An Indian NGO rep tells some 6,000-strong crowd at the Dong Zong rally that Muhyiddin is a failed education minister.
PETALING JAYA 25/11/2012: The Dong Zong rally against the National Education Blueprint kicked off today with various speakers training their guns at the ruling government, including one who labelled Muhyiddin Yassin as the “dumbest education minister in the world”.
Dubbed as “Peaceful Appeal Against National Education Blueprint”, the rally saw more than 6,000 people gathering the Padang Timur here since 10am, many holding umbrellas under the hot Sunday weather.
The protesters also displayed banners that among others read: “Safeguard SJK (C) and SJK (T)”, “Guarantee existence and development of multi-stream schools”, “Education blueprint stumbling block to unity” and “National school syllabus to fuse Chinese school”.
Both Barisan Nasional and the MCA were targeted by the protesters, as several placards were spotted reading: “Shameless MCA president betrays Chinese education”, “BN MCA, Corrupt and Abuse of Power”.
Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim, who heads the National Indian Rights Action Team (NIAT), said in his addressing speech that the people respected Bahasa Malaysia as the national language and only demanded the rights to learn mother tongue.
He criticised Muhyiddin, who is also the deputy prime minister, over his controversial policies such as the introduction of the Interlok novel to secondary school students and the National Education Blueprint.
“What does he know? He knows nothing about education. He is the most stupid education minister in the world,” he said, drawing the protesters’ applause.
Elaborating on this to FMT later, he said Muhyiddin was obstinate in pushing through the controversial policies despite objections from various quarters.
“I believe that he does not even listen to his officials nowadays,” said the NGO leader.
“I challenge the mufti to prove that this blueprint is acceptable from the Islam point of view,” he said.
By 12pm, the crowd size increased to about 10,000 people, who were made up from some 700 organisations nationwide.
Protect vernacular education
Dong Zong president Yap Sin Tian, while addressing the crowd, hit out at the proposed drastic increase of Bahasa Malaysia learning time in Chinese primary schools, from the current 180 minutes a week to 570 minutes.
“The students would not have sufficient time to learn subjects such as geography and science if the proposal is passed under the blueprint. Chinese schools would slowly lose its unique feature,” he said,
He also denounced the marginalisation of Islamic religious schools, deterioration of the standard of conforming schools and Muhyiddin’s recent statement against the construction of new Chinese independent schools.
Meanwhile, a grassroots MCA leader drew a mixture of applauses and boos when he was invited to the stage to give a speech.
He cited the example of Black American activism in the 1960s to encourage the crowd to continue the struggle.
KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall president Tan Yew Sing meanwhile said the education blueprint was ill-intended as it was designed to contain the rising number of students in vernacular schools.
PKR vice president N Surendran, DAP vice president Tan Seng Giaw, PAS central committee member Khalid Samad and Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp) representative Chua Soon Boi also spoke against the blueprint while supporting the multi-stream education policy.
The two-hour rally concluded with the unanimous adoption of two motions, which is to oppose the blueprint; and to urge the government to comply with the global education development and to reflect the Malaysia’s multicultural background in the blueprint.
“I feel ashamed when I saw your placards condemning our party. I think our leaders must change,”
“If they don’t, then maybe it’s about the time for us to change,”
Kota Kecil MCA chairman Tai Foo Him