Friday, 27 July 2012

Another mega-rally for Segamat Chinese school

After the May 20 mega-rally in Kuantan that succeeded in forcing the government to establish an independent Chinese high school in the Pahang capital, Chinese educationists plan a repeat of their feat, this time in the BN stronghold of Johor.

NONEJointly organised by Dong Zong - the umbrella body of the boards of governors of Chinese schools - and Chinese education groups and associations in Johor, the rally aims to gather at least 2,000 people at Padang Kg Abdullah in Segamat on Sunday.

They want the government to give the green light to either revive the Seg Hwa Independent Chinese High School or the establishment of a new independent Chinese school in Segamat.

"We hope the government will give in to the people's demands and approve the establishment of a Chinese independent high school in Segamat as soon as possible," Dong Zong said in a statement issued last week.

It called on members of the public to attend the July 29 rally in red clothes, and Chinese associations throughout the country are busy hiring buses to take their members to the venue.

The Segamat Chinese community has been demanding a Chinese independent high school since the 1980s.

The original Seg Hwa Independent Chinese High School in Segamat was converted into a national secondary school after the introduction of the Education Act 1961.

There are now 60 independent Chinese high schools nationwide. They use Mandarin as the medium of teaching and are governed by their own boards of governors.

Chua Soi Lek lashes out

The move to organise the Segamat rally has annoyed MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek, who accused Dong Zong of raising Chinese education as an issue before every general election merely to gain publicity and incite hatred against MCA and BN.

NONEChua (left) is reported to have said last Sunday that Dong Zong has not submitted any written application to the Education Ministry for the establishment of an independent Chinese high school in Segamat.

However, Dong Zong chairperson Yap Sin Tian rebutted this claim, saying the Segamat Chinese community had in 1986 formed a committee and sent the application to the Johor Education Department on July 3 of that year.

NONEPrior to the 1986 general election, Yap (right) said, MCA gave its guarantee that approval would be granted in three months. However, after the general election, the Johor Education Department rejected the application.

Since then, application documents for an independent Chinese high school in Segamat have been submitted to the government, including to prime ministers and deputy prime ministers, at least seven times.

The issue was raised again during the Tenang by-election in January last year.

Although Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman had then agreed to provide land to construct the school, he said the federal government would have the final say on the matter.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is reported to have told the committee later that the government would consider allowing an existing independent Chinese high school to set up a branch in Segamat, and that he would discuss the matter with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

However, there has been no further development on the school after the by-election.

Promise not fulfilled

Should the government fail to deliver on this issue, it could cost BN a cabinet minister and a deputy minister in the coming general election, for the memory of the ruling coalition reneging on the promise it made in 1986 remains fresh in the minds of Chinese voters in Johor.

The two parliamentary seats in the Segamat area - Segamat and Labis - were held by Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam and Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Chua Tee Yong with modest majorities of 2,991 and 4,094 respectively.

A significant swing among the Chinese voters, who make up almost half of the voters in both constituencies, will easily hand the seats over to the opposition.

History has shown that BN in the 1990 general election, three years after its promise on the Chinese school was not kept, lost the state seats of Jementah and Labis (which was then the name of a state seat).

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