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yschia
29-12-2002, 01:48 PM
who were the "hijackers" of the double "hijacking" of the national school system
DAP National Chairman Lim Kit Siang 2002-12-27 06:21:08


A public inquiry should be conducted as to who were the "hijackers" of the
double "hijacking" of the national school system from its original aim to
cater to all races and who must be held responsible for allowing such
prolonged double "hijacking" to go on for some three decades without correction
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The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said in the New Straits
Times interview yesterday that the national school system had been
"hijacked" from its original objective of catering to all races in Malaysia,
with the NST carrying it as the front-page lead story under the page one
headline: "School system 'hijacked'" followed by the secondary headline:
"Dr. Mahathir: Non-Muslims being alienated by extremism".

Mahathir said in the interview:

"The idea was to set up a school system that would cater to all races in
Malaysia. But we find that the people who run the schools have other ideas.
For example, when we provide for pupil's own language, they try to deny the
right of the Chinese and Indians to learn their own languages, and they
don't make an effort to provide the necessary teachers.

"They have also tried to introduce Islamic practices into the school system
to the extent that non-Muslims have become alienated. For example, in the
past, we had no problems with girls wearing skirts and boys wearing shorts,
especially for games. Now boys are forbidden from wearing shorts, even for
games, and even games are discouraged. These are individual interpretations
of what Islam is all about, and eventually of course, this puts off the
non-Malays and they go back to their own schools.

" On the other hand, the Malays themselves reject the national schools
because they say it's not Islamic enough, and they want to go to an Islamic
school.

"They choose Islamic schools that are really badly staffed with people who
are not qualified. They do not learn religion, they learn politics, the
politics of a certain party. That is why almost everyone who goes to a
sekolah agama rakyat comes out hating the Government, simply because that is
what is taught in the school."

A public inquiry should be conducted as to who were the "hijackers" of the
"double hijacking" of the national school system from its original aim to
cater to all races and who should be held responsible for allowing such
prolonged double "hijacking" to go on for some three decades without
correction.

The purpose of such a public inquiry is not so much to engage in an exercise
of finger-pointing or blame-apportionment, but to identify the root causes
of the malady afflicting the national education system not for one year or
even ten years but for the past three decades.

If we are still not prepared to pinpoint the root problems of our national
education system as well as who and why they had been allowed to run
unchecked and unnoticed by the relevant authorities, it is unlikely that we
could re-establish a national education system to meet the twin objectives
of forging national unity of our multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural
and multi-religious population and providing high-quality education to meet
the challenges of globalization, liberalization and information and
communications technology.

Mahathir had pinpointed two particular aspects whereby the national school
system had been "hijacked" from its original aim to cater to all races in
Malaysia - sabotaging the Pupil's Own Language (POL) programme and turning
the national schools into Islamic rather than Malaysian schools - but he
makes the mistake of assuming that these two "hijackings" are committed by
the same set of "hijackers".

The "hijackers" of the national school system who sabotaged the POL
programme are not the same "hijackers" who made the national schools more
Islamic than Malaysian schools and turned away the non-Malays, as the first
"hijacking" in "denying the right of the Chinese and Indians to learn their
own languages" took place very much earlier as far back as the seventies
while the second "hijacking" only began in the eighties.

I do not think it is fair for Mahathir to pin on the "obscurantists" who
"hijacked" the national school system by making it more Islamic than
Malaysian the blame for the earlier "hijacking" of the system by
sabotaging the POL programme, causing non-Malays to send their children to
Chinese and Tamil primary schools instead of national primary schools.

The phenomenon of some 90 per cent of Chinese pupils attending Chinese
primary schools in the seventies predates the "hijacking" of the national
schools to make them more Islamic than Malaysian which started in the
eighties and was caused by the sudden policy change in the shutdown of all
English-medium primary schools in the early 70s.

This was illustrated by the fact that by 1977, when Mahathir was still the
Education Minister, 87 per cent of the Chinese students were attending the
Chinese primary schools, or 478,849 out of a total of 550,545 Chinese
primary pupils were in Chinese primary schools.

It was not that the problem of POL and the denial of the right of the
Chinese and Indians to learn their own language in the national schools was
never highlighted or brought to the government's attention - as this was the
constant theme of the DAP in Parliament in the seventies, eighties and
nineties.

There should be a national soul-searching as to who were responsible for the
two "hijackings" of the national school system in the past 30 years, why
there were allowed to derail the original aim to cater to all races in
Malaysia, and who should be held responsible for such prolonged double
"hijacking".

In the past three decades, the Education Ministers were:

1974 - 1978 Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
1978 - 1981 Musa Hitam
1981 - 1984 Dr. Sulaiman Daud
1984 - 1986 Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
1986 - 1991 Anwar Ibrahim
1991 - 1995 Dr. Sulaiman Daud
1995 - 1999 Mohd. Najib Tun Razak
1999 - Musa Mohamad

Must all these seven current and former Education Ministers bear
responsibility for the prolonged double "hijacking" of the national school
system or only some but not all of them, and if so, who?


- Lim Kit Siang -