Liar Kayveas said four years ago, “I think national schools are adequate to cater for the educational needs of Malaysians. If the government can make Tamil language a compulsory subject (for Indian students) there, then we can just close down Tamil schools," (malaysiakini, 03/04/03)
PPP chief calls for closure of Tamil schools
Apr 3, 03 Malaysiakini
People’s Progressive Party (PPP) president M Kayveas said the government should close Tamil primary schools to facilitate a better future for Indian Malaysian children, according to a news report today.
He said this was essential to improve the socio-economic standing of the Indian community, most of whom are living in poverty.
Sin Chew Daily today quoted Kayveas as saying that parents must realise that children deserve better education in schools which can promote competitiveness.
today quoted Kayveas as saying that parents must realise that children deserve better education in schools which can promote competitiveness.
"The children can study in other schools such as national schools (using Bahasa Melayu as the medium of instruction) or even Chinese primary schools. My two children are studying in Chinese schools," he told the newspaper.
"We have to acknowledge that students from Tamil schools are not sufficiently prepared for education in either Bahasa or English when they proceed to secondary schools."
Primary schools are divided into two categories — national schools which use Bahasa Melayu as the teaching medium, and national-type schools which use either Mandarin or Tamil.
Kayveas, also the deputy housing and local government minister, said another problem with Tamil schools was the lack of facilities due to low budgets.
"Under such cir*****stances, Tamil school children get influenced easily by criminal activities or they remain in poverty," he said.
However, he stressed that after the government closes all Tamil schools, it would be important to make the learning of Tamil language compulsory for Indian students in national schools so that the mother tongue is not neglected.
He also praised the Vision School concept – a project to place one national school, Chinese school and Tamil school in the same compound with shared facilities – as being able to promote racial integration.
"I think national schools are adequate to cater for the educational needs of Malaysians. If the government can make Tamil language a compulsory subject (for Indian students) there, then we can just close down Tamil schools," he said.
Responding, Tamil educationist SP Pathi said the PPP president was "not qualified to comment on Tamil education because he is neither an educationist nor a sociologist".
He added the Malaysian Tamil Education Research and Development Fund (MTERDF) ,of which he was a committee member, was willing to engage in a debate with Kayveas on Tamil education "anytime, anywhere".
"It makes no difference if you teach Tamil language in national schools because mother tongue education is not just about the language. It is about the soul, culture and heritage of the community," said Pathi, a lawyer who is also editorial advisor to Tamil monthly Sembaruthi
"The school buildings may be dilapidated but they have soul...and Indians need it. When a language dies, something unique dies with it."
On the claim that Tamil schools children were more inclined to be involved in criminal activity, Pathi said Kayveas had overlooked the fact that may of the students have a poor socio-economic background.
"I have 20 friends who went to Chinese primary schools and they are now gangsters. The reason is because they are from the lower working class... it’s socio-economic conditions that determine a student’s performance, not skin colour or language," he said.
He questioned if Kayveas could guarantee that children from Tamil school would perform better in life if they transfer to other schools.
"Half of them (students) do not even have a good breakfast. Can he ensure that they will be well-fed in other schools?" he asked.
Dr Yap Sin Tian, deputy president of Dong Zong (United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia) expressed support for Tamil educationists.
He said Kayveas should not raise the question of closing Tamil schools as mother tongue education is a legal right provided under the Federal Constitution.
He regretted that Kayveas had made controversial statements regarding mother tongue education despite his "little understanding of the subject".
"Last year, when Tamil education groups opposed the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, Kayveas totally ignored their voices. He is not the right person to talk about education," said Yap.
There are some 520 Tamil schools with over 90,000 students. Many of the schools are located in estates under a system introduced during British colonial rule.
Indian Malaysians make up about nine percent of the country’s 22.2 million population. It is the third largest ethnic group after Malay (about 58 percent) and Chinese Malaysians (about 28 percent).
In the latest development, DAP Youth lodged a police report this afternoon against Kayveas at the Dang Wangi police station.
Youth national secretary Loke Siew Fook said the call to close down Tamil schools was "seditious" and could "arouse the anger within the Indian community".
He said Kayveas should be investigated by police over his statement questioning mother tongue education which is one of the sensitive subjects in the country