COMMENT Ding NK is a family friend. Like many of his age (now 80 years old) he walks in the footsteps of the late Tan Cheng Lock (founder of MCA), where in1954 the latter successfully connected the Chinese education body Dong Zong with the MCA.

The late Tan's famous saying that, "the Chinese who does not love the Chinese language is an animal," still rings familiar in the ears of many. This established the inherent role of the MCA in the struggle for the development of Chinese education in Malaysia.

CNONEhanges in party leadership over the years saw fallout in the relationship between the party and the Chinese educationists.

It is not the intention of this article to trace the events which caused the parting of ways between the party and Dong Zong in August 1975.

It is intended as a soft reminder to the current party leadership of certain entrenched Chinese virtues such as respect, sincerity and ethics.

On July 28 Chinese dailies were splashed with headlines on government approval for a new Independent Chinese Secondary School in Kuantan.

When interviewed by the press, Ding expressed relief that the new school would be allowed to follow the system practiced by Kuala Lumpur Chong Hwa High School whereby it could run the Chinese UEC system in parallel with the National Education System.

This was confirmed by the MCA president who was the star of the event.

 Paper chase with a difference 

The response of another educationist saying that he would only comment after going through all the 7 pages of the approval letter triggered off a document chase for the other 6 pages of approval letter.

For the next 26 days, the Chinese media was fired up with wild guesses, accusations, finger-pointing, name-calling and assumptions of all kinds. But there was no revelation of 6 pages of the document.

On August 21, all the 7 pages of the approval letter appeared in an online blog revealing that the approval was for a private Sekolah Menengah to be operated in full compliance with the Education Act 1996 which required the medium of instruction to be the national language.

There was no mention of Chinese UEC education system. Protests among the Chinese community once again filled the pages of the media.

NONEMCA president Chua Soi Lek (right) when asked to comment had insisted that the approval was for a Chinese school and had directed the pressmen to get answers from so-and-so as well.

He also accused the media of nit-picking. When reporters called Ding again, this time he could not hide his feelings that he had been deceived. Having followed the sequence of events since July 28, I felt the same way, too.

 Suspicion falls on collective conspiracy 

The act of intentionally withholding information from the public for 26 days fitted into a conspiracy theory that certain quarters had wanted to proceed with the construction of the physical school building before re-negotiations on the educational model.

As revealed by one of the committee member, both decisions to suppress information as well as to proceed with building construction could not have been made by a single person.

If this conspiracy theory is correct, all the persons in the group think environment should be censured.

Such an act had suppressed individual capabilities in the appraisal of implications and alternatives. It may not be wrong to presume high-handed muscling of one or two personal values over the rest of the group.

In this particular event, the stakes were too high. Independent Chinese schools in Malaysia had always been the result of private donations from the Chinese community.

NONEA decision made by this committee would affect the entire Chinese community whose children would have to pay expensive fees to study at this new school.

In a customer-centric world, developing a 5-star product, a school in this case, without sufficient student enrollment is as good as creating a failure.

The MCA youth chief is a deputy minister in the Ministry of Education. It would be naive to expect him not to know the Education Act 1996.

One would expect him to have given consent to the contents of the approval letter before the grand handing-over ceremony to the MCA president.

Leading from this trend of thoughts, subsequent suppression of information and the decision to proceed with construction of the school building first was discussed and pre-conceived before handing-over the approval letter.

In other words, he was aware of the limitations of his Ministry. If that be the case, what can the public expect from his plan to seek further clarification from his ministry officials after the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays?

Next comes the crucial question. The development of Chinese education had been an uphill task from day one.

There had not been any addition to the 60 independent Chinese secondary schools in the country since the implementation of the Education Acct 1996 for reasons obvious.

Why, then, play the conspiracy theory when the true outcome of the application could have been revealed?

Was it for fear that the Chinese community would not be able to take it, or otherwise? What and who benefited, if any at all? And why?

If the above conspiracy theory is correct, there is very little to salvage from an analysis of ethical aspects of the events.

Dr. Daphne Loke is the author of Political Sojourn.