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Racial issues the biggest challenge

  • If both Umno and PAS are against UEC recognition, it is necessary for PPBM leaders to utter some comforting words to the Malay community.

Sin Chew Daily

The Chinese community hopes that the; Pakatan Harapan new government will complete the "last mile" in recognizing the UEC certificate. This "last mile", nevertheless, doesn't look like a very smooth one.

Education minister Maszlee Malik has said that the education ministry must take two things into consideration before recognizing UEC, namely the status of Bahasa Malaysia as the country's official language as well as national unity and harmony must be protected.

What has UEC recognition got to do with these two issues? This rhetoric sounds very much like one that might be uttered by an Umno leader.

UEC recognition is one of PH's election pledges. Why was it included in the election pledge in the first place if some of the leaders in PH were not happy with it? Was it just a contingency plan to win the hearts of voters?

Anyway, once a promised is made, it has to be honored.

Many independent high school students also sit for BM papers, some even sitting for SPM. So, neglecting the national language should not become an issue at all, and the existence of independent high schools will not have any effect on national unity. Graduates from these schools will some day move into the workplace and contribute what they have learned to the nation and get assimilated into the Malaysian society.

If Maszlee does not understand independent schools or UEC, perhaps he should meet up with the Dong Zong leadership or visit one of the school to get a better picture of their curriculum before making an official statement. It is simply unwise to criticize something that is not well understood.

To his colleagues in PH, Maszlee is never an extreme leader. DAP's MP for Bangi Ong Kian Ming defended him when some were against his appointment as education minister, arguing that he must not be seen as an Islamist for allegedly supporting Zakir Naik.

Judging from what he said after taking office, it is obvious that Maszlee Malik bears little resemblance to Umno politicians and he has his own ideas about education. It could be his party PPBM that has put a restriction on him.

PM cum PPBM chairman Tun Mahathir said recently that his party would take over the place of Umno as a political party to defend the rights of the Malays, assuring that PPBM would protect the Malays.

And since PPBM wants to take over Umno's place, it may have to go down the Umno's racist way so as that Umno is not able to supersede it by playing the racial card. Recent remarks by Mahathir point to the fact that the prime minister is leaning towards the New Economic Policy spirit.

PPBM only managed to win 13 parliamentary seats in predominantly Malay constituencies against Umno, but due to an agreement reached earlier, Tun Mahathir was made the prime minister. If Mahathir leaves the office before the next general election, PPBM may not have the dominance and could even get marginalized if the party fails to win more seats.

Consequently, PPBM has been particularly sensitive over issues related to the Malays. If both Umno and PAS are against UEC recognition, it is necessary for PPBM leaders to utter some comforting words to the Malay community.

PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin was against UEC recognition when he was the education minister. Even when he was an opposition leader before the May 9 elections, he said the new government would not recognize UEC even if it managed to win Putrajaya.

Before PPBM Youth chairman Syed Saddiq was sworn in as a cabinet minister, he said he was against the decision by finance minister Lim Guan Eng to issue a statement in Chinese. And now he denies having hired a LGBT person as his aide.

What can be anticipated is that a strongman politics can be avoided given the checks and balances from the four component parties while rule of law spirit and democracy is restored and corruption and abuse of power checked, internal conflicts could erupt due to their different political philosophies.

The PH government needs to look into the various issues pertaining to Chinese language education and local government elections, for instance.

It is hoped that the PH government will settle their differences and draw up their common political strategies as soon as possible, and ensure that racist mentality will not become a determinant in the new government's future directions.Maszlee Malik



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