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Bucking traditions of inequality

(All pics below courtesy of Chong Eng)

(All pics below courtesy of Chong Eng)

BUKIT Mertajam Member of Parliament Chong Eng bucked some traditions in her younger days. Coming from a Chinese new village, she was the first girl in her family who managed to persuade her father to let her continue secondary school. Her interracial marriage later on was also considered uncommon, given her background.

Born in 1957 in Kerayong New Village, Pahang, Chong Eng learnt about gender inequality at a young age by observing how women in the village often did more work than men. Later, she would discover ethnic and language inequality as a student.

She joined the DAP in 1990, first as a staff to help with the general election that year, and subsequently as a member. Now head of the Wanita DAP, Chong Eng met The Nut Graph in Parliament on 14 July 2010 to trace how her growing up has shaped her politics.

TNG: Can you trace your ancestry?

Chong Eng: My parents were born here, but my grandparents came from China. My mother, when she was about seven years old, was left behind in Malaya together with her elder sister. Their parents went back to China because their father was sick. They took along their sons and a younger daughter. My mother and her sister were sold as tong yan shi – girls who were sold to be married later to the sons of other families. It was common at the time, and my mother’s parents needed the money to return to China.

Chong Eng, standing far left, with her family

Chong Eng, standing far left, with her family

So my mother grew up in my father’s family. She was expected to do all the house chores and she never went to school. My father went to school for only two to three years. They were poor and it was during the Japanese occupation. My father and mother got married when she was about 18 years old.

My parents worked as rubber tappers. At one time, my father ran a coffee shop. I also seem to remember him not working for a period of time. It was mainly my mother making a living for the family.

On my father’s side, I never saw his parents. For one, he didn’t know where his father was while growing up. And his mother passed away quite young. So I didn’t know my grandparents on either side. However, we now know where the graves of my father’s parents are, and we visit them.

Where did you spend your childhood, and what was it like?

I was born and grew up in the Kerayong New Village, in Temerloh, Pahang. Now it is in Bera. There [were] ten children in our family. An elder brother, followed by six girls and three younger brothers. I am the fourth child.

Our family was poor and even the children had to work. My two elder sisters tapped rubber for RM3 a day when they were in Standard Five and Standard Six. They didn’t go to secondary school because at that time, you had to pay RM7.50 every month per student. If they went to secondary school, it’s not just the school fees, but loss of income for our family.

I told my mother that I wanted to go to secondary school. At that time, my role models were women teachers. I told my mother, women don’t have to tap rubber only, they can also be teachers. My mother said this was a decision my father had to make. Surprisingly, my father said okay.

So that’s how I got to go to Form One. In remove class and Form One, I still had to get up at 4am to tap rubber before going to school. I earned RM3 a day. My mother would only give me 20 sen to go to school. That was enough to buy a few kuih.

After me, my younger brothers and sisters could go to secondary school as long as they passed Standard Six. It was easier for them as the economy had improved, too.

What stories did your parents tell you, or what lessons from your childhood do you remember until today?

As a student

As a student

Not so much stories that my parents told, but I think my life is very much influenced by my mother. My mother never went to school, but she could do a lot of things. She could count and calculate money because she not only tapped rubber but sold it. She was also very prudent. Today, she would be called a “green consumer”. She reused, recycled and repaired old and broken things. She also avoided problems with people or quarrelling with them.

Did you get your sense of women’s rights from your mother?

No, I got my sense of women’s rights when my sisters didn’t get to go to secondary school, but my elder brother did. From there I realise there was inequality. Girls did not have the same opportunity to further their studies.

Also, being in a rural community where everybody went to work in the morning, I saw that after work, the men were the ones relaxing in the coffee shop. Only the women had to continue working. We picked firewood, fed the pigs, cooked for the family. The girls had to do all the chores. We girls took turns to wash shoes, including all our brothers’ shoes. We washed everybody’s clothes and the dishes. But not the men and boys.

How have these childhood experiences shaped your identity as a Malaysian and a woman?

If you ask me what my identity is, I will say I am a Malaysian Chinese woman.

As a woman, even though I’ve had the chance to go to university, I still see that society is male-dominated. Men make all the decisions, and the rules of the game are also male-formulated. And I think women today do not feel the difference and inequality between men and women. It has become mainstream – that the rules are made by men, and women just assimilate themselves into it. They are not conscious that there is a gender gap.

People say, “What’s the difference, women are allowed to do a lot of things, so what?” I think it’s only when you reach a certain level that you feel the inequality and the difficulty. People don’t see that the glass ceilings in society are due to gender inequality. They say, “As long as the law doesn’t discriminate, what’s the problem?” They say, “You can contest [in elections] as long as you are good.” But they do not see the gender barriers.

So what challenges do you face as a woman politician?

There are very few women politicians. In Parliament, only 23 out of 222 Members of Parliament are women. Women are really a minority at this level of decision-making.

As a young party worker

As a young party worker

In politics, the focus is often about the economy, Gross Domestic Product growth, and physical development. But nobody talks about social or human development. And such development will continue to be marginalised because there are already very few women leaders to begin with. On top of that, some women leaders will only talk about mainstream political issues. Because that’s how you get attention and support to move upwards. “Softer” issues do not get as much attention. The mainstream view is wary or resistant to what you are trying to lobby.

I see this as the biggest challenge: how to make those in the mainstream, the decision-makers, see that women should be considered. Because women are half the population, they take care of children, the senior citizens and the disabled. Women do a lot of work but are not influential. They cannot influence policy or the national budget, because the budget factors in race and geographical considerations, but not gender.

That’s why progress on women’s issues is slow. The United Nations has the [Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women], which a lot of countries have signed but until now have not implemented it because it is not the most urgent thing for them. Malaysia has also signed it. For politicians [in Malaysia], as long as something does not negatively influence your support or voter base, if it doesn’t bring harm and doesn’t oblige you to fulfill it, you just sign lah, because even if you don’t [fulfill it] you will still get elected.

What about your identity as a [Chinese] Malaysian?

With DAP stalwarts Lim Kit Siang, Dr Chen Man Hin and Karpal Singh

With DAP stalwarts Lim Kit Siang, Dr Chen Man Hin and Karpal Singh

I first saw racial inequality after I finished Form Five. I was a science student and got okay results , which entitled me to enter Form Six, except for the fact that I did not get a credit in Bahasa Malaysia. I come from a Chinese-education background so Mandarin is my first and best language. I did Form Six in TAR College instead.

I had also wanted to be a teacher in a Chinese-language school. But because I didn’t have a credit for Bahasa, I couldn’t go to a teacher training college. So it was the first time I felt unfairness and inequality in language. I wanted to teach Mandarin in a Chinese primary school, why couldn’t I, even though my Bahasa was not that good? I felt that making it compulsory for students to get a credit in Bahasa marginalised students like me.

After TAR College, I went to university and saw that people with much worse results were getting into good courses. People with 2.0 as their aggregate were sent overseas to get their Masters and to come back and teach. I felt it was really unfair.

In university, the medium was Bahasa. And again, I felt that our language policy did not take into account students’ ability or what might be the best language for them to learn in. Our education and language policy is politically motivated rather than being focused on human development.

You married an Indian Malaysian. Did you face any challenges in your relationship coming from different backgrounds?

We met at a university sports meet. His family is more open because his brothers have married Australians and New Zealanders. But my family, being from a Chinese new village, had never known Indian [Malaysians] as neighbours. To my parents, Indians are JKR (Public Works Department) workers. My parents worried and didn’t understand why I wanted to marry an Indian when there were so many Chinese [around]. It was my elder brother who managed to persuade them.

With husband K Gunabalan

With husband K Gunabalan

What kind of Malaysia do you hope for in the future?

A Malaysian Malaysia! That’s why I joined the DAP. I feel it is the party that can give equality to all. Not just racial equality but also gender equality, because without gender equality there won’t be social equality.

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38 Responses to “Bucking traditions of inequality”

  1. Sooth says:

    I admire your desire to fight for equality, but I feel that as Malaysians, we should at least have a strong grasp of our national language regardless of our background. Therefore, I don’t think that requirements of a credit for BM is too big to ask.

  2. TC Ang says:

    “Gender inequality” does not accurately describe the issue and should be changed to “unreasonable gender bias”. Men and women were NOT created to be equal, if they were, then there we would all be reproducing asexually. There are no hard and fast rules on gender issues, and the real issue is treating everyone with respect.

    We cannot judge the actions of our [forebears] from our standpoint. Habits/ rituals/ social stigmata usually evolve from the necessity to survive, and during trying times, the need to survive trumps all else. Investing in the male members ensures earning power remains within the family, sustaining a family unit.

    Fairness is a concept that only exists in the english language and nowhere else. Fairness is subjective, while justice applies to everyone. Is it coincidental that the people who invent and embody the spirit of fairness also have the highest divorce rates in the world?

  3. Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:

    Dear Chong Eng,

    Your view is wrong. It would not stand in Malaysia and it would not stand in any other country. Every citizen should master their national language. Bahasa Malaysia is our national language and everybody should have a fair command of it. Nobody should live in a cocooned world where they only master their mother tongue and do not obtain the proficiency of other languages, especially the national language, which can only be gained through interaction with other people.

    It does not have anything to do with racial discrimination regarding admission to university courses which you proved in your other point regarding mediocre students getting into university. Your view is so wrong that I believe it would paint the DAP very badly, and provide [fodder for] the likes of Perkasa and Utusan to solidify their stereotype of the DAP being un-Malaysian and chauvinistic towards the general Malaysian populace.

    Your view would hurt your party if it is misconstrued as the general reflection of DAP members. I am disappointed in you.

    • Sean says:

      I wonder at the ‘Malaysian Chinese’ hoping for a ‘Malaysian Malaysia’. Shouldn’t she be insisting on being a Malaysian Malaysian if she’s sincere about ‘Malaysian Malaysia’? Perhaps it’s unfair to single out Chong Eng. DAP don’t seem to have their act together on this essential policy at all. How can “Malaysian Malaysia” ever be compatible with “Malaysian first, Chinese second”? Surely Malaysian Malaysia lives or dies on whether Malaysians are – you know – Malaysian or not?

      • Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:

        The identity of Chinese Malaysian is compatible with Malaysian Malaysia. Chinese Malaysian is just a subgroup of the Malaysian domain. Just like any other subgroups eg Muslim Malaysian, indigenous Malaysian, transgendered Malaysian, West Malaysian, male Malaysian, etc. They are all Malaysian. What further describe them as who they are in terms of ethnicity, sex, sexuality, religious belonging, geographical origin, etc does not erase their identity or longing as Malaysian, nor does it make them a lesser Malaysian.

    • Kong Kek Kuat says:

      It has nothing to do with mastering the national language.

      Even if the DAP were to master the Malay language, even if all the Chinese-Malaysians speak eloquent Malay, they would still be called un-Malaysian.

      It is just the way the people in Perkasa and Utusan Meloya are.

      You don´t have to look further than Indonesia for a good example.

      A large percentage of Chinese-Indonesians speak perfect Bahasa Indonesia. There are many who speak no other languages at all. They even find it weird to be called “Chinese-Indonesians”. But yet, those who are non-Muslim Chinese-Indonesians are discriminated against — presumably because they are not Indonesian enough.

      So, tell me why the same thing would not happen here in Malaysia, and I will go sign up for a course in the Malay language.

      • Dear Mr Kooo Keng Kuat

        What you say is not true at all! It is wrong to say the Indonesian Chinese are discriminated against or are second class citizen, quite the opposite. In hindsight the policy of One Language and One Name (Indonesian) although cruel when first introduced has created a more Indonesian Chinese as opposed to Chinese Indonesian.

        We should strive for Malaysian Malay, Malaysian Chinese instead of Chinese Malaysian or Malay Malaysian which is wrong. It does not create an Identity. Chinese made up 3% of the population of Indonesia but I am happy when I look at them because they identify themselves as Indonesian first but in Malaysia under DAP it is the opposite.

        We are not Indonesia, we are more democratic in many ways but we fail to create a national identity and after 50 years of independence it is sad. We require only a credit in the National Language, even me being a Malay did not achieve that credit. Many Malays in the civil service due to not having a credit were denied promotion. We accept that in good faith.

        If being proficient in the language would help in creating a Malaysian Identity why not? Although I must say they are a lot of things that need to be done. In the Razak report and an education report done by the British before independence, both agreed that a singular stream of education was needed to unite the country but people like you would oppose it. Prof Khoo Kay Kim on record agreed to it but then he is not a politician but an academician.

        It is a small step but it is a baby step but the government under Tunku and later Tun realised that an educated mass is needed for the well being of the country, so private institution like TAR was set up to cater for these segment of people regardless that it does not make sense but to deny one’s right to educate themselves is wrong. But for the purpose of government policy a minimum credit for Bahasa is required even if you want to work in a government-aided Chinese school but not private-run Chinese school.

        I see no wrong with that, so it is sad we have an MP like Chong Eng but I am proud that she has overcome her difficulties in life to achieve success . But I hope she will always look at the bigger picture and not harp on issues like this!

        As for Indonesian Chinese during BJ Habibie’s time, the issue of pribumi and non-pribumi was made unlawful and in Gus Dur’s time the Chinese New Year or Hari Imlek was recognsed as an Indonesian holiday! Dismantling laws that divide the people is a step just like Lincoln did during the civil war in the 1870’s was a step although it took nearly hundred years later before the civil rights movement achieved the desired result but if you see the breakdown of votes to Obama there is a significant number of whites who still [cling] to the idea of white supremacy.

        But it is a step and we together must make the step, [no matter] how small it is we must make it together!

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @ Wan Zaharizan

          You must think that I don´t know what I am talking about when I refer to Indonesia.

          On the other hand, you seem to know Indonesia like most neo-Umno Ministers do, i.e. the official lecture. Hmm… I have a hunch…


          All your responses appear to show your implicit prejudice – however hard you try to be helpful, which is appreciated.

          For example:

          a) Chong Eng wasn´t harping on the issue of her Form Six admission in the interview, you assumed that she was.

          b) The DAP never claimed to be Chinese first, you assumed that it did.

          c) Being proficient in the national language does not create a Malaysian identity (as it stands on 16-09-1963), you assumed that it does.

          d) The majority of Malaysians have already taken more than one step to improve the country (the latest big step was made in the last GE), and have been waiting for Umno to make “a step” together with us (no matter how small it is we must make it together!), but you assumed that it is Umno which has made a step and others have not.

          e) No one here who has commented so far saw anything wrong with the minimum credit requirement for admissions purposes, but you assumed that those who did not kowtow and talk about 1Malaysia did.

          f) Nowhere have I ever indicated that I would oppose a singular stream of education, but you assumed I did.

          g) We already have a Malaysian identity, but you assumed that we don´t just because it is not in your image.

          • Kong Kek Kuat says:

            @ Wan Zaharizan

            I made a mistake in saying “the majority of Malaysians have already taken more than one step”.

            I retract that.

            It should be “a small but significant number of Malaysians have already taken more than one step.”

        • AaronLim says:

          @ wan zaharizan,

          I am sorry to report to you that learning and mastering Malay, speaking it better than most Malays, winning school competitions in Pantun and debat, getting an PMR (A) and SPM (A1) in Bahasa Malaysia/Melayu, taking the time to understand Melayu klasis, does not make you any more accepted or integrated into Malaysia.

          My generation tried it, my classmate did. We did it well. It was fun learning a great many things about the Malay culture, clothes, dress, dances, silat (did that too in school). And yes it gave me a few good friends, but in general did not make us any more accepted. As evidence of Perkasa.

          If you understand this failure, you can understand a great many things about the Malaysian Chinese. We tried. We really did try.

      • Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:

        It has everything to do with the expected minimum command of the national language.
        The issue here is there is a minimum requirement to be admitted to the public Form Six class, which is to obtain a credit in BM. Everybody is subjected to the same rules. There is no exception whether you are Chinese, Kadazan or Malay. The minimum command of the national language is expected everywhere in any country in this world. Please don’t mix issue of racial discrimination with a policy that is universal everywhere.

        Yes i agree with you there are hardcore racists that will always persistent in their animosity towards the immigrants or descendants of the immigrants. But does it qualify one to not have the minimum command of the national language of the country that he [or she] calls home? Again, please don’t bundle the issue of racial discrimination and the command of national language together.

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @Adrian Eng-Hock Goh

          What? No more big words such as “every citizen should master their national language”, or “your view is wrong”?

          In your previous comment, you gospelled about mastering the national language. Here, you plead for minimum credits.

          I think I´m quite clear in my comment that discrimination has nothing to do with the national language.

          […] why [are] you so set on intensely defending an idealistic position which most of the rakyat has swept aside in the last GE. Gerakan comes to mind — cocooned and out of touch with Malaysian reality.

          And in my other comment, I think I am quite clear on why some Malaysians don´t see the need to learn anything beyond pidgin Malay. Oh, by the way, newsflash: It has nothing to do with the Malay language.

          Apart from that, my reply ends here, because I don´t think we speak the same English.

          Menyusahkan diri-sendiri.

          • Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:

            Mastering perhaps is a strong word for just getting a credit for a language proficiency. I guess our arguments stemmed from our interpretation of ‘mastering’ at different levels.

            This different interpretations of ‘mastering’ does not invalidate my point to Chong Eng that being refused to enter Form Six when she didn’t fulfill the minimum national language proficiency requirement does not equates to racial inequality.

            Idealistic or not, it is only fair to expect a resident or citizen in a country to have a fair command of the official language of the country so that he [or she] can communicate better with the majority. (I don’t think the people were voting against this during the last general election, other than issues of corruption and racial/class inequalities). You can survive with a pidgin language, but surely one can do better than that, don’t you think? A better command of any language will certainly open more doors.

    • The Shrimp Warrior says:

      Well pointed out, Adrian. DAP falters on this path too often.

      • Adrian Goh says:

        Malaysian Malaysia and Chinese Malaysian are compatible. They have similar domain that is Malaysian. It does not make you less Malaysian if you identified yourself as East Malaysian, Muslim Malaysian, atheist Malaysian, female Malaysian and so on. They are all subset and variety to the one domain that is Malaysian.

        Kek Kuat,
        As a citizen of a nation, it is a citizen’s duty to master the national language of the nation, especially when one is second or third generation who was born and bred here. A citizen ought to demonstrate his [or her] loyalty to the nation and his [or her] belief to the constitution first which includes recognising the Malay language as the national language before the nation provides and protects his [or her] right as a citizen. If the state still discriminates against you unconstitutionally, it should be dealt with as a separate matter but it does not absolve you from the responsibility as a citizen to master the national language in the first place.

  4. Lainie says:

    TC Ang: Sounds like a very patriarchial, heteronormative view 🙂

  5. Rhan says:

    I think what CE mean is that she didn’t see a need to have credit in BM in order to become a teacher in Chinese language school, or to be an engineer, or doctor and etc. A credit in BM doesn’t signify that you are fluent or have a fair comment of that language. And I believe DAP is more inclusive than what you have imagined, so why care about what Perkasa or Utusan says or writes?

    TC Ang,
    Hmmm….I cannot understand how you could relate CE’s “Gender inequality” to “Men and women were NOT created to be equal, if they were, then there we would all be reproducing asexually.” I think it is more like semantic disagreement rather than factual portrayal from CE context.

    “Fairness is subjective, while justice applies to everyone.”
    Why is fairness subjective? You mum give both you and your brother RM5 each, I would say it is fair and justice, but if your mum gives you RM6 while your brother get RM 4, I would say it is unfair but I can’t say it is no justice, because money was given to both.

    • Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:


      I would like to believe she meant that too. But when she said she faced racial inequality by not getting into the public Form Six class because she didn’t have credit in BM, I must point it out that the cause was not racial inequality but rather just because she didn’t fulfill the universal criteria/public policy of having a minimum command of the national language.

      Yes, I believe the DAP is an inclusive party based on their party charter. But when faced with the negative projection of the DAP and onslaught from the likes of Perkasa or Utusan when all the DAP wants is to correct the misconception and gain wider acceptance from the general Malaysian populace, one ought to be more careful. I don’t think it is a good selling point when one says that he/she doesn’t have the minimum command of the national language, and proclaims that he/she is discriminated on the basis of race when he/she doesn’t fulfill the minimum universal criteria to get a state favour.

  6. Kong Kek Kuat says:

    @Adrian Eng-Hock Goh

    I think both of you subscribe to the concept “that as Malaysians, we should at least have a strong grasp of our national language regardless of our background.”

    In most of the cases, the Chinese-Malaysians who lack at least an intermediate-level of proficiency in the Malay language did not choose to be so. There are 3 reasons:-

    1) It was their parents who made the decision for them, e.g. either to send their children to Taiwan universities [which actually have a very high-level of education-standards, by the way], or to de-emphasise the Malay language, or whatever. In an Asian society like ours, they don´t really have a choice when they were between the ages of 1 to 18. And in today´s world, it is not unrealistic for parents to still be making decisions for their children who are well into their mid-20s — more so if they are still fully or partially dependent (financially) on their parents.

    2) (Compounding the problem is) The kind of amusing politics we have here in Malaysia, e.g. the continued virtual segregation of the various ethnic communities, among other things. In such a system, a member of a particular ethnic group would rather (and naturally as a matter of instincts and survival) learn the language which is most commonly used in his environment. So, if you are a Chinese-Malaysian, like Chong Eng in the 1950s to 1970s, or a yuppie working in the private-sector in 2010, why in the world would you want to kill yourself to have the ability to string a proper sentence in the Malay language? [I am not saying that this is the right attitude, no no, but melayu pasar is sufficient.]

    3) (As a result of No. 2 above) There are still many Malaysians (including Sabahans and Sarawakians) who did not go through the official education-system. Many go through parallel systems of education, and many more, none at all. [Note that “gone through the education-system” and “literacy” are different, e.g. you may not have gone to school, but you have taught yourself to read and write the simplified form of a language. So, Malaysia´s statistics of 87.4% literacy-rate in 2009 says nothing much about the real problem.]

    So, the nationalistic statements in your respective comments sound like fancy ideas in Malaysian reality. It´s like a mind with an odd implant from a racially homogeneous foreign country (say the UK, Germany, Russia, or Perkasa´s fantasy-Tanah Melayu)… much like the fancy believe that gender equality can really exist in an Islamic society.

    And just to show me and the readers here that you do have a “strong grasp” of, or have “mastered”, the national language, please reply to my comment in Malay so that I may reply to you in Malay — if you do have anything to reply to.

    • PUCHONG_MALI says:

      “It´s like a mind with an odd implant from a racially homogeneous foreign country (say the UK, Germany, Russia, or Perkasa´s fantasy-Tanah Melayu)…”

      Well said.

    • Sean says:

      “a racially homogeneous foreign country (say the UK, Germany …”
      Utter rubbish!

      • Kong Kek Kuat says:

        Well, teach me, Sean, teach me about race and nationalism.

        I´m sure the readers here would love to know what´s not rubbish, or what constitutes a “racially homogeneous foreign country” as well.


        Over to you.

    • Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:

      My point is any citizen in any country of this world should have the command of the national language, more so if they are born and bred in that country. Now responding to your reasoning:

      1. If one can’t have the minimum command of the national language and blame it on their parents, it is just a excuse, shifting the blame to others and absolving himself for the consequences from his own inaction. The public and private schools are always there to help one to achieve functional command of the national language. Of course the parents are at fault too by not encouraging their kids to better the command of the national language.

      2. One can’t be segregated if one does not want to be. And yes, I agree that one doesn’t need the command of the national language in a lot of instances. But in the case of CE, it was clearly needed for her to be admitted into the public Form Six classes. And my point is it had nothing to do with racial discrimination.

      3. One is ok with the minimum grasp of the national language. But he [or she] can’t be expecting to be admitted to the public higher learning institution as long as he [or she] doesn’t achieve the minimum national language requirement.

      4.All these countries are not homogeneous.
      a. UK: 8% of the population are non-whites (
      b. Germany: 12% of German population are migrants with 20% of the population has immigrant roots, ( (
      c. Russia: 20% of the population is not ethnically Russian. (

      I will stick on responding in English as this is an English forum.

      • Kong Kek Kuat says:

        @ Sean

        Now there you go Sean, perhaps that´s why you don´t think that the UK and Germany are homogeneous.

      • Kong Kek Kuat says:

        @Adrian Eng-Hock Goh

        I had to self-moderate my reply to you because I found myself looking at you through the lens that Lee Kuan Yew did at Tan Siew Sin.

        First “master the national language”, then “minimum credits”, now “functional command”.

        “Every time Mr. Tan Siew Sin goes around beating his chest, I thought that is what he represents…” — LKY

        Anyway, here´s my reply to your increasingly muddled comment:

        1) Unless an Asian in an Asian society grew up without a parent or a guardian, living in the streets like a vagabond, it is obvious that he can´t make his own important decisions except the decision to rebel, e.g. running away from home or deciding to have sex. And, obviously, this is an excuse — a valid excuse.

        On the other hand, not replying in Malay on TNG, claiming that TNG is an English forum is a bad excuse. TNG is Malaysian. And, as you know, everyone is a master of the national language here. Just say, “I want to reply in English coz I have not mastered the national language,” is more honest to yourself.

        2) “One can’t be segregated if one does not want to be.” Of course not — all you have to do is assimilate. How easy.

        3) Please tell me when and where I said that one should expect to be admitted to a Malaysian public institution of education without at least a credit in Malay?

        4) From the way you quoted Wikipedia (Wikipedia as a reference?) in your reply goes to show that you don´t really know what´s behind those figures. Hint: It is not about “race”. You and I are definitely different in culture, Adrian Eng-Hock Goh — there´s no doubt about that, but I suspect a third-party would think we are homogeneous (unfortunately for me). For example, Sean might think that a Scot and an Irish are completely different, but to us, they are homogeneous.

        • Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:


          Again, it seems our arguments stemmed from our interpretation of ‘mastering’ at different levels.

          1. You were talking about kids who were being sent to schools or university. I presume they should have the ability to learn a language on their own initiative by the time they reach their adulthood, rather than just making primitive decisions? An excuse shall remain just an excuse.

          2. You were talking about not being able to gain the proficiency of the Malay language because some people live in a parallel world without intersecting with each other. I rebutted that one needs to take the first step and reach out. This is called integration and it is healthy. The idea of assimilation is so out.

          3. I was agreeing with you that one can survive with pidgin Malay while reaffirming the basis that “failure to be admitted to public higher institution of learning because there was no credit in Malay does not equate to racial inequality”.

          4. Wikipedia is the most convenient source of reference. I will certainly most appreciative if you can counter-argue constructively by providing other reliable references. FYI, The 8% of non-white population in the UK does not include Scottish and Irish which by all means they are Anglo-Saxon and white. I hope by now you should be enlightened that UK, Germany and Russia are not homogeneous countries.

          • Kong Kek Kuat says:

            Haha… Sean, where are you?

            8% out of 100%, and he calls it non-homogeneous. Nick Griffin and Nigel Farage would have a field day with that!

            I rest my case.

            @ Adrian Eng-Hock Goh

            No, our argument does not stem from our interpretation of the word “mastering” at different levels. You appear to be either shifting in your seat as you go along, or thinking “master”=”minimum credit”=”functional command”.

            I suppose I, too, have to indulge in some face-saving myself. Ciao!

  7. Zen says:

    TC Ang:

    1. “Men and women were NOT created to be equal, if they were, then there we would all be reproducing asexually.” Gender equality doesn’t prevent or disrupt sexual reproduction.

    2. “Investing in the male members ensures earning power remains within the family, sustaining a family unit.” This doesn’t make sense. It’s an especially odd thing to say when Chong Eng explicitly says that the men in her village did much less than the women to support their families financially.

    3. “Fairness is a concept that only exists in the english language and nowhere else.” Um, what?

  8. Rhan says:


    Perhaps our divergence is due to a generation gap. Read again what CE says: “I first saw racial inequality after I finished Form Five.” It could be 20 or 30 years back, and you may ask anyone from that era what Form Six and other courses in Tar College meant to them. If Tar College is not the manifestation of racial inequality, I don’t know what is. Had you ever asked yourself why a credit in BM is no more an issue today? I suggest the TNG team to do a feature on a look back at TAR College.

    Lastly, I hope DAP continue to embrace inclusive politics and stand by their principles of democracy and socialist ideal. Like I said, if some segment in our society continues to believe and support Perkasa and Utusan onslaught, let it be. And we don’t need another MCA.

    • Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:


      Chong Eng couldn’t gain admittance to Form Six and and teachers training college because she didn’t have a credit in the Malay language and she claimed that was racial and language inequality. And I was pointing out that that is not a case of racial discrimination, unless the standard of grading the national language proficiency was set at an unreasonable standard that it amounted to racial discrimination (which if it was, I stand to be enlightened).

      I didn’t deny there was racial discrimination in that era or even now. I believe the creation of TAR college is a response to the quota issue, which is valid proof of racial discrimination.

      • Rhan says:

        Adrian, three points:

        1. If there is no quota system, then I may agree with what you say.

        2. I honestly don’t truly understand the feature of “official”, some might say NEP is an “official” policy, how do you measure if it is reasonable or unreasonable? Who has the final says?

        3. If our Chinese schools set a criterion that requires “credit” in Chinese language for enrollment, does this amount to racial discrimination? Or the moment Chinese language is pronounced “official”, the racial discrimination and inequality aspect disappear?

        • Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:


          1. Quota fixing is an racial discrimination; the BM credit requirement is not. I think we finally are in agreement on this… erm… maybe not… when I see the second part of your third point.

          2. To require one to have sufficient command of the national language or the official language is reasonable. In fact it is universal. Say for university admittance, you need TOEFL/TOEIC/IELTS to demonstrate English language proficiency in US, UK and Australia; in Australia you need to a pass in English as a subject in Year 12 (equivalent to Malaysian Form Five) to be admitted into university; in China there is this HSK test to gauge your Chinese proficiency.

          3. It is not!! This is because there is nothing to stop other people of non-Chinese origin to gain proficiency or credit in Chinese. On your second question, I would like to reiterate that the racial discrimination and language proficiency requirement are separate issue, as I have pointed out to you on point 2 and the first part of my point 3.

  9. Rhan says:


    1. You try to segregate the two issues while I believe it is linked. When the government limited the chances for non-Malay to access university education, the “credit” requirement is deemed racial and unequal.

    2. We went through this before right? Not many really know how far the diverse between a pass and “credit” is, and hence the criticism herein is more on “credit”. By the way, I think there are many countries that are without an official language, case for reference, US, UK and China.

    3. KKK had written quite a long and good comment on this. Please re-read again what he wrote. Why many perceive the requirement to speak and write Chinese in a job advertisement as racial while the same didn’t apply to English? And why there are dissimilar opinion when come to teaching of maths and science in English? You must contemplate the REALITY at certain point of time and space.

    I perfectly understand your stance but the most I could do is to tell you I respect your view, and hope you don’t impose you values on me in the name of harmonious and integration. When people like me and those from Huajiao say embrace diversity, we truly mean it.

    • Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:


      On point 3 again, I will do what I always do, and I hope everybody will do it also, which is to separate perception from what is really a fact or truth, in order to dissect whether something is racial in nature or not, which is the core of my argument here.

      Say in the case when a job requires the candidate to be conversant in [Mandarin] like what you mentioned. Before judging whether the requirement is racial in nature, a fair-minded person would evaluate the basis behind the requirement to see if there is a genuine functional requirement to warrant Chinese language proficiency. If there is genuine functional requirement, then it is not racial and ANYBODY who fulfills the requirement should be welcomed to apply. And people will know and understand when presented with the facts and the above reasoning. But again, the likes of Perkasa will still be thumping around claiming that it is racial discrimination from the Chinese, without going through the above reasoning, be it from their sheer or deliberate ignorance. But do we allow ourselves to dance to the same tune as Perkasa, in the case of the national language proficiency, to view the issue from a myopic racial perspective, even so when the term of ‘national’ is not racial in the first place?

  10. Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:


    I truly respect your views and I truly appreciate that we are arguing our points here in a gentlemanly manner without resorting to name calling and personal attacks employed by the other commenter. I really mean it.

    1. We both have said enough of our stands respectively.

    a) To obtain a credit in ANY subject, which is a minimum C6 in today’s SPM is easily achievable when one puts up slightly more effort. It is lower than the median band from the range of nine grading bands from A1 to F9. I will be the most appreciative to be enlightened if the banding scales differed much during those days.

    b) English and Hanyu/Zhongwen is the official language of US/UK and China respectively. Or else there would not be a requirement for the proof of these languages proficiency in official matters like university admission.

    3. Perception does not mean that it is true. We must always separate what is the fact and truth from what is perceived to be fact and truth. If perception and prejudice is taken out, all these issues won’t be issues when evaluated with just cold hard facts.

    Although i think it is irrelevant, should I reveal myself as a product of Chinese school since Huajiao or Chinese educationists are being dragged into the argument?

  11. Rhan says:


    I think there must be a reason why China use the term “common” instead of “official” and if I am not wrong, English is the “de facto” and not official language for US and UK, would homogeneous become a point of contention, again? I hope not.

    I can’t prove my statement in regarding to the scales of this minimum C6 or, if it is easily achievable, just like I can’t tell if Form Six and matriculation are having a common yardstick. During my era, C6 in BM is a well known hurdle but I notice the complaint is lesser today, with the opening up of much more university, both public and private.

    My good friend who achieved a good result in his STPM telling us that quota was never an issue, as long as you work harder, sound similar like your claim “when one puts up slightly more effort…”

    Knowing that the non-Malay (in the sixties/seventies) have a poorer grasp of Malay language while continuing to set a higher bar, I would perceive this as racial inequality, just like if we expect the guy and gal to compete on a common distance marathon.

    I agree who you are and what schools you attend have no bearing to our debate, my point is on diversity, which is what our Huajiao upholds all this while, and language equality is one of the key aspects.

    We both make our stance clear and plain, to each his own, I would say.

    • Adrian Eng-Hock Goh says:


      Regardless it is “de facto” or “official”, they have similar par of legal standing. Yes, China uses the term “Putonghua” which literally means “common language”. Yet, it does not relegate Chinese Han language to a status lesser than official on the national scale, as I proved with the HSK test result requirement. Also, the language is used on the day-to-day official business. If Kuomintang had won the civil war and ruled China, the term “Guoyu” will be used as in the case in Taiwan now, which literally means “national language”!

      You need to prove if the Malay language requirement was indeed set at a ridiculous bar that time to substantiate your point. If English was still the official language at that time, everybody would still need to put effort to study the language and obtained a credit. Based on personal circumstances, some would find it more difficult than others. However, this is universal and applies to everybody who is in the process of acquiring any knowledge, be it languages, mathematics or science. We just can’t ask to be given handicap when things are getting tough.Or else we will be guilty of what we are accusing others for.

      I agree with language diversity, but i don’t think language equality is viable when it comes to practicality in the real word. Even if there is a proclaimed language equality, eventually it will be a nominal one when it comes to application.

      Huajiao advocates “san yu bing zhong” which means “placing the same importance on the learning of three languages i.e. Chinese, English and Malay”. I believe what Huajiao advocates is more on language diversity rather than language equality on the national policy.

  12. Rhan says:


    Okay, let us continue.

    “Regardless it is “de facto” or “official”, they have similar par of legal standing.”
    So why don’t they pronounce it as “official”?

    “as I proved with the HSK test result requirement.”
    It doesn’t prove there is no discrimination. You have to ask the non-Hanyu speaker to get the answer.

    “We just can’t ask to be given handicap when things are getting tough. Or else we will be guilty of what we are accusing others for.”
    Why not? The premises of our affirmative action is to help the poor and handicapped, we want it to be implemented not based on race, religion and language, is that wrong?

    “I agree with language diversity, but I don’t think language equality is viable when it comes to practicality in the real word.”
    The real world doesn’t need a “credit” in BM, or doesn’t need BM at all.

    “I believe what Huajiao advocates is more on language diversity rather than language equality on the national policy.”
    Not sure how you define/distinguish the two, but I think it is a fair statement.

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