Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chinese school non-arguments

I see now, why Chinese school debate is "sensitive," It's actually not sensitive, it's just that people don't understand what the other side is saying.

Four people wrote back to me. Three lambasted me for

1) wanting to ban Chinese schools
2) being an American and have no roots
3) accusing me of not honouring Chinese culture and history.

The other one asked for evidence that national schools are being Islamised.

First of all, I never agree to the banning of Chinese schools.

Secondly, I value culture and history and learning of civilisations. And if you don't think national schools do enough of that, than push to have electives so that our children have choices. And if you still don't think that is enough, than send them to Chinese schools.

The people who are pro-Chinese schools say that it is not just language but Chinese culture that is important, Chinese history, Chinese civilisation... etc.

I truly support your right to study Chinese culture and history. But no one has addressed my biggest concern.


And why are national schools so unattractive? Why are we paying tax money to support an institution that is not attractive to a majority of Chinese? Shouldn't we do something about it? Shouldn't we be a part of nation buidling and make sure that it represents our needs too? Afterall we are citizens of this country.

I think if someone had addressed my primary concern, we would actually get somewhere. Like how about Chinese schools try to increase their percentage of non-Chinese to make sure that kids of different ethnicities mingle?

And, let's really advocate for a better kind of national education that can cater to the needs of different ethnicities. Let's find a common shared goal.


Anonymous said...

As long as there is no equality, it is NOT healthy. The reality is there is no equality. The Malay could go to uni even though they don't do well. They get special classes where lectureres give them TIPS on exam. When we live in multicultural environment, Chinese feel oppressed. We have to use hands to eat during orientation, we cannot bring pork into the hostel, we have to listen to the loudspeakers from mosque and stop from our activities when prayers is on. I really prefer to grow up in my own Chinese culture, and learn and be proud of who I am, then to feel insecure, oppressed, as 2nd class citizen, even right from the start.

I really don't see a problem of me being Chinese, and wanting to be more Chinese, and at times, indulge in my Chinese superiority complex, at least I do NOT tell others to behave like me, or force others to be chinese. My anology - Is it healthy for buddhisht to go to temple, Christian to go to church and Muslim to go to mosque for their spiritual education? Each of them are different, and I really think Chinese Education is the BLESSINGS for Malaysia!

Anonymous said...

If your problem is unity, the problems is bigger than education, and the answers do not lie in restructuring education system alone, but from political systems, to government services, to everything! Seriously, if you want to reform the national education system, you need to ensure there's no corruption. So much $$$ goes elsewhere...and do we give merits to teachers who work hard, both in chinese/national school? Go talk to teachers, parents to find more answers...give me an "equal environment" before we talk about this.

HGR said...

I advocated to uphold Chinese culture and maintain our root not to say that you agree to the banning of Chinese schools, just that maybe you are not aware that most of the Chinese schools in malaysia rely on donations to keep up with the standard of education that it should be. To increase to at least 30% of other ethnicities will mean that we have to deprive chinese right of admission to the Chinese school. So, maybe now you can see that why NEP and equitable wealth distribution is vital to even resolve education problems. It is never too sensitive to discuss any issue in Malaysia provided that we have the right attitude to discuss.

Carmen N said...

I'm sorry for the first anon post who said: I really don't see a problem to indulge in my Chinese superiority complex.... that's how racism is bred and passed down from generation to generation!

This is why I think Chinese schools should be abolished. And Malay asrama penuh and Tamil schools and all schools that are racially segregating people.

For all those who say we need to change the entire structure, I totally agree but I also think that wanting to change the entire structure IS NOT AN EXCUSE to NOT start somewhere and to me, education is the best place to start because kids, thankfully, have not yet imbibed the hate ideology their parents spew...

Anonymous said...

For anon No. 1, do you have Malay friends? Do you know we also feel oppressed when we are FORCED to pray or else people will judge us negatively? Do you think we like the Islamization in schools? Do you think we like to wear tudung and be FORCED to behave like Islamic women should (whatever the hell that means!?)? Do you think we like to listen to prayers blaring through the loudspeakers when we want to talk to our friends and not have to think about praying all the time? Do you think we LIKE to pray 5 times a day? Do you think we LIKE to be FORCED to pray? Do you think we want to be proper, good Muslims all the time and be judged if we are not? Do you think we care if Chinese eat pork in front of us? Do you think we like being told to care that Chinese are eating pork in front of us?

If you think it is hard to be Chinese then maybe you have to live in our shoes too. Because it is equally, if not more, hard to be a secular Malay in a Muslim country. Especially a secular Malay who does not support UMNO.

KahJoon said...

bravo. i like the way u brought up the issue about how hard it is to be a secular Malay in a muslim country.

i don't think it's annoying listening to prayers blaring on loudspeakers. we should respect their right to practice their religion and how they want to practice it. isn't ironic that the chinese and indians are asking for religious tolerance but they themselves indulge in religious intolerance?

about the NEP. the intention of NEP is good but it is being abused by corrupt officials and cronies. we cannot deny the fact that the largest group of poor ppl are the malays. by removing the NEP and treat everyone equally is not the way forward. not only the malay poor will suffer, the chinese and indian poor will suffer too. NEP is there to help the poor, it should stay that way. other corrupt means and abuses of the NEP should be wiped out.

some noted person in history once said, "to treat the unequal equally is the greatest inequity."

WL Chong said...

I can see your good intention in these two articles. I truly agree that it is essential for young Malaysian students to have the opportunity to mingle with others from different ethnic groups. Nevertheless, due to the religious conservatism and racial hegemony that become more prevalent since the past few years, I am personally not confident that the government has enough will and ability to transform the national schools into a preferred place for all Malaysian parents to send their children for education. And the government does not even provide adequate support to our Chinese primary schools. Chinese schools are actually in great demand all this while especially in those areas where the majority of residents are Chinese but the government just refuses to build more Chinese schools. Therefore, it is quite hard for Chinese schools to increase their percentage of non-Chinese students.

Until our government changes its policy, I am afraid the present situation will not have much changes.

brokoli said...

For the anon who said "I really don't see a problem of me being Chinese, and wanting to be more Chinese, and at times, indulge in my Chinese superiority complex,"

I'm chinese malaysian and i'm ashamed to have heard that statement. so long as all communities/groups keep this attitude, we will remain polarized and allow this polarization and misundertanding/assumptions to be used and abused by those with no regard for nation building. That's but one problem.

It's not helpful as well if we attribute on one sole reason,of 1-sided inequality to be attacked and done away with, without reference to realties faced by all communities.

the first 2 comments i'm afraid sound really childish. akin to saying, 'fulfill my conditions first before we can begin to talk about moving forward'.

not helpful to wait for something else to change before you do anything about it. reality is that there are more than 1 way to make change, and anything working towards our nation building without causing harm to others is good.

Jenn said...

Are you surprised to get these comments? I'm not.

I think it is not just here. I am living in Washington, and as parents, the Chinese tend to

1)Gravitate towards what they perceive as “the best” for their children (quality of education, highest national test scores)

2) Gravitate towards learning Chinese more for future prospects rather than cultural pride now that China is a major power. It used to be only the latter but now they dress it up with the former to make learning Mandarin more attractive (I'm learning Mandarin - it's not easy but I keep telling myself I need to be able to read all those serial comics one day!).

In that order. There are exceptions of course. There are always exceptions.

What you've pointed out is mostly true but I don't think better national schools will ever change this overall competitive mentality because with every step forward national schools take, Chinese schools will take two steps and guess where the Chinese will go in the name of better ed and cultural pride?

I hate to think it sometimes but we're just genetically predisposed to not losing out, especially when our kids are concerned. Misguided or not, we will claim that being kiasu is one of our many racial idiosyncracies and that there's nothing we can do about it.

There are exceptions of course - there are always exceptions, and these exceptional people are labeled as having lost their roots and no cultural pride and being "too Westernised", as if the ability to use chopsticks and eat from a rice bowl is going to save our race from extinction.

BTW, being kiasu is not just a Singaporean thing. They just turned it into a franchise the way they claimed laksa is a Singaporean invention.

Great topic.

Anonymous said...

By the way, my Chinese superiority does not lie in the fact that I have better IQ(even though I have IQ superiority complex at the same time) or better EQ, but for the fact that I truly appreciate my own identity as a Chinese descendant.

The difference of ketuanan Melayu and Chinese superiority lies in :
Ketuanan Melayu is using the special priviledge and impose rules/policies on the others, while Chinese superiority is used as a defense mechanism, for me to survive in multi-cultural environment that oppress my equal right as Malaysian citizen.

The power does not lie in my hand, so whatever I say is of little value - this is the kind of inferiority that I also live with alongside the "self-indulged" superiority in me.