After DAP, MCA flays cops for halting Chinese congress

Soo Wern Jun
MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er said it is the party's view that the congress was aimed at addressing education issues, and did not involve anything in relation to racial or religious issues. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er said it is the party's view that the congress was aimed at addressing education issues, and did not involve anything in relation to racial or religious issues. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — MCA has joined in DAP’s public criticism against the police for preventing Dong Zong’s planned congress.

In a statement today, MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er said the party regrets the move by the police in obtaining a court order to block the United Chinese School Committees’ Association (Dong Zong) and the United Chinese Schools Teachers’ Association (Jiao Zong) from hosting the Chinese Organisation Congress (COC).

“MCA reiterates our position: Any citizen or registered association has the freedom to organise gatherings to express their opinions accordance with the law and our Federal Constitution.

“This move by the police has denied the rights of Dong Zong and other Chinese associations as enshrined in the constitution,” said Chan.

The party was responding to police’s action of obtaining a court order yesterday to stop Dong Jiao Zong from holding a congress aimed at discussing matters related to Jawi script lessons in vernacular primary schools.

“It is MCA’s view that the congress was aimed at addressing education issues, and did not involve anything in relation to racial or religious issues.

“In fact, it was to be held inside a hall, and the word ‘congress’ had also been changed to ‘conference’.

“We fail to comprehend what the root causes are which drove the police to prohibit the said activity,” said Chan.

The Chinese party also saw this move reflecting the weaknesses, U-turns and broken promises by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government themselves.

“When the media first reported that the Education Ministry would introduce the teaching of Jawi for SJKC and SJKT Year 4 pupils in the coming year, the Chinese community’s stand was clear and unequivocal, that is, we disagreed to its mandatory implementation on three main grounds,” she said, referring to Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools.

“They are concerned about the increasing burden on pupils; learning Jawi does not aid in increasing the mastery of the national language; and concern that this policy will lead to a change in the teaching of the mother tongue,” said Chan.

She added that neither MCA, Dong Jiao Zong nor the entire Chinese community has ever objected against the Jawi script.

“On the other hand, we agree that it should be made into an elective subject in vernacular schools. This stance of ours was very clear.

“Unfortunately, the PH government has repeatedly ignored the wishes of the Chinese community, and insisted on inserting Jawi into the Bahasa Melayu subject for vernacular schools,” she said.

As a result of these strong objections, the Cabinet had reportedly made several changes to the proposed introduction of the jawi script, including reducing the number of pages from six to three, and empowering the teachers to determine the method of teaching.

Parents Teachers Association (PIBG), parents and pupils were then given the power to decide if it will be taught in schools.

It was also promised that there would be ‘no compulsion, examination or even studying’ in the learning of Jawi.

However, according to the newly released guidelines, the PIBG’s role is only limited to distributing questionnaires to parents, who will decide whether the pupils will learn Jawi or not.

Based on a simple majority, the school is required to teach Jawi if 51 per cent of the parents agree.

Besides that, the actions by the Education Ministry to introduce Jawi into the Dokumen Standard Kurikulum Pentaksiran (DSKP) suggests that examinations may be conducted in the future.

“This shows that what was said to be ‘no compulsion, examination or studying’ has become merely an empty promise solely for cosmetic purposes.

“Most disappointing is that throughout the evolution of this Jawi issue, the Education Ministry failed to respect the stand made by Dong Jiao Zong or other Chinese associations,” said Chan.

Chan also expressed disappointment over the latest guidelines which sidelined the Management Board of Chinese vernacular schools and did not recognise their authority as decision makers in the teaching of Jawi script.

“This is a dangerous precedent because if left unchecked, this will open the floodgates to other ongoing problems.

“This is the real reason as to why Dong Jiao Zong was compelled to call for a Conference of Chinese Associations.

“It is these weaknesses and the failures by PH to fulfil their promises which led to the Conference being organised.

“It is totally unacceptable when the fundamental rights of citizens who wish to hold a conference in accordance with the law in line with democratic principles in the country are denied by the PH government,” said Chan.

MCA has also urged all Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers to not remain silent nor accept this scenario.

“If legitimate activities that are peaceful are outlawed, then all principles of democracy, justice and egalitarianism as promoted by the government throughout these years have been destroyed,” she said.

Earlier, DAP Youth chief Howard Lee had criticised the police’s move to obstruct the Dong Jiao Zong congress as going against the constitution which allows freedom of speech.

DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang too disagreed with the police’s decision to obtain a restriction order which prevented the Chinese educationists from conducting its planned congress today.

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