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In defence of Tamil

Corrected on 22 Dec 2008 at 6.55pm

BETWEEN 13 and 19 Dec 2008, the Tamil newspapers focused on the teaching of Mathematics and Science in Tamil, the need for government transparency, and the internal fighting in the Indian Progressive Front (IPF).

During the past one week, community leaders and politicians have expressed various views on the teaching of Mathematics and Science in Tamil. On 14 Dec, JB Samuel Raj, a community welfare coordinator, said in Malaysia Nanban the decline in UPSR results in 2008 was because both subjects were taught in English. He claimed that the majority of Tamils in Malaysia want the subjects taught in Tamil.

On the same day, in the same newspaper, the Tamil Kaappagam group, in its statement, said although teaching Mathematics and Science in English was supposed to be implemented over the past five years, Chinese-language schools did not follow this requirement. A few national schools also taught the subjects in both English and Malay. Tamil Kaappagam secretary-general M Thirumavalan said the Tamil community was unfortunately not united about fighting for both subjects to be taught in Tamil.

Mother tongue

Malaysia Nanban reported Kuala Langat deputy education officer Mohd Yusri Darmin as saying everyone would benefit it they learnt another language. He added that it would be better to urge all students to learn other languages rather than just ask Indian Malaysian students to learn Malay. 

(© Mweichse /

On 18 Dec, Kavin Malar from Makkal Osai wrote that the United Nations stressed that education should be in the mother tongue language. She said it was time to evaluate the government’s measure to teach Mathematics and Science in English.

She said many parents and community leaders have spoken up against the measure, and suggested the use of Tamil instead. Kavin said using Tamil would also preserve the identity of Tamil schools.    

In a related report titled 150 Tamil schools might be closed down in Makkal Osai on 17 Dec, Senator A Kohilan Pillay said out of 523 Tamil schools, 150 might be closed due to poor enrollment.

He said arguments that Indian Malaysian students who go to Tamil schools will only become involved in criminal activities were unfounded. He said many leaders and successful Malaysians were from Tamil schools, adding that parents should continue to send their children to these schools.

An Indian department

Community leaders support Velpari’s suggestion, reported Tamil Nesan on 14 Dec. The report said Indian Malaysian community leaders supported the proposal to set up an Indian Socio Economic Department to resolve community-related problems.

The proposal was made by MIC Youth adviser, S Velpari, who said that with an Indian welfare department, more Indian Malaysians could also be given the opportunity to work as civil servants.

Malaysian Nanban’s editorial on 16 Dec, entitled The government has to be transparent in helping Indians, supported the call by MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu for the government to be more transparent in dealing with Indian Malaysian-based issues. Samy Vellu had said this would ensure Indian Malaysians give their undisputed support to the Barisan Nasional again. It would also ensure the community progressed to be economically on par with the other races.

Supporting Samy Vellu’s suggestions, Malaysia Nanban said the federal government was far more eager to resolve Indian Malaysian issues now compared to before the 8 March elections. The editorial noted that with transparency, those in the lower strata would also benefit from government plans and policies.


In analysing the parliamentary debates, Peruji Perumal asked, “Are Indians still behind?” in an 18 Dec Malaysia Nanban report. To a question in Parliament, Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said that in 2006, the government hired 883 Indian Malaysians as civil servants but that figure increased to 910 in 2007. He also added that Air Asia’s owner, and wealthy entrepreneur Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan, were also Indian Malaysian. However, Padang Serai Member of Parliament N Gobalakrishnan rebutted to say that only a few Malaysian Indians were wealthy. The majority were far behind economically.

Politicking within IPF

On 15 Dec, Makkal Osai carried a special write-up on IPF’s 16th congress. “It was a black dot for IPF,” the paper wrote.

The report said the former IPF president’s wife Puan Sri Jayashree Pandithan, who is party president now, only allowed delegates who supported her to attend the congress but dropped delegates who really fought for the party but didn’t support her. The report noted the strong protest outside the congress that chanted “Unwanted people ruling now!” and “Down with Jayashree’s dictatorship!” 

The paper said the 20-year-old party was fractured because of Jayashree’s actions.

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One Response to “In defence of Tamil”

  1. Newton says:

    I’ll bet my bottom ringgit that all those who are making the loudest noise about teaching science and math in the mother tongue are not in a profession that uses maths or science for a living.

    I mean real science, tech or maths professionals, not Malaysian academicians, government body “science officers” at MOSTI, MDC, TPM, or other facilities. I’ll bet most of the people complaining about this are politicians who bumble by on stupidity greed.

    English, Mandarin, German, Russian, Japanese are feasible languages for science and maths. You have enough updated texts in these and there is much active research and peer review support in these languages.

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