Last week, it was a busy weekend for me. I started the day at 8.00a.m. officiating the charity run, organized by the INTI international University in collaboration with the ROLF blue ribbon campaign. I was surprised by the good turn-up with more than 1000 people. I was given the opportunity to give away the prizes and also the presentation of the mock cheque to the Malaysian Pediatric Association. Basically, this run is organized by ROLF which is a charity organization with specific theme and campaign every year. This year, it’s called the Blue Ribbon Campaign whose main focus is to raise money so that they will be able to provide funding to childhood cancer and hopefully campaign like this would also help to raise not only money, but also the awareness of childhood cancer in this country.
Childhood cancer is in fact an important cause of cancer and often it is one of the leading causes of death among children. Unfortunately, like other developing country, childhood cancer is often detected late and treatment is often at a very late stage. In most cases, it look like a death sentence once the diagnosis is made. This should not be because with modern therapy, most childhood cancer have fairly good prognosis if they are detected earlier. Often, parents are in the state of denial when the childhood cancer is diagnosed. Often, they think that why should their young kid come down with cancer and they tend to associate cancer with the adult and often they will go shopping for doctors in order that the diagnosis may not be cancer and because of this delay and denial and unwillingness to subject the child to further treatment that cancer in children are detected late in this country and the prognosis are bad. So, campaign like the Blue Ribbon Campaign will help to instill people that childhood cancer does occur and every year in Malaysia, it affects about 1500 children. As I’ve said earlier, it can be treated if it is detected earlier but more can be done especially in the schools. Treatment is affordable in this country because it is heavily subsidized by the government. The Ministry of Health hospital treatment for childhood cancer for school children will be free. For those who are not school children, the maximum charges will not be more than RM500. Compared to the private centre, childhood cancer treatment can be very expensive and can reach up to about RM100, 000 – 200, 000. In fact, there’s a need for funding by the private sector for those who for some reasons because of backlog of cases in the hospital have opted out to receive treatment in the private sector. I am glad that I have been associated with this movement in the last 2 years.
At night I was in Batu Pahat to raise fund for Sichuan earthquake victims in Batu Pahat. It was quite an innovative way of raising fund through basketball involving Singapore Broadcasting artistes and also Malaysian artistes. I am not surprise that Singapore artistes seriously received a more enthusiastic applause and response from Malaysian crowd in the stadium in BP. The stadium can accommodate 4000 people was fairly packed and I was told by the organizer that they raised about RM300, 000. Congratulations for the good work done.
The next morning on Sunday, I officiated a fund raising ceremony for the Cheng Siew Chinese primary school. The fund raising was basically to kick off a series of fundraising by the board and PIBG of Cheng Siew in order that they can collect enough money of RM3-4 million to build 42 new classes and also a new canteen. Of course, to raise fund for Chinese schools has always been part of the work of MCA leaders. In fact, most MCA leaders and elected representatives spend at least 30 percent of their time attending Chinese school functions, including collecting money for school development. This has also been a sore point among Chinese that the government has not been fair in dispersing money to Chinese schools because under the Education Act, most of the land of Chinese schools that belong to the school board are not entitled to full funding when it comes to development. Any form of funding that is required is always very dependent on the hard work of the PIBG, the school board and the generous contribution from the Chinese community. This has always been a sore point for the Chinese educationists and this is also a point that causes the lost of confidence and votes to MCA and BN government. There is a need to find a better solution to funding and since there is a 5 year development plan every year in our country, the needs of the Chinese schools even where the land belongs to the board (bantuan modal school) should also be entitled to a more fair and democratic way of funding from the government and this should be done in a more transparent way so that the school funding will not be too dependent on contribution from Chinese community and also from who you know especially through political connection, then only can they get some funding from the ministry of education. Often, these funding would be announced just before the general election. This is often regarded as distributing sweets or goodies to the community and has been counter productive and some Chinese has regarded this as an insult to the community that the government is only keen to help Chinese school when election is nearby in the hope that because of the funding, Chinese vote will go to BN.
MCA should now advocate that since the Chinese education is part of the main stream of education and education is democratic rights of every citizen and that education freedom is enshrined in the constitution, the time has come for the government to be more fair and democratic in distributing funding to Chinese schools and that they should not be waiting until near election or visits by some ministers before the election and announcing the funding. This I am sure would help to restore a lot of confidence in BN government. Meanwhile, the Pakatan Rakyat government has been saying things which the Chinese like to hear about Chinese schools, but till this date, they have not done anything significant or to show what they said been translated into policy.