Sunday, March 23, 2008

No DEB, No Vernacular Schools?

The topic chosen here is not to provoke, but rather to remind people what the so called 'social contract' was so many years ago. In the 'ashes' of 13 May 1969, three concerns were raised which resulted in separate outcomes:
  1. The Malays were convinced that the racial riots were the result of economic activities, and affluence, of Malaysians in 1969 still being determined by the racial segregation of colonial times, at least for the majority; i.e. Malays were farmers, Chinese were businessmen and Indians were estate workers. Malays pushed for the DEB to address the issue so that "Malaysians are no longer racially segregated by economic activity or affluence".
  2. In the meantime, the two major minorities, the Chinese and Indians, were fighting for the retention of their identities. Their leaders feared a Malay push for national unity at the expense of their racial and cultural identity, such as was happening in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. They hence insisted on the protection and continued support of vernacular schools side-by-side with mainstream education.
  3. The desires of East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) continued to be protection of their autonomy, with the Bumiputra hence augmenting this with themselves opting into the DEB. Their negotiating position was stronger though as they did not suffer racial riots.

The fight of the major components of BN on the material side have thus been, the advancement of DEB goals for UMNO, the growth of Chinese education for MCA, the protection of a Hindu-centric culture by the MIC (which ironically resulted in them not getting much from the deal from the outset, despite the fact that DEB, on paper, also had benefits where Indians qualify ahead of Malays!) and protection of autonomous rights for the East Malaysian parties.

Gerakan and PPP were funny BN partners in that they were the only parties shouting for a Malaysian Malaysia then and was happy to endorse this agreement for the long term aspiration. They continue to do so to this day whilst becoming increasingly mono-racial themselves.

Post PRU-12, people are running around saying DEB is no longer relevant. I disagree. In fact, I think most Malays still want the bulk of DEB and certainly at most they wish the implementation to be reformed, especially around contracts. Most Malays still want MRSMs and Boarding Schools, scholarships, low cost or discounted housing, etc to remain. I am convinced that DEB is being scape-goated by the Lah-ist regime for the election loss to keep Pak Lah in power.

However, no meaningful debate on the removal of DEB can take place before reverting back to the original social contract. So, will the Chinese and Indians be willing to sacrifice their right to have vernacular schools to get rid of DEB? There are also many reasons for abolishing them. They are, variously:

  1. Racial in nature,
  2. Mainly exclusive, with such clear advantage given to Chinese and Indians due to their mother-tongue (ya ya, some Malay kids go to, but we have some Chinese in MRSM and Indians with JPA scholarships too!)
  3. Draws good resources away from the standard Malay-medium schools, hence contributes to the reduction in overall quality of Malaysian education through structurally unequal distribution of resources
  4. Polarising the nation by segregating minority races away from a mixed environment, and also resulting in a Malay-centric environment being created in Malay-medium school
  5. Disrupts efforts to foster national unity through use of a single national language, Bahasa Malaysia, and a unified education system

So, no DEB, no vernacular schools? Sorry if I've upset anyone, I didn't open this door... was it the opposition? Pak Lah?

By the way you guys in East Malaysia, you don't go scot free. You jump to PKR (who wishes to 'modify' DEB... abolish-lah tu...), you open the door to East Malaysia losing its autonomy as per the social contract...

But, to re-emphasise... no DEB, no vernacular schools?


Eric said...

Does that mean no religious schools as well? It works both ways. The reason chinese does not send their schools to govt schools is becos of religion getting more emphasis than quality of education and teachers quality. Be fair to all, improve teaching standards. Religion should not be a part of mainstream education. Religion should be a personal matter, not in schools. In school we learn to play together, learn each cultures without fear, interact and foster a multi-cultural atmosphere. If you put religion into it, it defeat the purpose! Think about it!

svllee said...

I accept your reasoning that we have to re-look at DEB. The DEB in terms of housing needs must look at all races. There is no real point (unless you can elucidate) to give a Bumiputra discount of 5 - 7% say for homes over RM250,000? I know of developers of luxury hi-end properties having to provide these discounts for properties in the RM2m - 3m ranges, which I feel makes no sense. In fact, many of these quota properties are unsold but the developer cannot sell openly because of the restriction. Manytimes, I am told the officers in the licensing board wants a kickback to release these properties for sale, or they want to make a quick profit for themselves by registering their names and then re-selling to a non-bumi for the extra percentage. These kind of abuse is why the DEB has to be reformed.

As for schools, I personally think that English should be the language of instruction in all main subjects. BM, Mandarin or Tamil can be the third choice language with perhaps BM a compulsory second language. That is the only way the nation can improve and excel globally.

A M Ubaidah S said...

svllee. Your argument for English to be medium for learning in schools is inconsistent with Bahasa Malaysia being the national language. The purpose of Bahasa Malaysia medium schools is hence not just to educate, but also to enhance national unity through a shared language that is our own. Even the English have 'Queen's English' as their own.

Your argument that English assists in our competitiveness is also spurious. The most impressive nation in child education interestingly not English speaking, its Finland, where they choose Finnish, an even less spoken language than Bahasa Malaysia.

Eric. Normal state schools in Malaysia are not religious schools. Muslims do go to religious classes whilst non-Muslims go to Morals/Ethics, but this is a very small part of the curricular. Religious teaching is NOT a factor for chinese not sending students to state schools. Quality may be, having vernacular schools make this worse.

svllee said...

Yes, I accept your case that the teaching and mastering of Bahasa Malaysia is a uniting factor through shared usage. Finland is a very good example as are the Scandinavian countries, but their English usage is generally of a very high standard also, like the Dutch.

I also accept that it is not necessary to have a good command in English to be globally effective in normal business eg. Japan, but in many instances eg. R & D, science etc it is essential.

Thank you for allowing me to comment on your blog.

A M Ubaidah S said...

svllee. Of course you're welcomed to comment.

Good of you to add the Dutch in here. It should be noted also that Finland and Holland are just two of many countries where schooling is effectively run in national languages, with English being made an optional language, and in many cases, with kids starting to learn English much later, ~10 years old, than in Malaysia.

English usage is as you say essential, at least the capacity to read and understand. When I did projects in Russia for instance, we found professionals in the same area making regular use of English language technical publications.

Bahasa Malaysia nevertheless remains a key medium in Malaysia hence due to the additional bonus for unity, reinforcing the case against vernacular schools.

Beef Stew said...

I have no idea why you try to compare DEB and the education system. Using the Social Contract to support your case isn't clearing it much. While DEB is a good course which I fully support, diversity in terms of culture and language are equally important.

By the way, the people running around, they are not calling for abolishment of DEB but to re-look it's loopholes that being used by some high place parasites for their personal gain.

While I thought my History is good for scoring A in SPM in my yesteryears (I score A too in Chapter Tamadun Islam..Hehehe)...For a while I thought DEB is Dasar Edukasi Baru and not Dasar Ekonomi Baru...

P/S : We have Bajet for Budget...I am sure we have Edukasi for Education.

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