FOR the week of 29 Nov to 5 Dec, the Tamil newspapers focused on the reactions to the proposal for a single integrated education system; increasing the number of Indian Malaysians in the civil service; and the possibility of Datuk S Sothinathan becoming the MIC deputy president.
The suggestion to close vernacular schools in favour of a single integrated education system elicited a storm of protests from Indian Malaysian community leaders and groups.
Tamil Nesan in its editorial on 3 Dec, said Mukhriz — who is contesting for the Umno Youth Chief post — should immediately stop making such remarks, and added that it was a selfish act in order to gain support from Umno delegates.
The editorial also said the reasons given by Jerlun Member of Parliament Mukhriz were totally unacceptable. Mukhriz said the single integrated education system would help national integration and foster unity among races in Malaysia. Under this system, all schools would use Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction except for Mathematics and Science, and bring an end to vernacular schools. According to the editorial, Mukhriz’s statement could be considered seditious.
Makkal Osai on 3 Dec carried more reactions against Mukhriz’s proposal. The paper quotes Penang Deputy Chief Minister (II) Dr P Ramasamy calling for Mukhriz to be arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Ramasamy said Mukhriz’s suggestion went against the rights guaranteed in Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution.
On 4 Dec, both Malaysia Nanban and Tamil Nesan carried editorials on the same subject. Both papers welcomed Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s assurance that Tamil and Chinese schools will continue to exist.
Malaysia Nanban’s editorial said Mukhriz failed to understand the basis for the education system here and its implementation. Tamil Nesan’s editorial, on the other hand, chose to focus on the fact that Malaysians have a right to choose the education system they prefer, and that this remains the principle of our education system.
Makkal Osai on its 5 Dec report titled What Mukhriz meant had former prime miniser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad being quoted as saying Tamil and Chinese schools must be continued but should all be situated under one roof. Mahathir also defended his son, and claimed Mukhriz had meant the same thing when he floated the idea.
Over on the MIC elections front, there was a lot of speculation that Datuk S Sothinathan is considering a run for the deputy president’s post next year.
The report Is Sothinathan contesting for MIC’s deputy post? in Makkal Osai on 30 Nov, puts forward the idea that Sothinathan had party boss Datuk S Samy Vellu’s blessings to run. Quoting insiders, the report said many party members feel Sothinathan, a former deputy minister and current chairperson of Yayasan Strategik Social, is a shoo-in for the post as he is trusted by the party leadership.
He has also been asked to helm the party’s rebranding exercise, which is seen as crucial in winning back support from the Indian Malaysian community.
Sothinathan can expect to face Bukit Bintang MIC chief Datuk VKK Teagarajan, who had earlier announced his intention of contesting the deputy’s post, as well as incumbent Datuk G Palanivel.
Don’t label yoga as “haram”
The National Fatwa Council’s move to ban yoga did not go down well with Makkal Osai readers who objected to the council labelling the exercise as haram. On 30 Nov, M Rajen, Makkal Osai editor, in answering readers’ questions, said it was wrong to say that yoga is haram.
He said the National Fatwa Council had the right to advise Muslims from practising this form of exercise, but declaring it as haram was unacceptable as it was considered a slight to the Hindu community. He also said the fatwa had yet to be enforced as it had to get the consent of the respective states’ rulers first.
Increasing Indians in the civil service
Malaysia Nanban on 2 Dec played up the issue of poor Indian Malaysian representation in the civil service once again. It highlighted government efforts to increase the number of Indian Malaysians in this sector, and quoted the deputy prime minister as saying: “It’s our responsibility to increase Indians in the government services.”
It also reported Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S Subramaniam as bringing the matter up to the cabinet and asking for a 7% quota to be set aside for Indian Malaysians. The minister said the matter was viewed favourably by the government, and added that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had directed the Public Service Department to look into it.
Another area that features low Indian Malaysian involvement is the military. Tamil Nesan quoted former army officer, Major (Rtd) Murugaiyah from Negeri Sembilan, calling for an “increase in Indians in the military service”.
He said Indian youths must be given more chances to join the armed forces. He pointed out, from personal experience, that only four or five recruits out of 2,000 are from the community. There has to be a better racial balance in the force, he said.