Veterans group Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (PATRIOT) says it disagrees with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Youth wing’s (Armada) stand on abolishing vernacular schools.
Its president Brigadier General (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji said vernacular schools have been around since before Independence in 1957.
“They remain around until today, and I do not see any problems with that,” he said during a press conference.
Arshad questioned why anyone would want to make issues out of the matter, adding that the presence of vernacular schools makes Malaysia more ‘colourful’.
“Whoever wants to send their children to mainstream schools can do so. All of this is very political, so I disagree with Bersatu Youth’s stance,” he said.
Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia secretary-general Rosli H Mahat, who was also present, took a more concrete stand.
“What does language have to do with whether or not you are patriotic? Whatever language you study does not determine how much you love the country.
“If the intent is to state that only the Malay language can make one patriotic, then make sure everyone has to learn it, from kindergarten up to the PhD level. But is that what we want?” he said.
Rosli argued that Malaysia is what it is today because of the country’s diverse backgrounds in education.
“Some of us go to national schools, some to vernacular schools, while others go abroad to study.
“Do we lose anything with our students going abroad to study in English and other languages? No, instead we gain a lot when they come back and contribute,” he said.
Rosli added that it would be better to let market forces determine which types of schools will survive.
“They should also look at the bigger picture. Why are some Malay parents sending their children to Chinese vernacular schools, instead of the national ones?
“Is it the best system that we have? We should look for answers to these questions instead of simply condemning at will,” he said.
Both Rosli and Arshad were present to attend the launch of Patriot’s poem-video Obor Akinabalu (Torch of Grandfather Mountain) which centres around Sabah but also touches upon pertinent issues related to Malaysia as a whole.
Last month Armada’s chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal called for the gradual abolishment of vernacular schools in Malaysia, claiming they do not produce students with a strong national identity. – MMO