Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thousands rally in Petaling Jaya (Selangor, Malaysia) against education blueprint

UPDATED @ 02:21:52 PM 25-11-2012
November 25, 2012
Some of the protestors who attended this morning’s rally. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
PETALING JAYA, Nov 25 — Thousands of unhappy citizens today took over a football field here during a rally organised by Chinese education group Dong Zong to protest against the government’s newly-announced National Education Blueprint (NEB), over fears that vernacular schools will be sidelined.
“We urge the government to fulfil the people’s wishes, implement a policy of multi-lingual schools and ensure that it is contained in the mainstream schooling policy, to give fair treatment and preserve the characteristics of vernacular education,” Dong Zong’s president Yap Sin Tian said in a speech on a platform here to the predominantly Chinese crowd.
Protesters cheered and clapped in approval as they stood under the hot sun, while carrying umbrellas and banners.
Other protesters sat on the platform and in a few white canvas tents, while RELA officers were spotted.
White canvas banners with slogans such as “Membantah KPM meminggirkan SJKC, SJKT, Sekolah Tamil, Sekolah Mubaligh, SMJK (Protest against the Ministry of Education in sidelining SJKC, SJKT, Tamil schools, mission schools, SMJK)” written in Mandarin, Bahasa Malaysia and Tamil were strung up along two sides of the field.
Political parties made their presence known, with PAS and PKR flags, as well as banners sporting the DAP logo being held aloft at the field.
Speakers from various organisations took turns to address the enthusiastic crowd, with some stressing that the rally dubbed as “1125” was not anti-government.
Kota Kecil MCA’s branch chairman Tai Foo Him was cheered by the crowd during his speech, even as a few placards mocking his party were held up by rally participants.
PKR vice-president N. Surendran, DAP deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw, PAS lawmaker Khalid Samad and even Sabah Progressive Party vice-president Datuk Chua Soon Bui were present to lend support.
Dong Zong supporters passed two resolutions before the end of the rally, with one opposing the NEB for allegedly advancing a monolingual education policy as its ultimate objective.
The other resolution passed was to urge the government to revise the NEB to preserve and sustain the development of different languages while still giving priority to Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.
Yap later told reporters that a memorandum will be handed to the prime minister and education minister.
Organisers have claimed that over 670 civil society organisations showed up today, causing the crowd to swell in size to more than 20,000 people.
The organisers told rally participants that they could join this afternoon’s protest in Dataran Merdeka against Lynas Corp’s rare earth plant in Kuantan.
A number of protesters, wearing the green T-shirt of the anti-Lynas movement, were also present to lend their support to the peaceful assembly.
Education remains a critical and sensitive issue for the Chinese community, with some voicing their disgruntlement over the shortage of teachers in Chinese primary schools, among other things.
Putrajaya finally approved a Chinese independent school in Kuantan this year, bowing to pressure from Chinese educationists and the Chinese community.

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