In bid for Tamil high school, Penang looks to Muhyiddin for help

Muhyiddin is both deputy prime minister and education minister. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Muhyiddin is both deputy prime minister and education minister. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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GEORGE TOWN, Feb 19 — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng hopes to enlist Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s aid directly to set up the country’s first Tamil secondary school after the Education Ministry rejected its bid, citing a lack of provision under existing laws.

Lim said the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state had no other options as it could not set up the vernacular high school, even as a private institution, without the green light from Putrajaya.

“We are only asking for one school in the whole country. I don’t think it is excessive and it would not jeopardise anyone,” he told a news conference here today.

Muhyiddin is both deputy prime minister and education minister.

Lim said the state government had made several formal requests to the Education Ministry last year for a Tamil high school to be built in Bagan Dalam, which he noted had a 24 per cent Indian population, so that primary students who studied in that language could continue their education.

However, the Education Ministry had only replied to the state this year, on January 8.

The letter, signed by the Education Director-General Datuk Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof, said that there were no provisions for a Tamil high school under the Education Act 1996.

The letter also stated that the Education Act only provided for the establishment of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) — where the medium of instruction is in Bahasa Malaysia — to support the educational needs of all races in the country.

Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P. Ramasamy, who was also at the news conference, said the state’s proposal for a Tamil high school had received support from Chinese education lobby group, Dong Zong; but not from Indian-based political parties and questioned their silence as such a school would benefit their community.

“We should put aside politics and fight for the community especially when it comes to education,” Ramasamy said.

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