Education of languages and literature is universal right which no right-thinking government will deny
The recent controversy about the Malaysian government not recognising Tamil language and literature, Chinese language and literature makes no sense all. The ministry of education claims that students can take the extra two subjects but it will not be included in total aggregate.
This clearly shows that the UMNO-led National Front coalition government wants to completely wipe out vernacular education.
The decision is in sharp contrast to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia policy which zeroes in on national unity through racial integration. A premier who is committed to national unity would not plan on imposing a 10-subject cap at the SPM level.
This translates to mean that Indians and Chinese, assuming that they get distinctions or high credits, would not be able to use their results to secure scholarships and jobs in the civil service.
This would be no problem if the application was for a foreign university. The ivy league schools like Yale and Harvard offer studies in Tamil and Chinese. The government’s move also makes no sense in terms of creating an academic center of excellence.
Clearly, Najib’s 1Malaysia does not give an equal footing to minority languages and reeks of a hallucinatory experiment aimed at legitimizing mere rhetoric. This is nonsensical and disgusting.
But what is even more appalling is seeing the MIC chief S Samy Vellu playing the part of a sycophant to perfection. Samy is too engrossed in playing to the gallery that he does not realise that Tamil studies are being short changed.
After lauding the move, Samy told reporters that the ruling Barisan Nasional government has listened to MIC and is sensitive to Indian concerns. Samy is repeating a lie, which is part fantasy and part hypocrisy, in a fervent effort to once again mislead the Indian community.
The truth is that the MIC enjoys a client-patron relationship with the ruling coalition and does not have the political clout to fight for Indian rights. Samy and the MIC are still controlled by UMNO and taken for a jolly ride.
There is a huge difference in the way a government responds to the rights of minorities and the manner in which it manages a shadow play to hoodwink them. In this case, Najib and UMNO are succinctly trying to wipe out the linguistic heritage of both the Chinese and Indians in the country.
This decision would only work to further exacerbate the simmering racial tension in the country. As such, I urge the government to allow the students to sit for both the language and literature papers and make them official subjects as a way to forge integration among the races.