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Soi Lek speaks up

FOR the week of 6 to 12 Dec 2008, the Chinese press highlighted the issue of responsibility over the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide and reactions towards Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim’s statement that minority races should give up their mother tongue. The Chinese press also looked at a brewing fishing-community strike.

In a 12 Dec report, Oriental Daily quoted MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek as criticising Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan and Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek for their remarks over the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide.

Chua said the ministers were being irresponsible by saying the landslide was “a natural disaster and fate”.

“I think this is quite wrong. Landslides are possibly caused by problems related to structure, buildings or maintenance. These elements, I fear, are human induced. The heavy rains merely accelerated the problems planted by human factors,” the former health minister said.

“Whenever there are landslides, the relevant authorities give lame excuses and nobody dares to claim responsibility,” he said. He added that the government should look into the issue of who should be responsible in times like these.

Chua, who is also the head of MCA’s government policy monitoring bureau, said: “Malaysia’s high-rises are built by A-class experts, but when it comes to landslides, nobody comes forth to claim responsibility, pointing fingers at each other… please save us the drama.”

He said the authorities should instead look at proper guidelines and not point fingers. He also advised home buyers to be careful when choosing property. He stressed that structural problems may only occur after 20 years.

Chua added that there were 13 cases of landslides within the last 15 years, five of which were severe including the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy. 

As for Ahmad Shabery’s view that home buyers should also be responsible for the landslide, Chua argued, “Consumers like you and I are not experts. If the government approved the house as safe, certainly we would think it was fine.”

He pointed out that according to hillside development guidelines, high-rises should not be built on slopes with a gradient of more than 35 degrees. “However some A-class experts cut down trees so that these slopes fulfill the guidelines for high-rises to be built.”

Mother tongue

China Press on 10 Dec reported on the responses by several Chinese Malaysian organisations against Khoo’s statement that minority races should give up their mother tongue as the medium of instruction in schools so that they could get out of the racial box. 

MCA deputy secretary-general Datuk Loke Yuen Yow expressed disappointment with the statement, saying that the Universiti Malaya historian should have carefully considered the country’s multiracial and multicultural reality. 

“Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution has clearly stated that no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using (other than for official purposes), or from teaching or learning any other language. Therefore, nobody can take away the rights to mother tongue education enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” Loke said.

Loke added that Khoo seemed to have ignored the fact that a majority of those who graduated from Chinese primary schools were proficient in three languages — Malay, Mandarin and English. Furthermore, people who are multilingual can contribute more to nation building. 

The United Chinese School Committees Association of Selangor and Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur described Khoo’s statement as absurd and unconstitutional, adding that it ignored the multicultural reality of Malaysia. 

“Khoo’s statement is a result of self-belittlement, complete lack of racial dignity, and being unaware of mother tongue culture,” said the association. 

Universiti Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany) also refuted Khoo, saying such statements were unwarranted from a highly respected academic, and was a shame to the university’s graduates. 

Umany said: “Why does Khoo think that students with a Chinese or Tamil primary school background are unable to connect with the world? If that were the case, Chinese and Japanese nationals who received mother tongue education since they were young would definitely be uncompetitive. But the reality is that China and Japan have become economic powerhouses.”

Fishing strike 

On 9 Dec, Kwong Wah Yit Poh reported Perak state executive councillor Nga Kor Ming as saying about 600 fishing boats and 2,000 fisherfolk would be on strike on 12 Dec. Fisherfolk from Kedah, Perlis, Penang and Kelantan joined the strike which began in Perak, Selangor and Sarawak to protest against the government’s refusal to reduce diesel prices despite falling crude oil prices.

Nga, who is also the Pantai Remis state assemblyperson, had toured the Sungai Beruas fishing areas with several town councilors and said the strike was influential. It is estimated that the strike will result in a 50% reduction in catch, and a lack of seafood in markets.

Nga said the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry or the Finance Ministry should announce a reduction in subsidised diesel price to RM1 per litre to prevent a nationwide fisherfolk strike. Nga said he, together with Beruas Member of Parliament Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham, had tried to raise the issue in Parliament but the federal government was unresponsive.

“International oil prices have dropped from US$145 per barrel to US$42 per barrel and the government has also reduced petrol prices six times. However, subsidised diesel remains at RM1.43 per litre, and diesel makes up the bulk of cost for boats which go out to sea. The price of subsidised diesel should be reduced to ease the burden of fisherfolk,” said Nga.

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5 Responses to “Soi Lek speaks up”

  1. AA says:

    “Give up use of mother-tongue language”. Ini tajuk artikel tersebut. Walhal, Prof Khoo bicara soal sekolah satu sistem. Bunyinya seolah-olah provokasi yang sangat negatif. (Mungkin juga provokasi positif supaya orang membaca isi hingga habis?). Soal sistem sekolah satu aliran tak sama dengan “give up use of mother-tongue language”. Menurut pemahaman saya isi yang dibicarakan dengan tajuknya amat berbeza sekali. Bahasa ibunda sesuatu bangsa – adalah milik bangsa tersebut.

    Itu hak asasi bagi bangsa tersebut. Tiada kompromi.

    Bila memperkatakan soal sekolah satu aliran kita tak minta supaya rakan-rakan kita yang berbangsa Cina dan India melupakan terus pertuturan dalam bahasa ibunda masing-masing. Ini penelitian yang amat salah.

    Sama juga dengan keadaan sekarang ini. Bahasa Melayu/ Malaysia seolah-olah dilihat sebagai milik orang Melayu sahaja. Tidak dinafikan. Saya sentiasa memikirkan bila saat akan tiba agaknya supaya Bahasa Melayu akan menjadi milik bersama dengan rakan-rakan yang berbangsa Cina dan India?

    Akhirnya, elemen bahasa pula yang menjadi alat hentam-menghentam yang menyentuh isu perkauman dan diskriminasi. Baik di pihak Melayu, Cina mahupun India. Bila agaknya kita – rakyat Malaysia akan memiliki rasa kebersamaan?

    Kemudian, ada sebilangan rakan-rakan pula yang melontarkan pendapat bahawa sistem pendidikan bukanlah satu-satunya alat penyatuan bagi kepelbagaian bangsa di Malaysia ini. Bagi saya ini penilaian yang amat rapuh bila ini dikaitkan dalam kerangka soal kenegaraan.

    Saya sentiasa memikirkan, bila agaknya rasa pentingkan diri atau selfish di kalangan rakyat Malaysia (baca: Melayu, Cina dan India) akan berakhir? Bila saat agaknya akan tiba bagi rakyat Malaysia punya rasa kebersamaan yang amat bertanggungjawab dalam memberi erti kepada sebuah negara Malaysia yang merdeka?

    Saya punya sebilangan rakan-rakan dari bangsa lain yang amat menyokong perpaduan melalui sistem pendidikan. Saya juga ada sebilangan rakan-rakan dari bangsa lain yang amat tidak menyokong soal ini. Kadang-kadang saya sendiri memikirkan ini – adakah negara kita ini adalah tempat untuk mereka yang pentingkan diri dan kaum masing-masing sahaja?

    Kemudian, ada yang berhujah ini adalah lontaran dari seorang ahli politikus yang rakus untuk mendapat sokongan dan peluang untuk terus memerintah.

    Bagi saya, ini boleh jadi juga. Tidak dinafikan. Politikus mana yang tidak rakus. Kadang-kadang keikhlasan berkorban untuk negara juga boleh dijual beli.

    Bagi seorang rakyat marhean yang amat dahagakan usaha-usaha mewujudkan rasa kebersamaan di kalangan rakyat Malaysia sentiasa dipergiat dan diteruskan – harapan yang amat besar agar isu ini tidak diperjudi untuk usaha pengekalan kuasa hendaknya.

    Saya juga sentiasa memikirkan. Bilakah noktahnya akan tiba bagi rakyat Malaysia untuk tidak menyerahkan nasib negara tercinta dan rakyatnya kepada sang politikus yang rakus dan mementingkan diri semata-mata?

  2. AA says:

    Mother tongue:
    I have a golden dream for our nation.
    I have a big hope.
    I really want to see all of us stay as one nation.
    Us (please read: Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Dusun and other Malaysians).
    Malaysians truly living together.
    Is this just my dream and hope?
    I wish this is a dream and hope for all anak Bangsa Malaysia.

  3. Tay Soon Poh says:

    Yes, those who are from “Chinese schools are proficient in three languages”. This is just a myth that Chinese politicos would want us to believe. But the reality is different. The top 10% of Chinese students would be proficient but the bulk could not string proper sentences in three languages, not in English nor in Malay and not even in Chinese. In fact, if your son does not do well in Chinese, he is even forbidden to take it. So that the Chinese school record would look good when the results come out.

    The tragedy is that so many Chinese students do not make it to Form Five. If I am not mistaken we suffer about a 25% drop out rate. Yet these people are completely ignored by the Chinese community. They always talk about their high achievers and hide their drop outs. You guess where all the pirate DVD sellers, ah longs, GROs, massage parlour girls come from?

    Be real. This is Malaysia. We are Malaysians. Learn Chinese by all means but why do we want we want to live in a ghetto of our own by continuing to live separate lives? Bring back the English schools.

  4. faith04 says:

    Honestly, I think Khoo is playing to please his political master.

  5. LinguisticObserver says:

    A great nation is not born out of a mono-race with a single language for communication. In fact Malaysia can demonstrate to the world that there is such a thing as unity in diversity.

    In fact, lack of unity is not because of mother tongue being taught in our schools but rather from being over-politicised by politicians. Politicians who raised issues relating to their ancestors’ origins cause more damage to unity rather than mother tongue being taught in schools.

    Anyway, children are better equipped to face the tough challenges in the outside world where we would have the advantage of our rakyat well-versed in Bahasa Melayu, Chinese and Tamil and clinching deals rather than being cocooned with knowing only one language.

    Perhaps Datuk Prof Khoo has his own ideas but they are not congruent with the majority of the Chinese and Tamil-speaking citizens.

    Unity is not about attending the same school with the same medium of instruction but rather an inner genuine desire to see our brothers and sisters from different racial backgrounds progressing socially, culturally and economically towards higher, common national aspirations i.e. a modern and progressive Malaysia, and proud to be among the best in the world.

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