KUALA LUMPUR: Contrary to common belief, learning the Chinese language will not create divisiveness in a multi-racial society like Malaysia. It is also not a language to be shunned by the Malays.
The experience of Kelantan bears testimony to this. The heartland of Islamist PAS has seen an increasing number of Malay students learning to speak Mandarin, and read and write in Chinese, according to The Straits Times of Singapore.
The PAS-led Kelantan government has also contributed to this by allowing six schools funded by the state to conduct Mandarin classes during weekends.
The government has hired teachers from China, and even sent three college graduate teachers to study the Chinese language in Guangzhou.
Chinese-Muslim teacher Wang Yin Kang, who hails from Yunnan, China, said he was surprised at the Malay students’ enthusiasm in picking up a new language.
“But I soon realised that it is because the students believe that it will enhance their job prospects, especially given that China is a fast growing country and its investments are everywhere,” he was reported as saying.
PAS Supporters’ Congress chairman Hu Pang Chaw also said many Kelantanese took the cue from PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who has five grandchildren attending Chinese schools.
“The Kelantanese see Nik Aziz as a prime example of someone who encourages the younger generation to take up the Chinese language,” he was quoted as saying.
Hu said about 20 to 50 per cent of the student population in Kelantan’s 15 Chinese primary schools and two secondary schools are Malay.
Commenting on this development, United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) president Yap Sin Tian said it proves that the Chinese language is capable of promoting mutual understanding among races.
“This is an encouraging scene as it will be able to bridge the gap between multiple ethnic groups,” he told theantdaily.
He urged the federal government to emulate the Kelantan state government and start putting emphasis on vernacular education and push for policies to make this happen.
“They should aim to steer away from their previous education policies as it has not been very supportive of vernacular education,” he said.
Malay rights groups and some Umno leaders have blamed Chinese education for allegedly causing racial polarisation and frequently told the Chinese to be grateful to the government for allowing them to study in Chinese schools.
Source: The Ant Daily