Vernacular school debate: More about politics, less about education

The latest discourse on whether vernacular schools should be abolished has less to do with education and more to do with politics, according to political analyst Khoo Kay Peng.

Vernacular school debate: More about politics, less about education | Astro Awani
The latest discourse on whether vernacular schools should be abolished has less to do with education and more to do with politics, according to political analyst Khoo Kay Peng.

Khoo further said that the demand by several groups for the review of the current education policies on Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools is closely linked to the upcoming Umno party elections.

“This will play out in the Umno elections. This is not something new, and attempts to pin the blame on vernacular schools on [the lack of] national unity has been done before,” Khoo told Astro Awani.

He said that the groups are trying to link the issue to the results of the 13th General Election, but “there is not much viable justification for that”.

“The GE13 results is clearly not a Malay-Chinese thing. It is not about racial divide or ethnic tension. It was people making a choice on a political solution on who they think would be a better government,” he said.

Khoo further argued that powerful Chinese educationist groups have been silent on the matter, and it was not sparked off by any demands from those groups at all.

“This demand [to abolish vernacular schools] would really push Malaysia to the brink of racial divide, escalate racial tension. It is not healthy to put education into your political arguments,” he added.

Khoo said that the current discourse “has alot to do with dynamics within Umno politics" and that there are people making the demands who are Umno members themselves.

Explaining further, he said that there now exists two ideological groups within Umno: namely the reformist group that expouses inclusivity, multiracial, a new BN and 1Malaysia; and the other conservative and hardline group.

“Basically what some of the Malay NGOs are saying it is that GE13 was a clear cut betrayal from the Chinese. ‘We’ve made so many promises, they did not vote for us.’,” he said.

Khoo said that the two sets of arguments will play out in the Umno party elections and observers would be able to see which leaders supported which side.

“There are the leaders who support unification of BN parties, those who want BN direct membership; and the leaders who shoot down these ideas and call for Umno to re-focus on their core Malay support group.”

“All these arguments, when brought into Umno politics, will decide what kind of Umno, and BN, will emerge.”