GEORGE TOWN, Aug 27 — Abolishing vernacular schools will not give rise to nationalism or national unity, said Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy.
The Penang DAP leader said it was racism and religious extremism that was the root cause of disunity and not vernacular schools.
“Bersatu Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal must be out of his mind to think that vernacular schools in the country have failed to produce students who are nationalistic,” he said in a statement issued today.
Ramasamy said the deputy youth and sports minister was not the first politician to raise this matter in reference to vernacular schools.
“As long as race and religion are going to dominate the political thinking of race- or religious-based political parties such as Umno, PAS and Bersatu, vernacular schools will be targets of attack,” he said.
He claimed that it was seditious and unconstitutional for Wan Ahmad Fayhsal to question the existence of vernacular schools.
“Vernacular schools have been in the country even before independence. It is not something that cropped up recently,” he pointed out.
He stressed that vernacular or national schools were not to blame for instability, but rather the divisive attitudes by ethnic and religious champions in the likes of Umno, PAS and recently, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
“If vernacular schools are that bad, Wan Fayhsal should explain why nearly 20 per cent of enrollment in Chinese vernacular schools comprise Malay students,” he said.
He said if Chinese vernacular schools are divisive in nature, Malay parents would not send their children to these schools.
“Both Chinese and Tamil schools adhere to the national curriculum of the Ministry of Education so the question of these schools teaching subjects outside of the mainstream curriculum do not arise,” he said.
He said Wan Ahmad Fayshal should find out why non-Malay students prefer to attend vernacular schools instead of national schools.
Ramasamy then pointed out that certain universities and colleges in Malaysia are still using English as the medium of instruction.
“Wan Fayhsal, by trying to be racial champion, has got his facts wrong. He doesn’t understand that national unity or nationalism cannot be derived automatically by abolishing vernacular schools,” he said.
He said national unity is a complex matter and not something that can be derived by closing down vernacular schools.
“It is strange that Bersatu leaders like Wan Fayhsal are making such remarks at a time when his party is seriously considering opening its membership to non-Malays,” he said.
Ramasamy was responding to comments by Wan Ahmad Fayhsal that Bersatu’s Youth wing will support the abolishment of vernacular schools in the country.
He had claimed that vernacular schools did not produce students who have “strong national identity”.