, remarking that the demands were “not wrong” as Dong Zong was fighting to protect their mother tongue but which had raised the MCA’s ire.
The de facto law minister who is also in charge of parliamentary affairs had also pledged to raise the subject at the next Cabinet meeting.
The Dong Zong demonstration yesterday — codenamed the ‘926 rally’ — appeared to be the culmination of a long-standing stand-off between educationists fed up with the MCA’s failure to resolve various education issues central to the Chinese community.
In their memorandum, Dong had highlighted staffing shortage in Chinese schools, namely teachers proficient in the Chinese language; the government’s chronic failure to accredit the globally-recognised Unified Examination Certificate (UEC); the difficulty faced by Chinese school board members seeking official registration and the lack of funds to develop Chinese schools.
The clash over vernacular education appears to have hurt the party’s standing with Chinese voters crucial in the next general elections due soon.
In Election 2008 and past by-elections, Chinese voters have been increasingly casting their support for the opposition parties signalling growing scepticism at the MCA’s ability to speak up and protect their community interests.
The BN’s mainstay, Umno, has also been seen to be appealing directly to Chinese voters, leapfrogging its Chinese coalition partner, in a bid to claw back dwindling support in key national polls that is threatening its hold on federal power.
However, Dr Chua insisted today that his party has succeeded in renewing its commitment to the Chinese under his leadership, pointing to some gains towards vernacular education.
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 (Bernama) — Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today said that the statement made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz’s concerning the demands of United Chinese School Committees Association or better known as ‘Dong Zong’ on Chinese education in the country, was his personal opinion.
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said Mohd Nazri, who is Padang Rengas Member of Parliament, had explained matter to him this morning.
“He (Mohd Nazri) stressed that what he said was just his personal opinion.
“I also explained to him that we have already taken a stand on the matter. The government’s policy on the matter is also clear and we have made a few decisions on that,” he told reporters after closing the Language and Literature Fest 2012 here today.
Muhyiddin said this in response to Mohd Nazri’s statement that the demands made by Dong Zong, as contained in the memorandum submitted to him yesterday, were reasonable.
Yesterday, Mohd Nazri said he would hand over the memorandum to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at a weekly Cabinet meeting on Friday so that measures could be discussed to overcome the problems faced by the association especially the shortage of teachers and deployment of unqualified Chinese language teachers in National Type Schools (SJKC).
Muhyiddin said Mohd Nazri could hand over the memorandum to him as soon as he received it.
The deputy prime minister said the government did not have any problem to receive the memorandum, but the demands must be looked carefully into especially those involving policies and laws.
“If it (memorandum) touches on administration or teachers’ issues, they are old issues and we have set up a committee on that. However, if it touches on laws and policies, we cannot simply answer them, we have to look into it first and we have made a decision on this,” he said.
On the victory of the Pro-Aspirasi in the recent campus elections, Muhyiddin said it was a sign that democracy was still alive and that the students were aware of their rights to chose their leaders.
“What’s important now is that we hope the elected student representatives will perform their entrusted duties to the best of their ability as young leaders who will inherit the country’s leadership in the future.
“This is because they have shown their wisdom. They probably made some promises during the campaign, but just like Barisan Nasional’s slogan of Promises Fulfilled, they too have to fulfill their promises to the students at their respective universities,” he added.