KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 — Malay rights group Perkasa claimed today that fully residential schools (SBP) are part of special privileges afforded to the Malays, and warned against its abolishment.
Responding to minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s recent remarks that it would only be fair to abolish the Malay-dominated system as well as vernacular schools to make way for a single stream, Perkasa’s Sirajuddin Salleh accused the former of lacking understanding of the nation’s history and Federal Constitution.
“I feel very sorry and sad and angry that minister was the one who said that. He’s a Malay, he doesn’t know history,” the Perkasa deputy president told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
Sirajuddin said a social contract or pre-Independence deal was struck and agreed upon by all races during British colonial times for the Malays to be given special privileges in exchange for citizenship to be granted to non-Malays, adding that this was subsequently detailed out in the Federal Constitution.
“So don’t raise this issue again. Fully residential schools and scholarships are part of that special privileges. So if there is anyone who don’t understand this foundation, they should learn this country’s history.
“If that foundation being questioned, then future of country will also be questioned. I don’t want this country to get into state of war, or civil clashes between races which is very easy to happen in our context,” he warned.
He said there should be no questioning of the SBP schools, which he said came into existence after all ethnic groups “learned a very bitter lesson” from the May 13, 1969 racial riots and agreed to have the New Economic Policy.
The 69 SBPs across the country are not exclusive to Malays or Bumiputera but are dominated by the ethnic majority, as the system was established in 1957 under the Razak Report to offer opportunities to the group, especially those from the rural areas.
Sirajuddin also said that SBPs should be retained even if a single-stream education system were to be introduced, saying their students only account for a small percentage of the national student population.
On Monday, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy reportedly said there is no political will on both political sides for single-stream schools, and suggested that it would only be fair for SBP schools to be abolished too if vernacular schools were to go.
Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos, leader of the pro-Malay Red Shirts movement, said it may not be necessary for the Malay-dominated SBP to be abolished, suggesting that such boarding schools could be retained but with its students to be those of different ethnic groups and with no racial segregation.
It could even be beneficial for multi-racial Malaysians to live together as roommates in the boarding schools, he said.
“For me, whether SBP should be continued, it depends on the system that is created for single-stream schools,” he said.
In addition, Jamal said the political will can only be achieved if the government has “political strength” through a two-thirds parliamentary majority.
In May, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said that although having only single-stream schools is the ideal to unite Malaysia’s multiracial society, the idea is sensitive and akin to a “political landmine”.
Earlier this year, a study by research firm Kajidata showed that 47.4 per cent of 1,025 Malaysians polled opposed the proposal for a single-stream education system in order to foster unity, while 41.4 per cent supported the idea.
Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive officer of think-tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), had recently told Malay Mail Online that having multiple school choices would not hinder national unity and that Malaysians would naturally unite around schools that provide quality education.