Hornbill Unleashed

November 6, 2011

Dr M wants referendum on PPSMI, but not a squeak from Perkasa

Filed under: Alternatives,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Dr M wants referendum on PPSMI, but not a squeak from Perkasa

Melissa Lee

Former premier Mahathir Mohamad has called for a referendum on whether English should continue to be used to teach Mathematic and Science, a move that is unsurprising since he introduced the policy but it will surely put ultra -Malay rights group Perkasa, of which he is the patron, in a spot.

In fact for a movement that has declared itself the champion of the Malays, Perkasa has been strangely quiet on PPSMI which is the Malay acronym for teaching and learning Math and Science in English.

“Perhaps we should do a referendum. If we do a survey for example whether it is true that rich people are sending their kids to schools that use English but the poor have to go to schools provided by the government that teach in Malay,” he told reporters on Friday.

“I am as much a nationalist as anybody else. I advocated the use of Malay long before many of those people who are against English were born. But I realise the practicality of it. We have to master scientific knowledge if we want to develop this country. That is why despite the fact that many of my old friends are against me, I still stand by it.”

Leaving the baby with his successors

Frank words indeed, but for someone who has ruled the country for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, perhaps he is entitled to say what he wishes on the policy he introduced shortly before he retired.

However, his critics point out that it is easy for him to leave the ‘baby’ with his successors to deal with.

“If he is really so noble as he claims, then why didn’t he introduce it at the start or even at the middle of his administration. Why spring a surprise to Pak Lah just before he handed over,” PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng told Malaysia Chronicle.

“It is easy for Dr M to play the hero now but ever since the policy came into effect, Malay groups with legitimate grouses have complained and protested against PPSMI. It is his successors who have to deal with it not Dr M, he himself was too smart to implement it during his own tenure. I am not defending anyone but this is a fact. Dr M is not that altruistic in this matter.”

Muhyiddin softens stance

On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin allowed students who had chosen PPSMI to continue studying Math and Science in English, basically extending the system by another 6 years although he insisted this was not a U-turn.

Primary schools will only begin teaching the subject wholly in Bahasa Malaysia in 2017 and secondary schools in 2021. He had earlier hinted PPSMI would be abolished completely in 2012 and parents would not be allowed the option to choose English for their children either. However, it appears that a provocative suggestion from Mahathir that Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is in Mecca, could still override his deputy’s decision made Muhyiddin pause.

To those who had expected the worse, this was a mini victory. But Mahathir clearly wants more.

“These are man made laws,” he said. “It is not God’s law. It can be repealed. There is no such thing as a fixed law that cannot be changed forever.”

Perkasa and crude banners

As for Perkasa, the extremist group and its chief Ibrahim Ali were nowhere near the radar on the PPSMI issue. They were busy battling immorality by protesting against the gay and transgender rights event, Seksualiti Merdeka.

Picking on Bersih chief Ambiga Sreenevasan, whom they insisted was the instigator behind the event which has since been banned by the police, they demanded her arrest.

“Supporting gays and lesbians will destroy our country,” Perkasa Youth chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris said during a small but noisy protest outside the National Mosque.

Irwan and a group of about 30 Perkasa members also carried placards saying “Just ISA Ambiga, the antichrist”, “All religions oppose homosexuality” and “Islamic Religious Departments must take stern action”.

Ambiga fires back

Meanwhile, Ambiga has issued a statement condemning the bigotry displayed by groups like Perkasa. She also said she had been invited to open the Seksualiti Merdeka event slated for November 9 to 13, but was not the organizer as Perkasa claimed.

“It is not an event to encourage homosexuality. I am mindful of the position of the major religions on the issue of homosexuality. But this does not mean that we cannot show understanding and sensitivity to a marginalised community that suffers oppression and mental and even physical abuse, because of who they are,” Ambiga said in a statement.

“It does not mean that we have a right to treat them badly and to attack them mercilessly. It does not mean that they have no rights. The recent reaction even to the extent of calling them animals underscores precisely this point.”

Police banned the event on Thursday, saying it threatened public security.

1 Comment »

  1. Well this prove that Perkasa has no balls. Their struggles are only for the benefits of ibrahim ali.

    Comment by Colin Ubeh (@swknative) — November 8, 2011 @ 4:57 PM | Reply

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