FROM 20 to 26 April 2009, the Chinese media highlighted the Pekan Nanas school-fight-turned-mob incident. The media also rejoiced at the Higher Education Ministry’s announcement to allow New Era College to conduct its media studies courses in Mandarin.
Nanyang Siang Pau and Merdeka Review also reported on Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob’s intention to invite a DAP assemblyperson into his state executive council (exco).
On 21 April, the Chinese press reported that around 1,000 people surrounded the Pekan Nanas police station the night before because of an incident in a school involving four Chinese Malaysian men and a Malay Malaysian teacher.
(Pic by chris27 / sxc.hu) As a result, the Federal Reserve Unit had to be deployed. In addition, Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Wee Jeck Seng, Pekan Nanas assemblyperson Tang Nai Soon, and Kukup assemblyperson Datuk Md Othman Yusof rushed to the scene to calm the situation.
It was reported that Guo Pei En, the son of well-known local MCA leader Guo Yun Ji, was detained at the police station together with three friends for allegedly beating up a Malay Malaysian primary schoolteacher.
The teacher, from another school, went to SMK Pekan Nanas to pick up his own child but was beaten by Pei En and his friends when he tried to stop them from storming into the school.
The four of them were looking for a Form Five student who had allegedly slapped Pei En’s son after the Form One student accidentally brushed the Form Five student’s shoulders.
Later, the teacher lodged a police report claiming that his face, chest and back were injured by the four men. However, he has since resumed work on 21 April.
Following the report by the Malay Malaysian teacher, the police arrested Pei En and his friends on 20 April. At the police station, friends and relatives of those involved in the incident plus curious onlookers started to gather.
Around 8.30pm, some among the angry crowd started throwing objects at a van transferring Pei En and his friends to the Pontian district police headquarters, smashing one of the windows in the process.
The problem was made worse when a 16-year-old girl from SMK Yunus Sulaiman in Pekan Nanas started circulating SMS messages warning residents of racial riots and telling people to stay indoors.
On 22 April, Sin Chew Daily reported that Yun Ji went to SMK Pekan Nanas to apologise to the school on his son’s behalf, and admitted that his son was ill-tempered and that this was not the first time his son had been involved in such an incident.
Johor police chief Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said Pei En and friends are being investigated for trespassing and causing offence. The Form Five student, meanwhile, is being charged in the juvenile court for assault.
Media studies in Mandarin
The Chinese media reported Deputy Higher Education Minister Dr Hou Kok Chung’s announcement on 22 April that New Era College would be allowed to conduct its Media Studies courses in Mandarin.
“This is the first case in Malaysia. I’m happy that the higher education ministry has removed the restrictions,” said Dr Hou in a Sin Chew Daily report.
According to him, previously, only Chinese studies courses could be conducted in Mandarin in higher institutions of learning, while the other courses had to be conducted in Bahasa Malaysia. For the use of English, the ministry’s approval is required.
However, the laws have been amended recently and other languages apart from Bahasa Malaysia and English can now be used as the medium of instruction as long as it is approved by the ministry.
Sin Chew Daily‘s editorial on 22 April hailed the decision as a significant step forward for New Era College.
“The decision to allow New Era College to conduct its media studies in Mandarin will definitely help in the college’s eventual goal to be upgraded into a full-fledged university,” said the editorial.
DAP exco in BN government?
On 21 April, Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob expressed his intention to invite Triang assemblyperson Leong Ngah Ngah from the DAP into the state exco to work with BN members if it was permitted under the law.
Adnan Yaakob (Public domain) Nanyang Siang Pau and Merdeka Review reported that Adnan, who is also Pahang BN and Umno chief, made the suggestion during a state assembly session to the astonishment of those present.
“We have been friends for many years, I’m very satisfied with his performance,” Adnan was quoted as saying in the report.
During the session, Leong said Pakatan Rakyat would replace the BN in the future if the ruling government did not change and reform itself soon.
A state assemblyperson since 2000, Leong said he would accept the offer to become a state executive councillor if invited, adding that the appointment would be a step forward in Malaysian politics.
He stressed that he would remain in DAP and the appointment would not go against his party’s principles as he could continue to serve the people as a state executive councillor.
The opposition only has four seats — two each from DAP and PAS — while the BN holds 37 seats in the Pahang state assembly. Another seat is occupied by an independent candidate.